PicturePredators comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p resolution, encoded using the AVC codec and framed within a theatrically correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The disc itself is locked to region A.
Shot digitally using Panavision’s Genesis camera, the result is generally excellent. Delineation is top drawer, with objects in the foreground being razor sharp and the gentle drop in crispness appearing completely natural as it ebbs into the distance. There are a couple of minor shots that show softness, but from the manner in which they shift I would bet my house these were nothing more than momentary cinematography blips (though it’s surprising that they remain). Facial detail is excellent, with skin containing abundant intricacy and Trejo/Fishbourne’s grizzled mugs are an absolute joy to behold, with every pitted mark showing up.
The palette remains rock steady, even whilst switching from the bright verdant climes of the jungle to the dusty interiors of the hideout. Primaries, in particular green, can be punchy but never overstep into un-naturalistic territory. The sheer variety and complexity of some of the foliage is a suitable test for this disc, which it passes well. When smoke enters the fray thankfully banding does not, but the darker sections take a bit of a hit in terms of contrast and shadow detail isn’t always at the uppermost level.
The fine grain that’s layered over the image heightens the organic and filmic feel of proceedings and noise is never an obvious issue. The picture plays to its strengths well, with detail and colour consistency remaining strong throughout.
SoundAudio options are English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and three vanilla Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks (Spanish, French and Portuguese). Obviously I opted for the original language lossless choice.
For an action oriented film, it’s surprising just how little this element is prioritised for Predators’ sound. One would imagine an all encompassing 360 degree sound bubble of activity, enshrining the listener in a whirlwind of effects, but nothing could be further from the truth. The centre often takes precedence, but it copes with Brody’s Eastwood impression capably as well as the exotic accents involved with the assembled rabble of prey. Gunshots do have a good range and distinguish themselves well and the LFE is capable of being powerful and tight, but the manner in which both are implemented and integrated leads to a fairly front heavy experience. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and when you have intense, but not overused bass as is the case here, the visceral quality of sudden impacts and sharpness makes up somewhat for the lack of a cyclonic soundscape. The predators’ vision shots are really some of the few that truly take advantage of both fronts and rears, with the sound filling the room nicely.
The true delight with this track is not the bloodshed, carnage and mayhem though, but John Debney’s score - it is enough reason alone to give this disc a whirl. The arrangements themselves are nuanced and wonderfully structured and I’m pleased to say that this disc does them justice. Switching from light and playful, almost Hitchcockian atmospheres of intrigue to fast and fleet of foot action sequences, the lossless mix keeps things controlled and affords excellent dynamic range for the instruments utilised. When the crescendo moments hit you’ll be glad for a lossless option such as this.
ExtrasCommentary by Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal
The producer and director take us through the making of the film, from Rodriguez’s 90s script to the finished article, but all too often they ignore what’s on the screen in favour of a love-in. There is much gratitude from Antal and backslapping from Rodriguez, whilst elements that may be of interest pass by. That isn’t to say it is without merit, there are still some good titbits particularly about the evolution of the ideas, but they can seem secondary to this track which is a shame.
The blurb states: “Robert Rodriguez presents exclusive prequel vignettes voiced by the cast of Predators. Witness the secret adventures that turned our world’s most ruthless killers into the ultimate predator prey”. The two types of story are Moments of Extraction (1080p – 8:45), which shows how the various characters came to be taken, and Crucified (1080p – 2:11) which tells the tale of the lesser predator that is left attached to the totem. The slightly bizarre mix of live action objects and inked comic frames doesn’t blend terribly well, with there being one model used that is more akin to a 50s B movie, but for those looking for a little extra fleshing out of the characters this is worth a watch.
Evolution of the Species: Predators Reborn – 1080p – 40:12
Six featurettes – Bloodline, Decloaking the Invisible: Alien Terrain, Intelligent Design: The Hunting Camp, Predators as Prey, Yautja Transformed and finally Rite of Passage. The usual cast and crew shots are played whilst we hear from those behind the production. There are some decent insights, but the lack of structure makes these less helpful as none stay to their specified title’s remit.
The Chosen – 1080p – 4:52
A teaser showing clips, many of which are not featured in the film, of the 9 characters with stylised profile captions overlaid whilst they explain who/what they are.
Fox Movie Channel Presents Making a Scene – 7:07
This shows various aspects of the dog chase scene, for want of a better description. Shots of visual effects in their different stages as well as the animatronics help show how the final scene was layered together.
Deleted and Extended Scenes – 1080p – 11:21
A total of 9 scenes that either add very little to the film, tip the director’s hand too early or were likely deemed too jocular. It’s a pity, as Trejo has one great line that really should have made the edit.
Theatrical trailer – 1080p – 1:56
Works in iTunes or Windows Media Player.
Sneak Peek – 1080p – 6:21
Trailers for Knight and Day, Wall Street: Money never Sleeps and “What’s hot on TV and DVD”. Hardly an extra, but what the hey.
VerdictPredators is a sound update/sequel that perhaps holds back unleashing any true originality because of the necessity to tie in with fans’ expectations. Those expecting a fresh twist will be disappointed as the core elements stay exactly the same, but at least they are on steady ground and thus make the experience a pleasant, if slightly unexciting one.
The disc is region locked but contains excellent image and sound performance. The visuals are naturalistic, lacking a certain pop, but fit in nicely with the artistic style. The audio doesn’t give us the aural assault that most action films go for, instead seeming to prioritise solid speech reproduction and giving the score the maximum amount of breathing room. In both cases of presentation the trade off works perfectly and enhances the experience. The extras are fairly plentiful, but unfortunately often lack the stream of information viewers have come to expect, particularly for such a sci-fi and visual effects treat as this.
It may not reinvent the wheel, but Antal and Rodriguez’s vision of the Predator franchise is novel enough to warrant a viewing. It doesn’t push the boundaries as some (myself included) would have hoped, but it is a competent action film which, with the added bonus of the iconic intergalactic bounty hunters, proves more than sufficient.
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