To catch a Predator 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY KIMBERLEY FRENCH; TM & © 2018 TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX - THROW DOWN The Predator returns to the big screen this week.
  • PHoto by Kimberley French; TM & © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox
  • THROW DOWN The Predator returns to the big screen this week.

"There's no stopping what can't be stopped, no killing what can't be killed..."

There's a new Predator flick dropping this week. And not everyone will agree with this but there is a solid argument to be made that Arnold Schwarzenegger's acting career peaked in 1987, the year he released both The Running Man and the first Predator.

Certainly, he hit critical mass in 1991 with Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but Arnie had already dipped into comedy by then and it's hard to claim a high-water mark when you're coming off of Kindergarten Cop.

Predator, on the other hand, was one of the best action movies of the '80s. A straight and simple horror/sci-fi/action flick with ingenious practical effects (the "invisibility" cloak was like CGI with no computers), an incredible monster suit designed by Stan Winston, and a bad guy that outshone the stars, mandibles and all.

The film spawned two direct sequels (plus a couple Alien vs. Predator spin-offs) and was even sampled heavily on Ice Cube's third solo album (1992's The Predator).

So why not bring it back? Especially if you can milk a couple more sequels out of the ugly sucker? And so, The Predator opens this week at the (warm and dry) Village 8, co-written and directed by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and he wrote Lethal Weapon and The Monster Squad).

Black was actually an actor in the original Predator and the good news is his take on the character captures the balls-out action vibe of the original. It's an old school ass-kicking flick that doesn't waste energy on things like subtext or intelligent dialogue.

The bad news is that it doesn't waste energy on things like subtext or intelligent dialogue, so what's left is a lot of "your mom" jokes and no fewer than four subplots that weave and wander and never really add up to a solid single thing. There's a literal shit-tonne of action, though, and Predator dogs (!!) For true Predator fans, that will probably be enough. (And maybe now is a good time to revisit 2010's Predators, the underrated second sequel that has aged very well and stars Adrien Brody and Danny Trejo.)

Also opening, but without Predator dogs, A Simple Favor stars Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, Pitch Perfect) as a mommy blogger with a mystery to solve after her new best friend (Blake Lively) suddenly disappears.

It sounds like Nancy Drew for the Cosmo set but director Paul Feig (Spy, Bridesmaids) taps into his darker side with this one and delivers a fun, engaging thriller that teeters on the edge of "what the hell?!" so many times it actually works—there's artistry in the chaos.

And Blake Lively might have found her calling; she's a near-perfect film noir femme fatale. Lively is the standout here, but fresh off the runaway success of Crazy Rich Asians (which is still playing), Henry Golding also shines as the husband/prime suspect. A Simple Favor is better than you expect.

On the small screen, blood is big this week with both The First Purge and Sicario: Day of the Soldado available for rent. But the best bet, and we hinted at this last week, is American Animals, a true-crime hybrid flick about four bored college kids who learn their school's special collections library has $12 million worth of rare books and just one old lady protecting them. A heist is inevitable.

This one is a true story and British director Bart Layton brings his strong documentary skills into a dramatic re-enactment of the crime. He also includes interview clips with the actual criminals. This story is about blending their words into the dramatic narrative and infusing a standard dumb-criminals comedy with pathos and intelligence. True crime is huge these days (Netflix is infested with it) and with American Animals, Layton elevates the genre. The line between criminal and artist has always been a tenuous one, Layton walks it perfectly.

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