Coming to the end…

…of 2019, anyway.

As I type this the afternoon of December the 30th, one day before this year’s final day, I can’t help but think of what a wild, crazy year its been.

For worse and far worse, IMHO, it seemed a day/hour/second couldn’t pass without hearing something about “President” Donald Trump. It’s been -pardon my French- fucking relentless. I know there are those who are fans of his but I can’t help but scratch my head. By all reasonable metrics, he’s a total disaster as President and, as we’re getting to know him all too well, a human being as well.

And he’s such a self-promoting machine that it seems he wakes up each day wondering what outrageous/stupid/idiotic thing he can do to once again get his name out in the news and… it’s exhausting.

Elections are coming up and, I fervently hope, we’ll have only one more year of dealing with this man (maybe less if the Impeachment trial is anything less than a whitewash in the Senate) before we can finally -perhaps- get on with our regular lives.

This was also the year I feel we could no longer ignore the dire reality of climate change. I recall living through the entire decade of the 1980’s and, if my memory isn’t off, there was a grand total of ONE Category 5 hurricane in all those seasons, Gilbert (again, if my memory is right), that appeared in the Caribbean. Each year it now seems far too many hurricanes build up to a Category 5, very quickly, and the resulting destruction is both heartbreaking and terrifying.

Then there’s Australia and the extreme heat waves they are going through coupled with all the fires they are experiencing.

I suppose one goes with the other but I hope the next election not only gets rid of Trump, but whomever the Democratic candidate is, I really hope they focus on Climate Change and the way to bring down the CO2 in the atmosphere and create a more sustainable power grid.

It’s also way past time we ended our dependence on oil and coal.

Not all things, though, were negative.

Despite all the bad news, this was easily the best year I’ve ever had with regard to sales of my novels. I continue to be deeply appreciative whenever I check up on my sales and “Kindle Unlimited” readings and find people zip through my novels. Not everyone takes the time to review my books once they read them, but when I see so many pages read through -often full novels in one day- I know that I must have done something right.

After all, who reads through some 500 pages of a book in one day if they don’t like what they’re reading, right?

At least that’s what I tell myself!

Further to that and as I mentioned a few days ago, I’m neck deep in the latest Corrosive Knights book and, while it is no longer the “Epilogue” I was originally planning to release, I think this book will delight those who have been reading the rest of the series, and will also provide a springboard to future novels set in this universe.

So we close out a year filled with way too many wild and crazy (and not in a good way) moments and I, for one, can’t help but look forward to the next year with a mix of both caution and optimism.

Here’s hoping 2020 will prove to be a wonderful year for everyone out there!

Keep safe and have a beautiful New Year’s!

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)… any good?

Yeah I know, I know… I just stated I’d likely not do any new posts until the New Year and here I am, only two days later (but I tried to scratch out some time yesterday!) to add a new post.

The topic is pretty clear but I just thought it was too fascinating to ignore: Is the latest Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker, any good?

Now, I haven’t seen it yet but I was somewhat shocked by the reviews that appeared yesterday/the day before that concerning the film. If you go over to, the cumulative average of “professional” reviews is a rather anemic 58% positive while audience reaction is a far healthier 86%. Of course, this will likely change over time, particularly the audience reaction, as more and more people weigh in on their opinion.

I suspect the audience number will decrease -though who knows how much- in time, at least based on what I’m reading in various bulletin boards around the net.

Understand: I’m not saying a larger number of people hated the film, only that there does seem to be many people who, like The Last Jedi before it, aren’t fond of this new Star Wars offering.

Some of the more common reactions I’m find are that a) the film is too “rushed”, giving us a breakneck series of sequences that follow little -if any- logic, and b) the film seems to be going out of its way to eliminate The Last Jedi’s plot points.

There’s another underlying criticism that may be even more valid: That this “new” trilogy of films, starting with The Force Awakes, going through The Last Jedi and terminating with The Rise of Skywalker shows a fundamental error made by Disney/Lucasfilm, that they went into this new trilogy without a general story outline.

Thus, The Force Awakens has been (IMHO rightly) criticized as little more than a remake of the original Star Wars films (ie, A New Hope) but with new characters added to the old. That The Last Jedi attempted to subvert the “expected” Star Wars tropes but wound up being either too daring and/or dumb (there are many who have pointed to plot holes) and thus alienated too many fans. Now, Rise of Skywalker tries to clean up the whole thing by giving people more fan service and no controversial storylines/ideas.

