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Tag Archive: Shane Black


Review by C.J. Bunce

Shane Black has finally delivered what fans of the Predator alien have been after since they first saw Arnold Schwarzenegger take the creature on in the original 1987 film that featured Black in an acting role as one of the marines.  The movie The Predator, in theaters now, delivers exactly as promised.  More Predators.  Bigger and badder alien fight scenes.  Great new sci-fi special effects tech.  A wall-to-wall movie of rude jokes and one-liners.  A squad of maladjusted, badass misfits in the realm of The Dirty Dozen (if every character was played as Telly Savalas’s character), only this time the squad isn’t recruited for a suicide mission to fight the bad guys.  The surprise comes with an actual, serviceable plot that knocks the predecessor sequels out of the ranking (some elements… gasp… it even handles better than the original).

For diehard fans of the franchise who read the prequel novel (a great read we reviewed here earlier at borg) the movie lives up to the introduction provided in the book, which gave plenty of backstory for Sterling K. Brown’s pseudo-military leader Will Traeger–one of the movie’s key villains.  Screenplay writers Shane Black and Fred Dekker include an ambitious, layered story with interesting subplots.  One thread follows a boy played by played by Jacob Tremblay, the autistic son of star Boyd Holbrook’s tough Captain McKenna.  The kid begins to play with what can only be described as “really cool alien tech” his dad sends him in the mail.  Olivia Munn gets to play her most badass character yet, a biologist called in to work with the research group that has caught a Predator, being studied in a lab led by Jake Busey, who plays the son of the character his father Gary Busey played in Predator 2–Jake Busey offers a solid performance as a low-key scientist that could make it back for a future sequel.  Another subplot follows the alien hunters as they each search for some secret objects.  The ensemble ad hoc military unit that takes on the Predator includes a diverse team of actors pulling together a chaotic brand of chemistry: Trevante Rhoades, Thomas Jane, Augusto Aguilera, and Keegan-Michael Key.  Another subplot sets up the next film nicely, a new phase for Predators this film only touches on.

The reason we see more than one kind of Predator is explained in the film, but each has incredible updated props and costumes, and the plot makes great use of both.  It’s all loyal to the original.  The best part of the 1987 film was the absence of the alien throughout the film, appearing sporadically, menacingly, like the shark in Jaws.  We don’t see much more of the alien in this movie, but we get to see what he looks like head to toe in the lab, we get to see how his arm gauntlet and helmet work, and plenty of action scenes as in the original.  One character even gets into the head of a Predator (sort of) to understand its technology and motivations.

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Warner Brothers and Twentieth Century Fox are taking us into Labor Day Weekend with new looks at two major coming attractions.

Twentieth Century Fox saved the best for last in the latest–and final trailer–for this month’s return of everyone’s favorite alien headhunter in Shane Black’s The Predator.  Now that we’ve seen three different looks at the movie, viewers will have no doubt what kind of movie is coming their way.  Blood and guts? Sure.  Sci-fi alien battle?  Yep.  1980s-style action flick?  That, too.  And alien dogs?  Oh, yeah.  They had us at the first trailer, so now we’re really, really in.  It’s okay if we cheer for the alien dogs to win, right?

We’re thinking this one looks more like Zuul or Vinz Clortho than Kruge’s targ.

Next, take a trip back to Hogwarts.  Everyone’s favorite school is the subject of a new behind the scenes featurette from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the next entry in the Harry Potter wizarding universe.  This movie isn’t arriving until November, but no doubt the giant international fan base will be excited to see just a little more of what’s in store from J.K. Rowling.

So take a look at this final trailer for The Predator and a look behind the scenes at The Crimes of Grindelwald:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Shane Black, director and screenplay writer of next month’s sci-fi action film The Predator, could have gone in any direction with his return of the Yautja alien hunters to Earth.  He, along with co-screenplay writer Fred Dekker, decided to continue onward to the present day following the events of Predator 2.  Since the third film, 2010’s Predators, was set away from Earth it doesn’t factor in to the new film and neither does 2004’s Aliens vs Predator and 2007’s Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, so The Predator is basically Predator 3.  If you missed the latest trailer, check it out here.  The first trailer (and the movie) begin with a child opening a package where he finds a strange futuristic device.  His play with the device ends up triggering the return of one or more Predators to the planet.  So what happened between Predator 2 and this kid handling the device?  You can find out in The Predator: Hunters and Hunted, the official movie prequel to Shane Black’s The Predator, from author James A. Moore.

