The final trailer for Shane Black’s The Predator has been released, giving us our last taste of horror until the film hits theatres.
By ‘horror’, I am of course not referring to the gore, murder, or titular alien hunters, but instead the truly awful quality of the trailers themselves. It almost seems as though the producers of this film are going, well, all The Producers on us, and want the film to tank as hard as possible.
I am getting ahead of myself. What is The Predator? It is the fourth film in the Predator franchise. Couldn’t you tell by the complete lack of numbering or subtitling? Aren’t you looking forward to awkwardly tagging on ‘2018’ to the title when discussing this film in the future? The Predator follows Predator, the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic that is one of the greatest action films ever made, Predator II, the not-as-good-but-still-quite-enjoyable sequel that had the good graces to use a number, and Predators, an ambitious film that had sloppy writing and some odd missteps. Predators also make the titling confusing I suppose, though there are actually multiple aliens in the film, unlike The Predator, in which the title promises one alien but there are clearly at least two.
The films follow unlucky humans tangling with ‘Predators’, extraterrestrial aliens that just love to hunt other life-forms. The Predators are a wonderful blend of sci-fi technology and tribal culture, and it is no wonder they have had such an impact on pop-culture. Other than thematically and including the aliens themselves, there are no real connecting threads between the films. Humans act all tough, get hunted like sport, final grizzled man gets in touch with his primal side and beats Predator. Rinse, repeat.
It seems like a formula that is hard to get wrong, but it looks like the latest film has gone out of its way to disappoint. Remember the badass crew from the first film? Now, they’re a wacky, crazy gang of misfits! Remember the hot, oppressive environments of the previous movies? Now it’s just in a forest in North America, I guess. Remember how the gore was disturbing and visceral? Now, people be getting all cut up left, right and center by those awesome Predators. The film even has the generosity to steal the bad elements from other films in the franchise. Remember the Super-Predators from Predators that everyone hated? Now, there’s another bigger, badder, more super-er Super-Predator. I wonder if our hero will team up with the good ol’ vanilla Predator to beat it up?
Additionally, the film seems to be aiming for a tone much like your usual Marvel quip-fest, with every character cracking jokes like they’re at a Predator-themed comedy roast. The other films had humor too, but it usually served a purpose. For example, Arnie’s quips early on in Predator as he guns down more waves of cartel-members lure you into thinking the film will be a generic 80s action film, but once the alien starts hunting them it is treated with the utmost seriousness. The contrast served to make the Predator more threatening to the characters and the audience. In the trailer for The Predator, they make jokes about the name ‘the Predator’ as well as the protagonist’s previous encounter with them. I understand that we live in an age where watching anything without twenty ironic lenses is seen as hopelessly naive, but these quips just suck out all tension and horror from the film for me.
A lot of what made Predator work was thematic: Our heroes begin the story with lots of advanced weaponry and technology with no respect for their environment, far removed from humanity’s tribal origins. They are in the jungle with no personal connection to their job, and they slaughter their enemies while making bad jokes at their expense. Then the Predator arrives, forcing the protagonists to confront man’s own long-buried primal side. The Predator contrasts them well, hunting for personal honor, showing its opponents respect and even taking trophies from those it values.
Eventually, all of man’s modernity is stripped away until it is just the lone hero, using the same methods and strategies as the Predator, and so also our own ancestors, to overcome the threat. There is an intense battle going on thematically, and it is one that resonates with audiences. None of that seems present in the new trailer for The Predator. It just seems like it is trying to be a funny, silly action movie featuring those hokey Predator’s you know and love.
Of course, these are all my own opinions based upon the trailers and marketing for this film. Perhaps the film will come out and be a total surprise, it is not the first time a film has been marketed as something entirely different from the finished product, after all. It is a shame to have such low expectations for the film, especially considering director Shane Black’s own connection with the franchise, having played Hawkins in the original.
Check out the trailer below for more disappointment.
The Predator is set to be released on September 14 this year.