Yeah, I’ve obviously read spoilers.

Regardless, I do believe this criticism is valid. I do believe the new trilogy began without any terribly strong ideas as to how the three films would play out.

This is NOT something new!

Those who are old enough -like me!- to recall going to see the original Star Wars (ie, A New Hope) in theaters remember that what got Luke Skywalker going on his mission was that he (avert your eyes, sensitive readers) totally fell in love with the holographic image of Princess Leia.

Yeah, it was about love/lust.

The whole movie -originally!- was about how this backwater boy was after this royal princess, someone far, far out of his league.

And then came the second movie, where we have Princess Leia passionately kiss Luke to instill jealousy in Han Solo. Then we get to Return of the Jedi where its revealed they’re brother and sister!

It’s no wonder the lust/love aspects were trampled down/cut out in the subsequent special editions because the storyline switched around and suddenly we couldn’t have brother lusting after his sister!

Ah well!

Still, if going into The Force Awakens the studio knew they were doing a third trilogy, perhaps they should have thought the overarching plot through a little more before committing to releasing them the way they were.

It is what it is and for those who are fans of Star Wars, I hope you find the movie to your liking!

It pains me to write this…

… but I think I’ll be laying off, for the most part, writing new posts here until the New Year.

Just too much going on, too many people to see, too many things to do. There’s plenty of stuff I’d love to spend time writing about -today, for example, the House of Representative (Oh yeah, BEWARE, POLITICS!) is voting on Impeaching “President” Trump- and I’d love to blab about that… (sure, my opinion is so very important!).

Today, also, we have the release of the latest Star Wars film, Rise of Skywalker, and it occurs to me I have yet to see The Last Jedi, Rogue One, and Solo. Hmmm…

So if this turns out to be my last post until the New Years, to everyone out there, have a terrific Holiday, an equally terrific New Years, and I’ll see you very, very soon.

Have yourselves a wonderful time!


Storytelling and Richard Jewell (2019)

I’m a big fan of Clint Eastwood.

I suspect if I were to do a detailed count of the many movies I have in my collection, either physical copies or digital, movies either featuring Clint Eastwood and/or were directed by him likely makes up a larger count than another other actor out there.

I loved him in the “Dollars/Man With No Name” Trilogy. I loved him in the Dirty Harry films (though the first one is clearly the best, with the others varying in quality). I loved him in quirky films like Play Misty For Me (the first film he actually directed. He was also the movie’s star). I loved him in High Plains Drifter, The Gauntlet, The Eiger Sanction, Unforgiven, etc. etc. etc.

Sure, he’s had his clunkers (Pink Cadillac was an absolute chore to sit through), but by and large I like his movies, whether he acts in them or serves only as director.

Released this past week, Richard Jewell is the latest of Clint Eastwood’s films. He served solely as director and the film, alas, looks to be a box office bomb (no pun intended!).

It would appear people aren’t terribly interested in seeing this film, which chronicles the real life Richard Jewell, who was a security guard who discovered a bomb planted in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and likely saved the lives of hundreds of people with this discovery… only to become vilified when he it was revealed he was suspected of being the person who planted the bomb to begin with and remained a suspect until the true culprit was found.

Now, reading the above paragraph, I must say: That’s actually a pretty good hook for a based on true life film. A man who goes from hero to villain, only to be absolved when the real person behind the bomb was discovered and arrested.


The film arrived under a cloud of its own controversy, specifically in the way it depicted one of the real-life people involved in this affair: Journalist Kathy Scruggs. From what I’ve read, Kathy Scruggs was a real life character, a hard charging journalist who worked for an Atlanta newspaper and was known to work hard to get her stories. At the time, she was supposedly dating a member of the Atlanta Police Department who tipped her off that the FBI was suspicious of Mr. Jewell. She made inquiries to the FBI and eventually verified this fact and wrote an article (she was co-writer) regarding the fact that Mr. Jewell was now a suspect in the aborted bombing. Her article was the first to finger Mr. Jewell as a suspect and, subsequently, the other news media latched onto the story and made his life a living hell.

In the movie director Clint Eastwood and writer Billy Ray make some curious -terrible- changes to Ms. Scruggs’ story. In the movie, she meets up with Tom Shaw, the FBI agent played by John Hamm, who is investigating/suspecting Jewell of being the bomber. In a now very controversial scene in the film, Scruggs essentially trades sex with Shaw for information regarding Jewell.

