After a number of crappy sequels, it looks like we may actually be getting another decent Predator movie this summer.
Produced by Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Spy Kids, Grindhouse) and directed by newcomer Nimrod Antal (Armored, Kontroll), Predators looks to capitalize on all that was good in the original, and downplay the subsequent suckiness.
2.3 decades later, I'm still a little surprised at how much I enjoy the original, and how well it's held up. A lot of this can be credited to director John McTiernan who went on to direct great films like The Hunt for Red October and Die Hard before getting really intermittent and then pretty much flaming out with his remake of Rollerball. McTiernan's direction is solid in this movie though, with gripping suspense, frantic but clear action and even some deftly handled light hearted moments. And this balancing act is reflected through the entirety of the movie, in that it does a number of somewhat contradictory things really well:
It's a horror movie with action elements.
It's a sci-fi movie with a realistic military flavour.
It's a monster flick without stupid people as victims.
It's a Schwarzenegger movie with an ensemble of great, great characters.
Especially that last point. Unlike many similar movies, Predator is not content to surround the hero with ciphers and redshirts: every supporting character is cool, and knowing how capable they are makes watching them get picked off one by one deliciously tense.
It looks as though they are of a like mind with Predators. Bill Duke, Gov. Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Sonny "Billy" Landham,and Carl Weathers are a pretty tough act to follow, testosteronically speaking. And while Adrien Brody is no Arnie, that's for certain I think Danny Trejo more than makes up for that. Laurence "Morpheus" Fishburne is looking tuff with two fs, and hey, even Topher Grace was Venom, right? All right, maybe that's a bad example... Still and all, the cast probably represents a more modern take on masculinity, at least movie-wise: more class, less muscle mass?
Even the actors I don't know (like Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, who may have the longest first name in cinema), look to be playing interesting characters, like Shane Black (a screenwriter!) did as Hawkins, the comms guy in Predator. I keep hoping Tony Jaa will get a role in a film like this, but maybe he likes being a big fish in a smaller pond.
I'm also saddened that they didn't get Alan Silvestri back to do the music, as the Predator score is a great one. But you can't go wrong with the late, great, Stan Winston's creature design.
Obviously it is a lot easier to make a good trailer than to make a good movie, but I am starting to think this sequel could be worth an outing this July.