Countdown to The Predator

Hey folks, it’s been a while. But we’re here today counting down to the release of The Predator, the newest entry into the eponymous franchise. So, to do so, we are going to look at the previous entries in the series to both refresh ourselves and to see how they’ve held up. Today we’re starting with the one that started it all: Predator, from 1987. Since this film is over thirty years old, I’m not worrying about being spoiler-free.

Okay, so even if you haven’t seen this movie before (and I’m sure most people have, right?), you’re probably familiar with it in at least some sense. It’s got those great lines that everyone remembers ‘get to the chopper!’ or maybe ‘I ain’t got time to bleed’ or ‘… one ugly motherf -----r.” And, of course, the awesome Stan Winston-designed creature itself. And how it’s so dripping in glistening muscles and testosterone that you grow chest hair just watching it. But how does it fare as a movie?

The answer to that question is: surprisingly well. Okay, not ‘surprisingly’  as in ‘wow, this isn’t complete garbage’ and more like the surprise lies in just how well it’s aged. I watched it for the first time on blu-ray, and damn did it translate onto that format nicely. The scene in the final fight where the Predator is blasting the trees trying to get Dutch and you see the Predator’s silhouette through the rain of sparks is just….just…..

beautiful

And that’s just one scene. It all looks great, though, and it’s nice to have upgraded our copy.

I know in some ways this movie just seems to be one of the dumb action movies of the era, but it’s really much better than that. And, with it being the first introduction of the Predator alien (a name for the species Yautja, would not be coined until later in the expanded universe), it’s that first taste into a fascinating alien culture that we still really haven’t gotten that much information about. It’s something I’d really like to see more of in the films, actual Yautja cultural practices. Maybe that’s just the anthropologist in me talking, but the bits that we have gotten are just so awesome that I’d love more. And Stan Winston’s design (although the mandibles were a suggestion by James Cameron) is just so iconic and so cool.

One thing I noticed, more so than any other time I’ve watched this movie, was the score. Alan Silvestri’s score is really awesome in its simplicity. A lot of the times in the movie you hear mainly either the main theme or the drums (‘Long Tall Sally’ notwithstanding, even with the Saint’s Row IV intro that parodies that and Conan). It’s so effective for building tension, which is one of the film’s strengths. You know how much screen time the Predator has? Less than ten minutes of the 107 minute run time. The first really good, full-on shot of him isn’t until about an hour in. It’s so much more satisfying when you finally see this creature that’s been hunting these guys when you don’t get the goods too quick. Of course, when you do get the creature, Kevin Peter Hall brings such life to it behind the suit and even the helmet. I love his little cameo at the end, too, as the pilot. Oh yeah, and I also love seeing Peter Cullen’s voice in the credits because it just tickles me that the voice of the Predator is the voice of Optimus Prime.

Although if I hadn't known I probably would've guessed Frank Welker

The only issue I can see with the movie is a little continuity thing. After the Predator takes out Mac with the shoulder cannon, when Dillon finds him his head is still intact, even though we just saw his brains get blasted out the back of his skull. It’s nothing major, but I noticed it. And I’m not sure how well Hawkins’ jokes or one of Blain’s lines would play today. Although ‘goddamned sexual tyrannosaurus’ is still awesome, it’s the line before (‘bunch of slack-jawed [Redacted] around here’) that probably wouldn’t fly.

Alright, so I’m trying to review this movie but what can you say? Thirty-one years later it’s still freaking awesome. I seriously love this movie, it’s a great late 80’s action flick with a sweet sci-fi note that culminates in a huge, man vs. alien fight that relies as much on cunning and planning on Arnold’s part as it does brute strength. Still holds up, absolutely. I really hope I can say similar nice things about The Predator after I see it.

Especially since the director was IN the original

So that’s the first movie down, two to go. I’d like to watch Predator 2 and Predators before we go see the new one, and if we can sneak in Alien vs. Predator, that’ll just be an extra cherry on top. Less said about Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, however, the better. I already talked more about it than I wanted to by writing out its full title. That and we don’t own a copy of it anymore.

Well, that’s it for this time, folks! I’m still debating what to marathon for Halloween/October this year, but hopefully more news on that soon.

One Response to Countdown to The Predator

  1. The Atomic Punk

    The original and the best. A straight-up 80s action movie featuring the biggest muscle of the day. A lot of throwaway comments and one-liners that are still quoted 30 years later. Memorable characters who die just as you’re getting to know them and their backstories. Stuff blows up!

    Behind all that, Predator is no B-movie space opera. It is low tech but not low resolution. The plot is simple but the movements are complex. The commandos were not just grunts. They were smart. What you would expect of an elite unit. Dutch was quick to learn the enemy. His traps were strategic.

    We are introduced to a masterpiece of makeups. The laughter when the Predator starts the timer. What a creepy, iconic last stand! Well, bleeding to death under a log.

    What was a great stand-alone action adventure quickly became a fast-paced franchise. Complete with a crossover into the Alien universe. Ever get the impression that James Cameron and Ridley Scott intended for the merger to happen?

    While the original Predator is my favorite, in a way, I am glad that Arnold Schwarzenegger did not hitch himself to the sequels. His constant presence would have bogged down the franchise. His absence guaranteed his legacy.

    R.I.P. Kevin Peter Hall. He could have made a career playing the Predator because makeup. It never dawned on me that he was the chopper pilot in the end! Wow, how did I miss that?!? And Peter Culllen. ‘Nuff said.

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