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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 and the Predator Blu-ray release, see Predator Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 8, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham
Director: John McTiernan
» See full cast & crew
Predator Blu-ray Review
Another first-rate Arnold action flick makes its way to Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 8, 2008
If it bleeds, we can kill it.
Predator is the Dirty Dancing of guy movies, perhaps the 1980's most adrenaline-pumping, action-packed, violent mainstream film of the decade, a film replete with nearly non-stop action, loud, messy violence, huge muscles, big guns, and an extraterrestrial killing machine with infrared sight and a laser cannon on his shoulder thrown in for good measure. This movie makes no excuses, takes no prisoners, and never lets anything but action permeate the screen, and any "slower" sequences serve to provide the audience with just enough exposition to get to the next action piece, learn a tidbit about the Predator, or provide a moment of levity with a joke or one-liner. Otherwise, the movie is nothing but wall-to-wall action with plenty of M-16s, HK MP5's, shotguns, grenade launchers, belt-fed machine guns, and, of course, Blain's iconic minigun. A film not for the faint of heart but rather for true-blue, action loving fanatics who cannot get enough guns, explosions, mayhem, aliens, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, Predator, some 21 years after its initial release, remains a classic of action cinema and, along with Commando, the peak of its star's movie career.
Predator stars Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator 3) as Dutch, leader of a six-man, elite search and rescue team. He and his team, consisting of Blain (Jesse Ventura, The Running Man), Billy (Sonny Landham, Lock Up), Mac (Bill Duke, Commando), Poncho (Richard Chavez, Cease Fire), and Hawkins (Shane Black, writer of Lethal Weapon), are joined by CIA "pencil pusher" Dillon (Carl Weathers, Rocky) on a mission to rescue American VIPs whose helicopter has crashed and are believed to be in enemy hands. The team's mission is to locate the enemy, destroy them, and rescue the hostages. When an American military unit is found near the crash site, skinned alive, Dutch and his team begin to question the motives and back story of the CIA, though politics are soon brushed aside in favor of survival, as the team begins to be killed one-by-one, seemingly by the jungle itself, and must fight this new, unseen enemy, this "predator," before losing both their sanity and their lives.
One of the deadliest, most horrific, and coolest of all action movie villains, the Predator is a now-iconic representation of horror, the subject of both a sequel and two movies where this species battles it out with aliens, but none of those films hold a candle to the Predator depicted in this original. While the successive films show us more and more about how the Predators hunt, why they hunt, what other tools they use, and so on, this movies forgets fancy background information, eschews an over-abundance of alien technology (is it just me or do the Predators seem to have a Batman-esque utility belt in the most recent AvP film?) and just lets him, his infrared helmet, his cloaking device, and his shoulder-mounted laser cannon decimate Dutch's elite combat team. The concept for the Predator is brilliant, the execution fantastic, the amount of reveal through the movie just right, and the stature of the thing spot-on, dwarfing even Arnold Schwarzenegger. The special effects team did a remarkable job creating this creature, as did Kevin Peter Hall, the actor portraying the alien.
John McTiernan simply knows how to make hardcore, knock down, drag out, awesome action movies. With films like this one, Die Hard, The Hunt For Red October, and the action-spoof The Last Action Hero under his belt, it's no wonder that he's one of the preeminent action directors of the past few decades (especially the late 1980s and early 1990s), and one of my favorite directors, period. With Predator, he's made one of the best "guy movies" of all time, and arguably the best in Arnold Schwarzenegger's career, the first Terminator film being the only one that can really compete with this film in overall action, quality, and fun. Neither may be Arnold's most popular (that distinction undoubtedly goes to T2), but for my money, this is Arnold's absolute best all-around film. Like Commando, Predator serves up the one- liners as well, but this go-round we have the entire cast spouting them off, not just Arnold ("stick around"), but Jesse Ventura as well, ("I ain't got time to bleed"). The humor briefly offsets the action, giving us just enough time to relax early on, because the final hour or so of the film is relentless, bloody, and horrific fun. McTiernan is so good at making movies like this, that he can even make the opening of the film, a scene where the team departs a helicopter while still in civilian clothing, a flat-out bad moment (bad in a very good way), setting the tone for both the film and the characters just by showing them getting out of the chopper. It's the first of many great moments, 107 minutes worth of moments to be precise, 107 of the best blood-spilling, hard-hitting, gun-rattling, alien-chasing minutes ever committed to film.
