With writer/director Shane Black’s highly anticipated ‘The Predator’ on the way, the previous movies in the franchise are all on our minds. So here at Action A Go Go, as you know, if it bleeds, we write about it. With five Predator movies already released in the franchise, now seems a good time to look back on them, and offer up some thoughts on each entry. For fun, let’s countdown from the worst to the best of the series…
5. ‘Alien Vs Predator’
As a movie lover all of my life, there are many emotions I find I get from a movie experience. Be it excited or scared, or even a whimpering mess or laughing clown, I go through a range of feelings. But perhaps the most important of all comes before a movie’s release. The expectation. Knowing that something soon to come our way could be extremely awesome or completely terrible. So when I first heard that a crossover movie featuring two of the silver screen’s greatest monsters was about to happen, I was thrilled. Predator. And Alien. In one movie. In the ultimate movie showdown. Excitement gripped me like crazy. The expectation grew like a wildfire in me. But alas, as we all know, presumption is the mother of all f**k ups. And there are very few f**k ups that can compare to ‘Alien Vs Predator’.
Based upon the comic book from 1989, featuring both Predator and Alien, ‘Alien Vs Predator’ pits the two iconic villains against each other, when scientists discover a heat signal coming from an island neighboring Antarctica. Predator arrives on earth as the scientists explore their surroundings. Accidently awaken the creature from an icy sleep, the scientists find themselves caught in a gruesome showdown between the two space monsters and become food for both enemies.
On original viewing, I detested ‘Alien Vs Predator’ with a passion. Not only for its dull locations, lousy characters and total lack of excitement for most of the movie. But also for its dumb PG-13 rating, in an attempt to bring in a younger audience. Spitting in the face of fans for cash is a studio’s favorite tactic these days. And mixing two of the most violent movie franchises together in a PG-13 movie is the perfect example of that. When one imagines Schwarzenegger’s immortal classic ‘Predator’ mashed with James Cameron’s ‘Aliens’, ‘Alien Vs Predator’ and it’s PG-13 rating are not what we expect. Having said that, with some repeated viewings over time, the disappointment as subsided somewhat. In fairness to this movie, there are worse things I’ve seen. Far worse. And despite the kiddy rating and almost bloodless violence, there is a charm to ‘Alien Vs Predator’ that with a lot of help could have been a decent enough movie. But there is one major reason I forgave this movie for crapping on my dreams, and I’ll get to it later.
4. ‘Predator 2’
Much like ‘Alien Vs Predator’, I had major hopes for ‘Predator 2’. The Schwarzenegger masterpiece was at one stage my all-time favorite movie. So naturally, I had high hopes when beginning to watch the second movie. Oh. My God. What garbage. I knew of Arnie’s much-missed absence, but wow, that’s all this movie missed. Where the first movie was balls-to-the-wall action all the way, with wonderful characters, an awesome monster and a stunning soundtrack from Alan Silvestri, ‘Predator 2’ was a total farce. Comical, badly filmed, awful story (But good idea!) and dull characters (except Gary Busey!), this movie was so far from ‘Predator’ it wasn’t funny. But let’s look at that story first…
Set ten years after the events of the original movie, ‘Predator 2’ sees the now iconic monster in Los Angeles, wiping out a drug cartel and anyone else who gets in his way. With an L.A. detective (Danny Glover) and an undercover agent (Gary Busey) hot on Predator’s trail, the alien killer is pulling no punches in his reign of terror upon the citizens of L.A.
You may notice how I used the word “Was” a lot in my opening statement on this movie. The reason behind that is simple. I originally thought nothing of this movie. I’d nothing good to say at all. I just wanted Arnie’s genuine classic and that’s it. But over the years, I find I’ve grown a huge fondness for ‘Predator 2’. I’d go even further, and say that I’ve come to love quite a lot of it. A lot. When viewed by itself, far away from the first movie, ‘Predator 2’ offers up a primo movie experience of its own. Lots of fun action, a lovable stupidity, and Gary Busey is always a lot of camp fun. It may be a foolish take on a beloved classic, but ‘Predator 2’ has become a genuine guilty pleasure for me. I rate it higher now that I ever did before. Far higher. It sucks, but it sucks in style.
With the very silly and fun ‘Predator 2’ killing off the franchise, it took many years for the awesome movie icon to make his return. But after the Alien Vs Predator movies, there was a renewed interest in Predator making a solo comeback. With spectacular filmmaker Robert Rodriguez as producer, ‘Predators’ hit the screen in 2010, to mixed reviews and fan opinions. But there’s one fan for certain who absolutely adores this movie… Me!
Pretty much ignoring ‘Predator 2’, ‘Predators’ sees a bunch of dangerous killers and military personnel awaken to find themselves in the middle of a jungle, with no memory of how they got there. As they explore their mysterious surroundings, they begin to realize that they’ve been planted here, for a specific purpose. And that purpose is the ultimate game of hunting. What they don’t know is that they’re up against the galaxy’s most dangerous killers… The Predators. And if they’re going to survive the retreat from hell, they’ll have to work together to win the most vicious game of their lives.
