Of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s numerous beloved action endeavors from the 1980s, the original Predator stands in rarefied air along with The Terminator series in its distinction of having spawned a sprawling, expansive mythology outside the films. Yet, despite four follow-up films, Schwarzenegger believes that the Predator franchise still has not lived up the original.
Participating in a recent Reddit Q&A in New York City to promote his latest release, Terminator: Genisys, Schwarzenegger discusses a number of his upcoming projects, before an audience member’s question inevitably shifted the topic to the state of the Predator franchise, which has a gestating reboot/sequel written and directed by Shane Black. In praising the 1987 original as a favorite, the star offered a scathing critique on how the series has fallen victim to Hollywood’s quick tent-pole cash-in mentality. According to Schwarzenegger:
So far, no Predator [movie], no matter which one they did after the first one, has been satisfactory to the audience.
The crux of Schwarzenegger’s argument is that while sometimes studios can corral an admirable effort for sequels, more often than not, they end up taking serious narrative missteps that lose the essence of what made the original special. He also excoriated the tight-belted practices that look to buttress a rushed, cheaply made film on the esteemed reputation of the original branding. While such a critique might be subjective to personal taste, the fact remains that no Predator follow-up has had quite the wide cultural impact as the original.
Interestingly enough, the only proper numerical sequel the series ever had was 1990’s Predator 2. That entry swapped the original film’s jungle environment for the urban battlefield of Los Angeles in an action-packed chase film starring Danny Glover as an embattled LAPD detective investigating the new Predator’s bizarre, seemingly vigilante-inspired homicides. That sequel, which did not star Schwarzenegger due to an alleged salary dispute, was actually an entertaining effort and history has been kinder to it than the contemporaneous critics who initially skewered the film.
However, the brunt of Arnold’s critique probably refers to 2004’s Alien vs. Predator and its sequel in 2007’s Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. Those films, not showcasing any bankable stars, wasted time focusing on generic, unlikable human protagonists, while bandying about with sometimes-impressive, but generally tension-deprived stunts that did little to grow the franchise other than inspiring swag to sell. Later, 2010’s Predators, in borrowing a bit of the upscaled motif of Aliens, seemed to sell itself as a love-letter to the original film. Yet, even with an Oscar-winning actor atop the marquee in Adrien Brody, and plenty of gratuitous carnage, the reception was tepid.
Schwarzenegger is at a point in his career where the follow-ups to his established franchises are his sole cinematic bread and butter. His scathing comments, coupled with what he recently said about 2009’s Terminator Salvation, seem to reflect a call to action on the part of creative talents to help get his various houses in order so that he can give the fans the films they want to see. For now, that effort is represented by the visually stunning Terminator: Genisys, which is reconfiguring timelines at theaters now.