The creation of what we now associate to be the Predator can be traced back to Oscar-award winning special effects guru Stan Winston, who has worked on such films as Aliens, Jurassic Park, the first two Terminator films, and Edward Scissorhands. After an early prototype of the Predator creature featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme in a suit failed to impress, Winston was called in on actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recommendation. After eight months of brainstorming and creating, Winston then went on to unveil a creature that succeeded at being an imposing, frightening creature even when compared to hulking stars Schwarzeneggar, Carl Weathers and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. At over seven feet and with a alarming assortment of anti-personnel weaponry, not to mention brute strength, nothing like the Predator had been seen before, or seen since.
That disappointment did not extend to paper formats, thankfully. It can be argued that the Predator’s most successful medium has to this point been in literary form, with countless books and comics pitting the Predator not only against human foes, but also famous enemies like Terminators and Aliens (which helped drum up more excitement for the then-upcoming movies). The Predator also successfully crossed-over with more famous comic book heroes such as Judge Dredd, Tarzan, Witchblade, Superman, Batman and once the entire Justice League. Every time it proved itself up to the challenge of facing off against some of the most famous names in the business. And it wasn’t just comics where the Predator reigned supreme: novels by notable sci-fi authors like S.D. Perry have shed even more character and history about this alien race than could be noted here. And yet none of it has deviated from the brutal and terrifying hunter the Predator is known to be.
“The Predator society builds sophisticated spaceships, yet they should not look as sleek and hi-tech as a Star Wars stormtrooper. They are a tribal culture, yet their look should not be as primitive as the orcs from Lord of the Rings. They are also a warrior culture, so the ornate cannot conflict with the practical.”
Predators, with hero Adrian Brody’s character more immediately concerned with the fact that he’s falling from quite a significant height and can’t remember jumping from any plane. After a few gripping minutes, his parachute kicks in, and he finds himself in the middle of an unidentifiable jungle and soon surrounded by others confused about their whereabouts such as Alice Braga’s Black Ops sniper, Danny Trejo’s Mexican drug cartel enforcer, Walton Goggins’ death row inmate, and Topher Grace as a doctor who doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the rest of the people associated with mayhem as a profession. They don’t remember how they got there, only that they’re somewhere none of them have been before. Soon it becomes apparent they are not even on Earth anymore, and after they discover they are being hunted by some unknown person or persons, they find they must stick together and find some way to survive and escape the planet.
The acting is surprisingly solid throughout, as well. Brody, who’s Oscar win for The Pianist unsettlingly set the stage for his rapid spiral career descent, shows he can still be a strong lead given half a chance, properly channeling an inner deadness gained from years in the military and as a mercenary. As his better half, Braga is perfect displaying the humanity Brody’s character seems to lack, and their interactions are among the best character interactions in the movie. Lawrence Fishburne appears about halfway through the film as a half-crazy survivor who’s been on the planet for ten seasons and although he out-acts everyone else in the room three times over he thankfully doesn’t take over, instead enjoying his quick cameo role and helping set up the final act. Goggins also deserves credit for his portrayal of the former death row inmate. Making such an unlikable character amusing to the audience is no small feat; Goggins does it almost unnoticeably and even though the other characters can’t stand him, he’s definitely amusing to us in the seats. Finally Topher Grace is perfectly cast as the seemingly out-of-his-element doctor who doesn’t seem to be useful or dangerous. He does help illicit some helpful plot points early on, but you just know he’s not what he seems and part of the fun of watching his performance is trying to determine if your instincts are on the money.
screw with what works (See Alien: Resurrection or the AVP series for proof) and thankfully that’s what we see here. Rodriguez, Antal, and their crew created a completely believable sequel for the Predator franchise to take, and didn’t change what made the creature so great. They even retained the music from the original Predator film to close out the credits, as an homage to the original. While there are references to the original film on more than one occasion, this is definitely it’s own movie, it’s own story, always respectful to the source material but not enslaved to it. Predators is suspenseful and shocking and you will sit on the edge of your seat wondering who will survive in the ultimate test of predators and prey.