Predator: Special Edition DVD Review
PicturePredator's picture is Poor. Slightly blanched colours, huge amounts of grain on long shots and an omnipresent film of dot-crawl conspire to ruin the movie. Two scenes, the interior of the dropoff helicopter and Schwarzenegger diving into a river, are horrifically bad in regard to picture quality. If it weren't for the jungle setting, the movie may have been intolerable but, as it stands, the movie looks more like a gritty documentary than plain poor. By the time the chopper is found at the front of the movie, you are too busy watching to notice.
SoundThere are DTS and DD tracks present, here, both sounding good with the following caveats: The DTS track is approximately 3db louder than the DD one and dialogue is slightly clearer on the DD track. However, both offer exceptional quality sound considering the movie's age and budget. Alan Silvestri's score has bite and pace during the opening scene and Predator's offensive weaponry is suitably meaty. The only complaints I have is some ADR dialogue is tonally different, the conversation after the chopper is found at the start of the movie is a case in point. Also there is some slight compression of sound again a product of Predator's age.
ExtrasThere are a huge amount of extras, though all of them bar the Alien vs Predator sneak peak have been available for some time in the R2 SE released some time ago.
The directors commentary is actually very good, if you can get past John McTiernan's hesitant banausic voice. He offers insight into the making of the movie and is unusually candid with some aspects of it. The second unit footage is especially signalled out as less than ideal as was the original predator design. You should listen to the commentary for the “monkey in the red suit” anecdote if nothing else.
If it Bleeds, We can Kill It is one of the better documentaries out there. There is a boat load of asides, in jokes and genuinely interesting information about Predator that makes the movie's success even more remarkable. The most interesting part to me was the original Predator design. This design was so poor (it needs to be seen to be believed) that production stopped while extra funding was found to get a decent Predator done. Stan Winston was called in to do the real deal and the quality of his sketches that he done on a flight to Japan are extraordinary. I am not unknown to do a bit of doodling myself and to get that level of detail on a flight with just imagination to work on is remarkable. Also, I can't help but draw some parallels with the way Golum's character was developed in Lord of the Rings, and Stan Winston's Predator. Stan wanted an actor to imbue the Predator with menace and focus, not just a man in a suit flailing about the place. In all, the Predator is one of the best realised alien characters in cinema history, possibly beaten only Alien and ET.
All the actors have period and contemporary interviews and offer insight into behind the scenes camaraderie. Bill Duke's face as he remembers with wonder the sheer amount of exercise they all did in order to look good on film, is wonderful. Also, Jesse Ventura's obsession with old painless and Arnold's practical joke comparing bicep sizes with him are high points among others.
Unseen Arnold is A pretty honest breakdown of the Arnie that we don't see. Perhaps this characterisation has changed over the years, but I get the feeling that all of the folks on set really did like him. Certainly he appears to be an accessible character who offers a lot to his fellow actors. I can believe that some “stars” would take all the good one liners (and there are a lot) for themselves and leave nothing for the other actors to chew over. Clearly, this has not happened in Predator, and you get the feeling this is in some part due to Schwarzenegger 's generosity in these matters.
Old Painless: The most impractical weapon imaginable is given it's own featurette. Old Painless is a gattling gun, taken from an apache helicopter mount, hand held for those situations where shear firepower is needed. Obviously this weapon has no business in the jungle environment but, as this feature points out, it looks damn fine on screen. Jesse Ventura, an ex Navy Seal seems to be particularly pleased with himself as he gets to use the weapon in anger most of the time. “What's it like firing that thing” Jesse is asked. “Its like firing a chainsaw” he replies like an eight year old on Christmas day - check out the real time speed of the weapon and you can't fail to be impressed.
VerdictSome may be mistaken into thinking Predator is a sci-fi movie. In fact, Predator is a horror movie in more senses than anything else. Predator just so happens to have an alien in it. Take away the Predator and replace him with some werewolves and you basically have Dog Soldiers - one of the best horror movies in recent memory. This horror bent lends Predator with an unease most action movies can't hope to replicate. All the extras support the movie and flesh out an already classic piece of cinema into a must have DVD.
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