TIFF 2018: The Predator Premiere Heats Up Midnight Madness

The Predator kicked off TIFF’s Midnight Madness series to a rowdy crowd last night. The production filmed in Vancouver and premiered to a welcoming Canadian audience. Many of the fans were willing to come alone to one of the festival’s farthest flung theaters to experience what Shane Black had cooked up. We were rewarded for it with some of the smartest laughs of a modern action film and outrageously gruesome new conflict. Even if we didn’t know any of our seatmates, by the time the film ended, the screening felt like a reunion. The Predator reminded us what we love about the heat seeking aliens and affectionately reinvigorated the franchise. That meant giving Predators a reason to return to Earth, making them bigger and deadlier, and shedding the serious earnest that can be tricky to play to modern audiences.

“You’re not gonna see a film. You’re gonna see a movie,” Black said to introduce The Predator. No one in the audience seemed to have any qualms with that mindset. The next two hours was strictly designed to have a good time and get carried away. Some reboots circle back to square one and repeat the exposition, as if we don’t know the title of the movie is lurking in the shadows. Here, we didn’t need to be told what this creature was or how it hunted. That had been done expertly in the 1987 original. The Predator ushers us right through to the good stuff as if to say, “Remember this guy? Let’s get crazy.”

Crazy, in the universe of The Predator, also means somewhat ridiculous. Schwarzenneger was able to defend the planet stone-faced with unflappable nerves. Yet, to continue a franchise, things have to evolve. Thirty years after the original, the Predator has become somewhat outrageous, but ever as cool. The characters now acknowledge the awesomeness of the Predators power making them almost gleeful prey. The group is passionate, loyal, but also has a lot of fun fighting off the invaders, which makes watching them that much more enjoyable.

Learning that the aliens kill for fun, Olivia Munn’s character notes, “That’s not a predator. That’s a sports hunter.” Sterling K. Brown’s character replies, “Well, we took a vote. ‘Predator’ is cooler, right?” And it is. Brown very nearly steals the film from the monster main attraction.

Luckily, Black recognized that outdoing a previous installment could be smarter and stronger over simply bigger and scarier. The reboot actually interacts with our time and weaves in surprisingly emotional messages for a hack and slash action film. There are tender family moments among the raunchy jokes and elaborate gore. Jacob Tremblay is the pocket-sized hero we need and he earned the biggest cheer of all.

Despite all of the modernizing touches, there are some things about The Predator that cannot be improved upon. That creepy clicking growl the Predators make was extremely evocative in surround sound. They are still largely bullet proof, making then difficult to take down, and we get plenty of the heat mapping effect. Black also seizes plenty of opportunities throughout the film to sprinkle in callbacks for the fans, all of which were met with loud appreciation. Every pedal was pushed to full throttle and was possibly the best way to get the crowd pumped for the 10-day festival.

The Predator opens in theaters September 13.

Featured Image: The Predator in Twentieth Century Fox’s THE PREDATOR. Photo Credit: Kimberley French.


Kelle Long

Kelle has written about film and TV for The Credits since 2016. Follow her on Twitter @molaitdc for interviews with really cool film and TV artists and only occasional outbursts about Broadway, tennis, and country music. Please no talking or texting during the movie. Unless it is a musical, then sing along loudly.