That change in the real life story is odious, IMHO. I mean, wasn’t the whole point of this film to show how the media tarred an innocent person? So in clearing him they decide to tar another person as a slut who gets information by trading for sex. Even worse: They tar a person who, if you step back and look at the facts of the case, was simply doing her job as a journalist.

Ms. Scruggs was not the one to suspect Mr. Jewell, it was the FBI. She reported on the fact. Ms. Scruggs, in real life, got a tip and followed up on it. She corroborated the information and then wrote an article about her findings. Editors in the newspaper, one would think, considered the story before approving and publishing it.

While the article certainly proved horrible for Mr. Jewell, did she not do what a journalist should do? Did she not pursue a lead and verify it before writing about it?

And consider this: Ms. Scruggs wasn’t the first person to hear that Mr. Jewell was a suspect. CNN supposedly heard the rumor as well. If Ms. Scruggs article hadn’t been published, how long do you think it would have taken before this information would have made its way to the public anyway?

I strongly suspect it wouldn’t have taken all that long.

I haven’t seen the film but many of the people who have -even those who very much like it- point out the portrayal of Ms. Scruggs and Mr. Hamm’s FBI agent are the film’s biggest liabilities, that they are portrayed as cliched bad guys who are only missing long mustaches they can twirl while they go about their bad guy business.

But, incredibly, it gets worse.

Not only does the film incorrectly depict Ms. Scruggs as trading sex for information, but Tom Shaw, the FBI agent played by Mr. Hamm whom she trades sex for information, is a fictitious construct.

Let that sink in!

There is NO Tom Shaw who worked in the FBI at the time of the Atlanta Bombing. There never was. So not only is the story of Ms. Scruggs trading sex for information bogus, the person she supposedly slept with to get the information doesn’t even exist!

The word comes back to me: Odious.

Yeah, what happened to Richard Jewell was absolutely terrible. He should not have gone through that scrutiny and the accusations.

But you know what? Making alternate -and also terrible- accusations about a real life person in Ms. Scruggs is, in my opinion, just as bad.

Ms. Scruggs passed away at the very young age of 42 in 2001, the result of an overdose of prescription pills. Was it an accidental overdose or suicide? The coroner could not determine. It was reported the Jewell article affected her deeply and she spent the rest of her years regretting what Mr. Jewell went through and her responsibility in the situation. Truly it seems like she cared deeply about her role in this affair.

The sad thing is that it seems to me there is a legitimately good story here which could -and should- have been presented without tarring this woman as some kind of bad guy involved in a fictional affair with a fictional character.

It reeks of Eastwood and company putting the thumbs on the scale, of kicking someone because you have to have villains in your story.

A shame.

If you want to read a good article concerning this controversy, check out Julie Miller’s article presented on…

The Richard Jewell Controversy – and the complicated truth about Kathy Scruggs

A few more thoughts on the Snyder Cut of Justice League…

As I’ve mentioned far, FAR too many times now, I’m a big fan of director Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman, though I would quickly add that its the Director’s/Extended Cut of the film that is the one I’m referring to.

Full disclosure: While I liked the theatrical cut when I saw it -twice- upon its original release, I also gave that version of the film a bit of a pass as I knew there was the longer version out there and further I knew it would eventually be released to home video. Now, I can’t recommend anyone see the theatrical cut. Stick with the Director’s/Extended version.

Anyway, when Justice League was in the works, I was genuinely excited to see the film. Everyone who has any interest in the film knows what happened: Zack Snyder stepped down from making the film following the tragic suicide of his adopted daughter and Joss Whedon stepped in to supposedly complete some re-shoots and… well… as we’ve learned since, he essentially re-did the film in a way I suspect Warners/DC wanted it done, and some reports suggest as little as 10% of Zack Snyder’s original vision of the film remains in the theatrical cut, despite the fact that he is listed as the director of the film.

What followed was plenty of fans of BvS clamoring/demanding Warners/DC release the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League.

At first, there were questions as to whether such a cut even existed. This didn’t stop the speculation. Some insisted there was absolutely no “Snyder Cut”, that what existed were a bunch of unfinished scenes and nothing which could be salvaged into an actual, watchable work.

I never believed this to be the case.