Predator Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p and framed in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Predator hunts for the first time in high definition for the home video market, and the results are probably about as good as can be expected. Presented in the antiquated MPEG-2 format, the movie doesn't look very good in comparison to many (if not most) Blu-ray titles on the market, but I attribute most trouble spots to the source and not the disc. Predator has always had a very grainy, somewhat drab (save for the bright greens of the jungle), "dirty" look to it, and that look is replicated on this disc, but the high-definition master does manage to bring out some fine detail not seen in previous VHS, LD, and DVD versions. For example, much more gruesome detail was to be seen than I have ever noticed before (and I've seen this film countless times) in the scene showing the skinned bodies of Harper and his men, not to mention the entrails left behind from the Predator's first victim. We can also make out more fine detail on the clothing and weapons, for example, and for the first time I noticed what look to be some sort of plugs in the barrels of many of the weapons wielded by the men throughout the movie. Colors appeared a bit more accurate this go-round, noted especially in the many shades of green of the jungle, but also in the green Predator blood and the flesh tones of the characters. Many special effects shots look their age and quality in 1080p, especially those seen in conjunction with a major explosion during the finale of the film, although the appearance of the camouflaged Predator still looks good. I wasn't quite as pleased with the result of this transfer as I was that of Commando, but I have no hesitations to say that this is the absolute best Predator has ever looked on any home video format.
Predator Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Faring better than the video quality is the lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound mix. I was most impressed by this track. It's a loud one, but remains clearly defined and engaging from start to finish. The excellent score by Alan Silvestri remains one of my favorites, its militaristic-yet-slightly-sci/fi sound coming through loud and clear on this disc, fantastic and a joy to listen to as always. Even "Long Tall Sally" has never sounded this good. Much of the music finds its way into the rear channels, as do all the sounds of the jungle. "Predator-vision" has that underwater-ish, tribal beat sound to it, and it is fairly deep and bass-y with solid lows. Gunfire and explosions, the bread-and-butter of this soundtrack, sound so real they place you in the middle of the battles. Each combat scene features excellent directionality, not as forceful and clean as more modern sound mixes, but certainly as good as can be expected from Predator. Explosions rattle and rumble the subwoofer, some so hard-hitting that if it were any more real you'd be knocked on your rear and have the wind knocked out of you. The waterfall scene sounds fabulous, completely engrossing (it could only sound more real and threatening if you were there in the water) a bit muffled perhaps, but deep and loud, the sound beating the viewer into submission, just one more scene for action fans to salivate over and keep them smiling. Like Commando, Predator simply doesn't measure up to the latest and greatest soundtracks, but it doesn't have to to be successful. When you can take a 20 year old film, one that so many people who are the target Blu-ray audience are familiar with, and make it sound this awesome, then you've got something good, and Predator is just that, a fantastic, loud, exciting listen that easily blows away all previous home video versions, and probably didn't even sound this terrific in most theaters 20-some years ago.
Predator Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Predator, like Commando, arrives on Blu-ray with only a 1080p theatrical trailer for the film, in addition to 1080p trailers for Alien vs. Predator, Broken Arrow, Phone Booth, Planet of the Apes, and the aforementioned Commando. The disc is also D-Box equipped, a feature that, with a specially-equipped chair, allows viewers to "feel the movie."
Predator Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
You can never have enough Arnold, and Predator is the action superstar at his very best, playing one of his most famous roles against arguably his most famous, cunning, powerful, and frightening villain, in what I consider to be his best movie. This film is the pinnacle of action, starring its greatest star, directed by one of its best helmsman, and introduced the world to one of the most frightening and lethal creatures, ever. One of my favorite movies of all-time, Predator now debuts on Blu-ray in a package that is hard to resist, but also disappointing in its lack of extra content. The video quality is about what I expected, not looking good next to films of more recent production, but definitely benefitting from the high-definition treatment. The audio is vastly superior to any rendition I've heard before, however, and is alone enough to warrant an upgrade to this Blu-ray disc. Fox, for reasons unknown, has released the classic film without the extra material of the most recent DVD release, and has failed to provide other content in its place. Regardless, this disc is as bare-bones as they come, and many fans will be turned off by this oversight. Still, for fans of the film, I believe this disc to be a must-own regardless, even in lieu of the inevitable "double-dip" that will probably show up in a few years.
Predator: Other Editions
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Predator Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Predator Sequel Coming Up (Updated) - June 24, 2014
Shane Black, who directed Iron Man 3, is set to write and direct a Predator sequel for Twentieth Century Fox. The upcoming project was initially reported to be a reboot by The Hollywood Reporter, but Black has since clarified that the film will instead be "expanding ...
• Predator and Commando Get New Blu-ray Date - January 10, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment has announced that they will release the Arnold Schwarzenegger classics 'Predator' and 'Commando' to Blu-ray on April 15th. Both releases will be encoded in 1080p MPEG-2 and accompanied by DTS-HD MA audio. Full extras have yet to be officially ...
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