We’ve enjoyed or endured a number of Predator films since Arnold Schwarzenegger first did battle with the alien soldier in the South American jungle. 2018 sees Iron Man 3 director and star of the original Predator, Shane Black, take the helm for the latest instalment which, if the new poster is anything to go by, promises to be very different.
The Predator movies have gone from the sublime (John McTiernan’s 1987 original) to the ridiculous (AvP 2). That said, it’s only the awful Alien Versus Predator 2 that’s really worth avoiding.
The first sequel, Predator 2 is great fun, featuring a brilliant action sequence on an underground train amongst the camp of Gary Busey and energy of Bill Paxton, while Predators, Robert Rodriguez’s re-tooling of the franchise, was a fine, stripped-back version that recalled the original but subverted its all-American hero motif by making the protagonists the bad guys.
What’s interesting about The Predator is that Shane Black has written and directed it. The same Shane Black who ran around the jungle with Arnie as fellow soldier Hawkins in the original Predator. He knows the character. He knows what the audience wants. He also knows – as evidenced by Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3 – how to find originality within audience-pleasing conventional structure. Oh, and he’s funny. Very funny.
In short, The Predator is going to tick all the boxes (action, horror, guns and bigger guns, machismo and Ripley-esque feminism, and one of cinema’s great villains) but provide the sparks of ingenuity that’ll freshen the franchise for the expected formulaic films to come.
The latest poster reveals a Predator mask dressed in the skulls of what look like humans. Does that tell us the body count is going to large or is it an indication we’re going to discover more of the Predator’s back story and why it came to have so many human skulls in its collection? The tagline also suggests an evolution for the character – what journey is Black going to take us on? And how will this film tie-in to the original?
The Predator arrives in UK cinemas (and IMAX 3D) September 12 and stars Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, Trevante Rhodes, Alfie Allen, Keegan-Michael Key, Sterling K. Brown, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Augusto Aguilera, Yvonne Strahovski and Jake Busey.