PREDATOR is twenty-five years old now. At first glance, it’s an easy film to dismiss: the eighties were full of movies centered on gun-toting supermen who killed everything in sight. And the first half-hour or so of the film plays exactly like one of those movies, complete with macho one-liners, until everything changes and the team of well-armed bros suddenly find themselves outmatched. The testosterone-laden action parts are enjoyable as spectacle, the alien is scary looking when it finally appears in full view, and the entire mano-a-monster climax is a perfect contrast to the film’s opening. Because in the end, all the weapons technology in the world can’t top a blunt, heavy object.
Thirty-year-old E.T. is a movie everyone my age has seen and possibly loves, but as Bill Mudron observed it doesn’t seem to hold the same grip on our psyches that other films from the eighties do. While E.T. himself (itself?) became iconic, as did “Phone Home”, I cannot recall a single line of human dialogue besides the infamous “penis breath” insult. Perhaps that is the film’s legacy: a fascinating alien creature surrounded by forgettable earthlings.
I am a week late, but STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN is now thirty years old. There’s no way I could have understood the film’s exploration of how people grow old when I saw it in theaters, and I’m positive I saw it before seeing the original Star Trek episode that preceded it. And yet it wowed me, ensuring that I would be a Trekkie forever.
Looking back on it now, it is quite easily the best Star Trek film ever made, one of the best science-fiction films ever made, and an easy entry point for viewers unfamiliar with either of those things. Snicker if you must at "KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!" but the film holds up far better than entire seasons of Trek that would follow in its wake. That’s right: never forget that the first Star Trek film was very costly and didn’t exactly wow audiences, so Part II was a litmus test to see if the whole Star Trek thing had run its course. Somewhere there’s a universe where Khan was a bust, William Shatner is famous as the star of the T.J. Hooker franchise, and his years as Captain Kirk are an afterthought.
Here are more words about Star Trek II written by a very smart man. Read them.