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The sequel the way it should have been is finally upon us, and PREDATORS accomplishes exactly what it sets out to—because it follows the rules of how to make a good sci-fi/horror sequel. Those rules are fairly simple: embrace what worked about the first film, turn certain elements on their head and expand the mythology without straying too far from the source.
In PREDATORS, we go back to the jungle (although this time around it’s an alien game-preserve planet), the characters are complete strangers instead of an elite military unit and we find out about warring factions within the Predator tribes that reveals more about their rich hunting culture. When Fango visited the movie’s set (see reports here and in Fango #295, on sale now), both trips yielded some truly exciting sights that convinced this writer the sequel would deliver. Here are five things I knew would kick ass back then, which fans can now find out for themselves:
Alice Braga as Isabelle
Many of the reviews thus far are not paying enough attention to just how good Braga is in PREDATORS. She is instantly seen as an equal by Adrien Brody’s character Royce, and she is determined to keep the ragtag group of misfits together no matter what. She embodies the humanity of the film—oh, and she’s a bit of a bad-ass, too.
When Fango talked with her on one of the last nights of shooting, she talked about what drives her character in PREDATORS. “You can’t be emotionally attached to anything” as a sniper, Isabelle’s job prior to being transplanted to Predator territory. “You need to be deadpan, and that strength is really a large part of their work, because they spend hours and hours crawling around the jungle. All those little details helped to build the character. She’s kind of a tough cookie. Because you don’t know her background, it gives her a whole world of possibilities.”
Isabelle is mysterious, to be sure, but she does serve as the bridge between the this and the original film in one crucial PREDATORS scene. She’s one of the most memorable characters in the franchise, and we’ll hopefully see more of her if there’s another entry.
In one key scene, Topher Grace as Edwin is being chased by something fast, tall and lanky that is decidedly alien. He screams at the top of his lungs and prays that the plan he’s effecting will work. The alien hot on Grace’s tail is called the Ramrod, and although we only see it for one thrilling sequence, it definitely makes an impression. Imagine a really pissed-off version of Pumpkinhead, and you’ll have some idea of what to expect. The Ramrod also reveals that the humans may not be the only ones to have been dropped onto this planet…
Laurence Fishbourne as Noland brings the crazy
When news hit that a marooned character would be featured in PREDATORS, a lot of folks figured this would be the perfect opportunity for an Arnold Schwarzenegger cameo. After you see Laurence Fishburne as a scavenger who is slowly going insane, you’ll be glad producer Robert Rodriguez decided to cast him as Noland instead. “When it’s somebody else,” Rodriguez says, “and he has a story to tell and he starts talking and he has taken more crap than Arnold or Danny [Glover in PREDATOR 2] have, I think, ‘Oh, I wanna see that!’ That’s a whole movie in itself, and it’s pretty exciting. Me as a fan, just sitting there watching him do the scenes that I’ve obviously already read…he did a great job. He came in and gave a performance; he wasn’t playing Morpheus again.” He’s good enough that you want to see a prequel focusing on Noland, and the only complaint is that he’s not in the film more.
Samurai fight: Hanzo vs. The Falconer
The best battle in the film, hands down. This duel is the nod to fans who have always wanted to see different characters from different eras going up against the Predators. He might not be a samurai, but Louis Ozawa Changchien’s character Hanzo definitely knows how to wield a blade. “He’s a very skilled swordsman,” Changchien says. “He’s outmatched power-wise, but speed-wise, I think Hanzo has a bit of an edge. He’s got a longer sword and he’s a bit faster. But the Predator has the advantage of its armor, and is a lot stronger.”
Fango was lucky enough to be on set when this fight was being filmed, and knew way back in November of last year that it was going to be an iconic moment in the franchise. If you see it with the right audience, thunderous applause should break out at the culmination of this scene.
Classic Predator vs. The Berserkers
There has been a rivalry between what is referred to in the movie’s credits as the Classic Predator and the Berserkers that are introduced in PREDATORS. It’s clear there is some serious bad (green) blood between the two, and KNB EFX legend Greg Nicotero sheds a little light on the design process for the Berserkers. “Bigger isn’t always necessarily better,” he notes. “We wanted these guys to be sleek, elegant, tall and lean. It was not about building out so much as it was about making them all look powerful and elegant. The process went from the Classic Predator to working on the Berserkers; then we had other creatures and characters that we had to intermittently go back to, like the dogs and Mr. Black, which is the sort of leader. Each of those Predators has a distinct set of armor and a distinct presence and character.”
Nicotero was careful not to reveal too much about the history between these two tribes, but just the fact that there are different types and races of Predators is exciting all by itself. Learn more about them when you catch the flick!
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