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In the remote jungle of a Central American country, an elite group of commandos led by Major Dutch Schaeffer, embarks on a CIA mission to clear out a guerrilla stronghold and rescue the remaining hostages. However, the hunters become the hunted when a highly intelligent, otherwordly being slowly and methodically starts killing off members of Dutch's team. Possessing a chameleonlike camouflaging ability and a deadly alien arsenal, the creature tracks down the soldiers one by one.
For more about Predator 3D and the Predator 3D Blu-ray release, see Predator 3D Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on December 16, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham
Director: John McTiernan
» See full cast & crew
Predator 3D Blu-ray Review
Still hunting for a great transfer.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, December 16, 2013
It's probably getting harder and harder to remember, but there was a time when Arnold Schwarzenegger was arguably the biggest action adventure star in the movies, years before his extramarital dalliances and close personal relationship with Botox made him a walking self-parody. Predator wasn't especially loved by critics when it first appeared (or disappeared, as the case may be, given the titular character's ability to mask itself), but it was one in a string of sizable box office successes for the future Governator. It might seem a little odd even with Predator's winning ways with the public that Fox would revisit the film some 26 (!) years after its release for a 3D conversion, and perhaps even stranger that the studio hasn't really gone to many lengths to really hype the release. The only real PR blast that I could dredge up in a cursory search was some activity at ComicCon, where snippets of the conversion were available to view and for a premium price fans could have their head scanned so that they could ultimately receive a little model with the Predator holding their decapitated cranium (a perfect Christmas gift, don't you think?). A few news reports also suggested that this conversion was done via a relatively newer automated technology, which might seem to suggest trouble from the get go, given the film's locale in a dense jungle where rapidly changing foliage could stymie even the most sophisticated algorithms. And then there's the aforementioned issue that the main character here (if one assumes it's the title character, not Ahnold) is invisible for large swaths of the film. How is that going to translate to 3D? (Fans of the film will of course know that there's a "ripple" visual effect when the beast is traipsing through the wild.) The final nail in this "expectations coffin" might be the fact that another film evidently utilizing this newfangled technology was Fox's lackluster I, Robot 3D, which even many rabid fans of the film thought was a pretty pallid conversion. But it's never wise to make assumptions in the rapidly changing world of software and high tech gizmos that many studios are using these days, especially when even a few months can manifest major advances in filmmaking techniques. Does Predator 3D out perform other 3D post conversions? Skip to the video section below for your answer.
Rather than rehash what is probably a very familiar plot to most readers of this review, I refer you instead to our reviews of the two previous Blu-ray releases:
Predator Blu-ray review
Predator Blu-ray review
Predator 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Predator has had a fairly problematic release on Blu-ray—repeatedly. The first Blu-ray release (covered by my colleague Martin Liebman in his Predator Blu- ray review) was plagued by a low bitrate and the even then older MPEG-2 compression codec. A little over two years later the so-called Ultimate Hunter Edition appeared (which my colleague Casey Broadwater covered in his Predator Blu-ray review), which significantly brightened the image as well as more than significantly upped the bitrate, now encoded via AVC, but then pretty much threw it all away by slathering the release with DNR. Though I have no conclusive information (something exacerbated by Fox's perhaps telling tight lipped stance regarding this release), it looks to me that this is simply the Ultimate Hunter Edition, slightly opened up to a 1.78:1 aspect ratio (encoded via AVC for its 2D edition and MVC for its 3D edition). All of the issues Casey mentioned in his review are still more than noticeable. The look of the image here is now much more consistent with HD video than film—it's certainly (relatively) bright (more about that below) and colorful, but there's virtually no grain to be seen anywhere in either the 2D or 3D rendering. Even in filtered scenes (like the red hued scene shown in screenshot 7), where one would expect to see lots of grain, there simply isn't any. I refer you to Casey's review linked above for a thorough analysis of the look of the film.
In terms of the 3D experience, things are at least relatively better, though perhaps only incrementally. There's still next to no grain to be found, but the dimensionality here is rather striking at times, at least when compared to other recent post-conversion efforts like I, Robot. A lot of the film has not been post-converted at all, however. Simply removing your 3D glasses at various spots throughout the film show that there is no post-conversion whatsoever going on during various swaths of the film, and in fact sequences like the opening spaceship moments and the underlying images behind the credits roll have very little depth (the credits in fact are the most "dimensional" thing about the opening several minutes of the film, clearly standing out in the foreground, while the rest of the action plays out in a largely flat plane in the background).
There is admittedly some unexpectedly nice depth added to the jungle sequences, which of course make up the bulk of the film. Part of what makes these elements work is director John McTiernan's tendency to shoot "through" foreground objects, which gives the viewer an immediate sense of dimension in this 3D rendering. McTiernan also loves to shoot up towards the sky, which helps to significantly brighten the environment, allowing the sometimes dank and dark environment to allow more visual information into the frame, which in turn allows the 3D effects to be at least slightly more visceral.
But a lot of this film is still relentlessly dark, even though this version has an obviously brighter overall look than the first release. This in and of itself robs some scenes of dimensionality, with only minimal protrusion of foreground objects and similarly lackluster depth penetrating into the image. That said, there are some nicely effective moments in the film, like the first "camo" appearance of the Predator, which comes at the viewer like some fractal hallucination for a moment before the "thermo-imaging" point of view footage takes over.
Overall, this is neither the botch job some have predicted nor the masterpiece that some early previewers insisted was coming our way. It's actually probably better than a lot of naysayers are expecting it to be, but it's nowhere near as visually immersive as others are no doubt hoping it will be. It's a decent effort, but not an outstanding one.
Predator 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Predator offers the same multiple audio options that graced the Ultimate Hunter Edition, with most audiophiles probably gravitating to the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix by default. While this isn't as ubiquitously immersive a mix as that found in newer action fare, it's still a fairly relentless onslaught of LFE and other well positioned foley effects, especially in the several set pieces where Arnold and the boys take out their big guns and defoliate the jungle with bullets. There's a very notable low frequency sound effect that accompanies each shift into the "thermo imaging" point of view shots from the Predator's perspective, and those are forceful enough to perhaps provoke a startle response in some viewers. For me, anyway, the most remarkable thing about this mix is Alan Silvestri's almost nonstop underscore, one which utilizes a lot of cool percussive effects that recall Lalo Schifrin's work on the Mission: Impossible television series. Silvestri's score easily fills the surrounds and really helps to augment the listening experience. It's an unusually effective score for a film that is often dominated by sound effects and it deserves more attention than it routinely gets, even by fans of the film.
Predator 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
No supplements are offered on this 2D-3D combo Blu-ray disc. The included DVD has the following supplements in addition to the film in standard definition:
Predator 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Predator is a fun and exciting film and it's a real shame that it's still waiting for a decent high definition transfer. Is this 3D post-conversion effort worth your time and trouble? Well, it's not horrible by any stretch, but it's also not fantastic, either. That means only the curious or most rabid fan is probably going to want to invest in this new release.
Predator: Other Editions
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