Critics Consensus

The Predator Is a Disappointment

Plus, A Simple Favor is twisty fun, White Boy Rick is well-acted but flat, Mandy is Certified Fresh, and BoJack Horseman and American Vandal return in stellar form.

by | September 13, 2018 | Comments

This weekend at the movies, we have survival of the dreadlocked fittest (The Predator, starring Olivia Munn and Boyd Holbrook), a mommy blogger on the trail of a mystery (A Simple Favor, starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively), a war veteran’s search for peace (Unbroken: Path to Redemption, starring Samuel Hunt and Merritt Patterson), and the incredible — yet ultimately cautionary — tale of the FBI’s youngest-ever informant (White Boy Rick, starring Matthew McConaughey and Richie Merritt). What are the critics saying?


The Predator (2018) 33%

Some franchises evolve naturally, with a story that lends itself easily to follow-up chapters, while others are a little more difficult to will into being, no matter how tempting the box office receipts might be. The latter has always been the case for the Predator movies, which have offered a case study in diminishing returns since the beefy fun of the first installment; whether facing off against Danny Glover, Adrien Brody, or even Xenomorphs, these nasty-looking intergalactic big game hunters have never been quite as much fun as they seemed in 1987. This weekend’s franchise reboot — suitably titled The Predator — was supposed to change all that with an adventure that brought the big guys back to Earth for a hunt that echoed the original while upping the ante in various ways. With director/co-writer/Predator vet Shane Black at the helm, and an ensemble cast that includes Sterling K. Brown, Olivia Munn, and Jacob Tremblay, it looked like a solid blend of top-shelf talent and genre thrills; unfortunately, the disappointing reality is more of a noisy muddle that fails to clear the bar set by the first film — or even 2010’s space-set Predators. Critics say The Predator has its moments, but they’re neither plentiful nor impactful enough to ever be as much fun as they ought to be. If the past is any indication, we may very well see a sequel at some point, so here’s hoping that one hits closer to the mark; in the meantime, this is one would-be franchise revival that needs to get to the choppa.


A Simple Favor (2018) 84%

From Poltergeist to Desperate Housewives and beyond, filmmakers have used well-groomed suburbs as a deceptively placid mask for countless types of nastiness, so on the surface, A Simple Favor — starring Anna Kendrick as a blogger determined to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of her friend (Blake Lively) — might seem to be another variation on a familiar theme. On the other hand, it also has a terrific cast (rounded out by Jean Smart and Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding), a talented director at the reins in Paul Feig, and a script adapted from the Darcey Bell novel by American Horror Story vet Jessica Sharzer. Critics say all that talent makes all the difference for a movie that adds up to a fairly delightful — and delightfully ridiculous — mommy noir, with all the plot twists, dark humor, and beautiful people audiences might expect. It isn’t the most high-profile wide release of the weekend, but filmgoers who aren’t absolutely intent on seeing alien blood spilled may want to do themselves this Favor.


White Boy Rick (2018) 57%

Richard Wershe Jr. became an FBI informant at the age of 14, ended up in jail for selling cocaine before he turned 20, and has endured further painful scrapes with the law since being paroled in 2017. It’s a grim story tinged with sensationalism, which makes it somewhat surprising that it took until now for it to reach the big screen in the form of White Boy Rick. Starring Richie Merritt as Wershe and Matthew McConaughey as his father, this Yann Demange-directed drama seeks to highlight the surreal aspects of the story while also making it clear that his economic background — and a judicial system stacked against non-violent drug offenders — are tied into much broader problems in America, and while that’s certainly an admirable goal, critics say it can make for a somewhat less than satisfying viewing experience. Although Merritt and McConaughey have both received their share of praise for their performances, White Boy Rick can’t quite reconcile its domestic drama elements against its social commentary components, and in presenting Wershe as a sympathetic product of unusual circumstance, the story undermines some of its own points. It isn’t without its strengths, but this is one fascinating real-life story that isn’t always well served by its dramatization.


Unbroken: Path to Redemption (2018) 38%

With 2014’s Angelina Jolie-directed Unbroken, audiences were offered a dramatized version of the stranger-than-fiction real-life saga of Louie Zamperini, an Olympic runner and U.S. Army officer who survived against incredible odds — and through unconscionable treatment — as a prisoner of war during World War II. As incredible as the events depicted might have been, they only told part of Zamperini’s story, an oversight that this weekend’s Unbroken: Path to Redemption seeks to correct. Dubbed a “spiritual sequel” and starring a completely different cast, this chapter focuses on Zamperini’s (Samuel Hunt) struggles after the war, as well as the religious awakening that helped him let go of the past. It’s an undeniably inspiring tale, but critics say the film version — directed by Harold Cronk, who brought the similarly faith-focused God Bless the Broken Road to theaters last week — preaches ham-handedly to the choir with a screenplay that fails to find much relatable drama in Zamperini’s journey in spite of Hunt’s best efforts. Evangelically inclined filmgoers will likely be comfortable ignoring the reviews, but for everyone else, this is one life that’s still better summed up in the pages of its bestselling source material, Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.


