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To Catch a Predator: Why Is It So Hard to Franchise the Predator?

The Predator is one of the most iconic creations of the past thirty-odd years.

The creature created by Stan Winston for John McTiernan’s 1987 action blockbuster is instantly recognisable. It is striking and distinctive. Even people who have never sat down and watched a movie featuring the creature are familiar with the design. This is especially notable given that it could have been a disaster. The original design for the creature is something of an internet urban legend, part of the pop cultural folklore. Predator narrowly averted disaster when Stan Winston redesigned the monster from scratch, so it is all the more impressive that it became such a classic.

It is no surprise that the Predator was quickly franchised. After all, that is how the film industry works. Although modern prognosticators decry the modern era as one defined by sequels and remakes and reboots, but they have always been a feature of the landscape. So the Predator became the cornerstone of an impressive multimedia franchise; even outside of games and comic books, the creature anchored Predator 2, Alien vs. Predator, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, Predators and The Predator. That’s an impressive list, in terms of quantity and variety.

However, it is decidedly less impressive in terms of quality. Of those five sequels, Predators is the only one with a positive score on Rotten Tomatoes. Similarly, Predators is the only sequel with a vaguely positive rating on MetaCritic, scraping just over fifty percent. This is the kind of showing that audiences and critics expect from low-rent horror sequels like those starring Freddie Kreuger or Jason Voorhees. (Indeed, the latest sequel starring Michael Myers is critically outpacing The Predator.) It is not exactly an impressive track record for a reasonably big budget mainstream high-profile science-fiction franchise.

Indeed, the stock comparison for the Predator is the Alien franchise, and for good reason. The xenomorph from Alien is another iconic late twentieth-century alien design housed within an R-rated science-fiction action-horror franchise. Both properties are owned by Twentieth Century Fox, allowing them to intersect and crossover within a shared universe. Both have spawned a variety of sequels, and are loosely linked in the popular mind in the way that the Universal Studios films linked Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster with the Mummy or the Invisible Man.

However, this stock comparison does not flatter the Predator. After all, the xenomorph has been at the centre of a franchise that is consistently interesting and at best innovative. There are sequels to Alien that are rightly regarded as classics such as Aliens, while other have launched great careers such as Alien³, and some still cause fierce debates. For all the criticism of films like Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, they at least engender passion in their audiences, in a way that the sequels to Predator do not. Why is it so hard to make a good Predator sequel?

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Non-Review Review: Predator

Predator is an absolutely brilliant piece of work. It’s elegantly constructed, beautifully directed and cleverly written. Perhaps the smartest thing about Predator is the way that it so fantastically plays on audience expectations, offering the perfect bait-and-switch, teasing a jungle adventure in the style of Schwarzenegger’s Commando before morphing into something else entirely. It’s so well handled that the film’s reputation and prestige has done little to dampen its thrills.

A predator stalks...

A predator stalks…

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Win! Tickets to a Jameson Cult Film Club Screening of Predator on November 19th!

Due to unprecedented demand, the Jameson Cult Film Club is returning to Dublin for an explosive  screening of the 1987 classic, PREDATOR, at a secret Dublin location on Tuesday 19th November 2013.

These free events are more than just your typical screening, as characters from the movie, live theatre and special effects timed perfectly with on-screen action help to create an electric atmosphere  throughout the movie.

Jameson Cult Film Club screening of Predator - 17.11.13

*Warning* – the Predator blends in with its surroundings, taking trophies from the  bodies of its victims as it goes along.

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Non-Review Review: Alien vs. Predator – Requiem

To celebrate the release of Prometheus in the United States this week, we’ll be taking a look at the other movies in the Alien franchise.

Alien vs. Predator: Requiem is pretty close to indefensible. I’m not the biggest fan of the original Alien vs. Predator, but I’ll concede the film throws a few interesting ideas into a disappointingly generic and less-than-enthusiastic monster mash run-around. While the first film wasn’t original, it at least looked to acknowledge its hokeyness in places. In contrast, the sequel is just soul-destroyingly mundane, taking anything that had been unique or compelling or interesting about these two iconic movie monsters and rendering it all completely pointless as it devolves them to the equivalent of generic teenager slasher villains.

Death of a franchise…

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Non-Review Review: Alien vs. Predator

To celebrate the release of Prometheus in the United States this week, we’ll be taking a look at the other movies in the Alien franchise.

I like cheesy movies. I have a fondness for those old fashioned mix-and-match creature features from back in the day. I have a remarkable tolerance for some of those incredibly awkward B-movie adventures featuring relatively bland characters trapped in a strange and slightly illogical situations. As such, I’m probably a bit fonder of Paul W.S. Anderson’s creature-feature fight-night beat-’em-up schlock-fest Alien vs. Predator. I’m not so fond that I’d argue it’s a good movie – in fact, I’d readily concede that it’s a disappointing lifeless husk of a movie. However, I will concede that there are some interesting concepts and ideas buried quite deeply in the middle of that film.

Natural born predators…

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Non-Review Review: Predators

It must be genuinely one of the toughest and most unforgiving tasks in moviedom to produce a belated sequel to a beloved franchise. Even Spielberg and Lucas messed up in producing the long-delayed Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or Lucas’ prequels to Star Wars. The original film has just been lying there so long that it has built up its own legacy and reputation – to the point where it’s arguably not so much a film as a legend. Okay, maybe the original Predator and the modern Predators shouldn’t really be classified as legends in the same way as the earlier examples (or, say Chinatown and its disappointing follow-up The Two Jakes), but this is undeniably a cult franchise. The good news is that – while far from perfect – Predators actually lives up to its legacy quite well.

Preying for a way out...

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I Love the Eighties: Blockbuster Edition

I am a child of the eighties. It’s a bit of an irony that I am too young to actually recall any of the decade, but still feel more than a pang of nostalgia about it. Evidently I’m not the only one. Perhaps it’s in recognition of the turn of a new decade or the rise of a younger generation, but even a cursory glance at the big budget blockbusters coming our way this summer reveal that the times, they are a-changing. No longer is our fascination with quirky seventies sex comedies or gritty urban cop dramas of that decade: this year, we’re going back to the eighties.

The Expendables is a blast from the past...

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