Adaptations are the craze in Hollywood lately and if a studio isn’t developing a big budget comic book movie like The Avengers: Age of Ultron or Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, then they are looking for preexisting properties that are ripe for some reinvigoration. Just next year, we’ll get Jurassic World, Terminator: Genesis, and Star Wars: Episode VII trying to prove that the old can be new again.
Now, we can add another project to that ever-expanding list - since it has been announced that Iron Man 3 director Shane Black will helm a reboot of the classic sci-fi franchise Predator for Fox. The 1987 original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the biggest hits the year it came out and has earned its place among the most highly regarded action films of its era. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that some Predator fans are rolling their eyes at the prospect of another entry in the series - regardless of how much they love the world.
While we have to sympathize with the plight of these viewers, it’s important to keep in mind that not all modern sequels (and reboots) are awful. In some instances, they can provide rewarding cinematic experiences that can satisfy old fans and bring in new ones. In the hopes that the Predator reimagining can fit in that category, we have compiled a list of ways to do the Predator sequel “right.” As is the case with our Star Wars spinoffs game plan, this is all subjective, but most will probably agree that these steps could result in an entertaining movie.
Go for the Hard ‘R’
These days, studios look to tailor their major tentpoles for maximum profitability. This means that they wish to bring in the widest audience possible. Thanks to the invention of the PG-13 rating, executives now have a target that they look to hit whenever commissioning a summer film. It gives off the impression that the movie isn’t exactly family friendly (drawing in older teens) while ensuring the festivities aren’t too extreme for youngster’s eyes.
Unfortunately, the PG-13 revolution has led to a series of homogenized action films (think: the Total Recall remake) that leave moviegoers more frustrated than anything. One of the most appealing aspects of 1980s action movies – particularly Predator – was that most of them embraced the R rating to deliver fans a full-blown experience. Watching the original, it’s hard not to get swept up in the gruesome killings, ultra-violence, and foul language that helped carve a place for it in movie history. The belief that R-rated films don’t make money is a myth (look at the Jump Street movies for proof), and there’s a large portion of audiences that would flock to an adult-oriented action film.
As a cast member from the first film, Black should know what made it so appealing to viewers and look to give them something similar.
Get a Stellar Cast
With action icons like Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers at the front of the ensemble, the cast assembled by director John McTiernan for Predator was one of the film’s strongest points. Having their own personalities, each member of Dutch’s team stood out and all have a memorable scene - or characteristic. Whether it’s Hawkins (Black) telling jokes, Mac (Bill Duke) shaving a beard that isn’t there, or Blaine (Jesse Ventura) refusing to have time for bleeding, the actors involved tried to craft characters that felt like real people. This helped get the audience involved, as they became emotionally invested in the protagonists – and not just waiting for some creature action.
For the sequel to have any shot at being relevant for viewers, Black is going to have to put together one great collection of modern action stars (or at the very least diverse acting talent) as the main way of generating interest. It will be impossible to top Schwarzenegger’s Dutch, but we would sign up for a cast that’s headlined by The Rock, with fan-favorites such as Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, and Chris Pratt (among others) flanking him. Part of what made Predator work was the presence of no-nonsense soldiers that oozed testosterone and masculinity, traits that our suggestions have all showcased before.
Keep It Simple
In the ‘70s and ‘80s, you could make a hit film with a relatively straightforward concept. Questions like “what if a shark attacked a beach,” “what if an alien was loose on a ship,” and “what if you could go to high school with your parents” are the basis for just a few of the most legendary films of that time period. There wasn’t any need for a convoluted back-story or countless subplots. Directors just sold audiences on an intriguing high concept and let viewers have fun.
Nowadays, just about every summer blockbuster (mainly those in the sci-fi and superhero genres) has increasingly higher and higher stakes. If the fate of the entire universe doesn’t depend on the hero getting the job done, it’s not worth green lighting in the eyes of many executives. However, this has led to many movies regurgitating similar ideas - with viewers experiencing déjà vu all over again each time they visit the multiplex. There’s something alluring about an action movie that’s a tad scaled back and intimate, where the only things at risk are the lives of the main characters. Since it’s not the norm anymore, films that do this feel fresher and stand out more than yet another apocalyptic offering.
Black should keep the proceedings as simple as possible. Drop a cast of the best action stars in the middle of an isolated locale and have them go to war with a monster. Not only will this be in the spirit of the original, the single setting should make the adventure more claustrophobic and immediate.
Embrace Other Genres
Most modern action movies take the “action” label to heart and go balls-to-the-wall non-stop for two hours or more. The new technologies available to filmmakers have allowed them to create visually-impressive sequences, but the endless barrage of CGI and special effects can wear thin on some viewers - and is one of the most common complaints about big films today. Contrast that with the blockbusters of yesteryear, where the limitations were used to the filmmaker’s advantage in crafting different kinds of thrills.
Where something like Alien vs. Predator: Requiem was all violence with little-to-no build-up, classics such as Jaws, Alien, Jurassic Park, and – yes – Predator succeeded due to the fact that they blended elements of horror into the proceedings and built up anticipation within the audience. Scenes like “raptors in the kitchen” and Ripley’s showdown in the shuttle are more memorable than a majority of the action sequences today (despite decades of evolution) thanks to their use of practical effects and slow-burn techniques.
Even though Predator is largely a macho action film, it is a little deeper than most give it credit for. Using the team of soldiers as a springboard, McTiernan tackled themes such as honor among warriors and loyalty to comrades – aspects you would expect in an Oscar-winning war drama, not a Schwarzenegger romp. It would be wise if the reboot’s script tried to accomplish this as well, so it could offer moviegoers something with a little more thought.
Don’t Recreate Classic Imagery
Dutch and Dillon’s handshake. “If it bleeds, we can kill it.” “GET TO DA CHOPPA!” Dutch’s primal battle cry before the finale. The original Predator is full of iconic images and moments that have gone on to become part of cinema history. A fear of many is that this sequel is a shameless, cynical cash grab, so to combat this, Black would be wise to stray away from the little things that made the first film so special.
Nobody will accomplish anything by trying to rehash the parts in the above paragraph and repackage them for a new generation. Since this is a sequel, the filmmakers should try to create something new that stands on its own merits and doesn’t rely fully on nostalgia to get by. Small callbacks or little Easter eggs would be in good faith, but Black should have a firm grasp on how beloved Predator is and understand he has nothing to gain from remaking the film scene-for-scene, beat-for-beat. He’s got to justify its existence by taking an old brand and giving us something fresh – not something we’ve already seen.
Of course, these are just the steps we would take to ensure the new Predator film can be as good as humanly possible. Our list is not meant to be all-inclusive. Be sure to let us know what you would do if you were in charge of guiding the follow-up to the big screen (besides canceling the project).
The Predator sequel is currently in development and does not have a release date.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.