Watch this 2-minute clip, and then tell me what about it excites you.
I’ll tell you what excites me about it… Nothing. Not. A fucking. Thing. Minigun? Check. Jungle? Check. Muscles? Ominous black guy? Check. Evolved baddie? Check. Something new? Something interesting?… Hello? Bueller? Something doo-economics? Anyone? No?
Let’s face the fact that the Predator ‘franchise’ was never a good idea to begin with. Predator’s pulpy schlock. And as such it may be hard to fault anyone, even someone as universally annoying as Rodriguez, for thinking a sequel… ehm, yet another sequel, would be a good idea, but as with any sequel idea, once the light dawns, it will inevitably have to stand up for itself and answer the question: “What makes you so fucking special?”
And if the answer is: “Hey, I’m just here for them monies?”, these two kind gentlemen will lead you out behind the chemical shed and shoot you in the face.
The original Predator is one of those films that was great in spite of everything. You can feel whichever way you want about movies like Commando, Raw Deal and Rambo—I was raised on them, naturally I love them—but it would be a stretch to call any one of them cinematic masterpieces, despite the fact that they obviously managed to strike right into the hearts of male tween, teen and young adults everywhere when they saw the light of day. Predator worked in spite of the fact that the Predator was inches from being a giant red prawn, before Stan Winston—may he rest in peace—and James Cameron came along and bestowed upon this lamebrain idea some greatness. It worked in spite of the testosterone-pumped stupidity of its casting. Or rather, it was so pumped that it will remain the most pumped film in the history of the universe; an event horizon of pumpedness and testosterone and badass one-liners beyond which no light can escape.
It was inspired. Yes, it’s a poor excuse for a story, a poor excuse for cashing in on the action trends of the times, a poor excuse for a whole lot of things, but fucking hell, it was inspired, you’ve got to give them that. And if nothing else, it wasn’t a fucking sequel! Hell, in whatever capacity it was a knockoff of Alien, it still brought something new to the table.
Call it zeitgeist. Call it power fantasy. Call it But Jesus fucking Christ, don’t call it a ‘franchise’ you greedy scum-sucking money-grubbing leeches of past greatness and our collective childhoods.
Take Predator 2:
No, please for the love of all that is good, take it. No, seriously.
Between that and Highlander II, it’s as if some kind of mental ailment swept through studio executives in the late 80’s, early 90’s. “Let’s take this ‘shouldn’t-work-but-does-film and set the sequel in the future, hand me some more blow and a hooker.” In fact, the Predator and Highlander ‘franchises’ both share the honor of having fucked over the original films absolutely, and in doing so thrown all of their trustworthiness to the wind in the name of earning a buck off the back of utter derivative trash.
And let’s not even mention Failien vs Creditors, which yeah, I’ll give you, when I first read AvsP: Prey it sounded like a great idea in my mind as well. Only I was 15 years old and didn’t have millions and millions to back my moronic notions with! There isn’t a single thing going through my head when I was 15 worth banking on! What that says about Hollywood, I’ll leave up to you, but in reality the only thing separating the people behind these films and the hordes of organic garbage spewing fan fiction, is a budget.
Let’s forget about the sordid franchise history for a moment and think about how you would improve Predator. What doesn’t the original deliver that would be awesome to see in a sequel like Predators?
More predators? Well, doesn’t the Predator work exactly because it’s mysterious and unknown? When exactly did simply piling ‘more’ on top work for a franchise? In fact, hasn’t the ‘more-oughta-fucking-do-it’-attitude destroyed more than it’s created? Predator 2 and two AvsP films say ‘yes’. ‘Aliens’ you say? That’s true, but putting aside the fact that James Cameron is one of the best directors in the world, it’s exactly because of Aliens that you can’t do an Aliens-like take on Predator. And quite frankly, ‘more-oughta-fucking-do-it’ is what destroyed the Star Wars prequel trilogy. It’s not the answer.
The predator homeworld? “It’s crazy! It’s like Avatar, but worse! Things with, like fangs, and like, just… Like things even the predators are afraid of. More hookers?”
A badder asser predator? Yeah, it’s has like even longer claws and even more mandibles and like… like a spear and it’s like… longer also.
I’m serious here. What in the hell could you bring to Predator that wouldn’t simply dilute the original? What else is there to say? And is it worth saying the same thing again? I’m not holding it up as a shining beacon of film perfection here, but you have to admit it’s not only expertly self-contained, it’s also one lean, mean action extravaganza. In fact, I’d venture that it works so well, because it’s so simple.
Trying to build anything on top of it won’t work, because Predator is not a foundation, it’s an obelisk of muscles and badassery. Star Wars, is a foundation. Lord of the Rings is a foundation. Predator. Not so much.
But because Robert ‘I like grindhouse, but I can’t bring anything new to it’ Rodriguez liked Predator, the world must suffer the consequences of it?
How about just writing a Predatoresque screenplay and shooting it for a penny instead? Fuck the expectations and legacy bullshit and do your own damn thing. The Thing. Pitch Black. Outlander. Inspired, sure, but fresh and not beholden to the work of someone else or the expectations of ingrates like me.
In a very real way, the Predator ‘franchise’ illustrates exactly what can be gained from doing exactly this, in that the first take on a sequel which took place in a city was deemed too ‘far out’, and instead became Commando 2 (screenplay), which in turn became… Die Hard, also directed by McTiernan. Of course, years later the ‘too far out’ idea for Predator 2 got made regardless. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which of the two you’d rather take with you to a deserted island, but rest assured that today, you would’ve gotten the sequels well before you’d get Die Hard, because hey, it’s easier selling a known IP in ‘the current entertainment industry climate’.
But since when did anything good come from being easy?
Thinking about it, I’m pretty sure that both Die Hard 3 and 4 were in fact both non-Die Hard scripts hijacked and retrofitted with John McClane. Full circle and all that.
A sequel for Predator is a straight-up act of desperation and the ultimate creative apathy, not to mention downright cynical. It’s short-term money-in-the-bank and long-term suicide. Judging from the footage shown, it’s not only entirely derivative, it’s also straight-up fan-service—did you see the minigun?—which is just about the worst possible thing that can happen to a franchise (looking at you Terminator 3 and Terminator Salvation).
One can only hope Ridley Scott has a bit more to say with his Alien prequel.