When a new movie called Predator arrived in theaters in 1987, no one imagined what it might become.
Not even the producers or the director remotely dreamed of the resounding success with which audiences would greet them.
Indeed, what was supposed to be a small action horror movie would be the progenitor of a multimillion-dollar saga.
In addition to the excellent earnings, which never hurt, Predator immediately became a movie icon.
This alien lands on our planet for a big game hunting trip, like rich people going to Africa for a Safari. Being dangerously intelligent, he quickly realizes the most exciting animal to hunt is us, the humans.
From this simple premise, we have had over 30 years of excellent cinema, beginning in 1987 and ending with the last chapter in 2022.
How many more movies can there still be starring the Predator? Of course, that depends on us viewers and how we welcome them at the box office.
However, we will not think about the future and focus on the present. Therefore, we try to summarize the evolution of one of cinema’s deadliest characters from origins until today.
Table of contents
The hunt begins in the heart of Central America, where we see a capsule ejected from a spaceship in the prelude.
Many years later, we don’t know precisely how long a special forces commando arrives in the same jungle.
Their mission, under the leadership of a CIA agent, is to rescue some hostages that local guerrillas have captured after a helicopter crash.
Slaughtering their enemies, the soldiers make their way into their hideout, finding no one but a young girl.
They then realized that the mission was just a front and that their real purpose was to retrieve some delicate military documents.
Disappointed by the CIA’s lies, they go to the extraction point to finally return home and forget that story.
But along the way, something follows them in the shadows, then starts killing them one by one.
The attacker is none other than the alien from the film’s beginning. This lethal hunter collects trophies from any animal, including humans.
1987 Predator is the first of John McTiernan‘s best movies. Soon after, other cult hits such as Die Hard and Hunt for Red October followed in a few years.
The director squeezes every ounce of his talent and visual flair to the maximum. What he stages becomes one of the most epic manhunts in film history.
Leading this platoon of alpha men is Arnold Schwarzenegger, still young but already famous for such movies as Conan and Terminator.
Despite being gigantic, the muscular Austrian bodybuilder also looks almost tiny. At least, if we mean compared to the massive Kevin Peter Hall, the actor playing the predator in this movie.
As a final curiosity, Jean-Claude Van Damme was supposed to take his place. But he soon abandoned the production, dissatisfied with the special effects. Do you think he regretted it?
Predator 2 (1990)
Three years later, we move to the tropical jungle to the asphalt jungle of Los Angeles amid gang wars over drug control.
The toughest metropolitan police lieutenant must face a dangerous Jamaican warlord bent on taking over the city.
This madman wants to wipe out his Colombian rivals, turning the streets into a scene of bloody shootouts and ambushes.
During a violent clash with the police, his soldiers are mysteriously cut to pieces and left hanging as trophies in one of their hideouts.
The lieutenant and his men investigate the massacre. But some government agents cordon off the area and keep them away from the scene.
Very soon, the cops realize that drugs had nothing to do with the murders. Indeed, someone seems to enjoy hunting down and killing the city’s most dangerous drug dealers.
Of course, this one is none other than the Rasta alien we know so well, whom this time will have to watch out for the men hunting him.
Directing this second chapter this time is Stephen Hopkins. While only an honest movie craftsman, he nevertheless holds high the honor of the Predator saga.
The urban setting in no way detracts from the atmosphere of action and horror. Instead, placing the dangerous alien in a criminal context turns out a thriller more unique than rare.
As the protagonist this time, we have the likable Danny Glover, already a veteran of two chapters in the Lethal Weapon series.
The actor jigs with class in the role of the all-hands-on-deck cop, also battling the slimy fed played by the always sneering Gary Busey.
Of course, it lacks some of the uniqueness of the progenitor, but the spectacle is still top-notch for what is still my favorite chapter since the original.
Alien vs. Predator (2004)
Fourteen years later, we move from sunny Los Angeles to the cold wastelands of Antarctica, with a crossover that has been gestating for over a decade in Hollywood offices.
A scientific expedition discovers a pyramid buried deep beneath the ice in the far south of our planet.
After assessing the area via satellite, the group goes into that inhospitable terrain to check it out.
But when they arrive, they discover in amazement that something has dug an immense tunnel down into the heart of the pyramid.
They then decide to penetrate that abyss, discovering strange symbols on the inner walls. Studying them, they realize that they are a mixture of the oldest written languages of the human race.
Once they decipher that strange language, they realize it is from an ancient alien race. They built the entire structure for an initiation rite for its young warriors.
As a test of strength and courage, they were to face deadly adversaries who grafted a parasite into other animals and then reproduced exponentially.
They realize with horror that they have ended up in the middle of a deadly struggle between murderous alien species.
Despite its fascination with the movie’s Alien vs Predator idea and sympathy for good director Paul W. S. Anderson, the film has the inevitable savor of a poorly cooked recipe.
One of the few happy notes is the beautiful actress Sanaa Lathan, who carries on the tradition of the Alien saga in having a female lead.
Finally, we at least have the legendary Lance Henriksen, an upper-class actor who lends some pathos to a few scenes.
Otherwise, the movie is an American shambles that, despite general outrage, did well at the box office, grossing over $170 million worldwide.
Aliens vs Predator – Requiem (2007)
For the 2.0 crossover of this saga, we return to America, this time to the lush green forests of Colorado.
