You can’t run from the Predator. That may sound like a bad poster tagline, but it works. In a genre where running away from whatever alien/government experiment/radioactive menace is the norm, the Predator tosses that away. Sure, it bleeds so you can kill it, but it takes more than running, more than macho brawling, and quite a bit more than gunfire to take it down.

Predator bends the rules, changing it up so the title refers to the creature as much as Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger). In the finale, Dutch goes one-on-one with the alien beastie, using brains as much as brawn. Never fear as the explosions are frequent, at times even beautifully filmed as the sparks rain down while the Predator stands on a branch. It is survival and adrenaline, a means of pushing out genre familiarity to create something new.

This is not the ultimate creature feature. It fails to explain much of anything about the Predator, choosing to make it a monster of mystery. The audience never knows where it comes from (“space” is an awfully large place), it’s technology is unheard of, and its purpose is never clear. That is all left up to the sequels, which of course no one working on this movie ever thought would happen.

If Predator is the “ultimate” anything, squeezing in the title of ultimate ’80s action movie may suffice. The movie has no cares, ups the ante on gore, and obliterates the rain forest with machine gun fire as if to say, “Screw political correctness.” This is a movie about chewin’ tobacco, showing off muscles, working hard, and blowing everything up by pushing a truck into a building. It’s also about being a man’s man, because as males, we don’t have time to bleed.

Hell yeah.

It doesn’t get more testosterone filled than this, at least without moving into the realm of pure camp. Predator can get away with it because it is different, even if on paper it doesn’t seem like it. This is a film about raw survival and keeping your wits about you, not only a film about an alien race visiting Earth. Even if it is never made completely clear what it’s purpose is, the Predator is here for a reason, and not to blindly kill because that’s what aliens do. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]

Special note to Fox: You missed something. At 40:22, Anna’s face still has some grain left. Since you obviously have no concern for the integrity of film, that’s the least we could do to help you out on your attempt to completely remove every last ounce of grain. Did someone just happen to miss a portion of the frame? The rest of this disc is such a DNR’ed disaster, it’s amazing that there isn’t some giant red light in the Fox transfer room that blinks wildly and plays a siren when a speck appears on the frame. At least, that’s what this disc seems to indicate.

There was a lot of hope for Predator. The original disc was inadequate, not because of the grain but because of the ancient (in technology terms) MPEG-2 encode causing it to appear pronounced and noisy. The answer was apparently to remove the grain all together even though this high bitrate AVC encode would have handled it just fine. Idiots.

You know you’re in trouble when the Fox logo is messed up. Not only is it unnaturally smooth, dark outlines surround the letters, the first indication something is wrong. It takes a few minutes for it to click that the DNR has been graciously applied, mostly because the film opens on a shot of space, and there’s not a lot to see. As soon as that helicopter door opens at 2:55, it’s game over. Faces are blotchy and digital, causing significant smearing when they move around. Into the briefing room at 4:07, the General’s face may be the most god awful disgrace for a high-def image ever (sorry Apollo 13). When the edit moves to Arnold, his shirt looks like it is made of rubber, and his face carries an unnatural glow. It is hard to put into words.

Surely once they get into the jungles it won’t be as bad, right? Ha! You’re funny. Once they drop from “da choppa,” the plants and ground look to be made out of plastic. Watch as the camera pans at 11:09, dead leaves on the ground appearing like some type of smothered digital disaster. A first year photography student couldn’t screw up this bad. The apparent brightening of the image does not help either. Oh, and remember the infamous disappearing arrows from Gladiator? Watch Shane Black’s face at 32:34. The left side of his glasses are wiped from the frame as he tells the joke. A shot of Bill Duke firing at the forest of 47:51 never looked that great on previous editions, but the DNR application has now made the internet forum troll bait, “It looks like VHS!” true.

The sheer awfulness continues. Black levels take a turn for the worse at 1:12:12, and skin appears so smooth, they look like they are in some kind of rubber costume. Oh, and that Bill Duke shot mentioned above? It is bested by the grotesque nature of Arnold jumping into the water at 1:17:12, which sort of looks like the Vaseline effect from the original versions of Star Wars to make the land speeders appear like they were flying… only over the entire screen. Oops… that says Arnold jump into water? That should be jello, because the DNR makes the water appear thick at 1:18:00, like it was coated with something before the shoot. Arnold covering himself with mud at 1:20:37 is real special too.

The disc will have its defenders, and you know what, you can sort of see why. There are moments, however sporadic and few they may be, where facial detail is really intense. It even happens early, Arnold’s face at 6:22 looking well textured and dare it be said natural (Car Weathers does not fare the same in this scene). Some close-ups around 1:00:50 provide some clear, distinct definition, and many shots of Bill Duke after a certain character is gunned down look superlative. His face is full of sweat, and every pore on his face fully defined. However, given the level of these close-ups, there might not be an application of DNR powerful enough to wipe that detail from the frame. It was there before too with the grain, and in that case, there were far more examples to go on. It is impossible to take everything away, and it says something when those scenes of lush detail are a distraction instead of the norm. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Video]

For all of the drastic mistakes made visually, some credit is due for this audio mix. While the original disc is no longer here for comparison unfortunately, this one offers some distinction over the predecessor (if memory serves correctly). You can make the case for improvement during the raid on the village at 24:40. Instead of being an indistinct mess, the surrounds now capture legitimate gunfire. It is specific and placed well, not something that sounds like a clone of the stereo channels. It generates a spacious feel. Bass, while not always consistent, is more notable and pronounced. It packs a punch, if not much in terms of fidelity.

The benefit here is undoubtedly Alan Silvestri’s score. The highs are wonderfully clear, various horns carrying a distinction they were never afforded before, certainly moreso than the compressed 4.0 mix also on the disc. Bass is tighter and more refined. A bit of surround bleed is exceptional and natural.

Dialogue remains the trouble spot, lacking the fidelity and clarity offered by the score. It remains understandable, just a bit scratchy as the source dictates. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

If Fox did anything right, it is to bring some extras to the disc, whereas the original offered nothing. A solo commentary from director John McTiernan is up first, with a text commentary from film historian Eric Lichtenfeld. A great making-of that’s been around for a while called If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It is worth watching compared to the usual promotional drivel.

Inside the Predator is section of seven featurettes, the best a retrospective on Kevin Peter Hall and his awesome suit work. A section on special effects splits into two parts, while a series of interviews called Short Takes contains four sections. Six deleted scenes are followed by a new featurette titled Killers of Extreme Perfection, which is nothing more than a way for Robert Rodriguez to gush over the original as promotion for the upcoming sequel. A sneak peek for that film, Predators, is little more than a trailer. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Extras]

3 thoughts on "Predator: Ultimate Hunter Edition Review"

  1. Pingback: Seen in HD 40: Netflix/Relativity Deal, Sony Movie Channel, Predator DNR |
  2. Pingback: Predators Review |
  3. Bryan says:

    Is this version better than the original release would you say?

    1. gamereviewgod says:

      I would say no. For the low res scan and noise on the original disc, at least it looks textured in some way.

    2. Christopher Zabel says:

      It’s not better in terms of faithfulness to the look of the original film. The original BD has its own share of problems, but is the logical choice if you can’t tolerate the effects of DNR. Fox may get it correct on the third go-around.

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