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“The Predator”: Battle of the Bass Fishermen from Beyond

The Predator!

“Rest assured I was on the Internet within minutes registering my disgust throughout the world.”

No one in their right mind walks into a Predator flick expecting cinema genius. They’ve never known the respect that the Alien series originally garnered among sci-fi-horror fans, which may explain why viewers are swiftly enraged whenever an Alien sequel is terrible, but merely shrug and move on when another Predator drops and flops. The series to date, ranked for newcomers:

  1. The original, From The Director Of Die Hard, still my favorite Schwarzenegger movie
  2. Predators, in which renowned character actors are stalked and slaughtered for morbid fun
  3. Alien Vs. Predator, because director Paul W. S. Anderson guarantees at least one great action scene per film, which is all we got
  4. Predator 2, which defies any attempts at remembrance
  5. Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem, the closest I’ve ever come in the past ten years to stopping a movie halfway through because it was That Bad

In a similar vein, fans of Shane Black films know what they’re getting — sarcastic tough dudes spouting quotable quips while firing very loud weapons at henchmen and everything around them explodes, and sometimes there’s as many as one (1) actress holding her own in their midst while rolling her eyes a lot. They’re effortless steel coaster rides, but always easy to nitpick later for hours if you dwell on them for more than three minutes. The original Lethal Weapon remains Black’s most cogent potboiler to date, but if you’ve seen such films as The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, or the thoroughly idiotic yet sometimes compelling Iron Man 3, you know what I mean.

Like Reese’s with chocolate and peanut butter, someone at Twentieth Century Fox wondered what would happen if they did the same with Shane Black and The Predator. Why not throw them in the same vat and watch what happens?

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“Pacific Rim: Uprising”: Mecha-Lecha-High? Mecha-High-Nee-NOPE

Pacific Rim Uprising!

Blue Man Group: The Metal Years.

Much as I’d love for John Boyega to be successful in everything he touches, I felt sheepish about my issues with Detroit and hoped I wouldn’t have to harp on him again too soon. Then I rushed out to see Pacific Rim: Uprising in its second week of release, and realized…well, uh, here we go again. It’s still better than at least three of Michael Bay’s Transformers films, but that’s…well, I wouldn’t call that a “low bar” so much as it’s me whispering to Boyega and director Steven DeKnight that I won’t tattletale if they want to walk around the climbing wall and skip the bar as a courtesy.

I try not to hold MCC to too many inflexible rules, but one of the few remaining is that every film I see in theaters gets its own entry. Now that Uprising‘s home video release is coming up this month, maybe it’s past time to hold myself accountable for that promise and face down this long-delayed entry, no matter how fruitless it may end up.

(Look, I’m not a great self-promoter. Anyone who’s been here long enough know this. We persevere together anyway.)

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“Annihilation”: It Tampered in God’s Domain

Annihilation!

“I don’t care what the kids like these days. Trying to watch this movie on a 2-inch screen is the worst.”

It’s been years since we’ve seen a major studio act so sheepishly about a film of their own doing as Paramount Pictures has with Annihilation, the strikingly “intellectual” new brainchild from writer/director Alex Garland, whose past successes include science fiction head-trips like Sunshine and the Oscar-winning Ex Machina. Paramount’s last-minute no-confidence vote has denied it an international theatrical release in favor of dumping it on overseas Netflix. Paramount’s official page for the film provides only the trailer embedded via YouTube and a link to the film’s “official site“…which just redirects to a Facebook page. I’m accustomed to short films and indie projects setting up shop on Facebook, but it’s disappointing for a corporation of Paramount’s size to limit their own product to such a minuscule online footprint. Apparently they were holding out hope that Garland might rewrite and reshoot to add some super awesome monster fights.

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Oscar Quest 2018: “The Shape of Water”

Shape of Water!

Real talk: there are so many fish in the sea that fish puns are way too easy, so I’m resisting the urge to see if I can string together ten of them in a roe.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This time of year is my annual Oscar Quest, during which I venture out to see all Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, regardless of whether I think I’ll like them or not, whether their politics and beliefs agree with mine or not, whether they’re good or bad for me, and whether or not my friends and family have ever heard of them. I’ve seen every Best Picture nominee from 1997 to the present. As of February 21st I’ve officially seen all nine of this year’s Best Picture nominees. I’m not sure I’ll be able to cover the other seven in full before the Oscars telecast on March 4th, but let’s see how far I can get before I burn out.

Onward to nominee #6: Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water, the monster movie that’s been winning hearts and votes in many other competitions throughout this awards season. If you loved his previous creature features like Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, Mimic, or the best Blade film, chances are you won’t be disappointed here. Not guaranteed, but quite probable.

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“Blade Runner 2049” and the Importance of Theatrical Competence

Blade Runner 2049!

All things considered, such a beautiful film made it extremely hard to choose just one moment for our lead photo.

When I was 10 the original Blade Runner was the first R-rated film I ever saw in theaters. Mom had a strict policy against them till I was a teenager, but made the first exception while we were on vacation visiting family who wanted to see it. I’d already read and enjoyed the Marvel Comics adaptation by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson, and did Mom the unspoken favor of asking her to lead me to the bathroom as soon as I knew Joanna Cassidy’s nude scene was coming. It was the least I could do in return for the opportunity to see revolutionary science fiction cinema unfold before my eyes.

Other kids had the first two Star Wars films, neither of which I saw till adulthood. I had Blade Runner. I never needed or expected a sequel. Not every story needs to be a never-ending saga. 35 years later, here we are anyway.

That was the intro I wrote before I saw Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 on its second weekend of release, capturing my trepidation in advance regardless of whether it blew me away or offended me with corporate greed. I’m sad to say that evening was an unpleasant experience.

It wasn’t the movie’s fault. It was Regal Cinemas’.

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“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”: Big in China!

Valerian!

The Green Goblin and the Enchantress compare notes on the misery of comic-book movies gone horribly wrong.

One of the biggest flops at the American box office this summer may have itself a happy ending after all. Despite US receipts of $40 million against a reported budget of $177 million, the nearly forgotten sci-fi hodgepodge Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is now finding more receptive audiences overseas, where their audiences apparently have different popcorn-flick standards from ours. Or maybe their trailers were cooler. Or maybe their voices were dubbed into other languages by superior actors. Maybe you haven’t really seen director Luc Besson’s eye-popping fiasco unless you’ve watched it in Cantonese bombastically recited by Hong Kong’s greatest Shakespearean thespians.

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