Oh, it’s been a while since we talked movies, hasn’t it?
I had no particular affinity for the Predator films until I actually paid attention to them; whereupon I realised that Alien vs. Predator is actually really good (another hill I’ll die on, alongside Battleship) and that Predator 2 is a way better film than the original. Erk!
Before you start bagging me, listen to the full discussion Chris McPhail and I had on the subject — plus our meandering writers’ room thoughts on where the franchise could have gone afterwards to have fun and make maximum use of that crossover potential…
I’ve got a couple further thoughts for after you’re finished listening, which can be found below.
It Was Me All Along, Bond
Having listened back to myself rambling on and on and on (for somebody who “had no particular affinity for the Predator films, I fair had a lot to say in this outing), there was one further thought that struck me in hindsight.
Regarding the fact that we, the audience, are told explicitly in the opening sequence of Predator that the titular villain is an alien and how this maybe spoils the mystery a bit — I wonder if audiences would accept “aliens did it” as a reveal given none of that explicit prior knowledge. From my experience, and this may be my own genre fiction underdog biases coming out again, “it was aliens” ranks alongside “it was all a dream” for premises on which audiences instinctively call bullshit.
So if we do imagine this hypothetical survival horror version of them film, and only discover half-way through that it was an alien rather than a high-tech human (or group of humans), not having seen through its heat-blurred eyes for the preceeding forty-five minutes, would we have accepted that? I’d like to say yes, but honestly, I’m not sure. After all, I recently died inside when the James Bond film Spectre had villain Blofeld stand up to claim credit for the previous films’ villains, saying “It was all me, Bond. I’m the author of all your pain.” (To be fair though, that had none of the requisite setup and pre-planning — it was obviously a monstrous retcon and it fell about as flat as you’d expect.)
Taking the counterpoint: had I not known that Predator was even about aliens, would I have watched it at all? I quite enjoy action thrillers but they don’t get me into the cinemas the way sci-fi monster movies do (I wasn’t born when Predator came out, but you know what I mean). So while I really do appreciate the concept of shrouding the Predator in such mystery until a big moment, I’m not sure that’s a practical approach in the real world.
I’ve recently had related thoughts in the direction of (you guessed it) Godzilla. Consider Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla, where the cyborg villain begins dressed in a Godzilla suit, and the human cast think it’s Godzilla; but it’s clear from the noises it makes and the way it behaves and its red-not-blue atomic breath (… and the title of the film) that it is not the real Godzilla. The cast are confused, but the audience are screaming. It’s a fake!
Imagine if such a film was billed as a Godzilla film without a titular villain, with no hint of the machine in disguise at all in the build-up or the marketing. Imagine the human cast going crazy, wondering why this heroic giant has chosen to turn on the people of the Earth when previously he had defended them from attack (… this would only work as a sequel). Then, half-way through the film, we finally get that reveal — when the real Godzilla appears, face to face with the cyborg doppelganger. Wait, there are two of them? Then things kick off.
Food for thought, anyway. Hope you had a good midwinter festival, and have a good new year!