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Predator (Blu-ray)

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
1987
Studio: 
Fox
Genre: 
SF/Horror
Format: 
Blu-ray
Region: 
A
Aspect Ratio: 
1.85:1
Directed by: 
John McTiernan
Cast: 
Arnold Schwarzeneggar
Carl Weathers
Bill Duke
Jesse Ventura
Movie: 
5
Extras: 
1
Bottom Line: 
3

John McTiernan's Predator was much more than a knee-jerk reaction to the success of Fox's own burgeoning Alien franchise; it was a calculated move to launch star Arnold Schwarzenneger even further into the stratosphere, beyond the Red Heats and Red Sonjas, and into the world of action/horror/sci-fi. The success of Predator begat Total Recall which begat The Running Man which begat Kindergarten Cop...err....
 
In any event, Predator was a huge turning point in Schwarzenegger's career, and also introduced us to one of the most popular movie monsters in motion picture history; the titular Predator. It's actually rather funny, though, as it seems that the Predator, itself, has had a longer and more storied career than the California Governer, no?
 
We all should know this story by heart, by now, but here it is in a nutshell. When a U.S. special ops team goes missing in guerilla infested jungles somewhere in South America, Dutch (Schwarzenegger) and his team of legendary badasses are sent in to survey the damage. When they arrive, they find the skinned and flayed bodies of the missing ops team hanging from the treetops, and blame it on the guerillas. However, after Dutch and his men lay waste to a guerilla camp, they encounter something else in the jungle; something invisible. Something deadly!
 
Predator is one of those films you can literally watch again and again and never tire of. I've probably seen this film at least twenty times, and I'll probably see it twenty more, especially now that it's made its way to Blu-ray. It's one of those effortless chunks of easily digested cinema, packed with so-crass-it's-funny macho dialogue, killer special effects, and a satisfyingly large body count. However, I've always found the movie a bit slow through the first two acts, taking it's sweet time getting us to the good stuff (ie; the Predator). Of course, I feel that way about the original Alien as well, so take that for what it's worth.
 
Predator is a really grainy flick; there's just no getting around that, as the film was shot on Super 35mm, which is what most of the gritty action stuff from the 80's was shot on. What made those films look so gritty was all of the grain inherent in Super 35, so it should come as no surprise that the Predator Blu-ray would retain a great deal of said grain. I mean, sure, there are a scant few moments of exceptional clarity, especially the lighter sequences, but, once the film moves back into the shadows of the jungle or the dark of night, the grain bugs come a'swarmin'. Just for comparison's sake, I went back and popped in the special edition DVD, and, as grainy as this HD transfer was, the standard definition transfer was much, much worse, with readily apparent blocking and artifacting (which the Blu-ray is mercifully free of). So, while it's far from perfection, Predator on Blu is still a significant upgrade from its SD counterpart.
 
The DTS HD soundtrack is crisp and robust, with defined sonic imaging, excellent bass response, and crystal clear dialogue. The sound effects are tres eighties, with bombastic explosions and stacks upon stacks of gunfire tracks all culminating in the deafening whine of the chain gun, but the soundtrack also handles the film's "quieter moments" nicely, especially the Predator's whispers and throaty rattle.

Three trailers, including the original Predator trailer, all presented in HD. Otherwise....hear those crickets chirping? Yep...that's the sound of a whole lotta nothing. There's an abundance of stuff out there, ranging from original commentary tracks and EPKs to recent interviews that could have been included here, but, sadly, was not. I understand why "catalog titles" such as this don't really recieve a lot of fanfare when a new format comes along (see the original Predator DVD for evidence of that), but seeing as how this is one of those "must have" flicks Blu owners will actively seek out, it would have been nice to see an exception made here.

Predator is classic sci-fi/horror stuff in any format, and is all the better in Blu (what isn't, really?). While the image quality isn't on par with the best offerings out there, you can't really blame Fox as, save for a complete and total clean-up job ala' the recent re-release of Blade Runner, this is about as good as Predator is going to look and sound. What you can blame Fox for is the lackluster package they've put together, here. There's no excuse for the dearth of extras, especially considering the sheer volume of aforementioned supplements available on previous DVD releases.

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