11/13/2021 – New Predator Movie

Honestly? Fuck yeah.

Always Predator, Predator all the time. And I’m only writing this in anticipation of the inevitable question which seems to arise at the onset of a very specific slice of my fandom, things like The Punisher or Riddick — “Do we really need another one?” My name is Harrison Chute, and I’m here to say, emphatically, yes.

In all three cases, they aren’t so much franchises as they are formulas. I’m not too interested in the broader mythologies, just the verb itself. I want to see the Punisher blowing up gangsters, and I want to see the Predator hunting people. It’s extraordinary how the past several movies have sabotaged that verb, introducing Predator variants and focusing on the human non-characters, leaving precious scenes for the action.

To my mind, in fact, there has never been a great Predator movie, for the above and just by happenstance. This was the impassioned subject of a podcast episode of mine from a few years ago. I haven’t listened to it since, so if you can bear the potential secondhand embarrassment of silly opinions expressed sillily, you can check it out with this link. Predator 2 comes the closest to greatness, because it’s got the best body count, and dispenses with the exclusionary machismo of the original.

Which brings us to the latest. Entitled Prey for some unknowable reason, I have more exciting news:

Now, if you don’t know Amber Midthunder, you should make an effort. For myself, I may have glimpsed her while closed captioning Legion, but she’s more memorable to me in her expanded role in Roswell, New Mexico. While I also only saw that show because I was doing closed captioning for it, it’s easily my favorite of the CW teen dramas based on older shows and/or YA books. I haven’t seen too much of their new 4400, but I still prefer Roswell, and anyway, Midthunder is a highlight.

The actress is Native New Mexican according to IMDb (“pilamaye” is a Lakota word expressing gratitude), and on Deadline, the new movie is set 300 years ago in the Comanche Nation. Jhane Myers, one of the producers, is a member of the Comanche Nation. There’s precedent for this sort of setting in Predator, with the comic run Big Game set in New Mexico with American Indian characters. Here’s the memorable cover to the novelization of the comics:

“Novelization of the comics”? God, I used to collect those like gum. I didn’t always like the comics themselves, but I loved the Aliens vs. Predator books, especially Prey by Steve and S.D. Perry (no relation — well, no relation to the new Prey; I believe the Perrys are father and daughter). In part, it was because the setting for that story, the frontier world Ryushi, felt real and specific. I think a lot of xenoheads like myself wanted to see Predator in the Old West after Predator 2 — in any setting, all settings. It’s promising that the producers have decided on a period piece, a specific moment in space and time with its own culture and, of course, weaponry. Even to the toxic elements of Predator fandom (wishful thinking, perhaps, that the fandom could be expansive enough to contain suckage), the production’s representation in front of and behind the camera should speak to this specificity, to something concrete — pun intended?

So I’m excited. Of course, as simplistic as my approach to Predator is, I never can say “They can’t possibly mess it up,” because we’ve already had The Predator. Let’s hope we all learned a few lessons from that one.

Also, what kind of title sequence is this?

Predator 2
The Predator

I mean, it’s so indicative of the insecurity at the heart of the series. It’s like with Terminator, where each sequel after the second was another abortive attempt at a soft reboot, but at least the subtitle format was somewhat consistent. Terminator: Dark Fate wasn’t called Terminators or some bullshit — but I think I just guessed the title of the next Terminator, if it isn’t just a straight-up remake of The Terminator. Have we fully transitioned out of our ’80s phase?

But there’s a good example of a series with a less-defined verb. You’d think it’d be obvious, but the hook in Terminator isn’t actually the terminating, it’s the chase. They’re car chase movies, and I’d rather see alien shuriken than trucks flipping over on the LA freeway. But frankly, while I wouldn’t be too upset if they make another Terminator, Predator is the most exciting possible retread. Unlike with The Matrix or Ghost in the Shell, there’s no pressure to “measure up” — even to my basic metric. I’ll see it, and if the body count sucks, I’ll just wait for the next one. Easy come, easy go.

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