⭐ / ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Another unrequested, just leave it alone already, we’re officially out of ideas entry in the long line of reboots, remakes, reimaginings and recyclings Hollywood seems to be stuck in, this huge mess of a cartoon of a film is loud, confusing and neither exciting nor any fun. I cannot or am unwilling to believe that good scripts no longer exist; I can only imagine that since the writers’ strike of 2007 led to the rise of so called “scripted reality” tv Hollywood feels that, unless it’s a proven (ie hugely profitable) blockbuster franchise entry, financing films is too risky a business to take a chance on anything different, challenging or interesting. But I digress.

Since the only thing this claptrap has to offer over the original are updated special effects, don’t expect three dimensional characters or coherent direction. It seems everything is turned up to ten including the colors/contrast and the belligerent soundtrack. Scenes start and finish with no sense of timing or narrative purpose. Instead I got the feeling the film was cut to the music cues, like the score was written before the script, resulting in jarring changes in both tone and pacing. Someone must have imagined this would invite comparison to things like style or visual interest, but that someone needs to be fired.

Those responsible have given the titular alien a new backstory, one that involves what looks like over exposed footage of some people in rubber suits running around in the woods somewhere, and the victims protagonists a needlessly complicated reason for being in the worst possible place at the worst possible time. These changes to the original are not enhancements as much as groundwork for sequels.

After making his third look at divorce in the British Isles, director Wry Cooter (Modern Romance) might have needed a break but it’s our spirits that suffer the damage from that snap. Cooter looks practically amateurish with some of the ostensibly humorous scenes as if he’s afraid of losing whatever intrigue or momentum (none) he had managed to create while his action scenes are a shaky cam quick cut blur with preposterous sound design. Maybe there was a good idea or two somewhere in this trainwreck and the post production smothered them. Either way, live action cartoons needn’t cost this much to make; they needn’t have top notch cgi and vibrant if not blinding color. Plenty of bad movies have been made on shoestring budgets. I suppose the same minds that either turn down or monkey with good scripts are the same minds who finance and monkey with bad ones.

Boyd Holbroke and Olivia Bunn share approximately the same screentime, but both are overshadowed by the oppressive “style” and its demand for non stop cuts and changes in camera angle. They’re both attractive leads, and in perhaps the only decision here that actually works, Bunn is allowed to just look her normal gorgeous self. Too bad her character is so extraneous, no matter how stridently she’s written. Aliens are monsters. Men are heroes or villains. Women are damsels in distress. Maybe this isn’t a remake of an ’80s film; maybe it’s a retelling of Don Quixote. We should be so lucky.

Admittedly, the above mentioned newfangled effects are pleasing to the eye when all the posturing and clutter ceases long enough to appreciate them, but even they fall victim to the strong arm visual tactics. Coolness, they say, can’t be taught. Either you got it, baby, or you don’t. And this one sure don’t. Not that the original was all that great, but it was at least entertaining without being pandering and held an effective balance between substance and cheese. This Predator has none of its predecessor’s assurance or loopy sense of fun. Hopefully it has some cool toys, something the original never had when it was released.