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Cinema Dispatch: The Predator

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The Predator and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Shane Black

I’m getting rather good at avoiding trailers at this point because I never saw a single one for this movie.  All I knew was that it was another Predator movie with an annoyingly similar title to the rest of them (which is still better than the sequel to Halloween being called Halloween) and it was being directed by the guy who wrote Lethal Weapon, directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, and The Nice Guys, and even got turned into a pile of bloody organs in the first Predator movie!  I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a winning formula to me!  At least until the recent news came out about his deeply irresponsible casting decision in the movie which frankly cast a big cloud over the whole thing for me right before it came out.  Does this manage to be an entertaining film despite the problems that Shane Black managed to bring upon himself in the lead up to the film’s release, or was that the first sign that something was amiss with the latest entry in this franchise?  Let’s find out!!

For some time now it seems that Predators have been stepping up their game and coming to Earth with a bit more frequency which is not just a good way to set ourselves up for some prequels, but to raise the stakes a bit as this latest invasion by a Predator seems to be a bit more than just some dude trying to add one more human spine to his collection.  He crash lands in a jungle down in Mexico where military badass Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is on assignment to assassinate someone for something, but said crash landing makes things a bit more complicated.  A bunch of… dudes (are they military?  A private corporation?) who are part of PROJECT STARGAZER which is led by the mysterious Traeger (Sterling K Brown) capture the alien, capture most of its armor, and even captures McKenna, but not before McKenna… finds someone to mail part of The Predator’s armor back home.  Apparenlty he wants to keep it for “evidence” which I’m SURE will come in handy when he’s carted off to a mental institution so that PROJECT STARGAZER can keep a lid on the existence of aliens.  Not so much of a lid that they won’t enlist a civilian scientist Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) to take a look at the captured creature, but enough so that the highly trained military officer who’s already involved with secret government plots like assassinations can be forcibly kept quiet before he starts blabbing to everyone.  Sounds like a foolproof plan to me!  Oh wait, the Predator escaped and is now looking for his armor, namely his helmet, that McKenna sent back home and is currently being played with by his son Rory (Jacob Temblay) who is on the autism spectrum and apparently has no problem understanding this alien technology.  So it’s a race against time as McKenna and a group of mentally ill soldiers he meets (Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, and Augusto Aguilera) team up with Dr. Bracket to… I guess stop the Predator, while Traeger and PROJECT STARGAZER regroup to put an end to this threat and the people who know about it once and for all! Can McKenna save his son from the murderous alien as well as the VERY dangerous technology he’s been messing around with?  What are PROJECT STARGAZERS’s true plans, and what are The Predator’s plans as well?  Does anyone else get the feeling that the editor had their spine forcibly removed by a giant monster alien when they were only halfway done putting this thing together?

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“I get my OWN spin-off or else this guy’s gut turns into a pin cushion!”

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Cinema Dispatch: A.X.L.

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A.X.L. and all the images you see in this review are owned by Global Road Entertainment

Directed by Oliver Daly

So I guess we somehow needed more than one A BOY AND HIS DOG movie this month?  I mean after the monotony we got with Alpha, I guess we could use one that’s ACTUALLY good all the way through, but I get the feeling that this one isn’t gonna be it.  Like Alpha, I remember seeing this here and there for the past few months, but there’s been almost no marketing push for it and what little we see in the trailers isn’t really doing much to sell me or seemingly most people on this movie.  That said, a film’s marketing is not ultimately a determination on how good the movie will be (Alpha had a HORRENDOUS trailer with awful voice over), so maybe this one will be a surprise!  Yeah, probably not considering we’re getting this in late August, but let’s find out!!

The movie begins with typical… teenager?  Twenty something?  I don’t know, YOUNG ADULT Miles (Alex Neustaedter) who is an amateur motocross rider hoping to make it to the big leagues so he doesn’t have to go to school and can live off sponsorship bucks!  Okay… well he certainly has the talent but he’s lacking the equipment to REALLY give him the edge (and by edge I mean his bike will stop falling apart while he’s riding it) unlike a fellow… biker?  Yeah, let’s go with biker, named Sam (Alex MacNicoll) who’s got a rich dad and seems to take a liking to Miles.  On top of that he has a… friend?  Yeah, let’s go with friend, named Sara (Becky G) who basically HAS to keep in Sam’s good graces considering her mother is their housekeeper and they live in the pool house out back.  All this seems rather awkward to be sure, but somehow Miles manages to get the attention of Sara which doesn’t sit well with Sam, and so he “pranks” miles by… having him crash his bike and leaving him for dead.  Okay… well this turns out to be a GREAT thing because Sam manages to find a robot dog in the… junkyard?  Yeah, let’s go with junkyard, that’s right next to where Sam left him.  Not just ANY robot dog though!  A giant military grade beauty named A-X-L who escaped from the SCIENCE LAB where he was being developed.  The two start to build a bond and Sara gets caught up in this as well, but the EVIL SCIENTISTS (Dominic Rains and Lou Taylor Pucci) are determined to get their dog back by any means necessary, and if Miles has forged such a close connection to A-X-L so that he functions better now than he ever has before, well I guess they’ll just have to take him too!  Can Miles and Sara find a way to not only protect A-X-L from the EVIL SCIENTISTS, but also teach him to be a good dog instead of a military grade MURDER MACHINE?  Will anyone be able to understand this mechanical monstrosity with razor sharp teeth, or is he too dangerous to be kept in polite company?  Is there any chance that there are BETTER movies loaded onto its hard drive that we could watch instead?

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“WHOA!  Infinity War Part 2!?  Good dog!!”

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