Why Predator is the most underappreciated monster franchise of our time

There are now six sci-fi/action movies starring the armored, tendril-sporting alien hunters known as Predators, but it would be a stretch to call them a multiplex fixture. This weekend’s release of The Predator trails its immediate predecessor by eight years, a stop-start longevity owed to the big-studio environment that has produced five Terminator movies and only two good ones. The original story being milked endlessly is 1987’s Predator, an action-thriller about a team of mercenaries on a jungle mission who are tracked and mostly killed by a mysterious alien with a cloaking device and a variety of gruesomely effective weapons. Only one of the men — naturally it’s the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger — makes it out alive.

The 1987 film’s status as the only good one won’t likely change with this year’s The Predator, released Friday and co-written and directed by the original’s bit player Shane Black; so far, it’s received a mixture of mild fan enthusiasm, shrugs, and derision similar to 2010’s Predators. The reviews for the first follow-up, 1990’s Predator 2, were even worse.

The simple explanation is that these sequels needlessly complicate the elemental, dialogue-light simplicity of the first film’s Arnold-versus-alien skirmish. The less accepted but correct view is that the Predator sequels are, by and large, pretty solid.

Part of this has to do with the inflated reputation of John McTiernan’s original, which is a well-directed B-movie that’s nonetheless not as taut or entertaining as McTiernan’s Die Hard or Schwarzenegger’s first two Terminator pictures. It’s still easy to scoff that Predator 2 pits the creature against an amped-up but less imposing Danny Glover instead of declaring a rematch with Arnold. But that movie gets its weird, garish energy from forcing Glover’s Los Angeles cop to outwit an extraterrestrial foe in a markedly different environment (also, muscles aren’t as much of a perquisite as they appear; no one, not even Arnold, beats a Predator by challenging him to a fistfight). It’s not as smoothly crafted as McTiernan’s film, but director Stephen Hopkins is the kind of ’90s journeyman whose work has aged well.

What Predator 2 establishes with its relocation to Los Angeles is the series’ willingness to re-arrange its few core elements. Predators goes back to a jungle, but instead of a cohesive merc team, it follows a band of disparate killers abducted from Earth and brought to another planet for survival games, utilizing an eclectic cast (including

Source:: The Week – Entertainment


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