Plot: What’s it about?
A group of airmen have been shot down and captured in a dense, remote Central American jungle, which makes a rescue quite difficult. But an elite squad of commandos has been assembled, one that has never failed in a mission. In the lead is Dutch Schaeffer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a tough as nails soldier who never backs down from an enemy, no matter how outmatched or outnumbered he is. At his side is a collection of riotous and skilled mercenaries, each with a certain area of expertise. In other words, an almost perfect team that has been hand chosen to handle intense, high risk missions like this one. The men land in the jungle and begin the search for the prisoners, but the area is hard to traverse. Even so, the squad soon discovers the base of operations and storms the compound. But the camp isn’t manned, at least it isn’t at the time, though there is ample evidence of violence. The bodies of the airmen are soon found, torn to shreds and decimated like no one has seen before. The sole survivor of whatever ravaged the compound is a woman, who is almost killed by the mercenaries. As the men leave the camp, they begin to notice unusual things, such as movement, even though no one is there. When the men start to be killed off one by one, what force lurks in the jungle that preys upon them?
I would rank Predator with the all time great action movies, as it has held up well over the years since its release. The movie is great fun, an over the top action thriller, with some classic lines and some terrific performances. Of course, this is not high art by any means, but for a modern action movie, Predator more than holds its own. Arnold Schwarzenegger tackles the lead and as usual, his turn is enjoyable, but not that impressive. But he handles the action demands and delivers his one liners well, so I see no reason to complain much. His costars add a lot to the experience too, with such folks as Jesse Ventura, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, and former porn star Sonny Landham all on deck. The clash between the commandos and the unseen hunter is excellent at times, but you’ll also notice a lot of the usual genre pitfalls. Even so, I always have a blast when I sit down with Predator, even after countless viewing sessions. I was thrilled to see this released in high definition, but the lack of supplements was a disappointment and the transfer isn’t a knockout, so fans might not be bowled over.
Video: How does it look?
Predator is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This new edition outshines the various standard releases, but this isn’t a landmark high definition transfer. The print hasn’t been cleaned up, so expect rather thick grain at times, as well as dirt and debris, all magnified by the added resolution. The image has a soft texture, so detail won’t dazzle your eyes, but this does offer a little more clarity than the available DVDs. I do think colors are much improved this time around, while contrast is accurate, but not always as sharp as I’d like. So in the end, this is going to put your DVDs out to pasture, but this transfer pales in comparison to the top high definition presentations.
Audio: How does it sound?
Even a lossless DTS HD 5.1 soundtrack doesn’t pack much of a punch, but the source is partly to blame in that regard. The audio sounds fine, but doesn’t have as much depth and power as you’d expect. Even the more action driven scenes come off as kind of reserved, compared to other soundtracks out there. The front channels handle most of the audio elements and when the surrounds do come to life, they’re not that memorable. I still wouldn’t call this track weak, but given the action oriented material, I expected more from this soundtrack. This disc also includes a 4.0 surround option, French and Spanish language tracks, and subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.