If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: A 'Predator' Retrospective

"In a part of the world where there are no rules, deep in the jungle where nothing that lives is safe, an elite
rescue squad is being led by the ultimate warrior. But now, they're up against the ultimate enemy. Nothing like it has ever been on earth before. It kills for pleasure, it hunts for sport. But this time, it picked the wrong man to hunt." It is time to take a look back at the 1987 classic, Predator, and each of its many sequels as I Like Horror Movies presents If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: A 'Predator' Retrospective!

Predator (1987)

Arnold is back in one of the biggest and baddest Action/Sci-Fi adventures of all time: PREDATOR! A team of special operatives are sent on a rescue mission to save a group of American hostages, when they quickly discover that they are the ones being hunted by an unseen foe deep within the jungles of South Ameria. By combining the wall-to-wall action of RAMBO with the otherworldly terror of Ridley Scott's ALIEN, PREDATOR has become a universal classic that brings together fans of Science Fiction, Action, and Horror. The plot is simple yet effective, and leaves plenty of room for the bloody set pieces to follow. The key casting creates a powerhouse of memorable characters, led, of course, by fan favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger, but backed by equally enjoyable performances from mean man Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke, Sonny Landham, and Carl Weathers. PREDATOR plays out like your average shoot 'em up, until we hear the unnerving clicking of the alien creature as the screen shifts into infrared, warning us that our heroes are not alone. Armed to the teeth with futuristic weaponry and light-bending armor, the Predator is the perfect hunter. It is smart, resourceful, and equally deadly. With reptilian skin, sharp mandibles, and a defining set of dreadlocks that reach down from beneath its battle helmet, the Predator is one of the most unique and interesting creature designs ever caught on film, adding to Stan Winston's impressive collection. Alan Silvestri's primal score also adds excitement and intrigue to the fast-paced action and violence. At the time of this writing, PREDATOR has produced two sequels and countless spin-offs in all forms of media spanning over the course of the last two decades, which proves the lasting impact of John McTiernan's classic film in pop culture.

Rating: 9/10.

Predator 2 (1990)

A war is waging in the streets of Los Angeles between two rival gangs. Lieutenant Mike Harrigan of the LAPD is caught right in the middle, but he and his team are about to receive help from the most unlikely of allies: an alien Predator that has chosen LA as his new hunting ground! Conceptually, PREDATOR 2 is the perfect sequel. It does not attempt to recreate the first film, but rather moves the setting to the next logical location: The concrete jungles of LA. The Thomas Brothers turn in another action-packed script that attempts to outdo the original at every turn. There is more blood, more violence, and more gadgets as this sleek new urban Predator sets out to collect his human trophies using metal shurikens, razorwire nets, and spears. The redesigned costume and differing attack patterns show us that the Predator race is as varied and diverse as our own, which leads up to a shocking finale aboard the Predator spacecraft. Danny Glover offers a welcomed change of pace from Arnold and the gang, playing a breakneck cop with no regard for authority. For all of the awesome action sequences and gory murders, however, the story itself is often contrived, and conveniently places the Predator in all the right places at all the right times. PREDATOR 2 comes as close as any sequel could to reproducing the thrills and non-stop action of the original, while giving us something new entirely.

Rating: 7/10.

Predators (2010)

A group of warriors and weapons experts from all across the world are transported to an alien planet to face off against an elite band of otherworldly hunters in PREDATORS, the long-awaited third entry in the action-packed series. While director Nimrod Antal strikes many successful chords in the look, sound, and feel of the film, he somehow misses the mark in the overall production. There is no subtlety to be found in the bold references to the original. Instead, PREDATORS shows more imitation than appreciation for John McTiernan's film. The poorly chosen characters are awkwardly assembled, making it difficult to accept that they would work together as a team when there is no sense of camaraderie between any of them. It is also impossible to take Laurence Fishburne and Adrian Brody seriously in their ridiculously over-the-top roles. What is worse, the contrived dialog has Brody's roughneck leader spell out the Predators' plans every step of the way. Despite its many flaws, the lush jungle setting and steady action beats help to drive the film forward. KNB EFX Group comes out the winner with their excellent redesigns on the all-new aliens, referencing the classic appearance that they had helped to create alongside Special FX wizard Stan Winston in the late 80's while revamping them with all-new weapons and modifications. PREDATORS may be pretty to look at with its big explosions and loud noises, but its lack of originality and weak storytelling make it a bland sequel overall.