The fact of the matter was that Mr. Snyder finished all principle photography and he left the film when he was brought back to do some re-shoots. I always suspected those re-shoots were studio demanded, perhaps sequences which featured more humor and less seriousness/darkness, something many fans viewed very negatively about Snyder’s previous DC works.

In time, it became obvious that a Snyder Cut of Justice League did indeed exist. This was made all the more obvious when Aquaman star Jason Momoa himself stated he was shown the Snyder Cut of the film and came away with very positive feelings about it.

Director Zack Snyder has played this whole thing most curiously, holding back on any strong statement regarding the film and his version of it but rather hinting -at times strongly- that such a thing existed and could be released. Not too terribly long ago and in early December, he finally issued that strong statement of the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League indeed existing. He did so with this posting:

If you look closely at the film reel shipping containers on this photograph, they state Z.S. JL Director’s Cut Running Time 219.

This should put the whole “does it exist” question to rest, but it doesn’t answer the “how much is left to do on this film?” question.

For I strongly suspect there are still effects that need to be completed in the film, and these may be quite significant. By significant I mean: To get them done, Warners/DC will likely have to put down some serious $$$$ to finish up whatever work remains on this cut.

But let’s move beyond that and to the reason I’m writing about this.

Let’s assume that Warners/DC does fund the completion of the Snyder Cut of JL. Let’s assume the film is completed the way Mr. Snyder wanted it done. And then let’s further assume the film finally gets its release.

Frankly, I fear many fans are going to find themselves disappointed.

Understand: I really, really like BvS. I’m not a Snyder uber-fan, however. I’ve seen only two of his films, Dawn of the Dead and BvS. I don’t consider Justice League (the theatrical cut) “his” film, despite the credit given to him. I have not seen Man of Steel, Watchmen, 300, and Sucker Punch, though I own all but 300.

I’ve read the reviews and the opinions of people regarding his works. There are those who very much hate what he’s done. There are those who absolutely love what he’s done. There are those in the middle, who feel the works are middling at best, with one or two films standing out.

I love BvS and, yes, I’m curious to see Snyder’s Cut of Justice League but given all the hoopla/interest in this film, I can’t help but worry that in time there’s going to be a whole lot of people suffer from a bad case of let-down-itis. I worry many of those demanding the release of the film have blown its potential quality sky-high and when the film is eventually released, they’ll watch it expecting nothing short of something amazing. And when that might not materialize, they may feel really, really let down.

Don’t get me wrong: the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League could turn out to be a very good film, perhaps on the level of BvS to me. It could turn out to be a better film than that, again IMHO.

But for many it has become this magical unicorn, a film whose importance and quality is at this point subject to nothing more than one’s imagination. We -you and I- can do nothing more than suppose the quality of the film. We have some ideas, yes, and some beautiful stills and the stuff that appeared in the trailers of the film but weren’t shown in the theatrical cut of it to get some sense of what Mr. Snyder was up to.

But we really have no idea what the film will be in the end.

What I’m getting at is the old expression of “be careful what you wish for”. While it is totally appropriate to ask for/demand that Warners/DC release this film, perhaps we should temper our excitement/interest. We are, in the end, talking about a film. It could be damn good. It might wind up being average to some. It might wind up being crap to others, even some of those who most vocally demanded the film’s release.

What will it be?

We won’t know until it is eventually released.

While at first there was a question as to whether the film would eventually be released, I’ve come around to thinking its no longer a matter of “if” but of “when”.

We will get to see the Snyder Cut of Justice League. Perhaps very soon.

Let’s hope it was worth the wait.

Corrosive Knights, a 12/9/19 Update…!

Big news, for those interested: I have finished up the first draft of Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series.

I suppose I should once again -and for the last time- show this graphic:

Why for the last time? Because I’ve got to upgrade it. Book #8 is NOT going to be the Epilogue to the series.

But if you’ve been reading my updates, you know this already.

Still, I’ll point it out again: As things worked out and I created more and more Corrosive Knights novels, I came up with a way to conclude the main story line with book #7, Legacy of the Argus.

However, there was still one story I had tucked in my proverbial back pocket, a story that was essentially written out, which I felt would serve as a lovely “finale” -or epilogue- for the Corrosive Knights series.

However, redux, releasing that story meant I would wrap up the Corrosive Knights series and move on into other stories unrelated to it.

