Writer-director Shane Black is emphasizing the importance of practical effects as he shoots The Predator. Black’s name originally became the toast of Hollywood in March of 1987 when he sold his first screenplay for the Mel Gibson-Danny Glover action blockbuster, Lethal Weapon, taking the buddy comedy genre to new heights. Three months later, Black also made his big screen acting debut in the original Predator as Hawkins, a member of an elite commando team led by Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), that is dispatched to a central American jungle where they encounter a formidable alien hunter.
Starring as the titular “Predator” was Kevin Peter Hall, who’s hulking 7-foot 2-inch frame brought even more menace to an already frightening creature designed by legendary FX artist Stan Winston. Thirty years later, Black seems intent on capturing that same sort of dominating presence by promising practical effects for the creature in The Predator. A day after it was revealed that the film was pushed back to summer-friendly release date in August 2018, Black sent out a tweet Sunday informing fans of his that he’s keeping his Predator as real as possible.
I am standing on set next to a 7-foot tall gentleman in a Predator suit — so no, it is not all CGI.
— Shane Black (@BonafideBlack) April 23, 2017
In an age where filmmakers are leaning more and more on computer-generated imagery to tell their stories, Black’s tweet comes as welcome news. That’s not to say such CGI methods as motion capture performances by actors can’t be effective – in some films they’re absolutely essential – it’s just that movie fans are becoming much more discerning as to what’s real and what isn’t. There’s only so much that visual effects artists can do before their work becomes a distraction in the ultimate quest to suspend audiences’ disbelief.
Black isn’t the first filmmaker to publicly proclaim his use of practical effects. After the fan backlash to the CGI in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, J.J. Abrams made it a point to note that The Force Awakens would be employing as many practical sets and effects as possible. Christopher Nolan’s been doing it for years, of course, like in his real-world narrative of The Dark Knight Trilogy, and most recently his trek to new galaxies in Interstellar. Ridley Scott did the same with Prometheus and The Martian, and you can certainly expect him to employ as much practicality as possible in his upcoming Alien: Covenant.
So, on the surface, if Black’s decision to use as many practical effects as possible to create The Predator seems to be something trivial, consider this: Abrams, Nolan and Scott were all able to take the practical route because they had the clout to do so. That kind of clout means more creative control on a picture, which enables a filmmaker to tell the story they way it was originally intended. And if Black’s truly been granted that freedom by Twentieth Century Fox, the film, and the title character, will end up being a much bigger deal to fans than the 7-foot Predator that the filmmaker says he was standing next to.
Source: Shane Black