No pressure, Shane! Here’s some things Mr. Black could do to make The Predator a classic.
We’ve made no bones about the fact we love Predator at SquabbleBox. It has given us a tribute video, a podcast, and even an interview with effects maestro Steve Wang. But what we’d really love is for someone to make a great follow-up to John McTiernan’s 1987 original (the equivalent of Aliens, in franchise terms). Is it really that hard?
Now, I happen to dig 1990’s Predator 2, which continues to be underrated, but was less keen on the well-meaning but ultimately recycled Predators. Shane Black is going to have to walk a tightrope to please everyone, but I have some useless and sure-to-be-ignored suggestions. Let’s hope this is more The Nice Guys and less Iron Man 3. Are you listening, Shane?
5) Make the kills bloody and elaborate.
The Predator is due to have an R-rating, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will embrace the gonzo gore of the old days. Perhaps Fox are betting on the certificate to appease fanboys, only to release a product that is as soft as R’s can get? You may remember that Predators classified for such a rating, but was annoyingly tasteful when it came to the bloodletting, largely relying on harsh language and innuendo to be considered adult material. (And before anyone chimes in saying AVP2 is a splatter-fest, you couldn’t see shit in that movie.)
Does the film need to be over-the-top and gory? Yes, yes it fucking does. Fans of the old films are going in expecting the Predator to truly let-loose and restore some sense of fear. Tiptoeing around the more gruesome aspects of the series will only make it seem watered-down. Just compare any kill sequence in Predators to the likes of Mac’s death in the first, or the penthouse slaughter in Predator 2. The latter film may have been overkill, but at least it had edge.
4) Incorporate Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It’s a fairly well-known fact that the former Governor was originally offered the chance to reprise his role as Dutch Schaefer in Predator 2 as a government man assigned to track down the “Yautja”, but whether it was due to scheduling conflicts with Total Recall or his dissatisfaction with the script, the role was eventually filled by Gary Busey. Now is the time for Dutch to make a comeback, and it may not be so hard to accomplish. It looks like his career needs the boost and his presence in the supporting players will only add fuel to the fanboy blaze. Please, Shane, find a way to get him to that chopper!
Oh, and this is a lesser request, but if there’s any chance Danny Glover can get a look-in, too, I would be a very happy Predator fan.
3) Get Alan Silvestri to score it.
I’m serious about this one!
It may be hard to entice the veteran back following his absence from Predators, but the composer is still very much with us, having recently worked on The Avengers movies. His music for the first two Predator flicks is half the reason they’re so iconic, ably mixing a sense of the fantastic with the foreboding. They also had a distinctly tribal bent, too, working wonders with the screenplay’s thematic underpinnings. He may be the man to reinvent his material once again just as he did for Predator 2, taking those same motifs and updating them to whatever the new landscape happens to be. That would certainly be grander than someone else cannabalising his work.
2) Teach us something new.
“Hey, asshole, you’ll get another chance!”
This might seem like an obvious point, but actually breaking some fresh ground in the fourth entry of a series is easier said than done. You run the risk of trying something fresh which doesn’t pan-out and alienating the fanbase (try those bloody “Super Predators”), or making the inclusions so minor that they barely matter at all. Black promises to do something different with the formula of The Predator, and the prior sequels and spin-offs added mythology to varying degrees, but you only need to look at Predator 2 to see how to handle this. Some didn’t like the concrete jungle setting, but it was a perfect switcheroo in hindsight, actually showing us how the creatures operate in a populous setting (if the rumours are true, at least some of the new movie occurs in suburbia). Part two also had a helluva last act that established in mere minutes that these extra-terrestrials have been here for centuries and that their hunter’s code is so strong that, given a display of sheer will and determination, they will let you live. This climax elaborated hugely on the backstory without knocking you over the head with exposition or even making a big deal out of it.
Compare all this to Predators, a film with a plot set on another planet that still struggles spectacularly to do anything creative. Yes, it informed us that the creatures use other worlds for gaming practice, but writing that summary tells you about as much as the film does. It was a disappointment given the concept that the resulting film was such a blatant copy of the original, depicting a jungle terrain that rarely seemed otherworldly; it was like everything was done on the cheap (in reality, much of the flick was shot at Robert Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios in dusty Austin). Hopefully, The Predator recognises these potential pratfalls and simultaneously combines fresh plotting with a new environment to mark itself out. Seriously, no bloody jungles or forests!
There’s also a myriad of dangling question that have yet to be explored in the film series, such as #1 on this list.
1) Show us the Predator homeworld.
If you were (un)lucky enough to see the second Alien vs. Predator movie, Requiem, you will know that we briefly see the homeworld before “Wolf” jumps into a ship and zips to Earth. It was all too short a stop and made me really yearn to see more of their culture which, so far, has largely been derived from non-canon comic books. A whole film doesn’t need to be set there, of course, but perhaps a wider understanding of how everything operates at Planet Pred would give us more context for the creatures and make them deeper characters as a result. If there’s one reason I’ve always preferred the Predator to the Alien as a movie creation, it’s because they’re fully fleshed-out personalities with morals and a sense of honour. If they broaden the playground to multiple worlds, we may just get a Predator movie worth waiting for.