It seemed the right thing to do. While writing the final two books in the series, I was feeling the first twinges of what can only be described as fatigue. It’s not easy to juggle so many balls in the air, creatively, and come up with something you feel is worth releasing which adds to the series while never screwing with whatever came before.

I was elated as the end drew near, that countless re-writes and revisions were almost over. I would finish the series, in my mind, wonderfully with Legacy of the Argus then do a few revisions on and release the Epilogue before moving on to other things.

Only… when I actually finished Legacy of the Argus, I not only felt relief that I “stuck the landing” and created a great seven part book series, I also realized the fatigue I felt -perhaps something bordering on being burnt out- was lifted.



I was so proud and happy of my accomplishments. As I moved on to that Epilogue story, I was hit with waves of second thoughts.

Did I really have to end this series?

I wondered.

Another part of me asked, where do I go from here?

I pulled up the Epilogue and considered it. It was very short, only some 20,000 words long (my novels tend to be 100,000+ words). I worked on a new introduction to it, a way to expand the story and provide some exciting new material.

My mind wandered. New ideas worked their way into my head. Ideas for another story.

It was the first time in quite a while I started up a novel with no clear view of what I wanted to do with it. It was equally clear that I didn’t want to release that Epilogue story.

At least not yet.

So I worked and worked. If I were a sculptor, it would be like getting this massive slab of marble and chipping away at it here and there, not having a clear idea of the statue you were creating, but coming up with concepts that moved you closer to that end result.

Over the past week, and after writing a considerable amount of material, it all came together. I had my ending and it was solid.

More than that: I thought it was terrific.

I was busy these past few weeks, with family over and things to do for Thanksgiving. I likely won’t have too much time to work on the book between now and New Years, as there will be much family fare to do as well.

Nonetheless I printed the whole thing out yesterday and, as time allows, I’ll work on what is now the second draft of this book. I’ll be reading through this massive printout and cutting it down to size before adding stuff that isn’t there which should be.

There’s a lot of work yet to be done but it feels like I’m further ahead than usual. I’m certain this book will be ready sometime in the new year.

And you know what?

I can’t wait.

Biggest Bombs of 2019

Hot on the heels of writing about some critics’ favorite films of 2019 comes this fascinating article by Ian Sandwell and found on focusing on…

The Biggest Movie Flops of 2019

Unlike many of the films listed as top quality releases last year, I’ve actually seen one of the films on this list, Terminator: Dark Fate. Further to that, I’m familiar with pretty much all the films on this list, with the exception of Missing Link and Ugly Dolls.

The one that really surprised me was Captive State. I recall seeing the trailer for it and then promptly forgot the film existed! Not only did it exist, it apparently came and went without much of a ripple!

Others on the list, like Charlie’s Angels, The Goldfinch, and X:Men Dark Phoenix were pretty well known to me, even if I didn’t see the films.

Of note is the fact that some of these “flops” seem to have made a decent amount of money but it was only a little over their budget. When one takes into account the amount spent on advertising, etc. I suppose the loses become greater… either that or creative accounting takes over!

For example, X:Men: Dark Phoenix, according to this article, had a budget of $200,000,000. HUGE number, I grant you, and according to the article it took in $252,000,000, ie about $52 million over its budget. Yet that’s enough to make it a flop because -again I’m guessing- you have to factor in other expenses besides those that relate to the actual budget of making the film.

Similarly, Terminator: Dark Fate had a budget of $185,000,000 and drew in just north of $255,000,000 at the box office yet it too is considered a flop.

As I said, that’s the only film in this group I saw and, frankly, I liked it well enough.

But in the end, my opinion is but one of many or, in this case, perhaps one of too few!

Ah well.

Best Movies of 2019

It’s getting to be that time of year once again when people look back at what came before and decide to make lists about it.

Yep, we’re talking “Best Movie” lists of 2019!

First up, we have Dana Stevens at offering this take…

The best movies of 2019, plus the best of the Decade

Oh yeah, we’re about to enter a new Decade! Why not add that?

And looking over the list I have to say… I haven’t seen a single one of the films listed. Neither for the year of Decade!


I do have the movie Us recorded, though, and I do intend to see it eventually, so at least there’s that…

Kristen Acuna at offers this list:

The best movies of 2019 so far you need to see

Once again, I’ve seen… none of ’em. There’s Us here, as well as critical and commercial hits The Joker, Avengers: Endgame, The Lighthouse, Parasite. I have to admit, I’m curious to see all these films and even have Endgame in my digital collection.

