Predator on Blu-ray Disc
Arnold Schwarzenegger and a band of elite soldiers take on an alien creature out for a sporting hunt in director John McTiernan's action adventure yarn.
Sent into an unnamed central American country to supposedly rescue some hostages held by guerrillas, Arnold and his gang soon find they've bitten off far more than they can chew, as one by one they're hunted down and killed (and worse) by the unseen force.
There's action galore (what a surprise!), and plenty of gore inflicted and cordite expended until the climactic "mano a alieno" confrontation between the sole surviving human (guess who?) and the creature.
It's a case of pure escapism and mayhem, and is carried off very well. Also watch for Jesse Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota, as one of Arnold's men; he gets to utter the line that became the title for his autobiography: "I ain't got time to bleed."
Actually, though, it appears that he does....
The title describes the relentless action very well, and the special effects are still impressive today. Not only that, but there are some gorgeous locations (shot in the Mexican jungles) that help to create an atmosphere of beauty and danger.
The film works, thanks to a good script, good cast, good direction and pacing that's just right. We aren't sure it was enough of a classic to have given birth to so many sequels (as of this writing, they still keep coming with the relentlessness of a terminator)., but it's one of the movies that helped make Arnold the big star he is, and we don't begrudge that a whit.
The Blu-ray disc is the best of a spotty collection of DVD's that preceded it, not that it's perfect.
The disc is presented in 1080p at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which very nearly fills the 16x9 home theater screen perfectly. The overall picture quality is good, though not without its flaws. We were a little nervous right off the top when the 20th Century Fox logo came on, looking grainy enough to have been out of the 19th century, but things got much better after that - fortunately.
The colors are terrific, rich and deep and bright (it's a beautiful looking movie), but there's a lot of grain as well. The film looks as if it could benefit from a good restoration we would have thought they'd have given it before this release.
But it's still the best Predator yet - easily.
The audio is another matter entirely. The dts HD 5.1 Master Lossless track is wonderful! It's front heavy (it really wasn't until the 1990's and Dolby Digital 5.1/dts/SDDS that film sound tracks really came alive and filled the room), but the dynamics are very good. Fire it up and listen to the Hueys at the beginning and you'll be very happy. Likewise, ordnance and the like are probably as good as they can be from what undoubtedly began life in the analog domain.
So while this isn't the reference disc you may want, it's easily the best Predator to date, and that's something worthwhile.
The extras are pretty substandard, however, and includes none of the stuff from earlier releases (stuff like "making-of" feature, commentaries, etc. Instead, there's D-Box motion code for the few who have such home theater easy chair systems, and some trailers. Big deal.
Predator, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.