As mentioned already, ‘Predator 2’ was not the sequel I had wanted for Arnie Schwarzenegger’s classic. It was too goofy, too strange and lacked the seriousness of the original. But while I feared for this next chapter, I needn’t have worried. ‘Predators’ is, in my opinion, magnificent. Packed with spectacular action, lashing of blood and guts, and a whole host of the awesome Predators, this is the movie I believe stands closest to Arnie’s blockbuster. Both in style, story and action. And the characters here are terrific, with army killers, a Yakuza leader and brutal rapist, all playing as human fodder in the Predators’ game. Adrian Brody is especially badass. Great to see him play a role like this and be able to carry it off. Even the short appearance from Laurence Fishbourne adds a fantastic sequence to the movie, cranking the fear level up to 90. And John Debney’s fantastic soundtrack goes all the way back to the 80’s, to capture that magical Silvestri score once again. The critics were less than kind, and the fans were mostly 50/50, but as a fan myself, I have nothing but love and praise to heap upon ‘Predators’. A truly worthy sequel to a magnificent movie.
2. ‘Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem’
Every now and then, there’s a movie that is so universally hated that it seems almost impossible to find some who absolutely loves it. Loves it so much that they will fight tooth and nail to defend it. I often find myself in that position. Where I flat out love a movie that everyone else hates, and I just can’t understand why they hate it. ‘Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem’ is almost right at the very top of that list. While the first mash-up of these great movie monsters left me almost heartbroken, all those empty promise and sh*t on dreams were completely made up to me when The Brothers Strause delivered up this almost orgasmic slice of absolute carnage.
Following on from the events of the first AVP movie, ‘Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem’ sees Predator attacked by a mutated Alien creature onboard his ship, causing him to crash land into a Colorado forest, and then killed by the alien. Seeking revenge, a legendary Predator comes to earth, determined to rid the galaxy of the Alien beings. With the citizens of the surrounding town caught up in the brutal war between alien monsters, the US military plot to destroy both races of beings and cover up their existence by wiping the town from the face of the earth. Along with every living human being living there. In a desperate race against time, a brave few take the deadly fight to the monsters and try to abort the impending devastation of their town.
‘Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem’ is everything I love in these movies. Incredible action, brutally evil and twisted violence (Kids and pregnant women get killed here!), a heart-pounding score (By the incomparable Brian Tyler) and a fantastic beat-the-clock storyline. But giving me ten times more than I ever expected. Where the first AVP fails horribly on almost every level, ‘Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem’ suceeds on every level. Delivering up blood and guts to rival even the ‘Saw’ franchise, brilliantly time action scenes, nerve-shredding horror, and for the first time introducing a teen cast into the story, giving us both a teen slasher and Alien/Predator movie. While there are times the action is a little dark and hard to see (An error or deliberately designed to make you lean closer?), what is on display here is spectacular and entirely evil and mean-spirited. The Brothers Strause were clearly tired of bad sequels and classic horror movies being given the PG-13 ratings, and they aimed to serve up a nasty-ass action blockbuster with the sickening hellish violence of the past movies in both franchises. If you ask others, they’ll tell you this is the worst of any of the Alien or Predator movies by miles. If you ask me, I tell you this is the movie that I dreamed of in 2003, and so much more. Watch out for a (somewhat late) 10th-anniversary celebration and extensive review of ‘Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem’ coming soon.
I hate being obvious. But I seriously couldn’t give the number one spot on this list to any other movie than the Arnold Schwarzenegger smash hit that started it all. Although if I’m being completely honest with you, if one could beat it in my affections, my number two choice comes very close.
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Dutch, a tough-as-nails special forces soldier who is sent into a Guatemala jungle to rescue a hostage being tortured for information by insurgents. Dutch soon discovers that his mission is a lie, but before he can leave with his team, he is thrown into a battle the likes of which he’s never encountered. In the heart of the jungle, a brutal killing machine has taken out an entire team of army soldiers. And with Dutch and his men caught right in the middle, the slaughter is set to continue, at the hands of the Predator. A monster not of earth, but from the outer reaches of space itself. A monster who seeks the kill, who relishes the hunt, and will eventually go toe to toe with man himself, in a fight to the death.
Hands up who doesn’t love ‘Predator’? Oh. Not a hand in sight. Of course not. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the biggest name in action cinema. And at the height of his fame, he was churning out nuggets of action gold like ‘Commando’, ‘Red Heat’, and ‘The Running Man’. But the man who gave us ‘The Terminator’ only three years later went on to star in another science fiction classic that would rule the world over thirty years later. ‘Predator’ is the great man at his best, armed with massive guns, awesome quotes and fists like a God. Predator is one of cinema’s greatest monsters, beloved by sci-fi fans around the world and truly iconic. And with Alan Silvestri’s epic score, the awesome action scenes, tons of brutal gore (That first sight of skinned bodies will haunt me forever) and all the humor we expect from a Schwarzenegger movie, it’s no wonder ‘Predator’ has remained a staple in every movie lover’s collection. A true classic.
With Shane Black’s ‘The Predator’ due to hit screens in September, it will be interesting to see how the movie compares to all that have come before in the franchise. I personally have some worries, but if anyone can make a great Predator movie, surely it’s a star of the original? And let’s not forget how wonderful a filmmaker Black is in his own right. Watch out for something fun on his movie career very soon here at Action A Go Go. It will be lethal.