What’s New on TV

BoJack Horseman: Season 5 (2018) 98%

BoJack Horseman continues confidently down the thematic rabbit hole with a fresh and poignant season that’s as devastating as it is hilarious.


American Vandal: Season 2 (2018) 98%

American Vandal trades one type of potty humor for another in an ambitious second season that manages to double down on the explicit gags while subtly addressing serious social issues.


The First: Season 1 (2018) 66%

Sean Penn gives an intensely poignant performance as the driven but conflicted Tom Hagerty in The First‘s rather slow-moving first season.


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • The Dawn Wall (2018) , a documentary about the life and public exploits of free climber Tommy Caldwell, is at 100%.
  • Science Fair (2018) , a documentary following the efforts of nine high school science fair contestants, is at 100%.
  • Mandy (2018) , starring Nicolas Cage as a man out for bloody revenge after his wife is killed by a cult, is Certified Fresh at 96%.
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018) , a documentary following the lives of two young African-American men in the titular Alabama county, is at 92%.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size (2018) , a documentary look at efforts to thwart or contain the rise of the nutria in Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, is at 92%.
  • A Boy. A Girl. A Dream. (2018) , a romance set on the evening of the 2016 election, is at 88%.
  • Don't Leave Home (2018) , in which an artist lives to regret accepting an invitation to rural Ireland, is at 75%.
  • American Chaos (2018) , a documentary about the 2016 election, is at 73%.
  • Lizzie (2018) , starring Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart in a new dramatization of the legend of Lizzie Borden, is at 71%.
  • I Think We're Alone Now (2018) , a post-apocalyptic drama led by Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning, is at 68%.
  • The Children Act (2018) , starring Emma Thompson as a London judge presiding over a case with a uniquely personal impact, is at 67%.
  • The Public Image is Rotten (2018) , a documentary appraisal of John Lydon‘s post-Sex Pistols work as the leader of Public Image Limited, is at 67%.
  • Final Score (2018) , starring Dave Bautista as a combat veteran racing against time to rescue his kidnapped niece from terrorists, is at 67%.
  • MDMA (Cardinal X) (2018) , an ’80s-set period drama about a college student who augments her financial aid by making and selling drugs, is at 64%.
  • Slice (2018) , starring Chance the Rapper as a werewolf who just wants to deliver quality Chinese food at affordable prices, is at 63%.
  • Where Hands Touch (2018) , in which two teens develop a dangerous bond in 1944 Germany, is at 50%.
  • Bel Canto (2018) , starring Julianne Moore and Ken Watanabe in a drama about an opera singer trapped in a guerrilla invasion at a posh party, is at 42%.
  • The Basement (2018) , in which a man is kidnapped and tortured by an assailant who adopts a series of different personas during the ordeal, is at 17%.

