Review: Predators (dir. by Nimrod Antal)


Predators

It would be 20 years before those space-faring hunters, the Predators, would grace the bigscreen once again. Sure, they were part of the two Aliens vs. Predator films of the early 2000’s, but I don’t count them as part of the Predator franchise just due to the fact that they weren’t the headliner. Plus, those two mash-up films were all sorts of something awful.

2010’s Predators by Nimrod Antal (produced by Robert Rodriguez) looked to bring some new life into the scifi action franchise which the two AvP films quickly drained of life and excitement. From the early 1990’s til the release of this film, the franchise gradually built up it’s very own unique film universe which (through novels, comics, games, etc.) was as rich as any scifi franchise. Those who followed this world-building began to understand the Predators culture, mindset and technology.

For some, this meant erasing some of the mystery that made the Predator such an iconic film monster, but others thought it helped established rules for others to follow to help streamline the stories instead of relying too much on one-upping one story after the other.

Predators followed some of the world-building done prior, but also introduces a new wrinkle in the lore by adding the so-called “Super Predators” who were bigger, faster and meaner than the classic ones we’ve seen through the decades. Also new to the Predator lore was setting the film on an unnamed planet which would act as some sort extraplanetary game preserve where Predators could hunt their chosen prey at their leisure and on ground they know.

This new plot point adds a dimension to the film’s narrative in that the humans being hunted had no where to go. Their chances for survival even less now that whatever advantage they might have had on Earth go by the wayside. They’re now being hunted on Predator ground. It’s akin to sport’s game hunting where rich dentists and lawyers pay to hunt specific game in a controlled and managed way in the savannah’s of Africa.

Yet, despite these new additions to the franchise’s lore the film, for the most part, works as an action film. We have the requisite band of misfits, murderers and killers. The worst humanity has to offer but the best at what they do. They run the gamut of black ops mercenaries, elite snipers, drug cartel and rebel enforcers and right up to even a serial killer.

Leading this ragtag bunch, however reluctantly, was the enigmatic Royce played by Oscar-winner Adrien Brody (who actually pulls off the wiry, cold-hearted black ops killer). It’s through his character that the entire film hinges. He’s not the type to play well with others, let alone work with a team as disparate as the one he’s accidentally been stuck with on an unnamed death world. Still, the film works with him as it’s lead. It doesn’t take long for the viewer to believe that this character could easily kill everyone around him and have the best chance to survive being hunted.

He’s the stand-in for the audience who scoff at how those around him make one dumb mistake after another. This is not to say that he’s likable, because he’s definitely in the anti-hero mold who would sacrifice his own teammates if it meant living another hour. Yet, he also understands that his best chance at survival is to continue to use the others even if it means saving their lives.

Nimrod Antal has an eye for action that was very much a throwback to the McTiernan days of the franchise. He allows the scene to unfold in long, sweeping takes to establish a sense of the action’s geography. It’s a skill that less and less action filmmakers use nowadays as quick cuts and edits have become the go-to technique to make a scene more action-packed than it truly is.

Where the film suffers has less to do with Antal’s direction, but more on how exposition-heavy the film gets to try and explain the situation to the rest of the cast. Every time the film ends an action sequence we get some exposition to explain what’s going on to the characters. the writers even wrote in a character (played by a very game Laurence Fishburne) whose only role is to be Exposition Man.

Now, let’s talk about the new Super Predators. They’re an interesting trio of hunters that actually adds some new color and excitement to the Predator series, but at the cost of the more classic Predator we saw with the first two films.

We have three new types of Predators who represent three types of hunters. There’s the Tracker who uses a sort of alien hunting dog to flush out the prey. Then there’s the Falconer who uses a sort of cybernetic drone who scout ahead and look for the prey. The drone looks like something out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Falcon bag of gadgets. But it’s the biggest and baddest of the three, the Berserker, who headlines the new trio. Where the other two have a specific hunting role to play, the Berserker is just as its named. There’s no skill to this hunter, but just sheer brute force to take down what it’s hunting.

They’re a cool-looking bunch but they do detract from the more classic Predator. They actually make the original ones seem more than just a tad useless and helpless when put up against these newest trio.

