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Natural Born Predators…

I have to admit, I’m a little excited about Predators. It seems that I’m really more excited about next year’s cinematic treats – Green Lantern, Predators, Inception, even Iron Man 2 – than I am about what lies ahead for this year, well outside this month’s releases. Avatar is going to be groundbreakingly jaw dropping, but it’s not really interesting to think about it. It’s boringly amazing, if that is possible. Predators, on the other hand, is great fun to speculate about. Sure, it’s a rake of horror monsters from the past few decades being revitalised – like Freddie Kruger who has a three-picture deal and the Weinstein Company returning to its roots with a remake of An American Werewolf in London – but Predators is the only one of the remakes of more modern schlock that seems to have a chance of not sucking. I love Jackie Earle Haley, but even I can tell that a Nightmare on Elm Street reboot is a bad idea. I’m sure he could prove me wrong on that count, but I’m not expecting to him to. And I think that quirky genre-bending flicks are hard to emulate the second-time around, so I’m nervouse about remaking Landis’ low budget classic. So, Predators is the most hopeful of the bunch.

The thing's got dreadlocks... geddit? Dread... locks... no?

The thing's got dreadlocks... geddit? Dread... locks... no?

That said, there is cause to doubt. The project is scheduled for release in July 2010 and they haven’t finalised a script yet. They also have a relatively unproven director in Nimrod Antal. Antal is best known for Vacancy, a reasonably well-constructed horror film, and is certainly a better choice than the initially-rumoured Neil Marshall (known for the godawful crime against humanity that was Doomsday). Still, I’d feel more comfortable with a more established director taking control of the franchise. Rodriguez himself would be ideal – he has the action movie sensibilities, the pop culture wit and a fantastic flexibility. Plus, as the man resurrecting the franchise, he knows and cares about the material.

But what about the franchise itself? To be honest, is it really salvageable? Predator is very often compared with the Alien franchise (mostly because of those so disappointing movies). To be fair, and without being mean to the big guy, is that really a logical comparison? The Alien franchise produced two amazing films and one ‘okay if you come to it without expectations’ film before imploding. Predator offered a solid Arnie actioner and a single greatly inferior sequel. And that good movie is over two decades behind us now. Are the kids really going to want to see a film based around the concept of an alien hunter whose glory days were twenty years ago? Maybe it’ll be like Rocky Balboa, but with six-foot tall alien hunters.

So, if I’m so damn cynical, why am I excited? Because Robert Rodriguez is involved at all. The man is excellent at striking the necessary tone for his work. Because I think a new approach could work for this franchise – in the same way that James Cameron’s Aliens worked as an original sequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien. I don’t dream that the movie will be half as strong as Cameron’s counterpart in the beast’s sister franchise, but few films are. I’d settle for a solidly entertaining and relatively vicious action movie. And – with the plot allegedly following a bunch of humans on a “Predator planet” – this looks like it might just deliver.

Fox seems willing to stand back and let Rodriguez do what he will, and Planet: Terror demonstrated that Rodriguez isn’t afraid of over-the-top violence. It’s also somewhat reassuring that the company is willing to acknowledge Aliens vs. Predator as a misfire of a franchise. I just hope that the studio are willing to give Rodriguez the freedom he needs. Fox are notorious for screwing their highly talented creative staff (look at the long and labored history of Wolverine), but maybe they can avoid it this time.

Still, to paraphrase one of the creature’s esteemed costars, it’s good to know they’ll be back.

2 Responses

  1. I think youre right – theres definitely potential for this to be good. what they have to do, i suppose, is make the flippin Predator scary again (a major flaw of the recent movies, and also Terminator Salvation, where the robots where as huggable as Care Bears)
    have to disagree with you on Doomsday – it was good, whole-hearted escapist fun. a complete ripoff of Mad Max 2, but if youre gonna rip off a film you may as well pick a brilliant one

    • I thought Doomsday was grand, for the first half-hour or so. But then the curse of Malcolm McDowell kicked in (“Malcolm McDowell shall be the best thing about any movie he appears in, for better or for worse”), and even he wasn’t that hot here. It was painful to watch once the mohawk-wearing Scots appeared. And it’s a shame, because it was a phenomenal cast for a B-Movie (Hoskins, Siddig, McDowell). I liked Dog Soldiers though.

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