Perhaps I will see some of these in time?

The Irishman is also finding its way to lists like these but, I have to be dead honest: I’m not interested in seeing this film, despite the Scorcese/DeNiro/Pacino/Pesci combo. Four hours of movie based on what is likely a totally fabricated story? I dunno.

Finally, offers three of their critics’ Top 10 lists…

The Best Movies of 2019

Another intriguing batch of films, though these feel more “high brow” than some of the other lists.

Anyway, if you’ve seen more than I have (I’ve seen none, sadly!), I hope you find/found them good, and if you’re intrigued by some of the rest, give ’em a try.

If I had the free time, I would too!


Completely Wireless iPhones?

Found this article over at and written by Annie Palmer:

Apple is killing the charging plug on its highest-end phones by 2021, top analyst predicts

It’s an intriguing idea and, at least for the iPhones, one that doesn’t bother me much. At this point in time I hardly ever “plug in” my own iPhone much, charging it in the car wirelessly or, if I need to at home, likewise. In fact, I can’t recall the last time I had to actually plug the thing in to charge it.


I also use an iPad -quite extensively in fact- and there are often times the battery is very low and I need to plug it in to continue working/playing/whatever-I’m-doing on it.

Similarly, my daughters, who have iPhones as well, use them pretty much for everything and are often finding them low. They plug them in quite a bit to keep doing whatever they’re doing on them while charging them up.

Which begs the question: If Apple is planning to do away with the charging plug, will they have some system that will allow people who are low to charge them while still working on the phone? Or will they have to put the phone in a wireless charger of some type which will be connected to a socket so they can keep using them while charging up?

It seems to me they need to do something like that.

Unless, of course, they’ve figured out a way to get even more life out of batteries and figure people will simply charge their phone when they’re sleeping.

Again: I’m not against the idea of wireless charging an iPhone, but what isn’t inconvenient to me might be for someone else!

The Predator (2018) a (mildly) Belated Review

I’ve mentioned it before so indulge me as I mention it again: When I was younger and I was eager to have a career as a writer, one of my dreams was to write the Batman comic books.

Mind you, back then (we’re talking the late 1970’s and into the early-middle 1980’s) Batman wasn’t THE BATMAN, multi-billion corporate sold platinum/gold character. Back then, the books were doing decently but most people knew of the character from the purposely cheesy TV show starring Adam West and Burt Ward or perhaps some of the cartoons released in the 1970’s. (You’d have to be really into culture to recall the two serials made prior to the TV show!).

Since that time and roughly beginning with the release of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and Tim Burton’s Batman, the character has become part of the global culture and is rightly one of DC Comic’s prized characters.

So if you have any dream of writing the character, be prepared to have plenty of editors/management/investors looking over your shoulder and making sure you don’t do anything bad with the character. Further to that, expect to be told (often) that you have to do this or that with your stories. And if fans express any disappointment in your work, chances are pretty good you’ll get the axe.

The point is: The character is corporate now.

I realized this and, further, realized the way I write requires me to have absolute freedom to do “my thing”. That and plenty of time to get the story “right”. The books I currently have available for audiences to read are, for better or worse, my creations from the very first word to the last. Whether you love, hate, or are indifferent to those books, they’re mine.

With that realization came the realization that I really can’t see myself becoming a contract writer for a character as big as a Batman or considerably smaller/less known. I have my way of doing things and unless given total freedom, I can’t see myself doing these characters with others looking over my shoulder and/or deadlines pushing me to hurry through the creative process.

I mention all this because having seen The Predator, I get the very strong feeling that if I were to make a film featuring a prominent character and under those tight deadlines and with corporate types hovering over me expecting me to do this or that and facing tight deadlines, that’s the type of sloppy film I’d come up with.

Shane Black (he directed Iron Man 3 and was one of the actors in the original Predator), co-wrote and directed this film. There were considerable controversies around the movie’s creation, word of the final act being re-done. Of the controversy when it was revealed a convicted sexual predator was in the cast -albeit in an apparently minor role- and actress Olivia Munn’s anger at realizing she participated in a scene with him without being told of his past. His scene was subsequently deleted.

When the film was finally released, the reviews weren’t terribly kind. However, I’m a fan of the original Predator and despite figuring the film wasn’t going to be all that good, I still wanted to see it. Shane Black has done some decent films in the past and, what the heck, right?

