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PREDATOR [ULTIMATE HUNTER EDITION]
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: John McTiernan

Starring:
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Carl Weathers
Bill Duke
Jesse Ventura
Kevin Peter Hall

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Dutch and his group of commandos are hired by the CIA to rescue downed airmen from guerillas in a Central American jungle. The mission goes well but as they return they find that something is hunting them. Nearly invisible, it blends in with the forest, taking trophies from the bodies of it's victims as it goes along. Occasionally seeing through the alien's eyes, the audience sees it is an intelligent hunter, hunting them for sport, killing them off one at a time.
Is it good movie?
Predator is a great slice of 80s zeitgeist and I have always enjoyed it, each and every time I've seen it. It features Arnie at the peak of his action career and he's surrounded by awesome character actors who jump off the screen like heroes from a comic book. Everyone is trying to hang with Arnold in this flick; Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura come the closest, especially the former governor of Minnesota in his role as Blain (although Bill Duke is awesome too). The man certainly knows how to hold a chaingun and puts it to great use in this film.

On top of the great cast, the movie is helmed by the capable and entertaining action director John McTiernan of the Die Hard franchise, who sets up a lot of great action set pieces and uses the awesome lush jungle environment to full potential. The first half of the movie is a relatively straightforward search and rescue mission with lots of explosions, one-liners, bare chests and character development. The tension between Dutch and Dillon (Arnie and Weathers) underscores the entire mission and when they find the druglords, sh*t really starts flying.

Of course, things are not always as they seem when the crew finds some nasty skinned bodies and people believe they are starting to see things in the heat. This is where the Predator comes in, and he's handled really effectively. The reason this movie works comes from expert pacing that leads the viewer to buy into the movie's premise. The film builds an expert pace and by the time the Predator starts killing these mercenaries, you're in shock. Until now, you can't see anything stopping these men. They're huge, sweaty, intelligent killing machines doing what they're trained to do and when the time is right, the Predator starts mowing through them like a hot knife through butter.

This really underscores how dangerous the alien is and how tough it will be to defeat it. Each time a team member dies, you find yourself hoping he would have lived, despite knowing deep down it would come down to the beast and Arnold. And when the final fight comes, it doesn't disappoint as Arnold goes nuts and becomes a combat warrior intent on getting revenge and surviving the hunt. When he rigs up his Home Alone traps in the woods, that is some awesome stuff. Arnold is at his most primal and badass here and it really sells the movie well.

The effects hold up quite well given their age and I love the Predator design from Stan Winston. Can you tell I dig this flick?
Video / Audio
Video is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen 1080p and at times, it looks really weird. I guess there's a bunch of controversy on the internet about this film being a victim of something called Digital Noise Reduction and because of it, everything looks smoothed out and there's no film grain at all. To be honest, I've never seen a Blu-Ray like it and there were times when I said out loud that the picture looked bizarre. Sometimes it makes for a fantastic looking picture, sometimes it seems like they injected bizarre into the flick. I can't explain it any further, but I'm sure you can google your way into the internet arguments.

I listened to the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and thought it sounded fantastic during the action scenes- bold, booming and appropriate. My only real issue is that the dialogue seemed a bit muted through the front channels.

The Extras
There's only one new featurette here and it runs about 10 minutes long, called Predator: Evolution of a Species – Hunters of Extreme Perfection. This is a brief overview of the film's script, how it got to fox and that sort of fun stuff. Rodriguez and Antal from the new flick show up and they're entertaining, but this feature isn't long enough to be substantial. You also get an audio commentary from John McTiernan, who is PACKED full of information, but sounds like he couldn't be more interested in delivering it. Still, worth listening to though.

If you dig text commentary, there's lots of fun bits to be found in film historian Eric Lichtenfield's track.

The following stuff is all recycled from the DVD and appears in Standard Def:

If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: The Making of Predator is a great behind the scenes piece featuring stuff from location and modern interviews, although it has some real glad-handing going on. Easily the best part of this disc.

Inside the Predator features some brief little featurettes and covers some interesting stuff and provides some good insight mixed with good footage. 1. – “Classified Action” (5:21 – SD) 1. – “The Unseen Arnold” (4:42 – SD) 1. – “Old Painless” (3:30 – SD) 1. – “The Life Inside – A Tribute to Kevin Peter Hall” (4:26 – SD) 1. – “Camouflage” (4:54 – SD) 1. – “Welcome to the Jungle” (2:40 – SD) 1. – “Character Design” (4:41 – SD)'

There's also some special effects tests of the 'red suit' and camouflage, which might run 5 minutes if that. Cool archival footage.

Short takes with the filmmakers were easter eggs from the DVD, and feature some interesting stories from and about the director, Jesse Ventura and Stan Winston. 1. – “John McTiernan on Learning Film” (3:05 – SD) 1. – “Jesse’s Ultimate Goal” (2:18 – SD) 1. – “Stan Winston: Practical Joker” (3:02 – SD) 1. – “Don’t Drink the Water” (1:58 – SD)

There are also 5 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes.

Rounding out the disc are an HD photo gallery, a Predator Profile (running 30 seconds long), a sneak peek at the new Predators film (a 1:44 trailer with some director/Rodriguez insight). There's a HUGE wealth of supplements for this disc, but I can't help but feel a bit disappointed that the disc is mostly in SD. Also, the picture quality is going to be a huge point of discussion among the nerds- I enjoyed watching it and thought that the movie looked cool, but felt tampered with. The bottom line is that I like the flick to begin with and although it is a popcorn action flick, its done well and fun to watch. Without this, we wouldn't have the new flick (although we had to wade through some serious Predator CRAP to get there)!
Last Call
There's a HUGE wealth of supplements for this disc, but I can't help but feel a bit disappointed that the disc is mostly in SD. Also, the picture quality is going to be a huge point of discussion among the nerds- I enjoyed watching it and thought that the movie looked cool, but felt tampered with. The bottom line is that I like the flick to begin with and although it is a popcorn action flick, its done well and fun to watch. Without this, we wouldn't have the new flick (although we had to wade through some serious Predator CRAP to get there)!
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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