The Predator lacks what made the original a classic.
Aidan Janssen, Reporter & Designer | Oct. 19, 2018
“The Predator” can stand firmly alongside other recently released movies, but isn’t consistent with the 1987 classic’s serious tone and characters.
Released on Sept. 14, “The Predator” is Hollywood’s newest sequel to the thirty-year franchise. The newest movie was directed by Shane Black, who previously played the major character of Hawkins in the 1987 release.
This original movie, simply titled “Predator,” tells the story of Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his squad of soldiers, who are sent into the jungles of Guatemala. However, as the group returns from the wild, they find themselves being hunted by an alien known as “Predator.” The extraterrestrial is intent on killing the best human specimen, and it becomes Dutch’s task to bring his companions out alive.
The 2018 release is centered around former military sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) and his group of friends, former soldiers suffering from various war-related traumas. The group — self-described as “Looneys” — is hiding from and fighting back against two Predators.
The action sequences were thoughtfully done, each of them with stunning choreography. The actors portraying the Predators were trained with machine-like precision. This effect is all the more impressive considering most of the scenes were performed without using CGI. The 1987 movie used real actors to portray the Predator, but the more intense scenes using early CGI did not age well.
The sounds, too, are grabbing, giving every gunshot and explosion a believable tone. While this is to be expected from modern movies, it’s an improvement nonetheless.
However, the movie’s plot falls short when compared to the creativity, characters, and sense of terror that made the original film so memorable.
“The Predator” also relies heavily on its previous releases, reusing lines, props, and character relationships from the 1987 movie. While these references add fun Easter eggs for those who have seen the original, their frequency is repetitive, and creates a feeling of reliance.
The Predators themselves are also comparatively underwhelming. In the first movie, the Predator was a complicated character that possessed great strength, while also feeling pain and experiencing the struggle of survival. This human quality added another layer to the plot, and allowed audience members to sympathize with the monster. The new Predators act only as killing machines and rarely expose their weaker sides.
The new characters are similarly disappointing. While the 1987 characters had clichéd personalities — the comedic guy, the serious one, the loud friend — I actually cared about their fate. In the recent release, all the people are meant to be funny, which limits the character development to their war traumas.
One such example of this is the character of Dr. Bracket (Olivia Munn). At first, I was concerned about what would happen to her, but she quickly became yet another person with a gun.
Another struggle “The Predator” faces is in the way humor affects the plotline. The dark and serious tone of the first film made it a psychological thriller in its own right. This clashes significantly with the new release’s heavy use of action and comedy, and makes it a much different experience.
“The Predator” makes clear improvements over the 1987 version, in both action and graphics, holding my interest to the end. However, it lacks what made the original great: a film that provides a sense of fear and stress created from the feeling of beloved characters being hunted.
3 out of 5 stars.