Fox // 1987 // 106 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // July 9th, 2010
The hunt is on.
Au-nold Schawarstzzeneggar (really, does spelling matter?) was once the top draw for movie action fans. "The Austrian Oak" may not be what most of us would consider a 'deeply involved thespian', but when it comes to shooting a large machine gun in a rainforest at a scary, hulking alien...well, I double dog dare you to name a better actor equipped for the job. For me the culmination of The Governator's machismo charm is Predator; a movie so unabashedly fun, to stamp it a "guy movie" doesn't seem to do that particular term justice. This is a movie for men who chew tobacco while wrestling grizzly bears in the middle of the tundra during logging season; it's that masculine.
Let's do a quick rundown of what makes Predator great: Arnold in full, shirtless camouflage while chomping on a cigar. Ex-WWF wrestler Jessie "The Body" Ventura telling us, "I ain't got time to bleed." Carl Weathers shooting a machine gun while getting his arm severed. Explosions. Guns. More explosions. A hulking alien whose face looks like it mated with a scorpion and Bob Marley. More guns. Helicopters. Napalm. Skinned corpses hanging from trees. Names like "Dutch," "Poncho," "Billy," "Mac," and "Hawkins." Exploding heads. Lots of blood. More guns. More Blood. More of everything. What, you need more evidence Predator is the ultimate guy's movie? The ending includes what appears to be a freakin' nuclear explosion!
The fact is Predator is just a wonderfully silly action movie. It's by no means perfect (it sort of drags during the middle section), but overall this a goofy, bloody action flick with large men shooting off thousands of rounds in a jungle at an extra terrestrial game hunter from outer space. Director John McTiernan -- who has helmed some other great action movies, including the original Die Hard and The Hunt For Red October -- fills the screen with enough testosterone to put down a small herd of pachyderms. Critiquing the acting is rather perfunctory; all that's required from most of this cast is military combat hang signals, snarled one-liners ("If it bleeds, we can kill it") and lots of trigger pulling. Everyone does their part well, with Ventura and Carl "I was Apollo Creed!" Weathers being the standouts. Plus, the late Stan Winston's top notch creature effects prove that a guy in a rubber suit can still work better than most derivative CGI effects.
Predator encapsulates the essence of great '80s action movies -- lots of gunfire and explosions, Arnold Schwarzenegger's biceps, and effects which never go beyond the point of over saturation (unlike today's action films which feel the need to pack in 9,283 effects shots per scene). This is old school American action, an art form that seems to be fading fast from filmmaker's vernacular. Grab an Arnold-approved stogie, sit back, and enjoy!
Most fans have read countless reviews of Predator, so the big issue is going to be what the image quality is for this double dip release. Alas, as you may have read, Fox's newly minted transfer is pretty terrible depending on what you're looking for. First the good news: this is a transfer free of almost any grain, dirt, or filmic imperfections. In fact, this transfer is too clean -- and this is where Fox got it wrong. The screen almost looks like it's been wiped over with petroleum jelly. Actors have a very waxy quality that is almost unnatural. Detail is lessened because of digital noise reduction (DNR) that permeates every inch of this new transfer. Fox has gone to great lengths to fix some of the outstanding issues with the previous Predator Blu-ray release, but it's been at the expense of a worse picture than the original transfer. Now the image is unnatural, overly perfect, and lacking any of the warmth film generally offers. If you want my personal suggestion, hold on to your original Blu-ray release of Predator; it may not be the pinnacle of high-def, but it's a far better representation of how this film is supposed to look.
On the flipside, the original soundtrack from the 2008 Blu-ray -- a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track -- has been ported over to this new version, and it sounds great. Granted, you aren't going to get the full surround effect you'd find in newer action movies, but this mix is aggressive and loud, with enough 'oomph' to keep viewers and audiophiles happy. Also included is an English Dolby 4.0 Surround track, a Spanish Dolby 5.1 track, a French DTS track, with English, Spanish and French subtitles.
To be quite honest, I don't know how worthwhile this reissue is. If you've owned Predator in the past, you already have a lot of the supplements included here. First up is a dry commentary track by director John McTiernan, and a text commentary by film journalist/historian Eric Lichtenfeld (subtitled at the bottom of the screen), both of which are informative but only for diehard fans. "If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: The Making of Predator" features both vintage and new interviews, although Arnold is noticeably absent from the proceedings. "Predator: Evolution of a Species: Hunters of Extreme Perfection" is basically an EPK for the upcoming 2010 sequel Predators. "Inside the Predator" features seven short vintage featurettes covering everything from the stunt work and alien design, to Schwarzenegger's role in the film.
Rounding out the supplements is a short three minute feature on the special effects; four shorter interviews with McTiernan, Ventura (discussing his foray into politics), and Stan Winston; four deleted scenes (in standard definition); high-def theatrical trailer for the film; photo gallery; a profile on the Predator monster; and, as expected, a two minute interview with producer Robert Rodriguez on the forthcoming Predators.
The movie itself gets high marks, but the rating plummets due to Fox's poor
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 4.0 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Photo Gallery
* Theatrical Trailer