Predators was definitely a couple steps above what audiences had received with the two Aliens vs. Predator films. Despite some shortcomings with an exposition-heavy screenplay and a narrative choice to make the classic Predator less intimidating, Nimrod Antal’s entry into the Predator franchise has enough action and new world-building additions to bring back some excitement into the series. It’s a shame that the stink from the two AvP films impacted this film and how many people ended up seeing it, but with each passing year more and more people have begun to rethink their initial negative feelings about Predators and give the film it’s just due of being a fun and exciting scifi actioner.

Lisa’s Early Oscar Predictions for September


It’s that time again!

It’s time for my somewhat random Oscar predictions!

Judging from the reactions at Venice Film Festival, Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born would appear to be the current Oscar front runner.  At the very least, it seems destined to be nominated.  Personally, I still wonder if a remake of A Star is Born is going to have enough political cachet in a year that, so far, has been dominated by Hollywood virtue signaling.

Anyway, it’s a bit of a cliché to say the Oscar race is wide open but, despite all of the buzz around A Star is Born, it still feels as if it is.  That said, it’s also becoming a bit more clear.  Former front runners like Mary, Queen of Scots have fallen off the radar.  It seems likely the Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman will not be released until next year.  There are rumors that Clint Eastwood’s The Mule might get a December qualifying run but, for now, those are just rumors.

Below are my predictions for this month.  The usual caveats about wishful thinking and wild guesses apply.  To be honest, we won’t know anything for sure until the critics and the guilds make their voices heard in December and January.

Be sure to check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, and August!

Best Picture

Beautiful Boy

BlackKklansman

Black Panther

Crazy Rich Asians

The Favourite

First Man

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

Roma

A Star is Born

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for First Man

Jon M. Chu for Crazy Rich Asians

Bradley Cooper for A Star is Born

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Spike Lee for BlackKklansman

Best Actor

Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born

Ryan Gosling in First Man

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody

Robert Redford in Old Man and the Gun

Best Actress

Glenn Close in The Wife

Olivia Colman in The Favourite

Nicole Kidman in Destroyer

Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Julia Roberts in Ben Is Back

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali in Green Book

Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Sam Elliott in A Star is Born

Ben Foster in Leave No Trace

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Claire Foy in First Man

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Sissy Spacek in Old Man and the Gun

Rachel Weisz in The Favourite

Michelle Yeoh in Crazy Rich Asians

Barry and Oscar

Lisa’s Early Oscar For Predictions For August


It’s time once again for my monthly attempt to predict next year’s Oscar nominations!

As always, these predictions should be taken with a grain of salt.  BlackKklansman has emerged as a contender and there’s a few impressive trailers out there.  If the Academy goes through with this stupid Best Popular Film Oscar, I’m going to assume that’ll knock Black Panther out of contention for Best Picture.  For now, I’m going to hope that the backlash will cause the Academy to abandon the idea.

(For the record, it now appears that the whole Best Popular Film fiasco was due more to pressure from ABC than from actual members of the Academy.  And, let’s just be honest — Best Popular Film sounds just stupid enough to be the idea of a television executive.)

So, as usual, these nominations are a combination of wishful thinking, wild guesses, and sincere intuition.  If nothing else, they should be amusing to look back upon when the actual nominations are announced.

Be sure to check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, June, and July!

Best Picture

Beautiful Boy

Black Panther

BlackKklansman

Boy Erased

First Man

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

Old Man and the Gun

Roma

Widows

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for First Man

Alfonso Cuaron for Roma

Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk

Spike Lee for BlackKklasman

Steve McQueen for Widows

Best Actor

Christian Bale in Backseat

Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy

Ryan Gosling in First Man

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody

Robert Redford in Old Man and the Gun

Best Actress

Glenn Close in The Wife

Viola Davis in Widows

Felicity Jones in On The Basis of Sex

Keira Knightley in Colette 

Saoirse Ronan in Mary, Queen of Scots

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali in Green Book

Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Russell Crowe in Boy Erased

Adam Driver in BlackKklansman

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Claire Foy in First Man

Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Margot Robbie in Mary, Queen of Scots

Sissy Spacek in Old Man and the Gun

 

Weekly Trailer Round-Up: Roma, Green Book, An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn, Widows, Killer Kate


In 2014, Alfonso Cuaron made history win he became the first Mexican filmmaker to win the Academy Award for Best Director, for his work on Gravity.  This year, Cuaron is back with Roma, a 135-minute film about a middle class family living in Mexico City in the 1970s.  Roma will be released on December 14th and its trailer leads off this week’s trailer round-up.

