A Couple of Overlooked Gems Land on Blu-ray in ‘A Simple Favor’ and ‘The Predator’

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A Simple Favor The Predator Blu-ray

Paul Feig is known as a comedy director first and foremost with his work on Bridesmaids, Spy, and Ghostbusters (I don’t care what you say, it’s hilarious). This fall Feig stepped out of his comfort zone and crafted a fun little thriller with Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, A Simple Favor. Now A Simple Favor is available on every home video format and hopefully more people will realized that they’ve slept on a devious work of cinema that takes chances but never loses its sense of fun within the layers of mystery.

Stephanie Smothers (Kendrick) is a lifestyle vlogger and single mother. She unexpectedly makes friends with Emily Nelson (Lively), a PR director for a fashion firm. Emily is everything that Stephanie wishes she could be – confident and stylish. However, it’s not all perfect for Emily as her marriage to Sean (Henry Golding) is on the rocks. One day, Emily asks Stephanie to pick up her son from school and watch him for the night as she’s been called out of town on work. Stephanie eagerly aims to help. Then Emily just vanishes. Stephanie begins to look for clues as to the whereabouts of her friend and winds up finding much more than she ever expected.

From the start, Feig and screenwriter Jessica Sharzer (adapting the novel by Darcey Bell) keep A Simple Favor moving with information about its characters, including their darkest secrets, while establishing then building the central mystery. It’s a wry change of pace for Feig but further illustrates that he’s a filmmaker not bound by genre. A Simple Favor is a stylish, sexy and engrossing mystery that deserves a wider audience for its home video release.

The Predator

This fall, The Predator came out to little fanfare. There was a bit of controversy ahead of the film’s release, but other than that The Predator came and went quickly and quietly. The sense of disappointment that surrounded The Predator was understandable at first considering the expectations that came with the film. Shane Black, who had a role in the first film, would be directing and co-writing the film with his friend and collaborator Fred Dekker, who himself has directed a number of cult films over the years including The Monster Squad, though his directing career came to a complete stop after Robocop 3. The Predator didn’t meet the lofty expectations that come with a Shane Black script, and it seems as if it’s been almost entirely forgotten in just a few short month. However, revisiting The Predator for its DVD/Blu-ray release, I’ve come away thinking that this film will actually have a bit more of a shelf life than initially thought. It’s an imperfect but pulpy B-movie, reveling in its R-rated violence and profane spirit as it expands the series’ mythology.

After an encounter with a Predator, Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), an elite special ops sniper, has been deemed crazy and assigned to a group of military misfits and rejects which includes Nebraska Williams (Trevante Rhodes), Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key), Baxley (Thomas Jane), Lynch (Alfie Allen), and Nettles (Augusto Aguilera). Little do these misfits realize that they’ve just been dragged into an intergalactic war between man and Predator. These military rejects are called into action when a Predator roams loose seeking McKenna’s son Rory (Jacob Tremblay), who has opened a package from his father containing Predator weaponry. Dr. Casey Brackett (Olivia Munn) has been pulled into the fray due to her biology expertise by the CIA operative Traeger (Sterling K. Brown).

The big problem facing The Predator is its wobbly final act which reeks of studio interference. What was a pulpy, wise-cracking adventure devolves into a generic action climax. But for most of the film, Shane Black is trying to expand the mythology of the Predators, creating a smart little twist on the classic creature that ties its murderous mission from beyond into modern issues.

With a little bit of time since its release, it’s become apparent that The Predator is going to have a reputation like Black’s lone entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man 3. There will be those that hate everything about Black’s movie and the chances it took with a beloved mythology. There will also be those that admire Black taking chances and refusing to play it safe with a beloved franchise. I’m in the latter category.

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