New Kid in Town: Predator 2

 

USETHIS

As the dust settled within the giant crater in Val Verde, and Anna and Dutch got to the chopper. One thing was for sure, we would be seeing that “ugly mutha fu*ker” again. A sequel was as inevitable as a cabinet minister being captured when flying on the wrong side of da border. The hunt was on for Predator 2.

With the Dark Horse comic version of Predator doing good business during the late 1980s. Fox were reassured that interest was still high, and keen to capitalise. The comic was called Predator: Concrete Jungle and told the tale of NYC Detective Schaefer, the brother of Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer. Detective Schaefer and his partner, Detective Rasche, discover a Predator in New York City during a drug deal gone bad. Schaefer believes the Predator and a mysterious army general have a connection to his brother, Dutch, which leads Schaefer on a hunt into Colombia. There in South America Schaefer has yet another run in with a Predator as well as a Colombian drug lord – an old NYC adversary. Successfully eluding both, Schaefer is transported back to the U.S. only to find a government plot to hand him over to the Predators. Something that sounds a great deal better than Predator 2.

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A screenplay was then written based around this idea by Jim & John Thomas (pffft) the same writers who wrote Predator. However as Arnold Schwarzenegger hated the plot (and instead made some little film called Terminator 2: Judgement Day), some changes needed to be made. Out went any family connection to Dutch, and in came Lieutenant Michael Harrigan (Danny Glover). Then for budget reasons out went New York, and in came Los Angeles. The part set aside for Schwarzenegger was also recast to an FBI guy named Peter Keyes (Gary Busey – the first work since his horrible, near fatal motorcycle accident). They next needed a director.

In much the same way as the Die Hard franchise did, the Predator franchise turned to Freddy Krueger. Stephen Hopkins had just directed a Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. While the film was basically rubbish, the direction was really quite good. Hopkins was offered Predator 2 and he took it with both hands. Shooting began in February 1990 and went through to June. Hopkins was gathering a reputation for being a bit of a firebrand. On one occasion Ruben Blades (Danny) was giving a live TV interview to Good Morning America from the set of this movie. During the interview, Hopkins walked on camera and ordered Blades back to work very loudly. The incident was very embarrassing for all involved. Though Blades and Hopkins did another interview days later to apologise.

Filming in East LA in 1990 wasn’t easy. During the King Willie scene in the alley way, the occupants of the buildings either side showed their displeasure at the noise the film makers were making by throwing down bottles of urine and bags of excrement. During another night of filming the crew even came across a dead body hidden amongst the rubbish. Nice.

Hopkins had assembled a fantastic cast of supporting actors. From the ever reliable Bill Paxton and Robert Davi, to the mysteriously ubiquitous Maria Conchita Alonso – who seemed to get a lot more work than she deserved in the late 1980s.  Morton Downey Jr. was cast as “Tony Pope” – the pesky investigative news reporter who was always in the face of the police, and generally being a pain in the arse. This was amusing stunt casting as Downey Jr. at this point was a loud mouthed, Jeremy Kyle style talk show host. So he was basically playing himself.

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The film came out to mostly shrugs. While it made back it’s budget (cost $35 million, made back $57) it wasn’t the huge hit that it was expected to be. It’s only real legacy was a last minute joke by Stephen Hopkins. When the set decorators were dressing the Predator ship, Hopkins suggested that an Alien skull be put amongst the trophies on display – a nod to the Dark Horse comic. Which excited fan boys the world over and started the Aliens Vs. Predator film speculation that would bore everyone for the next twenty five years and end as a giant cinematic turd(s).

Predator 2 does have moments of genuine brilliance (the subway scene, abattoir), but mostly manages to feel messy and rushed. Although the opening titles are always worth a watch. The slow tilt up from the “jungle” to the urban jungle is a lovely visual gag. The film also does a great sell on the sweltering weather. Within moments of viewing you are reaching for the hand-fan and glass of ice-water. The Alan Silvestri soundtrack is a thing of total beauty. Effectively it is a latin remix of his score from the first film, but when it is in full effect it is gorgeous.

An odd decision with Predator 2 was to base it a mere seven years in the future. A plot device that adds nothing to the film. There is no future tech (apart from the weird hand guns) and nothing that affects the plot at all. Back to the Future Part 2 this is not. Though the years of global warming have caused Los Angeles to be hot (verging dangerously on Highlander 2 territory there). The casting of Danny Glover as the hero feels like a mis-step too. While he is a good actor, he doesn’t seem to have the shoulders to carry a film like this. A more action type lead would have been much the better choice. Glover seems a little too paunchy to carry the combat moments and too serious to handle the light moments. Was Seagal busy?

Overall Predator 2 is a solid, if not mildly flawed, sequel, it has thrills, spills and a great, fun cast. It just wasn’t the sexual tyrannosaur we were after.

 

 

Originally posted 2013-07-18 19:06:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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