Directed by Peter Farrelly, Green Book, is based on the true story of Jamaican pianist Don Shirley’s tour of the deep south.  Serving as his chauffeur and bodyguard was a New York bouncer named Tony Lip.  Shirley is played by Mahershala Ali while Viggo Mortensen play the role of Lip.  (The real Tony Lip later became an actor and played Carmine Lupertazzi in The Sopranos).  Green Book will be released on November 21st.

Judging from the trailer, An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn appears to be a typical heist comedy, enlivened by the presence of Aubrey Plaza.  Prepare to spend an evening with Beverly when this film is released on October 19th.

Based on a BBC miniseries and featuring a killer cast, Steve McQueen’s Widows is one of the most anticipated movies of the fall.  Widows will be in theaters on November 16th.

Finally, Killer Kate will be released on October 26th, just in time for Halloween.

Here’s What Won At The Oscars!


Oscars

Here are your Oscar Winners!

Best Picture — La La Land Moonlight

Best Director — Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Actor — Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea

Best Actress — Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Supporting Actor — Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress — Viola Davis, Fences

Best Original Screenplay — Manchester By The Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay — Moonlight

Best Animated Feature — Zootopia

Best Art Direction — La La Land

Best Cinematography — La La Land

Best Costume Design — Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Best Editing — Hacksaw Ridge

Best Makeup — Suicide Squad 

Best Sound Mixing — Hacksaw Ridge

Best Sound Editing —Arrival

Best Visual Effects — The Jungle Book

Best Original Song — “City of Stars” from La La Land

Best Original Score — La La Land

Best Documentary Feature — OJ: Made in America

Best Foreign Language Film — The Salesman

Best Animated Short — Piper

Best Documentary Short — The White Helmets

Best Live Action Short — Sing

Lisa Makes Her Oscar Predictions!


Oscar1

Okay, here’s the moment that I’m sure you’ve all been looking forward to!

It’s time for me to make my Oscar predictions!

toys

Yay!  It’s good to see that everyone’s excited!

Here is who I think will win tomorrow night:

Best Picture — La La Land

Best Director — Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Actor — Denzel Washington, Fences

Best Actress — Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Supporting Actor — Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress — Viola Davis, Fences

Best Original Screenplay — Manchester By The Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay — Arrival

Best Animated Feature — Zootopia

Best Art Direction — La La Land

Best Cinematography — La La Land

Best Costume Design — La La Land

Best Editing — La La Land

Best Makeup — A Man Called Ove

Best Sound Mixing — La La Land

Best Sound Editing — Hacksaw Ridge

Best Visual Effects — The Jungle Book

Best Original Song — “City of Stars” from La La Land

Best Original Score — La La Land

Best Documentary Feature — 13th

Best Foreign Language Film — The Salesman

Best Animated Short — Pear and Cider Cigarettes

Best Documentary Short — The White Helmets

Best Live Action Short — Timecode

To be honest, the only prediction that I’m 100% comfortable making is that this year’s Oscar ceremony is probably going to be the most political one in history.  Some people will love that.  Some people will be outraged.  Me, I just care about movies.

The Oscar air tomorrow on ABC, at 4 eastern and 7 pacific.  I will be live tweeting the awards and, of course, we’ll be posting Oscar-related stuff here on the Shattered Lens all through Sunday!

orsone-welles-clapping

Even Charles Foster Kane is excited!

And by the way, if you want get a head start on next year’s Oscars, why not check out my way too early predictions for January and February?

Enjoy!

Lisa Marie’s Thoughts On The Oscar Nominations


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Okay, I’ve had plenty of time to think about today’s Oscar nominations and now I’m ready to share my thoughts.  Obviously, my picks were a lot different from what the Academy selected.  That’s okay.  That’s the way it goes every year.  I don’t mind being a contrarian.

So, let’s take a look at what was nominated, category-by-category.

(If you need a refresher as to what was nominated, here’s a complete list of nominees!)

Best Live Action Short, Best Animated Short, Best Documentary Short: I’m sure that these three categories are full of wonderful nominees that were created by wonderful people but I don’t believe that I’ve seen a single one of them.  So, with that in mind, I can only imagine that the Academy did a perfect job selecting all 15 of these nominees!  Good work, Academy!

