Predator: Ultimate Hunter Edition (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton & Fusion3600

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 such as 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?

The movie itself is a fun, 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. Fox has finally stepped up to the plate with this Collector’s Edition, so fans can own a definitive version at last. So the movie rocks and the treatment is great, which means Predator is well recommended.

Video: How does it look?

“Predator” is one of Fox’s most popular catalog titles and, as such, this is why they keep releasing it in version after version. “Predator” has never looked bad, but the film is nearing its 25th anniversary and though the print used is in solid condition, there were a few areas in which the image could have used a bit of cleaning up. The 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer does look a bit more cleaned up, wit detail (especially the jungle) looking as sharp and crisp as ever. The colors are crucial here and from the heat vision to the deep jungle greens, all the hues look excellent. Just as good is the contrast, which yields superb black levels and no visible detail loss. This is a step up in picture quality, no doubt about it and fans just might want to take the plunge for this alone.

Audio: How does it sound?

For those that haven’t experienced this movie in true, uncompressed sound, you’re in for a treat. “Predator” has always sounded good, but this DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack really pulls out all the stops. This is an action movie, so the speakers have a lot of work to do throughout. The explosive sequences pack a powerful punch, with intense and loud presence. The surrounds come full blast at times, putting you right in the middle of it all, with excellent use of the channels. But not just the powerful scenes stand out, as even calmer sequences have been mixed with skill. The jungle atmosphere is brought to life here, with great separation that makes you feel immersed in the wild landscape. The clicking noise that the predator makes, the gunshots, the explosions – they all sound amazing in this DTS mix.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This new version is being released just in time for “Predators”, coincidence? Hmmm. That aside we do get the same supplements from the previous special edition Blu-ray as well as two new features (and the aforementioned new transfer) with a sneak peek at “Predators”, the latest in the line of films inspired by this, the original. We also get “Evolution of the Species: Hunters of Extreme Perfection” which is fairly self-explanatory. The remainders of the supplements are the same as the previous version. We start off with a commentary by director John McTiernan, as well as a special text commentary, which runs as a subtitle option. McTiernan is in better form than usual, but his session is still lackluster. Perhaps a star or two could have livened up the track, but a minimal amount of information is offered here. The text commentary is more insightful, taken from a series of cast and crew interviews. The format takes a while to adjust to, but the track proves to be well worth a look. The second disc has the rest of the goodies, such as a collection of seven behind the scenes featurettes, listed as Inside Predator. I’d rather have one extensive piece, but together, these featurettes build a solid look behind the scenes. A half hour featurette is also found on the second disc, as is a special look at the film’s special effects. This release also includes a deleted scene, some outtakes, an inside look at the design of the predator itself, a selection of still photos, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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