- Movie Rating -

Predator (1987)

| June 12, 1987

As I was watching Predator, I could practically see the pitch meeting floating in the air – and with just a scan of the headlines so can every other critic.  “People liked Rambo, right?  What if he met one of the creatures from Aliens?”  Everybody nods, then tents their fingers and sees the financial possibility.  I have a feeling that this meeting was over and done before lunch was even served.

What has come out the other end of is a slim, functional yet entertaining movie centered on an unsettling alien creature right out of Stan Winston’s workshop.  The story is meat and potatoes.  Arnold Schwarzenegger leads a team of beefcake special forces ops into the South American jungle to rescue some officials who have apparently been kidnapped by a group of terrorists.  Yet, as they get close to the compound they find their enemies skinned alive and hanging from trees.

There’s something happening here.  What it is ain’t exactly clear.

The team, which features a lot of actors who have been doing a lot of powerlifting like Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Sonny Landham and Jesse Ventura begin to realize that they are up against something more than just terrorists.  Whatever is following them blends in with the trees and doesn’t seem to leave any tracks behind.  What is refreshing about this scenario is to see these beefcake military guys completely buffaloed by their situation.  You can feel the tension and the fear as they try to put it together.

Naturally, since this is a refurbishing of Alien, the guys are picked off one by one.  What is refreshing is that the director John Milius uses the thickness of the jungle to his advantage.  The vantage point is short so the creature could be anywhere.  And the creature himself is really interesting because when he moves we can only see his heat signature.  It is a neat effect.

Not surprisingly, the movie winds down to a mano-a-mano between Arnold and the Predator which includes a look at the creature himself who, it turns out, is wearing a spacesuit.  The slow reveal of the creature’s face is kind of cool and what is there under the helmet is not exactly appetizing.  Arnold’s assessment of his looks (which I can’t print here) is kind of appropriate.  The predator is played by Kevin Peter Hall. a 7 foot 4 actor who is also around right now as the Bigfoot in Harry and the Hendersons.  Nice that he’s prolific.

I enjoyed Predator for what it was.  I liked it a lot more than Rambo and a lot less than Alien, but since the end of the movie opens the door to a sequel, I have a feeling we’re not done here.  I smell another meeting coming, hopefully this one will be a little longer.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.