Best Foreign Language Film: Again, I have seen none of the nominees so I really can’t comment one way or another.  Normally, this would make me feel like a failure but I imagine that 90% of the people reading this post are in the same boat.  I imagine Toni Erdmann will win, just because of all the good things I’ve read about it.  But, since I haven’t actually seen any of the nominees, I will refrain from making any sort of prediction.

Best Documentary Feature: I’m disappointed that my favorite documentary, The Witness, was not nominated.  And, quite frankly, I’m shocked that Weiner was not nominated.  That said, I can’t complain about any of the documentaries that actually were nominated.  It was a good year for documentaries.  In fact, it could be argued that it was a better year for documentaries than for features.

Should Win: O.J.: Made in America

Will Win: 13th

Best Original Song: Not a single song from Sing Street was nominated and that is amazingly disappointing.  Original song can be surprising.  Remember last year when that terrible song from SPECTRE somehow won?  That said, I’m expecting that this year will see a huge sweep by La La Land and one of its nominated songs will probably win.

Should Win: Audition (The Fools Who Can Dream) from La La Land

Will Win: City of Stars from La La Land

Best Original Score: The Neon Demon deserved a nomination but I’m not surprised it was snubbed.  There’s no way the Academy was going to honor Nicholas Winding Refn’s subversive masterpiece.  La La Land is going to win this one easily.

Should Win: La La Land

Will Win: La La Land

Best Visual Effects: I was glad to see that Kubo and the Two Strings was nominated and I wish that Arrival had been nominated as well.  I’m going to go ahead and predict that Doctor Strange will be the first MCU film to win an Oscar.

Should Win: Doctor Strange

Will Win: Doctor Strange

Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing: Let’s be honest.  I couldn’t explain the difference between sound editing and sound mixing and, unless you specifically work in the sound department, neither could you.  As a result, these categories are always difficult to predict.  But Hacksaw Ridge has to get some love somewhere and I bet it would happen here if not for La La Land.

Should Win (Both): Hacksaw Ridge

Will Win (Both): La La Land

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: As soon as I saw that Deadpool wasn’t nominated here, I knew it wouldn’t be nominated anywhere.  Can you believe that fucking Suicide Squad is now an Oscar nominee?  I haven’t seen A Man Called Ove but I’m going to predict its victory because I just can’t imagine the Academy honoring either Star Trek Beyond or Suicide Squad.

Should Win: Star Trek Beyond (that had good makeup in it, right?)

Will Win: A Man Called Ove

Best Film Editing: I can’t complain about any of the films nominated here.  La La Land is pretty much a guaranteed winner here.

Should Win: La La Land

Will Win: La La Land

Best Costume Design: I was shocked that Love & Friendship was not nominated.  If La La Land sweeps, it’ll win here.  When I made out my list of my personal picks for the Oscars, I gave the costuming Oscar to La La Land but now that I’m looking at the actual nominees, I’m remembering just how good everyone looked in Allied.

Should Win: Allied

Will Win: La La Land

Best Cinematography: My personal pick for this award was The Neon Demon but it wasn’t nominated.  Out of the nominated films, I would go with Moonlight but I think La La Land is going to sweep.

Should Win: Moonlight

Will Win: La La Land

Best Production Design: Well, it won’t be Passengers!  How the Hell did that get nominated for anything?  I think, of the nominees, Arrival deserves the award for making science fiction feel and look like science fact.  But, again, I think La La Land is going to win here.  (Are you sensing a theme in my predictions?)

Should Win: Arrival

Will Win: La La Land

Best Animated Feature: I was happy that Kubo and the Two Strings, Zootopia, and Moana were all nominated.  I haven’t seen The Red Turtle or My Life as a Zucchini but, on the whole, the Academy has a record of nominating the right films for this award.  I loved Kubo and I think it might win, just because it picked up that Visual Effects nomination as well.  Zootopia, however, would allow the Academy to make a political point and Moana has Lin-Manuel Miranda.  I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a Kubo victory but I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these five nominees won.

Should Win: Kubo and the Two Strings

Will Win: Zootopia Kubo and the Two Strings Moana Zootopia Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Adapted Screenplay: With La La Land likely to sweep the technical awards and Manchester By The Sea and Moonlight set to pick up some acting awards, this category will give the Academy a chance to acknowledge Arrival.

Should Win: Arrival

Will Win: Arrival

Best Original Screenplay: I think this is one of the few awards that La La Land will not win.  This category gives the Academy a chance to honor Hell or High Water.

