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The Predator

‘The Predator’ is the fourth entry in the sci-fi action series. Beginning with the Arnold Schwarzenegger starring vehicle in 1987, the ‘Predator’ franchise has gained an ardent following. Whilst it hasn’t been consistently striking with a few uneven entries, the series’ deadly aliens have endured. Also appearing in two ‘Alien vs Predator’ movies, the franchise reboots itself once again. Directed by Shane Black, who starred in the first Schwarzenegger movie, he lovingly shows how the beasts’ wicked arsenal is enough to wipe out any weaponised armada.

When alien predators invade a small town, a group of mercenaries led by Quinn (Boyd Holbrook) fight to protect it. Among Quinn’s team are Nebraska (Trevante Rhodes) and Quinn’s autistic son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) who has mysterious powers that can defeat them. Ready for battle against the fierce otherworldly creatures, Quinn aims to stand against whatever savage force they all face.

‘The Predator’ is a generally disappointing entry. Whilst the CGI is eye-popping and the action sequences are well handled, Black’s direction lets things down. Given how talented the performers are and the series’ mythology, the resulting enterprise falls flat. Black fails to bring a sense of urgency with Quinn and company strolling through events and quipping jokes than diving into the horrific events surrounding them.

The script feels as if it’s been handled by committee, with an unfocused tonal direction pulling the film in too many areas. The sketchily drawn characters and predictable story make ‘The Predator’ humdrum viewing. The excitement level only barely registers with the film not having the courage of its convictions. The whole movie feels like a vehicle to sell more toys than a genuine entry into an ongoing series.

The law of diminishing returns has crept up on ‘The Predator’. Less is usually more when it comes to sequels but if there’s money to be made, then Hollywood will keep churning them out. The lack of bite seen in this middling instalment makes ‘The Predator’ more of a toothless tiger than a fearsome creature from another galaxy.

Rating out of 10: 5

Kin

The best science fiction films have a relatable context for audiences with even the ‘Star Wars’ series being more than an action chase-about across the galaxies. At their core are tales of family and the yearning to belong. Whilst it isn’t in the same expensive league, ‘Kin’ shares a few similarities. ‘Kin’ explores the kinship of brothers learning to get along. This underlying message amongst the small but dazzling CGI goes a long way in making for strong viewing.

Attempting to make sense of his fractured family is Elijah (Myles Truitt). Looked after by his adoptive father, Hal (Dennis Quaid), Elijah’s world is shaken when his older brother, Jimmy (Jack Reynor), is released from prison. When Elijah discovers a dangerous weapon of alien origin, Jimmy’s shady ways quickly puts Elijah’s new discovery to the test. After a shoot-out with fearsome crime lord Taylor (James Franco), Jimmy and Elijah go on the run. With gangs of earthly and otherworldly soldiers hunting them, Elijah and Jimmy must find a way to bond if they are to survive.

Graced with fine performances and an involving script, ‘Kin’ is an interesting examination of family dynamics. More of a road-movie drama than sci-fi adventure, it has a sturdy base upon which to tell the story. Elijah and Jimmy are polar opposites but must work together to survive. Whilst this strand is clichéd story-telling, ‘Kin’ makes it work due to the authentic quality of the acting and setting. Truitt and Reynor make a fine combination with Franco exuding genuine menace as the dangerously unpredictable criminal.

Directed with assurance by Johnathan and Josh Baker, ‘Kin’ is small in scale but big on emotional scope. It doesn’t set out to be a blockbuster and has depth. The conclusion may be crammed with too many ideas and seems too contrived but getting to that point provides several tense moments. The world in which ‘Kin’ inhabits is believable with the CGI thankfully not over-whelming its central premise.

It may not be an instant classic or particularly amazing but ‘Kin’ isn’t the usual ‘setting things up for a franchise’ movie. That’s something to be grateful for as it just sets out to tell one story with a rounded ending. Like ‘Kin’, sci-fi films will never fade as long as their ability to relate to audiences remains no matter what universes they explore.

Rating out of 10: 6