Way back in 1987 Predator was a notable action film on a variety of levels, telling the story of a small elite military unit that were tracking an unknown assailant through the jungle – only to realise that they’d become the quarry . It was a major early success for Arnold Schwarzenegger and featured a pre-directing/screenwriting Shane Black in an acting role (the same year he penned the first Lethal Weapon). Famously, a young Jean-Claude van Damme was hired to play the titular monster before there was a mutual decision for him to leave the production when the creature was vastly redesigned and its style re-imagined.
A non-Arnie sequel followed three years later with Danny Glover taking the ‘hero’ role as the action moved from the jungle to the city.
Though it took time, other films eventually followed. 2004’s Alien vs Predator (directed by marmite director Paul W S Anderson) was seen as an effort to bio-engineer a franchise mash-up of successful monster movie franchises. However the result was less successful than the studios hoped and something that felt more like a way to make money rather than truly show the strengths of both. (The initial idea came out of a xenomorph/alien skull being glimpsed in Predator 2) The outing made a reasonable amount of money – enough to bring a further film AvP: Requiem (directed by The Brothers Strause) in 2007 – but both were inferior to the source material and effectively turned both sci-fi strands into endangered species.
In an attempt to get back to basics, the action moved off-Earth in 2010’s Predators but returned to the idea of an isolated team in a rural environment being picked off one by one – with potential victims including Adrien Brody and Danny Trejo. Critics were kinder, but it was a project that did better on DVD than in cinemas. Ironically, a fan-made entry in 2015, Predator: Dark Ages, spoke more to the potential still left in the central concept…
Shane Black’s return to the big-screen franchise, now as director and co-writer (along with Fred Dekker) has been in the works for a while. The premise is that a misplaced device end sup in the hands of a young boy who doesn’t realise that it’s a tracking device that summons the Predators who have been busy upgrading themselves with other alien DNA from their previous hunts. Now a group of mercenaries and the populace of a small rural town will feel the full wrath of the alien hunters….
Despite the trailer being quite vague and even ‘PG-13’ in apperance, Black has said that one of his conditions for taking on the project was that the finished film wasn’t watered down and retained a ‘R’ rated feel – somewhat helped by the recent success of the Deadpool films. That means there’s a lot more edgy material that isn’t being shown to audiences just yet…
The film arrives in cinemas on 14th September in the US and UK.