Should Win: Hell or High Water

Will Win: Hell or High Water

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis is a guaranteed winner, even though her performance was a lead role.

Should Win: Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Will Win: Viola Davis, Fences

Best Supporting Actor: I was really happy to see that Michael Shannon got a nomination because Shannon is a great actor who always seems to be taken for granted.  That said, Mahershala Ali is almost as much of a lock as Viola Davis.

Should Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Actress: Let’s just get this out of the way.  Amy Adams not only deserved a nomination, she also deserved the Oscar.  Arrival works because of a twist that occurs halfway through the film.  The twist works because of Amy Adams’s performance.  If not for Amy Adams, Arrival would never have been nominated for best picture.  The fact that she was not nominated will be remembered as one of the biggest mistakes in Academy history.

This morning, I was happy to see that a lot of people on twitter agreed with me about the Amy Adams snub.  What took me by surprise was how many people also agreed with me that Meryl Streep essentially took a spot that should have been given to Amy Adams.  This morning, among other things, I discovered that there’s actually a growing backlash against the annual tradition of automatically nominating Meryl Streep, regardless of whether the film was any good or not.

Could Meryl win yet again?  It depends on whether or not the Academy wants to hear another Meryl Streep speech.  Given the political climate, I wouldn’t discount that as a possibility.  Since I’m on the subject and it’s possible that everyone stopped reading a few categories ago, I’m going to go ahead and admit my unpopular opinion.  While I’m definitely not a fan of the new President, Meryl’s Golden Globe speech felt like almost a parody of upper class white liberalism.  Listening to her, it was easy to imagine Meryl at a cocktail party, bragging about how she’s on a first name basis with her maid.

But, I’m in the minority as far as that opinion is concerned.  The Industry loved Meryl’s speech and, after Donald Trump’s overreaction to it, giving an Oscar to Meryl and giving her a chance to repeat the speech on a much bigger stage would be the perfect way to give the finger to the current administration.

That said, I think Emma Stone will be carried along in the La La Land sweep.  Whether justified or not, many members of the Academy will look at her character and see themselves.

Should Win: Amy Adams in Arrival (Yes, she wasn’t nominated but she should still win, goddammit.)

Will Win: Emma Stone in La La Land

Best Actor: Could anyone other than Casey Affleck win this one?  Denzel Washington is popular and giving him an Oscar for Fences would be a nice to way to reward all of the effort that he put into bringing this acclaimed play to the screen.  Affleck was sued for sexual harassment by a producer and a cinematogrpaher and ended up settling with both of them.  However, I doubt if it will stop him from winning the Oscar.  If the allegations were going to hurt Affleck’s chances, it would have happened long before now.

As for the nominees — well, I have no complaints.  While I wasn’t as impressed with Affleck’s performance as some, I think he did well enough. I would have liked to have seen either Sully‘s Tom Hanks or Hell or High Water‘s Chris Pine nominated.  I’m glad that Andrew Garfield picked up his first nomination.

Should Win: Denzel Washington, Fences

Will Win: Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea

Best Director: I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a minor upset.  I think La La Land is going to win in a lot of categories but I think that Moonlight‘s Barry Jenkins will win this Oscar.  Best Picture and Director have been split fairly regularly over the past few years and, after both the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and the 2016 presidential election, it may be felt that it’s time for a black director to finally win the Oscar.  Based on the skill shown in Whiplash and La La Land, Damien Chazelle will have other opportunities.

Should Win: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Will Win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Picture: Though I don’t necessarily think it was one of the best films of the year, I would have loved it if Deadpool had actually scored a nomination.  It would have been an unexpected surprise and it would have shaken up a race that’s gotten rather predictable.

But no.  Deadpool received no nominations and the expected films were nominated.  Perhaps the only thing that could be considered surprising (though not that surprising)  was that Martin Scorsese’s passion project, Silence, was not only snubbed for best picture but also only picked up one nomination. Passengers picked up more nominations that Martin Scorsese’s latest film.  When it comes to total number of nominations, Silence is tired with Suicide Squad.

La La Land is going to win.  It’s probably going to win nearly all 14 of the Oscars it has been nominated for.  My pick for the best film of 2016 was American Honey.  Of the nominees, I think Arrival is the one that deserves to win.  But La La Land is an exuberant valentine to both the Academy and the industry.

La La Lands going to win.

Should Win: Arrival

Will Win: La La Land

2013 oscars