Predator 2 4K Blu-ray Review
Never quite capturing the magic of the original
Predator 2 4K Film Review
You can't see the eyes of the demon, until him come callin'After the success of Predator it was no surprise that a sequel would be forth coming; however scripting issues and Arnie’s concerns meant that the big boy wouldn’t be reprising his role. The script that was eventually turned into the film made a few significant changes to the original premise, most for the better, but the production was hampered by budgetary constraints and, unfortunately, that does come through in the finished product.
Moving the action from the tropical jungle to the urban jungle of Los Angeles is a logical choice, and the biggest change from the original, while setting the film slightly in the future (of 1997) giving the protagonists the time needed to build the weaponry needed to combat the alien. So far so good. Having warring drug factions vying over the land, with the police in the middle unable to keep control, then placing the Predator as a ‘Yojimbo’ type picking from any side is another great idea. I also like the idea of our main protagonist having the drive, gumption and ethics of a Predator himself, traits needed to showdown an alien. But it’s not all great; in translation something just gets lost and the film fails to capitalise on the some of its parts, becoming somewhat lost in its ideas and ending up a rather shallow imitation. It gets bogged down in the macho showboating, something that the original excelled at, and so is all too ‘shouty’. The ‘it’s all personal’ angle seems tired and forced. While overall the characters are simply too clichéd and obvious. And, I dunno, seeing Danny Glover lumbering around the screen like a tree trunk, just seems out of place somehow.
The film is not without its charms, though, and certainly delivers on the action front. Putting the Alien skull in the trophy cabinet was a stroke of genius, and helped deliver on the Alien vs Predator franchise, however dire they turned out. It would be a further 20 years before the Predators would be back, and we’ll cover that, the third disc in this set, in due course.
Predator 2 4K Picture QualityPredator was shot using Arriflex 35-III and Panavision Panaflex Gold cameras on 35mm film and has recently been scanned at 4K resolution which has been used here for this Ultra HD Blu-ray release. The disc presents a native 4K 3840 x 2160p resolution image in the widescreen 1.85 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG), High Dynamic Range, and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for HDR10. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Predator 2 on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DMP-UB400 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
A number of things to notice: the scan breathes new life into the image, has removed all instances of flecks and spots seen in the old Blu-ray, and has been slightly colour shifted to give a more natural and elegant picture that, frankly, blows the 1080 image away.
Detail is much improved, not so much in close ups, such as skin texture and clothing weaves, though the definition is visible, but when it comes to middle and distance shots it is quite dramatic; crowds, graffiti, cars, building facades, interior of the Predator ship; all show marked clarity and definition.
Blows the 1080 image away
But it is with the added benefits of the WCG and HDR that the increased resolution really pays off. Check out the first scene in the police station, with the slatted window behind Bill Paxton – it is now a slatted window and not a white blob. Check out the long shot of the underground train after the attack, see how the lights are all defined lights, and strips, and not blobs. Also check out the sparks exploding behind the Predator in the warehouse; now they are white and sparking, not a blue mess. There are plenty of other instances but these stood out to me.
Colours are much more vivid, striking, and natural than ever before; skin tones, spaghetti sauce, blood, blue skies, the orange of the Predator ship; there is so much going on now compared to the flat 1080 image. The oranges of the explosions are so hot! The white of the sparks are nearly blinding. Blacks are tremendous, holding deep shadow detail and pushing the frame depth. But the white end is even better, as already noted above.
Digitally there are no issues to contend with and the source has been cleaned up nicely, while still retaining the grain. The upgrade over the Blu-ray is absolutely clear, singularly impressive.
Predator 2 4K Sound QualityNo upgrade to the sound, unfortunately, it’s the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that has been available before. Dialogue is well layered into the mix, never getting lost in the mayhem, and sounds natural enough. Effects come thick and fast when the action ramps up, the opening gun battle, or during any Predator attacks, with gun shots, stabbings, blood platter, shell casings being thrown around the room. Score is well layered and makes good use of the all the speakers. Bass is decent and low, with plenty of LF effects; gun shots and explosions primarily, but it never really plumbs the depths of reference tracks. There is a good surround perception, and quieter moments do make sue of ambient effects, in the police station or the O.W.L.F. hub, where computer clatter and office noise combine to a good sense of realism. It is a pretty decent, action orientated affair, with an ok amount of flair.
Predator 2 4K ExtrasAll the previous extras have been brought over, with the majority being on the included Blu-ray.
Audio Commentary – With director Stephen Hopkins talking us through effects, make-up, locations, actors and other anecdotal information.
Audio Commentary – With writers Jim Thomas and John Thomas is more animated and the pair discuss themes, story development, the original film, influences, their take on Predator technologies and gang warfare.
Audio Commentary – As above
Audio Commentary – As above
The Hunters and the Hunted – 35 minute feature discussing the Predator films via cast and crew interviews and film clips. Covers quite a lot of ground for the run time.
Evolutions – 8 minute feature looking at the visual effects under the titles: Main Titles, Something on the Roof, Enemy in the Alley and Subway Showdown.
Weapons of Choice – 7 minute feature looking at the new weapons sported by the Predator, under the titles: Gauntlet Knives, Self-Destruct, Plasma Cannon, Net Launcher, Smart Weapon and Telescoping Spear.
Hard Core segments – 7 minutes feature of 2 of the news casts seen in the film
Promotional Galleries – Theatrical trailers and TV spotsunc felis nostra vivamus varius metus montes enim rutrum ad, quis donec Pellentesque laoreet.
Predator 2 4K VerdictNever quite capturing the magic of the original, Predator 2, does, nevertheless have some clever ideas – swapping the tropical jungle for the urban jungle, Special Forces team out to capture the alien, human protagonist as ruthless as the antagonist and additions to the Predator mythos – but somewhere along the line it gets lost in its own story. Danny Glover lumbers around, the rest of the cast are all too serious (Bill Paxton excepted) and with nary a wink to the camera, it feels like a cheap cash in rather than a serious attempt. It’s not without its charms though.
The 4K set from Fox is nearly a winner though; the new scan is tremendous, breathing new life into the picture in terms of detail, colours and black level – the image is head and shoulders over the Blu-ray. Unfortunately, that is all that is new as it is the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track, as impressive as that is, and the same extra features, which do cover most bases.
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