We break down what's new and and what's cool in Predators

Opening night of Austin's South by Southwest film festival brought local filmmaker Robert Rodriguez out to preview this summer's Predators for the first time, and we were there.

Rodriguez produced the prequel to the original Predator franchise (not those AVP mashups), and while he and the film's director, Nimrod Antal, spoke about making the film, they showed production art that revealed way more than their teaser trailer.

Predators is set on a hunting planet where the Predator species studies the habits of their prey. They've gathered a bunch of Earth's toughest badasses, including Yakuza, special ops and Death Row. The teaser they showed was mostly buildup scenes of the human gang getting stalked, but it did offer that triple-dot laser sight, Predator vision and a nice money shot of the Predator posing and howling.

As the art reel rolled behind the filmmakers, here's what really stood out. (Click on the images for larger version.)

Predator birds!


Several sketches depicted various winged creatures, with tendril mouths, some with sickle-bladed spines, some with outstretched wings. Rodriguez said they'd appear in the movie just enough to leave us wanting more. There were even pictures of dragonfly-esque bug creatures. Antal added that some Predators use flying creatures to scout prey, like falconers!

Predator beasts!



Four-legged animals look like Predator dogs, with horns UNDER their mouths. Other quadrupeds included an anteater type with a snout and a prickly back full of quills that would have to be 2-3 feet long in real-life scale. One had zebra stripes. One looked like a jungle cat with exposed muscle and bone on top of the muscle. Another was some sort of preda-walrus. Antal called some of the creatures Predhounds, adding that the various creatures could be indigenous of other planets where the Predators hunt.

The original Predator returns!


Rodriguez said that the original design from Predator was never used again, since each subsequent film modified the costume. He put the original design back in Predators. Indeed, sketches showed that classic design, trying on different sets of armor.

Two tribes of Predators

Antal said he intended to portray the unique personalities of different Predator clans in the way they each hunts. Indeed, different production art labeled Desert Nomad and Berserker stood out. The Nomad wore Road Warrior armor, while the Berserker was purely natural skin without any of the high-tech armor we've always seen the Predator wear. Could one of the sleek designs be a female predator?

Badass Laurence Fishburne


The only full scene from the film they showed looked like the first appearance of Laurence Fishburne's character. An armored Predator de-cloaks from camouflaged invisibility mode. (The effect wasn't even finished. Rodriguez had to explain it.) The figure removes the helmet to reveal not a Predator, but Fishburne. He indicates that he's escaped from the Predators and has been surviving on his own for a while. In that deep, booming voice he says he's "the one you don't want to f--k with."

We're in! Are you?

Predators opens July 7.

For the latest sci-fi news, follow us on Twitter at @scifiwire

More from around the web