With Arnold Schwarzenegger’s refusal to participate, is The PREDATOR doomed to fail?
The original PREDATOR was an unprecedented success that altered the dynamics of Hollywood blockbusters for generations. It inspired movie makers of all ages with its brilliance and it facilitated the rise of the horror/action genre. It has propagated several sequels, a shared universe with the ALIEN franchise and even a soft reboot/sequel, but none have come close to replicating the masterwork of the original.
At the time of its release, Arnold Schwarzenegger had cemented his status as a Hollywood A-List talent and had starred in a series of successful action movies that saw him assume the lead role as a muscled super soldier. With movies like, Commando, Red Sonja, Conan The Barbarian and Raw Deal under his belt, the actor was at the height of his popularity. His role in The Terminator only guaranteed his iconic cult status, but all these movies had one common denominator, they had been engineered to accentuate his larger than life persona and physique.
So, when news broke that he had agreed to take the lead role in PREDATOR, a movie depicting the struggles of a crack-team of elite soldiers battling for survival against an alien hunter, many assumed that the narrative would be tailored to the same recipe for success. For all intents and purposes, it was. Schwarzenegger was cast as major Dutch Schaefer, a decorated warrior in command of a team of elite special forces soldiers plunged into the dense jungles of Central America. Armed to the teeth and trained to handle almost every military scenario, Schwarzenegger’s rescue team infiltrated guerrilla territory and eliminated an entire battalion of militia before finding themselves targeted by a mysterious monster concealed by the dense jungle foliage.
Up until this point, the movie had followed the traditional Schwarzenegger recipe for success, but then director John McTiernan did the unthinkable and turned the narrative on its head. In quick succession, the elite team were hunted and brutally murdered by the concealed alien hunter that utilised an advanced cloaking technology to move amongst them undetected. One by one, the team are slaughtered, leaving Schwarzenegger’s Dutch to fall into despair as he desperately tries to unravel the mystery and spare the remnants of his team.
The PREDATOR creature itself, was the pinnacle of Hollywood’s cinematic monsters and was revealed as one of the finest creatures produced by cinematic special effects giant Stan Winston. After a grueling life or death struggle, Dutch successfully prevailed over the monster, but not before it had eliminated everyone he held dear and unleashed a self-destruct explosion that obliterated the jungle for miles around.
Suddenly, Schwarzenegger was not the star of the movie. The alien hunter had assumed the dominant role and had exercised its authority over the action star that we had come to regard as unbeatable, and in the aftermath of the movie’s release, it was the PREDATOR that grabbed all the headlines. Without question, it was still a Schwarzenegger movie, but the star of the piece was the creature that had come to earth to hunt the ultimate prey and upstage his human co-star!
With the release of its sequel, which did not boast Schwarzenegger as its leading man, the core narrative of the alien hunter mythology was lost as the story transitioned from the jungles of Central America to the urban jungle of Los Angeles. This time, Danny Glover (of Lethal Weapon fame) faced off against the hunter as a tough L.A police detective, but despite being a solid movie with many fantastic action sequences, it could not replicate the success of the original.
A period of transition followed with a crossover experiment with the Alien franchise, but the two ALIEN VS PREDATOR movies did little to rejuvenate the fortunes of the PREDATOR legacy. And then in 2010, acclaimed movie maker Robert Rodriguez attempted to breathe new life into the series with his reboot/sequel PREDATORS. The movie utilized many of the building blocks popular within the core of the original, including the elite team of soldiers and elaborate jungle setting, but it changed the dynamic by locating the story on a hostile, alien world. Boasting three new alien hunters, as well as a cameo from the original classic PREDATOR, the movie set its stall out early to be the first legitimate sequel to Schwarzenegger’s classic original. The movie was a solid entry, boasting many of the classic nostalgia triggers from the popular original, but again it fell far short of the standard set by the 1987 masterpiece.
For seven years, the franchise faded back into the shadows leaving both the ALIEN franchise and the Star Wars saga to remerge and dominate the box office. But in 2018, the PREDATOR will be returning to screen with an all new sequel/reboot helmed by one of the original stars. Director Shane Black, cast as Hawkins in the original movie, will be bringing his vision of the alien hunter to the screen. The director comes back into the fold fresh on the back of successes like the original Lethal Weapon (for which he wrote the screenplay) and his directorial duties on The Nice Guys, and the immensely successful Marvel Studios sequel, Iron Man 3.
The sequel, simply titled THE PREDATOR seemed to have all the ingredients to make a stunning movie. The cast boasts the acting talents of Olivia Munn, Edward James Olmos and Thomas Jane, and early negotiations with Arnold Schwarzenegger teased the triumphant return of major Dutch Schaefer. However, after reading the script the actor rejected the studios ovations stating that the script was far below the standard he had been expecting. Suddenly, the talk amongst the fans is one of despair.
With Schwarzenegger rejecting the script out of hand, many have taken it to be a sign that movie will be little more than yet another soft reboot, diluting and degrading the brilliance of the original. Whether that comes to fruition remains to be seen, but this news has done nothing to strengthen the resolve of the devoted fan base, who have been calling for a laudable sequel for almost thirty years.
Until a legitimate synopsis is revealed for public scrutiny, these questions will continue to degrade the anticipation of the movie and do little to appease our concerns. The original PREDATOR, will remain as the originator of the horror/action genre, but should 20th Century Fox intend to regain fan support for their sequel, a plot disclosure would go a long way to easing their concerns. Tidbits of information pertaining to the narratives at play in the sequel have began to trickle out from the set, but with no official word from Fox, the wait goes on.
The Predator, with a fantastic plot should make for a stunning sequel/reboot to Schwarzenegger’s classic original, if handled properly. Unfortunately, with so many wonderful movies heading our way over the next few months, the alien hunter has been forced to concede its original August 3rd release date. In a move designed to avoid competition from Jason Statham’s The Meg, The Predator now finds itself pushed back for an expected release date of September 14th.
Whether this release date endures the hectic late summer schedule remains to be seen. But thankfully, we can now look forward to filling cinema venues around the world sooner rather than later.
The Predator is coming…and hunting season is opening soon!
If it bleeds…we can kill it!