Uh huh.

To say The Predator is a mess is something of an understatement. The film leans far too heavily on humor in the early going, with characters engaging in smart-ass banter while other red-shirts are being ripped apart via gory -but not terribly good- CGI.

The plot of the film goes something like this: A Predator is running away from another Predator. It escapes to Earth. It’s escape pod crash lands near a U.S. Special Op team engaged in… I really don’t know what they’re doing there, except killing off some random badguy.

Anyway, the sniper in the team, Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), has the running away Predator escape pod almost land right on top of him. He is the only survivor of his team and manages to get a couple of Predator items (the helmet and wrist band) and mails them to his wife and child back in the U.S. (why not?!).

He’s then taken into custody by black ops officers run by a man named Traeger (Sterling K. Brown, overacting pretty wildly) who intend to get information off of him then do away with him.

Meanwhile, Casey Brackett (Olivia Munn), some kind of super-biologist, is picked up by these same black ops people and gets to see the supposedly tranquilized Predator in a secret U.S. base that conveniently lies within a stone’s throw of McKenna’s home (where his ex-wife and child live) and, we find out a little later, also a stone’s throw from where that Predator’s ship crash landed.

Yeah, I’m feeding you SPOILERS here but consider the absolute absurdity of this scenario: We start in what appears to be South America with that Special Ops team and the escape pod of the ship (with the Predator) crash landing there, we then move to the United States, and it turns out that not only the SECRET BASE where the Predator is being held is near our McKenna’s home but also the crashed ship itself (which is what Traeger wants to get his hands on) is ALSO within close driving distance….!

How’s that for coincidence?!?

Anyway, it turns out the Predator that crash landed was running away from an even more fearsome (and taller) Predator. They are screwing up Earth -or at least allowing Earth to get screwed up- so they can come in and claim it for themselves. They like hot weather… or something.

Anyway, redux, McKenna winds up with a group of military misfits/mental cases, Olivia Munn’s super-biologist, and finally his autistic kid (who also figures, improbably -yeah, who would’a guessed?!- into the bad-guy Predator’s ultimate plans). There’s also an addled Predator dog. This is another element that looks like it was pieced together into the film while whatever sense the scenes made were cut to shreds.

How so?

Well, in the sequence where the Predator dogs first appear/attack, they menace McKenna’s autistic son, who happens to be on a baseball field (don’t ask) after he has befriended a regular/ordinary dog.

I suspect that sequence was originally a lot darker because that friendly, nice regular dog simply disappears from the sequence the moment the action starts and, at the very tail end of it and when our heroes are leaving, we have a brief clip of that nice friendly dog walking on the field and toward the camera, as if the director/editors took some old sequence/scene (perhaps when the dog originally appeared) and stuck it in there to assure audiences that dog -who, again, disappeared entirely once the violent action started) is actually ok rather than, as I suspect in the original cut, likely cut to shreds.

Further, what becomes/became of the addled Predator dog is also something of a mystery. It shows up toward the end of the film and attacks (I won’t get into spoilers as to who) and then is gone.

I could go on and on but let me add one final head-scratcher: Toward the end of the film, one of the film’s most prominent characters is killed. This is done in such an offhanded, long distance viewed way that as an audience of one I hardly even realized he was gone. It was until a few more sequences passed I realized he was no longer with the rest of the cast!

In sum, The Predator is, sadly, a giant mess of a film. In many ways it reminds me of Suicide Squad, a film which was also famously taken from the director’s hands and reworked into what was story-wise an incoherent mess. Thing is, at least Suicide Squad had a bunch of charismatic actors making you care for them even if what they were going through made zero sense. Alas, the cast and characters in The Predator are simply not as charismatic or interesting.

Alas, in the case of The Predator, we simply don’t even have that.

A pass.

I can’t help myself: ONE MORE SPOILER!!!!

At the movie’s very end there’s a CODA which reveals what the “good” (I suppose its all relative) Predator brought with him.

I won’t reveal what he brought but if you do see the film, pay attention to McKenna’s autistic son and how he talks during this sequence. While in the movie proper he talked with great hesitation (suggesting his autistic nature), in this part of the film he suddenly talks perfectly normal and even shows emotions!

Could there have been another cut scene which showed the Predator messing with the kid’s head and making him more normal?

Who knows.

Not that it would have made the film any better.