He's in town with a few days to kill.
In the 1980s you could get no bigger than action superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger. From Commando to The Terminator, Conan the Barbarian to The Running Man, "Ahnuld" reigned king supreme over anything than went "ka-boom." In 1987, Schwarzenegger starred in the John McTiernan alien thriller Predator, a substantial hit upon its initial box office release. Contrary to popular belief—and I know this will come as a shock to most of you—Hollywood loves a sequel, so in 1990, Danny Glover stepped into Arnold's shoes as the lead in Fox's Predator 2. Also starring Gary Busey (Point Break), Rueben Blades (Disorganized Crime), and Bill Paxton (Aliens), Predator 2 is on the prowl for the first time on DVD care of Fox Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
Welcome to future Los Angeles, 1997 (well, it was the future in 1990 anyways). The streets are a war zone. littered with drug dealers and gang members fighting it out with Uzis, rockets, and other weapons of mass destruction. The police are outnumbered, outwitted, and just out and out exhausted. As if the hoodlums weren't enough, the peace officers have a new problem on their hands: the deadly Predator. As you'll recall in the first film, the snaggletoothed Predator spends his vacation time on Earth hunting the ultimate prey: man. This time around, he seems to have his sights set on Lt. Mike Harrigan (Glover), a violence prone cop who's trying to piece together who's slaughtering L.A.'s meanest criminals. As Harrigan's investigation continues, he discovers the terrifying truth about the killing spree: the killer isn't local, but from outer space! With the aid of some colleagues (Blades, Paxton, Maria Conchita Alonso) and a shifty law enforcement agent (Busey), Harrigan will come face to face with the terror that is the ultimate hunter!
While I'm all for gratuitous sequels (note to the makers of Friday the 13th: keep 'em coming!), I'm not sure as the original Predator really warranted a follow-up. Set in an isolated Amazon jungle and featuring a fine to-the-death brawl between the creature and Arnold, Predator stood on its own as a disposable, fun action flick. However, this is not the mindset of your basic Hollywood producer. The theory in Tinseltown is that if it makes more than its budget, milk it for all it's worth…then squeeze the titty three more times just to make sure it's run dry.
Predator 2 isn't a bad action/horror/sci-fi movie, though it's not a particularly good one either. Sorely missing is Schwarzenegger's machismo attitude and McTiernan's steady hand. Taking over the directing reigns this time around was Stephen Hopkins, whose previous efforts included the horror sequel A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5: The Dream Child. Though the action scenes are all well staged, Hopkins directing seems to be a bit shaky and unsure. Then again, this could also be due in part to brothers Jim and John Thomas' somewhat confusing script (they also penned the original film as well). Events happen in such a rushed fashion that the exposition seems almost an afterthought—this time around it appears as if the filmmakers wanted to get as much of the budget on screen as possible. While there are a lot of explosions and gunfire, Predator 2 never adds up to the sum of its parts.
Danny Glover, normally a great actor, is reduced to a faded Xerox copy of his Roger Murtaugh character from the four Lethal Weapon films. Paunchy and a bit haggard, it was a little hard for me to buy that this guy could keep pace with a muscular hunter from the farthest reaches of the cosmos. Though Glover gives it his all, he can't really overcome the story's plot holes and lazy characterization (not that the first film was a meditation on the human soul, mind you). Glover is supported by a growling Gary Busey in the thankless role as a government agent who's got a personal vendetta against the creature and Bill Paxton as a cocky young detective, possibly channeling his character Chet from Weird Science.
I can recommend Predator 2 as a rental for those who are curious about the continuing storyline of everyone's favorite walking sushi bar. There's enough action and mayhem to keep the pace moving, even if it feels pretty empty by the last reel.
Predator 2 is presented in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. I was a bit surprised at how good Predator 2 looked—since the film is almost 12 years old, I was expecting a much shoddier transfer. Luckily, Fox has done a respectable job at making sure the colors and black levels are all solid and well defined. Aside of some grain and dirt that pops up occasionally (and a tad amount of softness in the image), this ends up being a better-than-average transfer.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. This new 5.1 remix is certainly better than I anticipated—though the surround sounds and directional effects aren't as bombastic as one might expect, the dynamic range of the mix is full with the front and rear speakers all engaged throughout most of the film. Also included on this disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix in French, a Dolby Stereo mix in Spanish, and subtitles in English and Spanish.
The supplements on this first (and probably last) DVD edition of Predator 2 are light, though fans do get two featurettes: "Predator 2: Creating the Ultimate Hunter" and a behind-the-scenes featurette from 1990. Both of these are typical promo fluff with lots and lots of clips from the film, as well as actors Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Rueben Blades and director Stephen Hopkins discussing surface info on the production and characters. "Predator 2: Creating the Ultimate Hunter" deals more with the special effects and intricacies of the costume and action scenes.
Also included on this disc is a theatrical trailer for Predator 2 presented in 2.35:1 (!) anamorphic widescreen.
As a no-brainer action movie, Predator 2 isn't a bad catch on a Friday night. But in comparison to other films of that decade, it's pretty paltry. Let's hope we'll be seeing the rumored "Aliens vs. Predator" movie in the near future.
Predator 2 is found guilty of being a needless rehash, but is released on bail due to its somewhat entertaining nature.
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Scales of Justice
• "Predator 2: Creating the Ultimate Hunter" Featurette
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