“Predator” and “Aliens” remain two of my most cherished R-rated sci-fi films of all time. The magic of the worlds created by John McTiernan and James Cameron, respectively, have been often imitated, sometimes intertwined, but never duplicated in the 30 years since they were created.

The franchises have seen various trials and error, different formulas and character shifts. They’ve attempted sequels, prequels and reboots. But the fire just hasn’t been rekindled since 1987.

Until now.

Shane Black has found success as a writer and director (“Lethal Weapon,” “Iron Man 3,” “The Nice Guys”) but his connection to this particular franchise runs deep. This passion project began with his unfortunate role of Hawkins in the original “Predator,” and he had been rumored for years to be working on a sequel that will make us all forget about the previous less-than-stellar installments.

Imagine my sense of childlike anticipation to see a film that might remedy all that was tragically wrong from “Predator 2” onward. It’s cinematic excitement that only comes around maybe a dozen or so times a year. When the previews finally arrived, I was a bit dismayed.

The Predator comes to Earth looking for something, and the humans band together and fight for survival while being picked off one at a time. Army Ranger sniper Quin (Boyd Holbrook) leads a motley crew of Veteran’s Affairs patients with names like Nebraska, Baxley, Lynch and Coyle as they are forced to confront the Predator after his escape from a research facility hidden somewhere in the mountainous forests of Chattanooga.

To throw a wrench in the mix, there’s a whole recombinant DNA plotline, a nod to climate change, and an enhanced Super Predator who comes to kill the original Predator, forcing us to wonder who to root for and why. It’s all very confusing. What isn’t confusing is the popcorn-munching action fun that accompanies sharp jokes and nostalgia for the original.

Sterling K. Brown is tremendous as Traeger, the most interesting character in the bunch. He delivers his lines with a poise and confidence that is just plain cool. His character borders on bad guy, but is so compelling that you can’t help but like him. I only wish there were more of him and less of everyone else (except the Predator).

I found myself pondering how someone could have that much clout for a secretive government agency with that many resources at his disposal in the middle of Tennessee, and then I thought, “oh yeah, this is Predator.” I sat back and simply enjoyed the ride.

Olivia Munn plays the fascinated scientist, Dr. Brackett, whose lack of fear is remarkable. She’s too busy drooling over the alien technology and biology to consider that the beast is literally driven by an urge to kill for sport. Jacob Tremblay plays the severely out-of-place child with autism who is the focal point of the alien skirmish. The attempt is to humanize and add a sense of empathetic peril, but the entire subplot is simply unnecessary.

The characters were written out of cookie-cutters, and the plot could have used a significant amount of polishing, but I have to say, the dialogue was sharp and humorous, the action was far from disappointing, and the kill sequences were, for lack of a better word, delightful.

I was pleasantly entertained considering the unreasonable expectations I put upon this film. Sterling K. Brown is a new personal favorite, and I’ll gladly pay to see anything he stars in from now on. I only wish he had more scenes and his character more fully developed.

“The Predator” is what you would expect, and you will be thoroughly entertained if you’re a fanboy (or fangirl). This installment is truer to the original than any attempt over the past 30 years, and you can be certain there will be a sequel. It’s worth the price of admission, with so few good choices out there right now.