In their ongoing attempt to get audiences to revisit Shane Black’s dismally received The Predator, Twentieth Century Fox dropped a stop-motion Predator holiday special on Wednesday evening during Comedy Central’s Bojack Horseman.
The brief adventure finds one particularly audacious Predator taking the trip to the North Pole to claim the biggest prize of all: Santa and his cabal of present-building cronies. It’s a silly, extended commercial to promote the DVD release of The Predator. There are some sly callbacks to the original 1987 classic starring Arnold Schwarzenegger courtesy of some severed limbs and one poor, skinned reindeer. The plot is also similarly complex.
Just in case you’re not into bizarre Hollywood satire starring a cartoon horse, here’s the entire two-minute short film.
The whole thing is a straightforward ploy to overcome the bungled theatrical release of The Predator. Just days before the film hit theaters, one of the movie’s stars, Olivia Munn, discovered that one of the actors on screen was a registered sex offender. That revelation compelled the actor to have the man’s scenes (all two minutes of them) scrubbed from the final version of the film. Munn was successful in her crusade, but the timing of the issue put moviegoers (and some of Munn’s fellow cast members) off the film. The near-universal critical panning that followed didn’t help lift the pall.
So, when The Predator hit theaters, it was either ignored or criticized because Shane Black hired a sex offender and then made the cataclysmically awful decision of trying to defend him. For the record, Munn deserves a big-time kudos for shining light on the matter, and Shane Black deserves to spend some time in the doghouse for speaking on behalf of some scumbag who drools over under-aged girls.
That said, regardless of what critics thought, The Predator is one hell of a fun movie; it was drubbed because people’s expectations were in the wrong place. With Black as writer-director, audiences were expecting a knowing, but clever reinvention of the franchise. Black proved in the execution that he wasn’t interested in reinventing shit.
The Predator isn’t Black’s typical brand of quip-driven movie; it’s a Predator film, molded in the manner as the super-macho original. The same flick where Jesse Ventura calls people “slack-jawed faggots.” Where one guy (played, funnily enough, by Shane Black) tells a constant stream of dirty jokes about nailing fat chicks. The heroes in Predator don’t make wry comments. They say, “I ain’t got time to bleed” before firing off mountains of bullets into the jungle. The 1987 original is an offensive, bloody, stupid, beautiful, compelling action flick chock full of tough dummies and wild scenes of bone-crunching violence.
That is the movie that Shane Black wanted to make with The Predator. And, in that aim, he succeeded admirably. The Predator plays like a lost treasure resurrected from the deepest recesses of the 1980s. It’s a loving homage to a bygone era of filmmaking, a fact that makes the throwback Predator holiday special a particularly sharp marketing scheme. Both are about nostalgia.
For fans of the 1987 original, The Predator is undoubtedly worth a watch through; here’s hoping the Predator holiday special reminds people of that fact.