Review by C.J. Bunce
Not since the original Predator, Alien, and Aliens has Hollywood been able to match these sci-fi classics, despite attempts with eight sequels in these franchises. But the ninth attempt–this summer’s release of The Predator–has come the closest to matching that classic blend of sci-fi, horror, future military, and action thriller. In the new behind-the-scenes book The Predator: The Art and Making of the Film, writer James Nolan explains why director Shane Black’s return to the franchise after 30 years was the right stuff needed to bring the excitement and fun back for fans of the original genre-defining alien hunter.
The colorful hardcover includes Black’s own multi-page mission statement provided to the cast and crew, where he provides a truly unique look into the mind of a Hollywood director and storyteller. He unveils the risks, the challenges, and his choices to resurrect the spirit of 1980s blockbuster action movies, while providing an update that is both loyal to the original movie and its ground-breaking creators like Stan Winston, while carrying forward a future vision for the film series. Hired to serve as writer on the original 1987 film, Black chose to take on an acting role instead, and the rest was sci-fi history–until he was entrusted last year to helm this sequel. To provide a first-hand account of production, Nolan interviewed Black, his writing partner Fred Dekker, key cast members Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Trevante Rhodes, Jake Busey, Jacob Tremblay, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, and Augusto Aguilera, Predator actor Brian Prince, stunt performer Trevor Addie, production designer Martin Whist, director of photography Larry Fong, special effects supervisor Jonathan Rothbart, set decorator Hamish Purdy, costume designer Tish Monaghan, prop master David Dowling, producer Bill Bannerman, special effects icons Tom Woodruff, Jr. and Alec Gillis, and many more.
The biggest attraction in the book is the detailed photography of the interiors of the two alien spaceships and the armor and props. Readers get to see concept artwork, computer mock-ups, designs, in-process photographs, and close-up stills. In many films props are just set decoration that help to create the environment, but in The Predator the prop gauntlet, the helmet, and especially the “kudjad” spaceship key factor directly into the mystery. Who could ever get enough of the aliens–the dreadlocks, those teeth, the shoulder cannon? And then there’s the giant hunter, whose size and ship also factor into not just the finale, but the future of the films.
Fans of classic sci-fi action thrillers shouldn’t miss The Predator in theaters (check out our review here), and they’ll love digging into the images and looking behind the scenes in The Predator: The Art and Making of the Film. It’s now available here at Amazon from Titan Books.