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Set in Los Angeles in the year 1997, when the streets are ruled by Jamaican and Colombian drug dealers. A federal agent assists the LAPD in their investigation of the mysterious deaths of scores of drug dealers.
For more about Predator 2 and the Predator 2 Blu-ray release, see Predator 2 Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 26, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Rubén Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton, Kevin Peter Hall
Director: Stephen Hopkins
» See full cast & crew
Predator 2 Blu-ray Review
Can't beat the real thing.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 26, 2009
He's on safari.
If ever there were a search to find the most generic, neither brilliant nor horrendous, watchable but not memorable, sequel of all time, Predator 2 should be considered as one of the primary candidates. The follow-up to one of the best pure Action/Sci-Fi movies of the past several decades, an icon of the 1980s, and arguably Arnold Schwarzenegger's best film, Predator introduced moviegoers to one of cinema's most deadly, feared, and brutal bad guys, a towering, invisible, well-armed, incredibly strong, and highly advanced alien with a thirst for the hunt and a want for human skulls to adorn its trophy case. The epitome of the mediocre sequel, Predator 2 cashed in a meager $30 million during its domestic box office run, failing to recoup its budget by $5 million. Behind the camera for this bland sequel was Stephen Hopkins, himself, much like his movie, perhaps the very epitome of "average." With a filmography that includes a couple of turkeys (The Reaping, A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child), a few decent outings (Blown Away, Lost in Space), and an underrated but certainly not super-great movie, Judgment Night, Predator 2 probably represents his best work, a loud, action-packed extravaganza that offers plenty of gunfire and gore but not much in the way of substance.
In the year 1997, Los Angeles finds itself at the heart of a vicious drug war between rival Colombian and Jamaican gangs with the L.A. police and gun-packing civilians caught in the middle. Also suffering an unbearable heat wave, it seems that life in the city cannot get any worse, until an unexpected and unwelcome visitor begins spilling blood almost indiscriminately, taking out any and all armed gang members and police that get in its way. Not lurking in the shadows but rather confronting its prey head-on and under the protection of both a cloaking device and an impressive arsenal of advanced weaponry, a creature from another world not only kills but skins and, in some cases, dismembers its victims. L.A. police Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover, Saw) finds himself in the unenviable position as a central player in both the drug war and the struggle with the Predator. When his colleague, Danny Archuleta (Rúben Blades, The Devil's Own) discovers an alien piece of technology at the scene of a brutal crime, Harrigan begins a personal quest for vengeance against an enemy he cannot see and knows next to nothing about. Only with the help of a clandestine federal agent named Peter Keyes (Gary Busey, Point Break) who is out to capture the alien does Harrigan come to learn what it is he is up against. Can Harrigan's wiles and skills as a veteran police Lieutenant allow him to adequately fight and, ultimately, defeat an enemy that is larger, faster, and better armed than he?
The plot that shapes the first half or Predator 2 matters little to the overall feel of the film; the drug war that sees a free-for-all between the local police, the Colombians, and the Jamaicans is but a means to an end to introduce the Predator and its abilities, not to mention a vessel through which to open the film with a lengthy, loud, and bloody action sequence. If nothing else, the rival gang subplot, at best, burdens the film with excess baggage but does allow for the realization of the plot device that mentions the Predator seeking out its hunting grounds in hot and violence-ridden corners of the world, this time around the urban jungle of Los Angeles, circa 1997, a summer of scorching heat that sees the thermometer topping out a 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Predator 2, despite a boring subplot and a few failed attempts at comic relief, works as a fun, mindless action vehicle for unlikely leading action man Danny Glover, though his selection does not necessarily come completely out-of-left-field given the actor's performances in the then-pair of Lethal Weapon films, though he plays a vastly different character here. Whereas in Weapon Glover portrayed a reserved, close-to-retirement family man, he plays a risk-taker, guns-blazing sort in Predator 2, his character more akin to Riggs than to Murtaugh.
Nevertheless, Predator 2 is more defined by its action than anything else. Sometimes fun, sometimes inane, and always violent, the film retains a hearty amount of gore, both visible and implied, throughout. Several characters, both primary and background, receive excruciating deaths at the hands of both the behemoth alien and doped-up gang members, the violence scattered throughout the film its redeeming quality and the primary purpose for its existence. Also sure to please fans is a glimpse into other aspects of the creature's existence, such revelations also serving as the backdrop to the climax. Technically, Predator 2 never impresses all that much, with its cut-and-dry direction and generally bland appearance. The locations are drab and forgettable, and even the surprising setting for the film's showdown appears wholly uninteresting from an aesthetic standpoint. Of note is the return of Composer Alan Silvestri; much of the music is recycled from the first film, but the score seems almost as iconic as the alien, and it fits as perfectly here as it did in Predator. Outside of Glover, the performances generally do nothing to elevate the film. Rubén Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man), and Gary Busey do little to make their characters memorable, but Bill Paxton (Aliens) breathes quite a bit of life into his slime ball character and does well as the central human figure in what is, arguably, the film's best action sequence as he squares off with the Predator in a speeding subway car.
