Predator [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (14th May 2008).
The Film

If “Conan the Barbarian” (1982), “The Terminator” (1984) and “Commando” (1985) launched Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career then “Predator” solidified it and ensured he’d be the biggest action drawn card of the 80’s and would remain so until the late 90’s. “Predator” was originally birthed out of a joke, one which referenced Rocky Balboa fighting E.T., suddenly we have a movie, an alien from a far off planet crashes onto Earth to hunt, and a muscle-bound warrior and his group of black-ops specialists are sent in to kill it. Unlike “Commando” (1985) this film is not an over-the-top vanity piece for the film’s star. No, in fact it’s a serious sci-fi action film which not only features Arnold as the main star but also the company he keeps, and each character is as memorable as the last.

The film’s production has had a rocky history, with design issues of the creature to the various special effects techniques employed to pull off the (then) complicated invisibility (cloaking) of the creature. Once production started, things started to roll and the result was one of the finest sci-fi action films to come out of the late 80’s which has spawned a less successful sequel, many comic books, action figures and also a recent run of movies where the title creature battles Alien.

“Predator” tells the story of Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his elite group of operatives that consists of Mac (Bill Duke) Blain (Jesse Ventura), Billy (Sonny Landham), Poncho (Richard Chavez) and Hawkins (Shane Black) are taken into the jungle by Dillon (Carl Weathers). Dillon is a former teammate of Dutch’s who’s now working for the CIA. Their mission is to locate a black-ops team that has gone missing in the jungle. What they find is something far more sinister and deadly, a creature hiding in the foliage hunting them one by one. They must survive the ordeal and make it to the pick-up point.

“Predator” in essence is a chase picture with much deadlier consequences, there are numerous reasons why the film works, first are the characters and the cast which are all perfect in these roles. The team works well and they clearly have an onscreen relationship that seem believable, even though there is some showboating every now and then. The action is exciting and realistic to a certain degree, there’s really nothing that’s too over-the-top here (aside form Arnold picking up the back-end of a truck), I suppose what I’m trying to say is that there’s nothing cartoonish about the violence. Where there are laughable parts to “Commando” (1985) there are none in “Predator.”

The film would not be what it is today without the tightly scripted and well direction sequences from action director extraordinaire John McTiernan, speaking of which what has happened to this guy of late? I guess the 80’s was his heyday. Of course there’s also the creature, a look developed by the great Stan Winston and one that’s stood the test of time. It really is one of the best creature designs out there.

“Predator” is an excellent example of how to make a decent action flick/chase film/sci-fi, it melds these properties well and the result is an exiting and memorable film that can be viewed on numerous occasions without it getting old or tired. The film really doesn’t age, it’s jungle exteriors and military costumes help in keeping the film ageless, if it were based in an urban environment (like the sequel was) it would be painfully obvious that was a product of the 80’s.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 this high-definition transfer is presented in 1080p 24/fps and has been created using MPEG-2 compression. Over the years there have been several DVD releases of this film and none of them have had particularly excellent transfers, this Blu-ray disc is only a fraction better, but not good enough. The film is shot in a dim and dark environment, the jungle is dense and the lighting was created to reflect this. As a result the film has a lot of noise amid the dark areas. Grain is also prominent which has more to do with the film stock of the 80's than the transfer itself so in this regard the transfer is blameless. I also noticed some dirt, primarily in the opening sequence but some dirt popped up at times during the course of the film. The image's sharpness is not consistent, but the at least the colors appear solid, skin tones are perfect as well. I hope that one day Fox can recover the original elements and do a full restoration and clean-up, as this is a film that really deserves a special Blu-ray release with all the bells and whistles.

Audio

Four audio tracks are included in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 this lossless track is presented in 48kHz/16-bit, there's also an English Dolby Digital 4.0 surround as well as French Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track and a Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its DTS-HD track, I was really looking forward to hearing an impressive and booming audio track but the result was a little disappointing. The track was loud and aggressive for the most part but lacked in depth and range. The track sounded a bit hollow, the jungle environment needed more depth especially with subtle ambient sounds and the action scenes lacked the kick they deserve. Dialogue was clear and distortion free but if anything this track was average.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired, Cantonese, Korean and Spanish.

Extras

Fox has skimped out on the extras on this catalogue title yet again and have included only the film's theatrical trailer, a series of bonus trailers and the disc is D-Box enabled. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is the film's original theatrical trailer that runs for 2 minutes 11 seconds.

Also featured are some bonus trailers for:

- "Alien vs. Predator which runs for 2 minutes 17 seconds.
- "Broken Arrow" which runs for 2 minutes 28 seconds.
- "Commando" which runs for 1 minutes 50 seconds.
- "Phone Booth" which runs for 2 minutes 24 seconds.
- "Planet of the Apes" which runs for 54 seconds.

Finally the disc is also D-Box enabled, so if you can access this feature then make the most of the rumble.

Overall

The Film: A Video: C+ Audio: B- Extras: D- Overall: C-

 


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