Shane Black’s The Predator recently debuted its first teaser trailer. It got me thinking about the Predator franchise in general.

Get ready for a wild claim I can in no way verify, beginning in 3, 2, 1…

At this very moment, somewhere in the world somebody is probably watching Predator. Perhaps it’s a young kid in Laos hearing “Get to da choppa!” for the first time or a fortysomething in the American Midwest who just happened upon the movie on cable and opted to embrace the nostalgia. Either way, Predator seems to always be playing somewhere and there’s always someone willing to watch because, goddammit, Predator is amazing.

Amazingly 80s. Amazingly Arnold. Amazingly quotable. It’s an amazing orgy of testosterone, pitting some of the biggest and baddest dudes of the 80s against a 7-foot-tall, crab-faced, green-blooded, nuclear bomb-sporting alien whose just in it for the love of the hunt.

And that’s the thing with Predator – there’s a really cool idea underneath it all. The hunter suddenly becomes the hunted, visualized for the audience via point-of-view thermal vision, like some kind of slasher villain living in the trees, but there’s no grand scheme to any of it. No bad blood. Instead, there’s just an alien dropping by Earth to hunt some apex predators. It’s not going to kill you if there’s no real sport in it. So, put down that damn gun and, just to be safe, maybe cover yourself in mud (messes with their thermal vision).

That little hook has served as the opening for sequels, non-canonical Alien crossovers, comic books, and video games to try to fill in more of the story. Predator 2 told us the aliens have been coming to Earth longer than we realized. Alien vs. Predator explored what it takes for one of the predators to actually partner with a human. Predators showed us something closer to the aliens’ actual homeworld.

But the franchise has never topped its first entry, either in quality (my personal opinion) or box office (domestically at least; the AvP movies played big worldwide). It’s been forever chasing the magic Joel Silver, John McTiernan and a bunch of roided up dudes (and Shane Black) found in the Mexican jungle in the summer of 1986. The challenge has always been how to expand upon the mystery of the predators without nullifying their appeal while also updating the franchise beyond its very 80s-influenced roots.

Last time out, Nimrod Antal and Robert Rodriguez threw some fairly fresh ideas at Predators – humans transported to a game reserve used by the predators as a rite-of-passage experience for their young hunters – but then wimped out in the third act and simply restaged the first film’s ending with Adrien Brody in Arnold’s place.

They, of course, came to the project as fans. Shane Black, director and co-writer of the next franchise installment (The Predator, due in September), comes to it as someone who was actually in that jungle with Arnold back in the 80s. The original script is not his (it came from Jim and John Thomas), but the rewrites are. The whole reason he was cast in a supporting role in the film was to have him on set to perform any uncredited emergency rewrites.

All these years later, he’s adding his own spin on things, trading out the jungle and urban warfare of prior films for something more suburban, evoking Amblin films of old in the process, and running with the idea of the predators being less noble and more scavenger-like, hunting in search of genetic and technological upgrades.

Plus, since this is Shane Black we’re talking about there’s a cute, likely wise-beyond-his-years kid (Jacob Tremblay) and a holiday happening in the background (Halloween instead of Black’s customary Christmas).

The recent history of resurrecting the action franchises of the 80s hasn’t been great. See: Total Recall and Robocop remakes. But The Predator has several of the original producers and one of the original screenwriters involved as well as the stated intention to be a sequel, not a remake. This is meant to take place in-between Predator 2 and Predators, and with a cast that includes Sterling K. Brown, Keegan Michael-Key, Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Yvonne Strahovski, and Edward James Olmos there will probably at least be some likable performers acting out memorable death scenes.

And yet…Michael-Key’s already admitted the entire third act was reshot after poor test screenings. Fox has pushed back the release date multiple times. This teaser doesn’t give us much to go on, and at the end of the day, this isn’t Predator. It’s just not going to be as good. It’s not 1987 anymore. Shane Black isn’t John McTiernan, and he doesn’t have an in-his-prime Arnold to play with. But, The Predator looks like it knows all of that. Instead of chasing after Predator it appears to be opening up to something genuinely different. At this point, maybe a little bit of different is exactly what the franchise needs.

The Predator is due Sept. 14, 2018.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

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Posted by Kelly Konda

Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

7 Comments

    1. It’s got that going for it, which is nice.

      Reply

  1. I actually liked predators. It was a fresh take with nods to thw original. I watched predator 2 not that long ago and the story isnt that bad. Very ambitious. I think the let down is danny glover miscast and there is a lot of unnecessary bad language in it but otherwise would have been good woth a better leading star. This new trailer looks ropey. Made me think of a v p which is worrying. Dont want predator pairing uo woth humans. Next they will be wiping a tear off a boy saying it is somethingn can never do or hasta la vista. Should have continued form predators and brought back old arnie to be killed off when they spot him and recall him.

