Why we're worried about the new Predator movie

Get your thermal vision goggles on, because The Predator is hitting theaters in 2018. This will be the clicking menace's fifth go-round on the big-screen, and it seems like we're rapidly approaching "too much" territory. Thus far, the only confirmed actor is writer/director Shane Black, bringing things full circle from his appearance in the 1987 original as the Predator's trophy, Hawkins. But despite Black's history with the franchise, and his recent track record behind the camera (Nice Guys, Iron Man 3, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) what we know thus far about The Predator has us worried that it won't be hunting any new ground, nor will it successfully hunt the old. Here's why.

Arnie's old

There's been some speculation that Arnold will reprise his role of "Dutch," the sole survivor of the squad that crossed paths with the original Predator. The "Governator" will be 70 by the time this movie is released, and the possibility of a 70-year-old actor appearing in an action movie generally means a few things, none of which are good. They will either CGI the hell out of his scenes, making him move in a way that would destroy any normal 70-year-old body. Barring that, they'll kill him off to really put over the threat that this new Predator poses (This would suck, because wouldn't you rather live in a world where Dutch is alive forever?). Or, they'll only have him appear in some shoe-horned fan-service scene, to make some nostalgic connection to the original. This last scenario is never done gracefully, because the appearance is almost always a callback to a better film that you could have been watching this whole time.

Predator redux

Perhaps the biggest single issue facing a Predator movie at this point is: what can they do to re-energize the concept? The original Predator is mostly perfect. This incredibly lethal military unit, made up of a cast of colorful characters, become the prey in a Most Dangerous Game situation where the hunter is a technologically advanced, super-strong and devious strategist who also happens to be an alien. The story mixes aspects of war movies, classic action/adventure films, and science fiction. Predator 2 placed the hunter in an urban setting, rather than a jungle. In Aliens Vs. Predator, the draw was to see the galaxy's greatest hunters face off against its most lethal prey. In Predators, humans who are strangers to each other are transported to another planet, and must join together to kill multiple Predators. Where can this new iteration take the idea of the Predator and its human adversaries that will feel genuinely new? Black has expressed that this is a hurdle The Predator will have to deal with. Whether Black is up to the task remains to be seen.

Analog vs. digital

One of the appeals of the 1987 original was its combination of hi and low-tech presentation. While the Predator ran around the jungle with some kind of light-bending camouflage and multi-spectrum light goggles, the humans were using machine guns, bowie knives, and mud to both survive and eventually win. The use of digital special effects was limited to the otherworldly character, giving the original a heft and "realness" that current action films often lack. In Black's stated desire to make this installment the biggest Predator film ever, he may be tasking CGI to do all the heavy lifting, which could potentially weaken the action's impact and the overall feel of the movie.

February flop

As of now, The Predator's release date is February 9, 2018. If this film was really meant to jump-start the franchise, the studio placing it as far away from the summer blockbuster season is more than a trifle troubling. While it's true that Deadpool was massively successful despite its February premiere, that film had a ton of buzz due to the well-publicized campaign just to get it made, plus the public's inherent love of the wise-cracking, unkillable mercenary. It's exceedingly unlikely that The Predator will be able to generate that same level of buzz, even with the inclusion of its septuagenarian icon.

Myth-taken priorities

Fred Dekker, Black's co-writer, has spoken about the simplicity of the original movie's plot like it's a bad thing. He has expressed interest in exploring the Predator species' motivations for doing what they do, while Black has referred to using the "mythology" of the previous films as a jumping-off point for the new installment. Since when has this been a good idea? Every time somebody attempts to create a film by trying to explain how or why things happened in other films, the results have not been good. Audiences are not going to see a Predator movie to learn about space-alien anthropology — they're going to see things die and/or get blowed up. Saying that the 1987 film is the basis for any kind of storyline "mythology" seems like a huge stretch, and really dicey ground on which to base a sequel.

It's missing the key ingredient: memorable human interaction

More than the cool effects, the Predator's inventive killing methods, or even "Ah-nold," the reason that Predator is still a thing in popular culture is the memorable relationships between the soldiers. The dynamic between Dutch, Dillon, Mac, Blaine, Billy, Hawkins, and Poncho was the fertile ground that launched so many quote-worthy lines. Whether they were getting to the "choppah" or not having enough time to bleed, it was the surprisingly amusing character interplay that helped make Predator so successful in the first place. If The Predator is to be successful, it will need to replicate that and, right now, we're not so sure it can.