The temptation to rely on CGI is huge these days, but director Shane Black is trying to buck that trend.
For his take on The Predator, the fourth installment in the Predator franchise following Predator (1987), Predator 2 (1990), and Predators (2010), he will be revisiting the practical effects that made the first film so iconic. That means getting a 7-plus-foot actor to don a heavy rubber suit in the jungle heat.
A day after the announcement that The Predator would be pushed back to August 2018 for a summer-friendly release date, Black took to social media to share something that will make movie fans very happy: he was standing next to a fully practical Predator.
The titular “Predator” was played by the 7-foot-2-inch Kevin Peter Hall in the original Predator film, and it loomed over the bulky hero played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. With the help of a frightening character design by legendary FX artist Stan Winston, it became an iconic movie monster.
Black — who, if you recall, actually starred in the first Predator and probably witnessed Hall’s hulking presence up close — will apparently try to recreate the terror instilled by the practical effects used in the 1987 original. That film also benefited from its expert harnessing of mystery — the deadly creature terrorizing Schwarzenegger and his team doesn’t appear on screen until the second act of the film — which Black has said that he wants to recapture as well:
[But] I’ll tell you a little bit about it. It’s an attempt to event-ize the Predator and make it more mysterious. The Predator has been so overdone in a way — very low budget with a guaranteed return, every couple of years there’s a knock off churned out … I want people to say, “The Predator is coming, I know it’s coming, we want to see it, it’s mysterious, interesting, it’s got the same sense of wonderment and newness that Close Encounters had when that came out.” That’s what we want. That’s very impossible to achieve, but we’re going to try.
Black joins a growing group of filmmakers who are forgoing CGI as much as possible in favor of practical effects, often to critical acclaim from audiences and critics who are tired of the green screen. It’s a choice that recalls the genre films ’70s to the ’90s, and the directors who are remaking or rebooting older films are often making sure to pay as much homage to practical effects as possible.
J.J. Abrams notably employed as many practical effects as possible for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Christopher Nolan has been famously resistant to over-reliance on CGI, and George Miller created the gorgeous spectacle of a film that was Mad Max: Fury Road with mostly practical effects and stunts.
The Predator is set to be released on August 3, 2018.
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