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Predator: Special Edition

Fox // R // August 10, 2004
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted August 6, 2004 | E-mail the Author

The Movie (movie, audio and video reviews taken from original DVD review):

"Predator" is nothing too wonderfully original, taking a bit from other features, but I think it at least makes those elements feel fresh - and also, it does the best it can with what it has. The movie has a fine cast and good performances, and as we get more involved, the movie brings up the tension further and further. Like "Deep Blue Sea", "Predator" inserts us into the situation and gets going from there rather than attempting to go into much buildup.

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in the 1987 film as a leader for an Army team that's been sent into the jungle to locate a lost group of officials. Everything seems to be going perfectly, until they find what actually happened to the group they were looking for. Little details as the movie goes on lead them (and us) to believe that they are not alone in the jungle. A being from another planet that can go invisible is hunting them down one by one.

The plot is simple, the characters not hugely detailed or complex - yet the execution, style and idea come together to work - the creature could attack from any point at any moment, and director John McTiernan moves the film along at a very rapid pace. We don't feel like we're being tricked of lead along too much; it's just a slick, effective and exciting bit of sci-fi thrills with good special effects for its time.


VIDEO: Although the video quality for this anamorphic transfer is very good, there are still some issues that occasionally pop up throughout the movie. Sharpness appeared pretty good throughout the entire film; there is a touch of softness to the picture, but for the most part, the presentation is clear and well-defined. Even lower-light scenes in the jungle have good detail and clarity.

Some print flaws appeared throughout; these take the form of a few mild scratches and marks. I found these to be noticable, but brief enough to not be distracting. Pixelation and shimmer are almost completely absent. The picture does have a bit of a grainy look to it at times. If this was intentional, it does kind of work for the movie, as it gives it that rough, gritty feel it seems to be looking for. Donald McAlpine's cinematography is generally very enjoyable, and the DVD does it justice on this new anamorphic transfer.

Colors aren't terribly bold, as "Predator" chooses to often go with a bit more subdued palette. There are times when the greens of the jungle show up very nicely, though. Overall, there are a few little flaws that appear now and then throughout, but overall, this is a very strong new presentation for the movie from Fox.

SOUND: Presented in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1, "Predator" provides a suprisingly exciting experience in either version for a movie that's now 15+ years of age. For a film like this where the characters are in the middle of a place where they could be attacked from any side, it's important to have atmosphere; that undercurrent that something could go wrong at any moment. Although not as well as some more recent pictures, "Predator" succeeds at this very well.

The audio does a pretty convincing job of providing the detail of the jungle surroundings such as the minor bird or jungle sounds. Alan Silvestri's score sounds dynamic and crisp, and does a very effective job at adding to the tension of the movie. The action sequences are stunning at times; the intense attack at about 24 minutes into the movie provides some deep explosions and heavy surround use. There are also a few scenes throughout the movie that have quite a lot of gunfire, which sound particularly excellent. Dialogue is rather flat at times, but usually sounded acceptable.

The DTS version provided mildly, not largely improved detail and clarity in comparison to the Dolby Digital version. Although both provide an entertaining audio experience, I felt the DTS version offered a more open and enveloping presentation.

EXTRAS: While his commentaries in the past have been some of my least favorite (witness his "Thomas Crown Affair" effort) , director John McTiernan provides a very fine discussion of "Predator" here. Here, McTiernan is relaxed, informal and occasionally, even funny as he goes through a very detailed discussion of the problems (working with major weaponry) he and the cast and crew encountered while filming in some difficult conditions (trying to shoot in "heat vision" in Mexico, for example). There is also a new subtitle text commentary, including thoughts from film journalist/historian Eric Lichtenfeld and members of the crew, including the film's cinematographer, casting director, screenwriters, sound effects editors, visual effects artists and others. Finally, a look at the upcoming "Alien Vs. Predator" rounds out the first disc.

The second disc opens with, "If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It", a nearly 30-minute piece that takes a look at the making of the film. It combines some new interview footage and a great deal of behind-the-scenes and interview footage from around the time of the production. The documentary is a fun and entertaining look at the making of the film, giving the viewer a great deal of tidbits, such as how screenwriter Shane Black was hired as an actor so he could be around during the production in order to take another pass at the script.

"Inside The Predator" includes several smaller pieces: A Tribute to Actor Kevin Peter Hall, Old Painless, Unseen Arnold, Classified Action, Camouflage, Welcome To The Jungle and Character Design. "Predator FX" includes FX test shots and some basic effects element shots (guy walking around in a red suit).

Finally, we get 3 outtakes, a deleted scene (with some incomplete FX and audio), a photo gallery, trailer and "predator profile".

Final Thoughts: "Predator" remains a down-and-dirty thriller that entertains - it's quick, sleek, fun and keeps the tension going. Fox's new DVD edition provides the same audio/video quality as the prior anamorphic/DTS release, but does provide a series of new, well-done extras. Recommended.

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