The novel follows a single Predator on a hunting excursion to southern Georgia in alligator country where he starts plucking off townsfolk, biker gang members and local law enforcement.  Derived from the team headed up by Gary Busey’s Peter Keyes in Predator 2, a new government-funded initiative is focused on locating and capturing one of these aliens, and this Georgia sighting has been their first lead since an appearance in Los Angeles back in 1997.  We get a brief appearance from Keyes’ son Sean (to be played by Jake Busey in the new movie), but the focal point is an opportunist named Will Traeger–Sterling K. Brown’s character in the new film–who is carefully manipulating both a military special ops unit called the Reapers and Congressional leadership to gain full control of Keyes’ project, now called Project Stargazer.  Traeger’s impediment is the current project lead, General Woodhurst, a four-star general played by Edward James Olmos in early cuts of the film (later to be excised entirely from the final cut).  Woodhurst is very much like Olmos’ General Adama in Battlestar Galactica, a military strategist more than someone on the front lines with the troops.  Woodhurst and Traeger are the guys in Washington, DC, trying to gain funding while answering to the federal agencies dolling it out.

A Yautja alien in Shane Black’s September theatrical release, The Predator.

For most readers the more interesting part of the prequel novel will be the viewpoint of the Predator.  While not giving us the play-by-play of the bureaucrats, the story alternates between the Predator’s perspective and thoughts and the Reapers’ efforts to capture him (the Predator’s vantage was also a feature of the novelization of Predator 2).  The best scene in the book is entirely removed from everything else–an inspired, vivid one-on-one battle with an alligator.  Why waste time on these puny humans when you have a real threat like that?  The prequel novel is key to the coming movie because it establishes from the Predator’s perspective an important code that the hunters must follow.  Unless this gets recounted in the movie, it’s some key data to know before heading into the theater.

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The second trailer for The Predator is out, and this time we get some clips of the latest incarnation of the classic intergalactic headhunter in action.  20th Century Fox released the first full movie trailer for the autumn release of The Predator in May, and the studio’s buzz for the alien’s return is now gearing up.  Cinematographer Larry Fong (Watchmen, Super 8, Kong: Skull Island) has said audiences shouldn’t expect a CGI-heavy film (like those recently flooding cinemas), but more old-school practical effects including a live-action Predator as seen in the original film.  From this new trailer, it looks like that means not just one–but at least two–Predators.

Although we initially surmised that the film would disregard the 21st century sequels, it looks like director Shane Black (who played the joking marine in the original Predator) is merely setting the film between 1990’s Predator 2 and 2010’s Predators.  The role of Jake Busey places the new film 30 years after the first sequel.  He plays the son of the character played by his dad, actor Gary Busey, in Predator 2.  The new trailer shows more of Boyd Holbrook, who played the cyborg villain of last year’s Oscar-nominated film Logan, and Sterling K. Brown, who played the king’s brother in Black Panther and the defendant in Marshall.

Other actors appearing in the movie include Lochlyn Munro (Riverdale), Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck, Dexter, The Handmaid’s Tale), Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse, Iron Man 2), Keegan-Michael Key (Tomorrowland), Thomas Jane (Buffy the Vampire SlayerCrow: City of Angels), Trevante Rhodes (Westworld), and Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica).

Now check out this new trailer for The Predator:

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The Predator is back.  Today 20th Century Fox released the first full movie trailer for the autumn release of The Predator, the eagerly awaited sequel in the Predator franchise.  And this first trailer looks pretty fun.  Will this sequel finally approach the original Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi classic from 1987?  The Alien franchise seems to have raked in the big box office bucks for decades while the Predator films haven’t moved past the original.  All indications point to director Shane Black (who played the joking marine in the original Predator) leaving aside 2004’s Alien vs. Predator, 2007’s Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, and 2010’s Predators.  The role of Jake Busey places the new film 30 years after the first sequel.  He plays the son of the character played by his dad, actor Gary Busey, in Predator 2.

If you’re a fan of the next generation of character actors, The Predator may be what you’re looking for.  Boyd Holbrook, who played the cyborg villain of last year’s Oscar-nominated film Logan, plays Quinn McKenna, a member of a military assassin squad.  Sterling K. Brown, who played the king’s brother in Black Panther and the defendant in Marshall, plays a government agent.  Lochlyn Munro, star of Riverdale and guest star in every genre TV series since 1989, plays a General.  Chuck, Dexter, and The Handmaid’s Tale co-star Yvonne Strahovski plays a character named Emily.  X-Men: Apocalypse and Iron Man 2’s Olivia Munn, featured heavily in the trailer, is Casey Bracket, a scientist researching the aliens.  Comedian and actor Keegan-Michael Key and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Crow: City of Angels’ Thomas Jane co-star as members of the strike force.  Westworld’s Trevante Rhodes plays a member of the team named Williams.  Young Wonder star Jacob Tremblay is the kid that sets the story into motion, with a package in the mail.  And for a dose of gravitas, look for Edward James Olmos as a general in the movie.

