Going to the movies in the late ‘80s was the definition of heaven for an already designated film tragic and Arnold Schwarzenegger was on the top of my must see list in whatever he might have appeared in from Conan to Terminator. I even enjoyed the underappreciated Raw Deal, incidently completed in 1986 but released 1987 to counteract the massive success of Predator.
As a kid, these over-the-top action movies were fantastic eye-opening adrenaline. Jean-Claude Van Damme was developing his muscles from Brussels screen persona, Sly Stallone as Rocky conquering the Russians while his flag-waving arrow expert Rambo was in full swing rescuing forgotten Vietnam vets and Chuck Norris held firm against anyone.
PREDATOR (1987) was developed over a long period with various blueprints on the science-fiction elements in a cocktail with brutal army action adventure. There were problems with the suit design and a change in actor. Van Damme himself began to film inside it but was replaced. Acclaimed cinematography (by Central Coast local Donald McAlpine) got true grit authentic filming on thick Mexican locations to be part of the film’s appeal. Of course the explosive action and divine stand off between Arnie vs creature was pinnacle. Limited one-liners maintained some seriousness although ‘80s tropes still remained. Defying 20th Century Fox expectations, it was a hit and is now considered a classic.
PREDATOR 2 (1990): No Arnie to see here although he was asked. Terminator 2: Judgement Day took preference, luckily. Set in the ‘future’ 1997 when loud Jamaican gangs are taking over the Los Angeles streets as a Predator cluster impacts on both criminals and innocent bystanders. In comes Danny Glover, a police Lieutenant going head to head with the alien invasion. Not great on plausible action or story however there’s some fine explosions and foot chases through the chaos. Not received well at the box office although has since grown in stature by some legacy fans. Good B-grade cast and Bill Paxton do try. Motivation is low except for a major pop culture reference, Xenomorph (Alien) skull on a shelf.
ALIENS VS PREDATOR (2004) / AVP REQUIEM (2007): Dismissed by most legacy fans and rightly so. Terrible, ridiculous comic book recreation amateurly done. Badly acted, gratuitous rubbish.
PREDATORS (2010): Long anticipated standalone addition to the multilayered universe, he’s tougher than he’s ever been. Adrian Brody is a mysterious mercenary leading a group of mixed elite individuals literally dropped together on a planet that ends up being a hunting ground for Predators. Moody, underappreciated solid action yarn has great visuals and interesting cast in a truly cool mostly unpredictable gripping cat and mouse thriller. Lawrence Fishburne and Danny Trejo successfully cameo in the best Predator film since the original. Seek out the Blu-ray.
THE PREDATOR (2018): Not too bad considering the hype I’ve had within myself since director Shane Black (an actor in the original and certified Hollywood action filmmaker) said he was taking the reigns. Although ultimately disappointed through a convoluted plot, effects are good, acting efficient including impressive Australian Yvonne Stravhoski. Just so much promise to revive the legacy, it’s messy with limited excitement.
Shane A. Bassett