Summer Blockbuster Preview: Predators

Can the influence of producer Robert Rodriguez get the Predator franchise back on track? We look ahead to the upcoming summer blockbuster, Predators...

Predators

What is it?

The first Predator movie is rightly regarded as a genre classic. Released in 1987, it placed the might of Arnold Schwarzenegger against an alien big game hunter with a silhouette even more imposing than the Austrian Oak himself.

John McTiernan’s direction was taut, economical and, along with Alan Silvestri’s tribal soundtrack, delivered a tense, atmospheric thriller punctuated by endlessly quotable macho dialogue.

Since 1990’s entertaining but inferior Predator 2, the series has gradually descended into forgettable B-picture territory, and after two Alien Vs Predator films, the first mediocre, the second abysmal, the Predator franchise felt like one stripped of its teeth.

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With Predators, however, the series has a real chance to recapture the brilliance of the 1987 original, and uses that film’s premise as its template. A group of mercenaries are dropped onto an alien planet where, as the title suggests, they come face to face with an entire army of colossal hunters.

Who’s behind it?

Predators is directed by Nimród Antal, whose visually stylish Kontroll brought him wider attention in 2003. His gritty, naturalistic direction style could lend Predators a more visceral look far removed from the multiplex blandness that permeated Paul WS Anderson’s Alien Vs Predator.

What’s most exciting about Predators is the involvement of producer Robert Rodriguez. Predators‘ script is based on one Rodriguez originally presented to Fox over a decade ago, but was rejected because it was considered too expensive. According to the LA Times, Rodriguez had originally written the script during the pre-production of Desperado in 1994.

“It was crazy, this thing I came up with,” Rodriguez said. “So then fast-forward to now and, like, six months ago, they found the script and called me up. ‘Hey, we want to redo this franchise and we found your old script. This is where we should have gone with the series! We want to move forward.’ And that’s what we’re doing.”

The quality of Predators‘ cast, meanwhile, is of a surprisingly high calibre. Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne and Danny Trejo will all appear as unsuspecting prey.

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Why should I watch it?

The involvement of Rodriguez alone makes Predators worthy of your attention. His prowess as an action director, along with his longstanding interest in the Predator franchise will, we hope, dispel all memories of the AvP movies.

If you’re still not convinced, just take a look at the trailer below. For fans of the original Predator, its two minutes’ running time is packed full of references to that movie: the platoon of heavily armed mercenaries creeping through a jungle, fleeting glimpses of the predators’ shiny, exotic weaponry, a slow motion dive off a waterfall.

One of final scenes, which shows a tense Brody – who appears to be this movie’s wiry Arnold analogue – standing in the glare of one, then two, then about a dozen Predator laser sights, is a superbly realised moment.

Of course, a scintillating trailer is no guarantee of a classic movie, and there’s always the possibility that Predators could equal far less than the sum of its parts. Just look at the sorry mess that was Alien Resurrection, a film which, pre-release, appeared to have everything going for it: a screenplay penned by Joss Whedon, and a brilliant director in the shape of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, whose Delicatessen and The City Of Lost Children displayed an intelligent and visually distinctive style.

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There’s also a possibility that Predators will make so many nods and references to the original movie that it will end up as the cinematic equivalent of a tribute act rather than a decent film in its own right, its setting and the sheer number of allusions to Predator certainly make this a possibility.

Nevertheless, we’re cautiously optimistic about Predators. The quality of its cast should add dramatic weight to the quieter moments between action scenes, and it’s clear from the trailer that Predators isn’t a film that’s been thrown together to make a few quick sovereigns.

So, with the disappointing sequels of the past firmly in mind, we’re hoping that Predators could be the film that finally gives the franchise back the teeth it so desperately needs.

US release date: 9th JulyUK release date: 22nd July