The Predator, A Review & My Hopes for a Shared Universe

19 Sep

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

  • Spoiler Alert

Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger put the smackdown on a lone alien hunter Predator on screen, this creature left a huge mark in the world of sci-fi and pop culture. After countless crossovers into comic book universes, I find leaving him in 21st Century Fox‘s own shared universe makes for better tales. Throughout many millennia, this hunter species took down dinosaurs, strange aliens, primeval man and elite fighting units. Ultimately, the movies are about who is this galaxy’s apex warrior.

No sequel or followup will ever surpass the testosterone pool from the original film. The Predator tries, but without the widespread recognition of the actors, some people may ask who are these stars? Those performers whose career shone brightly the 80’s are very well known and they still are to this day.  The talents from this decade are only recognizable if fans have seen their work. From Chuck to Hatfields & McCoys to Game of Thrones, thankfully the roster is decently represented. The characters these performers played represent the best of the best for that division of the military; quite often, they are in a situation where the fight is about the survival of the fittest.

At the same time, this movie reflects on Darwinism and gives it a neo-style flavour. The subplot about Rory (Jacob Tremblay) is important; he is autistic and manages to figure out how to work Predator technology. As the son of Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), the main hero of this film, the question of whether he is neglected gets barely a mention, especially when the senior is often out on military excursions. Problems happen, and somehow, he ends up on the wrong side of the law. He suddenly finds himself leading a ragtag team of soldiers with PTSD to deal with space aliens. Shades of The A-Team can be happily felt, especially with one character being a chopper pilot.

I’m still waiting for the return of Dutch (Schwarzenegger). Writer/director Shane Black has to include him if his plans for a trilogy happen. Despite a very suggestive moment that he is in the film, that backside can be anybody. I believe this character’s inclusion is mandatory to help bridge the films. Since the frequency of regular movies is erratic, the only studio keeping the love alive is Dark Horse Comics.  Their expanded universe offers cool reveals of this Predator (known as the Yautja) society and details why Earth has been such a regular hunting ground. This filmmaker goes elsewhere and suggests not many nomadic societies can survive unless adaptation occurs.

Image result for the predator

Black takes a few ideas from the printed material and nicely tells viewers that the society is very feudal. They often war amongst themselves. When the young are ready to hunt, they have to be initiated. When one decides to go rogue, the reason better be good. Perhaps in this film, the pup does not like the idea of how to further the species. Instead of relying on traditional methods, the elite insists the only way to superiority is to rely on genetically modifying their race. This concept is close to how the Alien improves, but for the Predators, they have technology at their disposal.

If this cinematic world ever gets turned around, that is told from the Predator’s perspective than that of a human’s, a lot of information will be made known. I cannot say for certain this idea is a step in the right direction but I am keen in knowing more. The information from the comics is not considered canon.

Quite often in this type of product, a scientist enters the picture and gives to viewers the needed answers anyways. In this film’s case, Casey (Olivia Munn), an exobiologist, figures there’s more to this species than previously known; to consider they have been hunting to further their kind is an okay twist. Black is terrific to give the franchise this needed element to tie all the films together. He also offers socially relevant plot points instead of making a no-nonsense action film. The still to further develop father-son bond will lead the next films. The relationship with ex-wife Emily (Yvonne Strahovski) was very underdeveloped and I doubt she is going to return. Everything that I wanted to know gets quickly said and where it goes next offers no drama.

If only Schwarzenegger accepted the role Black wrote about his character, however brief, I’m sure his role has to be expanded for part two or three. The lamented Predators reboot did nothing. When there is no single creative mind guiding this franchise, I fear this alpha warrior is going to be knocked out of the boxing ring before he stands a chance with a Terminator or even a rematch an Alien.

3 Stars out of 5

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