An alien predator that hunts humans for sport, what a fantastic premise for a science fiction film. Predator is a compelling franchise but has fallen on hard times. Would Alienand Blade Runner director Ridley Scott restore the Predator to its rightful place as a successful and critically acclaimed property?
The beloved Predator franchise has had its fair share of ups and downs. The first film in the series, 1987’s Predator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, has become revered as one of the best sci-fi action films ever. With a tiny production budget of $18,000,000, the film was financially prosperous at the box office, reaching $98,267,558.
Subsequent releases have had decent box office returns, but they have yet to have the potency and critical acclaim of the original. Hulu’s 2022 straight-to-streaming Predator film, Prey, was well received, while Shane Black’s 2018 The Predator was criticised by critics and fans alike. Overall, the sequels have yet to match the original film’s success, story-wise or at the box office.
Sequels vs The Original Predator
John McTiernan directed the first Predator. The filmmaker is great at action films, directing Die Hard (1988) and 1995’sDie Hard with a Vengeance. With Predator, the director combined horror, action, and science fiction to deliver a fantastic film that gets better with each viewing.
McTiernan also managed to ensemble a great cast, paying homage to war dramas and stories about soldiers of fortune as in 1967’s The Dirty Dozen. 20th Century Fox released Predator II in 1990. Due to salary disputes, Arnold did not return to the role of Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer; instead, Danny Glover, playing Lieutenant Mike Harrigan, was cast as the lead.
Predator II was disliked by most critics and achieved the lowest box office in the franchise. However, as time passed, the film gained a cult following, with many now considering it the second-best film in the series. Danny Glover’s performance as Mike Harrigan was fantastic, and contrary to expectations, the actor was a worthy substitute for Arnold. As with the first film, Alan Silvestri’s incredible musical score is the heart and soul of the movie, and he delivers another exceptional listening experience.
It would be over a decade since the second film that a new Predator was released. In 2004, Alien vs Predator debuted in cinemas. It received low reviews and has gained fewer subsequent fans than the preceding films have since its release. Ridley Scott has often expressed his disdain for the two Alien vs Predator films.
In 2019, he told The Hollywood Reporter that Alien vs Predator was a “daft idea.” The British director felt that creating a cross-over with the two monsters ruined both franchises, and by releasing the films, Fox delayed a standalone Alien sequel by Scott for many years. Ridley would return to Alien eventually with the prequel Prometheus in 2012.
Sigourney Weaver echoed Scott’s sentiments in 2015. Speaking at London Film and Comic-Con, she expressed her disappointment that the Alien franchise was being damaged, saying, “I heard that Fox was gonna do Alien vs Predator, which really depressed me because I was very proud of the movies.” She added, “I’ve nothing against building a movie on a video game, but at the time it was, as Jim Cameron said, I think publicly, ‘Why would you want to do that’? It’s like making Alien meets the Wolfman.”
Post Alien v Predator‘
After the Alien vs Predator debacle, the franchise fared slightly better with 2010’s Predators, which starred Adrien Brody in the lead. Predators faired well at the box office, but as with each sequel before it, the high standards of the original Predator cast a long shadow, and Predators fell short. The bitter taste in the mouth left by Alien vs Predator and Aliens vs Predator: Requiem meant that fans expected a return to form. Thus, while Predators was a decent film, it could have done more to capture the original film’s magic.
Instead of bolstering the series, Shane Black’s The Predator pulled the franchise back into Alien vs Predator terrain with critics and fans. While Black’s film is not as reviled as the two AvP releases, it put a severe dent in the franchise from a critical standpoint. Afterwards, it felt like the series had nowhere else to go. Film after film failed to live up to expectations.
In 2022, Hulu released a Prey and attempted to put a new spin on the series. The film is a prequel set in the Northern Great Plains of 1719. Instead of a male lead, the film takes inspiration from Alien and places a female as the protagonist. Many felt Prey’s rugged scenery and more character-driven storyline reinvigorated the franchise. It was difficult to gauge from streaming whether Prey was a success compared to previous films, but many felt that the film refreshed the franchise.
A Ridley Scott Predator
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Ridley Scott is one of the greatest science fiction directors of our time. His work on Alien and Blade Runner was enough to secure such a title. Despite his lauded status, Ridley can be divisive with his work. His Alien prequels, Prometheus and Alien Covenant, prove as much. While these movies divided fans of the Alien franchise, they are still far superior to most space films. The high standards of the original Alien cast a long shadow the same way the original Predator does, and any additional films in the Alien series will be compared to the original’s success.
Scott is one of the few directors that could make another classic Predator film. No other film in the series has had a director as qualified as John McTiernan and Ridley Scott would fill that vacuum. The filmmaker’s visionary approach to science fiction is evident in the genre and would be ideally suited to Predator.
The first Alien film set the bar for action set in space. Ridley created suspense and horror without overusing the Xenomorph. McTiernan did precisely that in Predator as well. Most of the time, the Predator and the Xenomorph are invisible, showcasing a masterful use of tension and creating suspense in their respective films.
Ridley is also very good with an ensemble cast with Alien and Predator characterised by dynamic and exciting ensembles. If Scott were at the helm, a new Predator film could once again revolve around a great cast of characters. Shane Black is also known for writing good ensemble characters. Unfortunately, Black leaned too heavily into the ensemble nature of the Predator franchise and inflated it beyond the film’s scope, resulting in a parody version of the original. On the other hand, Ridley could use his skills to re-establish Predator as a vehicle for outstanding ensembles.
Scott is also known for his fantastic cinematography and awe-inspiring visuals. Prometheus, for instance, has exceptional camera work and visuals, and Blade Runner even more so. With Ridley’s high visual standards, a new Predator could not just be a great film but also great from a visual perspective.
If Scott were ever to shoot scenes of Yautja Prime, the homeworld of the Predators, it would be a visual feast. Ridley Scott’s high standards also translate to costume design. The director has a keen eye for apparel, as seen in his filmography. Scott’s take on a Predator suit and armour could also be something to look forward to.
Predator has become part of the canon of science fiction. Despite the merits of the other films, especially Predator II, we have never seen a sequel live up to the highs of John McTiernan’s film. Could Ridley Scott be the key to opening a new era of Predator films? Is Scott the man that can make a Predator that is as compelling as Alien and McTiernan’s masterpiece?
Neilan Adams is a talented journalist, writer, and critic with a passion for all things pop culture. With a diverse range of interests, Neilan has contributed to print and online media on topics ranging from music and film to gaming and comics.
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