This is the plot description for the film:

From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home in Shane Black’s explosive reinvention of the Predator series.  Now, the universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species.  When a young boy accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.

Now check out this trailer for The Predator:

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WELCOME TO EARTH-4

A Column by J. Torrey McClain

In theaters now, if you look quickly and listen closely, you can see my profile and hear my voice in the fantastic new movie from Shane Black, The Nice Guys.  I recommend seeing The Nice Guys, not only for me, but because it is a dry, fun, and interesting movie that has a number of laughs.  But, as usual, the movie is the background to my musings and in this case, my personal experience.

On my birthday in 2015, I got a text and a phone call on my way to meeting with friends.  Since I was in the car, I didn’t pick up, my preference, and waited until I was walking along the sidewalk to my destination, expecting to see calls and texts with well-wishes.  As I looked, I got another call, from my call-in booking service.  I answered and immediately gave my acknowledgement that I was available to work the next day.  It was only after this that I was able to look at the text and see that it was my first union gig, as a photo double.

To understand this all-new stage as a background actor, I must explain my normal experiences.  As a friend once relayed to me from a recent L.A. Times article, background actors are known as props that eat. Generally there are at least 20 of us descending upon a production to provide atmosphere and a realistic look of city streets, courtrooms, bars, malls or wherever the protagonists need to be.  We sit, we walk, we mime talking, we run for cover, we sit in a Ferris wheel, we play at eating food and generally try to be as real as possible with several cameras capturing the moment.  In between the scenes, we descend like locusts on craft services, lunch catering and our holding area, eating, talking, reading, writing, playing music or whatever we do to make the eight, ten, 12 or longer hours to pass by while assistant directors and production assistants try to corral us and keep us to a mild whisper so as not disturb filming.  I love the job as the time in between gives me moments with graphic novels or whatever I’m reading at the time, but it can be stifling to many others with low tolerances to being told exactly what to do, wanting to talk, preferring not to listen and expecting the spotlight.  If you’re happy just fading into the background and realizing that your issues are the smallest in the world of a production with many moving parts, days pass wonderfully well.

nice guys

My days on The Nice Guys were so much different.  My first day of my first union gig, I was nervous.  When I met the production assistant checking me in and he said something along the line of these words, “Great, glad you’re here!  This day is all about you,” my nerves shot up a notch as it became apparent that I was the only background actor there.  Instead of being sent off to hang with the other extras, I got to eat at the same time and table with the crew.  I felt guilty of impostor syndrome as I sat among the people there on a daily basis with specific jobs to make the production move forward.  After finishing my food, I got a full haircut from the people in the hair department along with some grey added to my dark brown hair to match the original actor.  A special suit of specific clothes awaited me at wardrobe.  Once ready for the camera, I arrived on set, ready to exit the production van, one of the PAs opened up an umbrella for me and held it over me until, feeling very sheepish, I took it from him and walked toward set.

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The Predator poster

It’s simply one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time.  It stars the biggest action hero of all time.  And it was the proving ground for two actors who would become state governors.  Okay, maybe that’s a stretch.  But 1987’s surprise hit Predator, reviewed here at borg.com in its recent 3D incarnation, is one of those sci-fi/horror/action mash-ups that will leave you coming back to watch it over and over.

It also launched a multi-film franchise, which although not as successful as its sister franchise Aliens, gave us more to hope for: Predator 2 in 1990, Alien vs. Predator in 1993, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem in 2007, and finally Predators in 2010.  In truth, none of these possessed either Arnold Schwarzenegger’s star power or Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October director John McTiernan’s eye for suspense.

So what better time to look back to the original film?  A new film by writer/director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys) is coming your way, and this week 20th Century Fox released a new poster to tease us.  No mention of A-list stars or plot summary.  Just an image of one of our two favorite interplanetary bounty hunters.

Shane Black in Predator

But here’s the thing.  And it’s illustrated by a new trailer for Kindergarten Cop 2 (you don’t need to watch the entire trailer to get the point):

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Nice Guys poster

We’ve been waiting for the preview to this next film for a while now.  It’s Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in director Shane Black’s The Nice Guys.  It’s a 1970s era Los Angeles private investigator conspiracy story, which, like L.A. Confidential, stars Crowe and Kim Basinger.

It also features White Collar’s Matt Bomer and They Live’s Keith David.

Check out this first trailer for The Nice Guys:

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