Rating: 7/10.

Alien Vs Predator (2004)

The prospect of an ALIEN VS PREDATOR movie pitting two of Science Fiction's greatest foes against one another is a dream come true for Horror fans. With decades of video games and comic books from which to draw upon, coming up with a thrilling new concept to bring these two franchises together should have been easy. The project had one fatal flaw, however: Paul W.S. Anderson. A talentless hack that had already single-handedly destroyed the RESIDENT EVIL franchise. Perhaps he was chosen to direct specifically for his hatred of plot and character development, with producers hoping he could recreate the same mindless action of his previous films in a blockbuster battle between the two species. Well, he accomplished half of that...

An ancient temple is found buried deep beneath icy Antarctica, bringing Charles Bishop Weyland and a group of experts in to explore the architectural anomaly. In a brilliant feat of contrived storytelling, the group discovers that the temple is used as a proving ground for a race of advanced hunters from another galaxy, who use human hosts to breed a deadly form of prey. The complexity ends here, as the plot is only used as an excuse to get the humans into the temple. From there, it must be non-stop action and suspense, right? Wrong. For all of the tedious exploring and pseudo-scientific jargon that the audience is subjected to, there is only one five-minute melee between the Predators and aliens. Despite a flashback depicting three Predators fending off thousands of the aliens atop a pyramid, it only takes a single alien to kill two of the Predators in this small amount of time. By staging the battle on Earth, the threat of the aliens reaching the planet that served as the overriding theme in the ALIEN series is completely diminished. Even more shameful is the lack of dignity given to the Predators. Rather than reserving his self-destruct mechanism as a final act of Sepuku, the Predator removes the device and casually tosses it in the chamber to destroy the temple, an act that goes against the creature's very nature of honor and nobility. Anderson couldn't have found a more unconvincing cast, either. Sanaa Lathan can never be taken seriously, especially not in her transitions from scientist to she-warrior in just a few simple steps. She is only given the worst throwaway lines, like "We're in the middle of a war. It's time to pick a side." Only Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. allow the film any credibility at all by bringing along more of their incredible costume designs for both species.

What could have been the greatest Science Fiction spectacle of all-time was revealed to be a complete flop, garnishing nothing but negative feedback from fans and the filmmakers who helped establish both series to begin with. You are honestly better off watching fan films like BATMAN: DEAD END or AVP: REDEMPTION any day.

Rating: 6/10.

Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem (2007)

Everything Science Fiction fans ever wanted in an ALIENS VS PREDATOR movie can be found in ALIENS VS PREDATOR: REQUIEM -- You just can't see it. AVP:R suffers from the absolute worst lighting of any Horror/Science Fiction film ever made. The only scenes that count are so abysmally dark that it becomes tiring and frustrating to watch, despite the incredible gory action that is occurring somewhere on screen. Following the conclusion of the previous film, a fallen Predator warrior gives birth to a Predalien hybrid, which destroys the remaining crew and causes the Predator craft to come careening back down to Earth along with its payload of alien facehuggers. Before long, the small mountain town of Gunnison, Colorado is overrun by the menacing aliens, and one of the Predator's most elite warriors is sent to clean up the mess. The Strauss Brothers come as close as they can to recreating many of the most successful scenes from either series in this failure of a film, with visual and audio cues dating back to the original PREDATOR and ALIENS. If it were left strictly to the battle sequences, AVP:R would have been an awesome, action-packed sequel, but if anything is worse than the lighting, it is the ridiculous human element that adds unnecessary clutter to the script. The awful characters are supplanted straight out of a bad teen serial, and contribute nothing to the plot. It is all the more enraging that these scenes are the only ones that are visible. The killer costume designs of Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. cannot even be admired for more than a second between the blackness, the shaking camera, and the choppy editing. Complaining about story continuity is really irrelevant with all else that is wrong in AVP:R, so suffice it to say that the film is a lost cause with a few really cool looking aliens and explosions (which can't be seen).

Rating: 5/10.


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