Sep 4, 2015

[Movies] Predator (1987)

Digging into my movie history, it's easy to gravitate towards various movie franchises as something to review. As much as we make fun of sequels in general, one can't quite deny their allure to movie-goers - something I'm not necessarily immune to either. And since I had already reviewed the various Alien movies, it only made sense to get back around to this franchise as well.

Predator came out after the first Alien movie and it was sort of a creature of its own. On the surface it seemed to be something more like an action movie given its military protagonists. But at the same time it was a science fiction movie with some of the sensibilities of a horror movie as well.

The movie was also one of the earlier works of Arnold Schwarzenegger and one that had him saying more than just a few short lines. And while I can't necessarily attribute his lifetime of success to this one movie, you have to concede that it certainly played a part in his climb up to greater things.

Synopsis: Predator is a 1987 science fiction action movie directed by John McTiernan. The screenplay had been written by Jim and John Thomas.

A six-man Delta Force team led by Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer (Arnold Schawarzenegger) have been sent to the jungles of "Val Verde" as part of a CIA mission to rescue a VIP hostsage being held by insurgents. Thus Agent George Dillon (Carl Weathers) has been attached to the unit to supervise the mission. But they as they proceed on their mission, they also discovered a downed helicopter together with several skinned corpses. And Dutch determines that they were part of the US Special Forces and also former trainees of his.

The whole time, the group is also being observed by some invisible figure, something that is only evident to us as viewers by an infrared overlay that filters over the screen. This thermal imaging view is used throughout the movie to demonstrate just how close their unknown observer is. And thus after they complete their mission (for the most part), Soon members of the squad are killed individually and eventually dragged off by the figure - something we learn to be an alien with advanced technology. And given it is hunting the squad for sport, we have ourselves our Predator.

Things start out normally enough - it's your classic "you can't trust the CIA" sort of deal with our Delta Force squad caught in the middle of things. The CIA is bad, blah-blah-blah, we've seen all of this before. But then the movie pivots once the Predator gets involved and we start to wonder what's up with the thermal imaging filter that we periodically see overlay the screen. And the build-up of tension is why I make mention of horror movie treatment being involved in the movie.

But once the killing starts in earnest, the movie just stresses just how strong the Predator is. After all, we're talking about soldiers that represent some of the best military training in the world but they are unable to do much in face of this alien threat. To be fair, it never seemed fair that Predator had stealth technology and superior weapons, but I guess you could look at this as merely involving really good camouflage. The alien only really brings his more advanced weapons into play later on as he gets more and more frustrated.

And while having an invisible alien was pretty scary enough, the eventual reveal of what the Predator actually looked like was just priceless. I mean seriously, that's how you design an iconic alien and one that conveys just how different life can be beyond Earth. Sure it was mainly because of the scare factor that he ended up looking the way he did, but it just made sense for the movie at the time.

The movie starts out a little slow, and then picks up in terms of tension but not necessarily action. This doesn't end with an all-guns-blazing sort of deal or anything of that nature. But instead it really is about a hunter and its prey and the efforts of the prey to turn the tables.

Predator is quite the classic movie in its own right despite it's rather strange, atypical tone for the time. But this movie had a much larger legacy than just this franchise and that's really where all the fun is. Thus the movie gets 4 surprise traps that Dutch manages to setup for the Predator out of a possible 5.


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