Predator 2 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Predator 2 arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p, 1.85:1-framed transfer. Quite the opposite of its predecessor's Blu-ray transfer, this one sports a mostly grain-free image that lends to the visuals a smooth, somewhat artificial, and mostly flat appearance. Most of the visible noise may be seen over the darkest corners of the picture. Speaking of blacks, they are not bad, never straying towards a shade of gray or appearing too bright, but certainly not quite purely inky and true, either. Predator 2 appears drab, thanks to many nighttime scenes and an otherwise dark and hazy atmosphere. Only the film's opening action sequence during the hot, sun-drenched Los Angeles afternoon does the transfer see an abundance of color, and although the imagery here suffers from the problems associated with noise reduction, it never looks terrible and, indeed, probably represents the best overall sequence in the film from a technical standpoint. Detail suffices throughout, but this transfer will never be mistaken for The International in that or any other regard. Also featuring an adequate presentation of flesh tones and a few very minor instances of banding, this Blu-ray release of Predator 2 is fine, all things considered, but could likely look better in some future re-release.
Predator 2 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Predator 2 hunts on Blu-ray with an aggressive DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The film is marked by scenes of unrelenting violence, and those sound that accompany that imagery -- gunshots, screams, and explosions -- play loudly through every speaker in the 5.1 configuration. Though neither completely clear nor an undefined jumble of sound but certainly overwhelming the aural senses with barrage after barrage of sonic activity, this track makes for a satisfying experience for its delivery of content loudly, efficiently, and seamlessly through the entire soundstage. The rear channels play an integral role in this presentation; gunshots and ricochets, for instance, are heard in the back in most every action sequence. The rear channels also work hard to create a realistic atmosphere throughout; the inside of police headquarters features phones, typewriters and keyboards, and plenty of chatter filling the soundstage and creating a good, almost seamless, environment. Dialogue, while generally solid, is sometimes lost under the deluge of loud music and sound effects. Bass thumps in spades throughout, making this a rowdy, loud, exciting, but not quite reference-quality sonic experience.
Predator 2 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Predator 2 features a rather standard collection of extras. Two commentary tracks serve as the main interest here, the first featuring Director Stephen Hopkins. Delivering a decent track, Hopkins speaks on the special effects shots, the make-up of the characters, the process of shooting various sequences, the strengths each actor brought to the film, and more. Writers Jim Thomas and John Thomas talk up the film in the second track, recalling their work on the original Predator, their influences, the development of the Predator 2 plot and its themes and actions, some of the commentary on gangs and the environment in the film, life on the set and the background of the actors, the Predator technology, and more. A better commentary than the laid-back and average director offering, this writer track is worth a listen. Also included are several featurettes. The Hunters and the Hunted (480p, 35:41) looks at both Predator 2 and its predecessor and includes snippets from both films and plenty of Predator 2 cast and crew interview clips. This piece examines the contrasts and similarities between the films, the characters that populate them, make-up and creature effects, and more. Evolutions (480p, 8:24) takes viewers behind the construction of several of the film's visual effects -- Main Titles, Something on the Roof, Enemy in the Alley, and Subway Showdown. Weapons of Choice (480p, 6:49) takes a closer look at the Predator's weapons -- Gauntlet Knives, Self-Destruct, Plasma Cannon, Net Launcher, Smart Weapon, and Telescoping Spear. Hard Core Segments (480p, 7:05) offers a pair of the "Hard Core" news segments as seen in the film. Rounding out this collection of extras is Promotional Gallery, a collection featuring a trio of theatrical trailers (480p, 4:02), five TV spots (480p, 2:24), The Predator Goes to Town (480p, 3:03) promo piece, the International 'Making Of' Featurette (480p, 5:42), and Creating the Ultimate Hunter (480p, 3:40).
Predator 2 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Far from a tragedy but certainly not on the same level as its classic predecessor, Predator 2 works in many areas but falls short in several others. It lives under quite a big shadow and cannot manage to emerge from it, though there is enough here that both recalls the first film (particularly Silvestri's fine score) and introduces new information into Predator lore to make it a worthwhile outing. Also featuring decent performances and plenty of violence, Action and Science Fiction movie lovers will like this one well enough. 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray treatment of Predator 2 isn't bad, but the studio has proven time and again it can do better. Featuring a loud, action-packed, but not always perfectly-defined soundtrack, a transfer that shows signs of noise reduction but doesn't look too terribly bad, and an average number of supplements, this Blu-ray release comes recommended for hardcore fans of the film and as a rental for all others.
Predator 2: Other Editions
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