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This week at the cinema - September 12, 2018

Times of Malta takes a look at the latest big screen releases

It’s hunt or be hunted in The Predator.

It’s hunt or be hunted in The Predator.

The Predator (2018)
Genre: Action, Horror
Director: Shane Black
Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown
Duration: 107 minutes
Class: 15
KRS Releasing Ltd

The thrill of the hunt continues in Shane Black’s offering to the Predator franchise.

When mercenary Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook)  stumbles on a genetically modified predator, hunting down a rogue from its ranks, he is sent to an asylum to keep quiet.

Unbeknown to the government organisation in pursuit of the creatures, McKenna mails himself Predator tech which ends up in the hands of his young son Rory (Jacob Tremblay), making him a target.

Critics were neither here nor there on the The Predator, with most enjoying the machismo horror peppered with meta in-jokes but finding the cut too choppy and in need of tighter editing.

Sterling K. Brown (This is Us) was also consistently praised for his enigmatic performance as a shadowy government agent.

A.A.Dowd of The AV Club was hard on The Predator, calling it “a crass, loud, flavourfully dumb action distraction that gets by largely on attitude”.

Andrew Todd of Polygon was more appreciative, praising the film as  “creative, bloody and often hilarious” but acknowledged its various flaws, saying that the story “lacks structure” and the “hacked-to-pieces pacing has the editorial grace of a wrist-blade through the neck”.

Dubbing  it “the little franchise that could”, Bryan Bishop of The Verge called Shane Black’s revival “great in concept” but fails to deliver what it promises.

“It’s not funny enough to really be a comedy and it’s not slick or daring enough to be an innovative action film”.  

Ratings
IMDB: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Empire: N/A

Melissa McCarthy is no sesame, all street in The Happytime Murders.Melissa McCarthy is no sesame, all street in The Happytime Murders.

The Happytime Murders (2018)
Genre: Adventure, Comedy
Director: Brian Henson
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Joel McHaleDuration: 91 minutes
Class: 15
KRS Releasing Ltd

Brian Henson takes his father’s wholesome legacy for quite a spin in this raunchy puppet comedy.

Very clearly not for kids, The Happytime Murders follows two buddy cops harbouring secrets as they investigate a string of murders that seems to be targeting former stars of a children’s television show.

In a world where puppets and humans blend seamlessly, thanks in no small part to the master puppeteers at the Jim Henson company, the film creates a Roger Rabbit-esque disparity between the two, pitting the puppets as second-class citizens in their day-to-day activities.

The felt-based filth seemed to delight critics, but nonetheless became a bit of a repetitive schtick once it stuck to one note jokes.

Richard Brody of The New Yorker called it “basically disgusting,  but even when its reprehensible, not always bad”, saying that it’s “parodistic winks and turns are clever, and a few of its jokes are funny in a way that’s embarrassing to admit”.

Dan Jolin of Empire was not as kind with his critique, saying that “the movie’s funniest sequence features no puppets at all” and despite the “meta-culture-clashing promise of the world, when it comes to delivering actual laughs, The Happytime Murders fluffs it”.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone declared it was “unfair” that some critics touted the film as the year’s worst when “it has what it takes to be a contender for worst of the decade”.  

Ratings
IMDB: 5.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 22%
Empire: 2 stars

Joey King fails to impress in Slender Man.Joey King fails to impress in Slender Man.

Slender Man (2018)
Genre: Horror
Directors: Sylvain White
Starring: Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso, Javier Botet, Alex Fitzalan
Duration: 93 minutes
Class: 15
KRS Releasing Ltd

Based on a 2009 internet urban legend, Slender Man, a spindly limbed entity who lurks in forests and abducts children, is an online wives’ tale graduating to big screen horror.

The protagonists are determined to disprove the existence of the titular internet demon, and go about doing so by partaking in strange rituals meant to summon him. However, things don’t go according to plan and the girls start experiencing strange visions.

Slender Man has been received quite poorly, with consistently low audience and critic scores across the board. Many derided the film for being flimsy and reliant on cheap scares that dull the horror elements, as well as wasting a perfectly serviceable horror premise on a sub-par film.

Simon Braund of Empire lamented the overuse of horror movie clichés, calling it “a stale, rigidly formulaic J-horror wannabe”.

Ratings
IMDB: 3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 7%
Empire: 2 stars

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