We pick up where Aliens vs. Predator ends, with the fleeing spaceship crashing after a brief alien altercation on board.
Once out of the wreckage, the parasites immediately take off, infecting all the unfortunates they find in their path.
It doesn’t take long before the valley is populated with the renewed alien family, as a Predator arrives from space ready to sanitize the situation at gunpoint.
Amid this clash of franchises, we have a series of usual Dawson’s Creek-style American provincial situations.
The bully is with the prettiest girl in town who loves the pizza guy. Also, his brother gets out of prison just before joining the impending city apocalypse.
There is not much more to say about this film. It simply touches on the lowest and most miserable point in the Predator and Alien saga.
The first half might save itself as a poorly made slasher horror, but if nothing else, it is at least almost watchable if predictable.
Unfortunately, the last 40 minutes degenerate into a pitiful circus. Too many shootouts, chases, and improbable action scenes simultaneously cause people to laugh and cry.
If nothing else, Alien vs. Predator was at least enjoyable, perhaps even worse in some respects, but it remained entertaining fanservice for saga aficionados.
In this sequel, unfortunately, Greg and Colin Strause take themselves damn seriously without succeeding and only coming across as heavily cringeworthy.
A waste for this pair of filmmaking brothers. However, they will do a great job in 2010 with the terrifying alien invasion of Skyline.
In the movies seen so far, humans have always inadvertently ended up in Predator territory.
This time, however, the aliens specially abduct victims for their hunt, taking them to a (very) isolated and inaccessible place.
Indeed, all of them are soldiers, assassins, mercenaries, and overall professionals in the art of death for hire.
The adventure begins with these poor men literally in the air, falling unconscious and saved with a parachute seconds before the crash.
Once they have gathered, initially suspicious, then discover they come from the most disparate places on the face of the earth,
But they do not have much time to reason. Indeed, the aliens immediately begin to assault them, trying to kill them one by one.
Wandering through the forests in that unfamiliar environment, they find other survivors of this never-ending hunt.
This time, however, help may come from the most unthinkable ally, namely another alien whom his comrades have abandoned to die.
Director Nimród Antal returns to his 1987 origins with quotes galore (perhaps too many) and Alan Silvestri‘s unforgettable original music.
The pacing and editing are faster and messier, but they faithfully trace many 80s action characters and situations.
Adrien Brody is an excellent protagonist, tough, charismatic, and heavily muscled for the occasion.
The gimmick of inserting a female character with the infallible sniper Alice Braga, who softens the rough ways of her cronies with her beauty, is excellent.
Sure, Predators may not be a perfect film. However, it accomplishes its job of entertaining, honoring the memory of a historical saga in a modern and entertaining way.
The Predator (2018)
We come now to what is undoubtedly the craziest and funniest movie we will discuss today.
Not surprisingly, this chapter is by Shane Black. This director is also a screenwriter and the author of the extraordinary action saga Lethal Weapon.
As usual, the story begins with the arrival of a spaceship. Except for this time, inside is a renegade Predator on the run from his kind.
As soon as he lands, he befriends a small army team, exterminating them all except the sniper who manages to escape.
But even he is not so lucky after all, as the army decides to intern him in a mental institution to bury the incident.
Shortly before his return, the Predator had ended up a prisoner. But of course, he breaks free and sows terror in the base where scientists experimented on him.
Despite numerous losses, the soldier takes the opportunity to escape with his new friends. As they are headed for the asylum, they are all military personnel with severe mental problems.
Aided by the only woman who survived the carnage, this handful of madmen begin the fight. At that point, they must figure how to stop the hunter and the other aliens coming to hunt him down.
When we get excited about 80s action movies, we talk about exactly something like The Predator.
Every dialogue and situation in the story is deliberately exaggerated, with a high level of over-the-top horror action.
The characters are all insane, still forming a platoon loyal to the cause, fighting when others give up.
With a simple script, Shane Black lets his innate talent for writing and directing do the talking.
In short, in this cinematic madhouse, the absolute lunatics are those who do not like this film.
Finally, we conclude by returning to the saga’s origins, with a prequel predating all the other movies.
Indeed, the story takes place in the early 17th century, when the colonization of America was still in its infancy.
Once again, a spaceship hurtles through the sky above Comanches’ heads while they are preparing for the hunting season.
Among them is a girl who would like to join the hunters, who reject her because of her young inexperienced age.
However, she is the one to notice something is wrong, finding animals slain in brutal and inexplicable ways.
Frustrated with tribal leaders not listening to her, she leaves to search alone the alien with her trusty dog.
The journey will take her far from her home. But on the road is an equally dangerous enemy, the white man advancing westward.
Fortunately, the Predator will be too busy getting torn apart, and she remains the only still standing to fight the deadly alien.
Directing is young Dan Trachtenberg, familiar with TV series yet previously the author of the excellent 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Although it is basically still a sci-fi action horror film, the change of register in the past is a brilliant gimmick.
Indeed, the beautiful natural setting blends perfectly with the habits of Native Americans living in tune with nature.
A good choice is the Indian/Mexican actress Amber Midthunder, athletic in the action scenes and charmingly headstrong in the lead role.
I already read many reviews that mercilessly crush this latest chapter, but you don’t believe anyone and make up your mind by watching it for yourself.