Robert Rodriguez’s Predators Attack SXSW!


Description of the First Look presentation, first trailer and a clip!

Producer/writer Robert Rodriguez, director Nimród Antal and creature designer and FX man Greg Nicotero showed up at South by Southwest Film Festival with the first trailer and some surprises from their upcoming movie Predators, a rousing “First Look” presentation that had people lining up for hours earlier and desperately trying to get the special priority passes (of which there were only 45 available.) Fortunately, was able to get in and here’s a quick overview of what was shown and said.

Being a local filmmaker who made the movie mostly at his Troublemaker Studios in Austin, Rodriguez wanted to make the presentation special by showing the footage at the legendary Alamo Drafthouse, a venue most movie lovers will have heard of, but one that’s obviously way too small to meet the demand of everyone who has been dying to see what Rodriguez and Antal had been up to for the last nine or ten months. (You can get some idea what’s going on by checking out the sneak peak on the official site which went online concurrently here as well as see an exclusive poster distributed at the event here.)

After being introduced, Rodriguez came out and started talking about how the project came about in the mid-’90s when he had been asked to write a treatment for a Predator sequel back while he was still waiting to make Desperado. He came up with the idea which would eventually be morphed into this movie, and at the time, he even had written Arnold’s character into the script; he then pitched it to Arnold, who decided not to return to the franchise, Rodriguez moved onto other things, Fox decided to make two “Alien vs. Predator” movies, which eventually brought them back to Rodriguez’s initial premise.

Rodriguez showed the first trailer, which will be in front of Repo Men next week, and it gives a really good idea about the general premise and what to expect from the visuals. It opens with a shot of a starry sky in outer space that morphs into a worm’s eye view of a jungle, as Adrien Brody’s voice asks “What’s the last thing you remember?” and someone’s voice states that they remember a light and then they were falling. We then see a man falling down through the trees of the jungle and encountering the others who go around introducing themselves; the character Stans played by Walton Goggins says he was supposed to be executed a few days ago, a couple more were in the middle of combat, Alice Braga’s character says she’s Black Ops while the character played by Louis Ozawa Changchien says he’s “Yakuza.” Braga suggests they work as a team, to which Danny Trejo’s character responds, “Does this look like a team-oriented group of individuals to you?”

A placard comes up stating, “They’re the most dangerous killers on the planet” and then, “But this isn’t their planet,” signifying they are in fact somewhere out in space rather than on earth. Braga asks, “Who would do this to us?” and we start hearing the telltale clicking noises made by the Predators, the creepy music intensifies and there’s a red pulsating light almost like a heartbeat with a high tone adding to it. Laurence Fishburne says “They can hear you, smell you, see you…” and Brody says, “We were chosen.” “Chosen for what?” Braga asks. “This planet is a game preserve,” he tells her, “And we’re the game.” We then see a very cool shot of Brody as seven or eight of those trademark Predator tri-prong laser sights are trained on his body. The rest of the trailer are shots of them being chased and trapped in nets and the word “fear” appears on screen, followed soon after by “Is reborn” and Brody says, “I want you to kill them however you can.” We see a couple of quick shots of the new Predators including a partial shot of one discussed below, and a longshot of one letting out a battle cry similar to the first movie before it ends on the “Predators” logo. (A little while later, Rodriguez showed an extended version of this trailer with a few more shots and lines, just a little bit longer but generally the same structure.)

He then brought out Antal and the two of them talked about how the Hungarian filmmaker wanted to bring more horror elements into the movie, being that’s been his strength from his earlier films Kontrol and Vacancy. The idea is very much based on the literary classic “The Most Dangerous Game” where a tribe of Predators has brought a group of soldiers and mercenaries to an alien planet with a terrain similar to earth’s jungle in the first movie in order to study Earth’s best fighters so that the Predators can perfect their own skills. As noted in the trailer, one big difference between Predators and the first movie is that it featured a band of soldiers who worked together as a team before encountering the single Predator. In this one, it’s a disparate group being forced to work together to survive. Although they’re facing a different tribe of Predators than the first movie, Rodriguez and Antal promised the original Predator from the first movie would be making an appearance, and they even brought its animatronic head along with them, so that people could touch and take pictures with it!

Rodriguez dispelled any rumors that the movie would be anything but R-rated, them having even created an end logo for the trailer where the word “Predators” poured away in red blood leading on the “R” remaining, but the MPAA wouldn’t approve that.

Rodriguez then showed an extended clip of the group encountering something they hadn’t seen before (and this is kind of a spoiler, because it gives a reveal of one of the main characters, so you might want to skip the rest of this paragraph if you worry about that sort of thing.) The clip opened with them walking through the woods having just killed one of the creatures and they start hearing strange noises all around them as the camera pans around them, then a menacing Predator appears directly behind Brody with a gun pointed at his head, but when asked “What the f*ck are you?” by Brody, it removes its helmet and (suspenseful drumroll) it’s Laurence Fishburne! Apparently, he arrived on the planet before them and he figured out that the best way to survive was to pretend he’s one of them. He tells the group that they’re talking too loud and that if he can smell them or hear them, then they (the Predators) can, too. When Braga asks who he is, he responds by saying, “I’m the one that got away, the one you don’t f*ck with.”

The filmmakers then brought out Greg Nicotero who worked on the original Predator as part of the KNB FX crew; he was brought on board to help design and realize the new Predators for the movie. As they talked about the project, a lot of conceptual art of the new Predators and environments for the movie were shown on the screen, although we were told a lot of what was being shown were initial visual ideas and not all of it is from the movie. Still, we could get a really good idea what went into the creature design for the new movie, which builds upon the ideas from the first movie. (Rodriguez even shared with the audience that he got confirmation from James Cameron that the filmmaker had indeed suggested the idea for the Predator’s distinctive mouth to Stan Winston.)

Even though there would be a lot of new Predators for the movie, they’re all seemingly going to have different looks and personalities based on their hunting techniques, and that involved different colored armor as well as them looking different underneath the distinctive helmets. The most intriguing new Predator may be the one who uses a “flushing” technique where you send dogs out to chase the prey out of wherever they’re hiding; this one wields large spikey creatures that were titled as “Hell Hounds” in some of the concept art but were referred to as “Pred-Hounds” by the filmmakers. Another one takes on the form of a “hawker” with a mechanical bird-like creature that acts like his “eye in the sky.” The worries some people had about creatures being called “Super-Predators” in the script were unfounded, since those were just a generic term used to differentiate the different creatures for the FX teams. Also, anyone worried about them using CG Predators or just using a lot of CG at all as seems to be the norm these days, should put those fears to rest as Rodriguez mentioned they barely used the green screen stage he has at his studio, and that he was more psyched than most to be able to walk out into the parking lot and see the creature performers and stunt people walking around wearing Predator suits.

Of course, before the end of the presentation, Rodriguez was asked whether the movie was being geared for 3D, because obviously, every other movie being made is being tailored that way. He mused on his own experiences with 3D on Spy Games 3D from before 3D was considered “cool”–he even had to pay for the glasses out of his own pocket!– but he said that Predators is not being planned for 3D nor will it be converted, because he doesn’t think it looks as good as actually filming using the 3D cameras.

Predators is scheduled to open on July 7.

Source: Edward Douglas