Tag Cloud

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 71st Emmy Awards supernatural Rocketman Paramount Plus Super Bowl Dark Horse Comics CW Seed screen actors guild sitcom classics zombie Fantasy harry potter movie Kids & Family biography MCU TruTV Funimation FOX 20th Century Fox Masterpiece kids Women's History Month 2016 X-Men television spy thriller toronto hidden camera Star Wars films PlayStation Mystery Paramount boxoffice comic books kong El Rey archives mutant Fox News historical drama Freeform Marathons TV Western thriller versus SXSW Black Mirror Countdown TCA Winter 2020 MTV 72 Emmy Awards YouTube Red diversity Television Academy adventure Exclusive Video rom-coms nfl TLC 93rd Oscars superhero Box Office Ghostbusters Best and Worst 2020 psycho reviews Shondaland Premiere Dates Disney Musicals Pixar serial killer worst dogs DC streaming service Tomatazos TNT docuseries revenge Amazon romance Photos natural history Hear Us Out women cartoon cancelled New York Comic Con Marvel Television Polls and Games Film batman Winners Summer video ghosts YouTube Netflix dark dc pirates of the caribbean Travel Channel zero dark thirty mockumentary vampires DC Universe scary movies italian LGBTQ Captain marvel Crunchyroll 45 Film Festival Fox Searchlight Apple TV Plus halloween TV Land Marvel Studios crime thriller Stephen King Certified Fresh DC Comics video on demand cats FXX Martial Arts Comedy Pop TV all-time superman Musical Song of Ice and Fire HBO Go comedies Music renewed TV shows Reality emmy awards teaser best Sundance Now rt archives Food Network based on movie History Superheroes 007 Watching Series VOD free movies Marvel talk show telelvision Hulu crime drama Sony Pictures elevated horror Disney+ Disney Plus Writers Guild of America monster movies sports Spike Set visit sag awards TV One cancelled TV shows Sundance comiccon war Showtime Superheroe ESPN Drama BBC One Starz SDCC Trailer miniseries Comedy Central Animation aliens stop motion adaptation strong female leads Nat Geo Infographic 2015 toy story Valentine's Day nature Epix Apple streaming japanese football Television Critics Association Shudder Academy Awards Horror Discovery Channel space Red Carpet directors Awards Tour Amazon Prime Video Creative Arts Emmys spanish movies witnail Endgame Awards anime social media cinemax PaleyFest CBS The Purge Fall TV Classic Film mission: impossible hispanic heist movie razzies parents Teen stoner jurassic park RT21 tv talk President GLAAD satire MSNBC spain documentary Britbox universal monsters Pirates Emmy Nominations Broadway Rock Nickelodeon BBC Warner Bros. hollywood Tarantino OneApp critics fast and furious Acorn TV police drama SundanceTV BAFTA Family discovery Rom-Com franchise criterion sequels name the review Disney Channel travel Syfy godzilla Character Guide docudrama Pet Sematary series twilight Hallmark Christmas movies robots Action news Amazon Studios dramedy james bond crime dceu spider-man composers animated Mary Tyler Moore south america Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Binge Guide what to watch Thanksgiving king kong Lifetime Trophy Talk HBO Max Turner Classic Movies OWN documentaries Toys australia E3 RT History TCM Chernobyl Lucasfilm facebook CMT political drama blockbusters die hard San Diego Comic-Con ABC Family The Walking Dead spinoff dragons FX WGN indie Paramount Network halloween tv TBS Emmys Calendar festivals worst movies obituary Elton John Pride Month Winter TV BET Ellie Kemper The CW ITV sequel ID TCA Awards Mary poppins CBS All Access YouTube Premium Oscars TCA 2017 Legendary Sci-Fi canceled crossover new star wars movies American Society of Cinematographers 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Comics on TV VH1 NBC unscripted werewolf Cosplay USA Peacock festival true crime christmas movies Walt Disney Pictures transformers DirecTV Anna Paquin black See It Skip It The Walt Disney Company ABC Signature scorecard Schedule high school HBO Rocky PBS venice 2019 finale disaster Apple TV+ trailers hist Turner book adaptation ratings A24 APB Opinion WarnerMedia slashers rotten movies we love Disney Plus Comic Book TIFF 21st Century Fox GoT Columbia Pictures rotten First Reviews singing competition Logo casting children's TV USA Network First Look Adult Swim Cannes zombies Pop psychological thriller medical drama Tubi boxing Vudu award winner Podcast doctor who Spectrum Originals spanish language Grammys Biopics Bravo YA joker quibi Year in Review IFC Films screenings GIFs binge Election NYCC cops LGBT 2018 Disney streaming service technology TV renewals BET Awards Nominations latino book 4/20 richard e. Grant laika IFC blockbuster period drama kaiju Heroines Christmas cults 99% Netflix Christmas movies Quiz ViacomCBS 2021 Alien Hallmark Cartoon Network National Geographic politics science fiction cars a nightmare on elm street indiana jones anthology Mary Poppins Returns Black History Month popular independent child's play Brie Larson golden globe awards cancelled television canceled TV shows Universal Avengers concert The Witch chucky saw 24 frames TCA Holiday ABC foreign stand-up comedy comics BBC America cooking Country prank Reality Competition jamie lee curtis Trivia Spring TV Mudbound Arrowverse CNN fresh justice league E! 2017 Interview FX on Hulu VICE Lionsgate Ovation Crackle Mindy Kaling game show comic Amazon Prime cancelled TV series french Sneak Peek Tumblr nbcuniversal The Academy green book reboot AMC Star Trek game of thrones remakes A&E blaxploitation Holidays breaking bad romantic comedy deadpool DGA Baby Yoda Extras asian-american Esquire Lifetime Christmas movies theme song Sundance TV Video Games The Arrangement golden globes