    Reply

    1. Of the main Predator movies – not counting the non-canonical Alien crossover films – I clearly prefer the first. But, in truth, I like all three. I would rank them Predator first, Predators second, and Predator 2 last. My point wasn’t necessarily that this has been a bad film franchise, more that it’s forever been stuck chasing the magic of the first film. Even when they try something newish, like Predators, they can’t help but eventually return to rehashing what came before. So, for the betterment of the franchise, we should be open to The Predator maybe doing something new.

      That doesn’t mean I’m totally down with what Shane Black is doing. Evolving the predators from a race of hunters to something more interested in taking the biological uniqueness of its prey and splicing it into their own DNA seems like a pretty damn big and fundamental change in our understanding of how the predators operate. Still, if Hollywood insists on forever revisiting these old franchises in the hopes of refinding some old blockbuster magic they might as well do something new with it. So, I’m a bit weary of The Predator but accepting of the idea to experiment with the franchise’s DNA.

      Reply

  2. I actually do put Predator 2 at my number one on the list with Predators coming in a far last. I liked Predators okay, and its not a bad movie, but I wasn’t too fired up while watching it. On the other hand, Predator 2 is so crazily over the top in its 80s-ness, that I just love the hell out of it. I disagree about Danny Glover being miscast. He is so totally 80s, that it seems inevitable that he’d be in it.

    The first Predator would come in second on my list mostly because of the presence of Carl Weathers, and 80s Arnold. I mostly seem to like these movies based on the actors and preformances, rather than anything to do with the plots.

    My number three movie would be AVP, I wasn’t fired up too much about it either, but it has three of my favorite actors in it, Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, and the Predator!

    I’m actually cautiously excited about this new movie. I need to see more trailer before rendering a final verdict on whether it will get my money.

    Reply

    1. “I liked Predators okay, and its not a bad movie, but I wasn’t too fired up while watching it.”

      Someone on Letterboxd described Predators as being the film equivalent of hearing a pretty good, rather faithful cover of a song you love. You enjoy the cover, but it mostly just reminds you of the original you loved so much. That sounds about right to me.

      “The first Predator would come in second on my list mostly because of the presence of Carl Weathers, and 80s Arnold.”

      I love Carl Weathers in that movie. I feel like if the internet existed back then all of the same thirst love Michael B. Jordan got for his Black Panther physique would have surely been flowing Carl Weathers way with Predator. Dude is just ripped and manages to carry Arnold through as the kinda, sorta bad guy.

      “I’m actually cautiously excited about this new movie. I need to see more trailer before rendering a final verdict on whether it will get my money.”

      Agreed. The new teaser is just that – a teaser. It’s enough to let us know this thing is real and on its way, but it’s certainly not quite enough to get out buying tickets as soon as they go on sale.

      “My number three movie would be AVP, I wasn’t fired up too much about it either, but it has three of my favorite actors in it, Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, and the Predator!”

      One of my favorite parts in any of the movies is when the Predator and Sanaa Lathan join forces near the end.

      “I disagree about Danny Glover being miscast. He is so totally 80s, that it seems inevitable that he’d be in it.”

      Predator 2 is usually accused of being miscast. In fact, most of the movies are – same was true with Adrien Brody and Predators – simply because everyone struggles to move on from associating Predator with Arnold. But, I actually like the idea of casting a complete opposite from Arnold, both in terms of age, race, and physique. Arnold’s this Mr. Universe soldier of fortune type in the first movie. Unless Arnold himself came back, it’s more interesting for the sequel to go a completely different direction, drop the action into the urban jungle and pit the Predator against a grizzled cop. But that also means the action just doesn’t pop as much and has work on a different level. That might be where the disappointment comes in.

      To be honest, though, it’s been years since I’ve seen Predator 2. I do remember watching it as a kid and being super scared during that subway sequence with the predator versus Bill Paxton, the pregnant woman, and the darkened tunnell and shouting subway passengers. Pretty effective suspense sequence, as I recall, and the reveal that the Predator wouldn’t kill the woman because she was pregnant was a nice addition to the little honor code.

      Reply

      1. I mostly remember the action sequences from Predator 2. I cant for the life of me remember what the plot was or why Danny’s character, and the Predator, were fighting. I just saw this recently and I just thought it was so outrageously crazy. I mean c’mon! A drug dealing, magic wielding gang, called The Jamaican Voodoo Posse? You can’t get away with something like that today.

        For some reason my mind wants to keep linking it to the 1987 Robocop because of all that.

        And Predator has one of the most perfect 80s casts ever, next to the original movie. Maria Conchita Alonzo was the sh!t during that era, and so was Gary Busey and Bill Paxton.

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