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|Category||Action||Main Menu Audio
(Not 100 Minutes as per packaging)
Fox Home Video
|Starring||Kevin Peter Hall
Maria Conchita Alonso
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
|Macrovision||Yes||Smoking||Yes, of copious amounts of various substances|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mildly|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The film is set way into the future, at least from a 1990 perspective, giving us a look at the Los Angeles of... 1997! Generally speaking, when one sets a film in the near-future, it is usually a good idea not to specify exactly when, and the difference this trick makes in films like RoboCop is not to be underestimated. In spite of this, the film is less dated than I was honestly expecting, although the 1980s style haircuts on the cast still raise a few chuckles. Anyway, the Los Angeles of this alternate 1997 is not a very nice place - two major drug-smuggling gangs are battling for control of the streets, with the police and civilians caught in the middle. The film begins with an open gun battle between the Columbians and the police, which so far is not going very well for the good guys. When the police finally gain the upper hand and force the Columbians to retreat into one of their hideouts, Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) is ordered to secure the building and wait. Not content to do this, however, he decides to storm the building with two of his detectives, Danny (Rubén Blades) and Leona (Maria Conchita Alonso) in tow. Of course, the reason why they were ordered to wait was because a Predator (the late Kevin Peter Hall) has been spotted in the vicinity, and a special unit led by Peter Keyes (Gary Busey) wants no interference in their efforts to capture it.
After this opening confrontation, which sets an excellent tone and pace for the rest of the film, we are introduced to Jerry Lambert (Bill Paxton), a loose cannon who has been added to Harrigan's team. Jerry's speciality, apart from acting like a complete d***head and irritating the hell out of his fellow policemen and the audience, is surveillance, which makes him a useful device to link certain plot elements together. We are also shown a variety of players in the war between the police force, the civilians, the Columbians, and the Jamaican Voodoo Posse, which forms the basis of the conflict which the Predator is attracted to. Standout characters in these groups include reporter Tony Pope (Morton Downey Jr.), and Jamaican Voodoo Posse boss King Willie (Calvin Lockhart). With these four elements all crossing paths, you can expect bloodshed and plenty of it, as well as a nice sex scene that has been thrown into the fray just for fun. It's nice to see that Americans used to acknowledge that adults watch films, too, once upon a time. Overall, I highly recommend this disc, as it is a massive improvement on every other manner the film has been presented in, except maybe the theatrical exhibition.
The transfer is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. The transfer is very sharp for the most part, with plenty of detail on offer for the amazement of the viewer. Occasionally, a lapse in focus or some minor softness in the background was noticed, but this was only a minor problem in the grand scheme of things. The shadow detail is good, with all of the important details in the film given plenty of clarity and depth. There was no low-level noise.
The colour saturation can be described as a rich and vibrant rendering of locations that are dank and dismal. Apart from an opening shot with a series of trees as its focus, the colour scheme is mostly dominated by shades of grey and brown, all of which are captured perfectly in this transfer. The Predator's fluorescent green blood, a source of major problems in the VHS version of this film, was impeccably rendered.
MPEG artefacts were not a specific problem in this transfer. However, for some reason, the bitrate of the transfer varies up and down quite a lot, frequently falling under the eight megabits per second level. Given that the total amount of video data on this disc is well under two hours, a constant bitrate of at least nine and a half megabits per second qualifies as a reasonable expectation. Film-to-video artefacts were restricted to some very minor aliasing in wooden frames, which is quite a good effort considering the numerous opportunities there are for this artefact to manifest. Film artefacts, unfortunately, are the biggest clue to the age of this film, with numerous black and white marks on the picture making themselves apparent throughout the picture.
This disc uses the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place at 50:17, in the middle of the graveyard sequence. This is right in the middle of a musical cue, making it very noticeable in spite of its short length. Still, the placement could have been much worse (it could have been in the middle of an action sequence, for example).
The dialogue is usually quite clear and easy to understand, although the accents of the Colombian and Jamaican gang members pose a few problems at times. The Predator's mimicry of other characters' words were slightly hard to make out because of the distortion and phasing effects added in post-production, but this never became anything more than a mild distraction. There were no discernible problems with audio sync, except for the way the Predator's words and his facial movements didn't quite jibe.
The music in this film can be divided into two parts: the occasional dose of contemporary music that can be forgotten as soon as it is over, and a score that is credited to Alan Silvestri. The score consists of numerous themes that were recycled from the original Predator, and like other Alan Silvestri scores such as The Quick And The Dead or Forrest Gump, it is about as subtle as a nuclear strike on an outdoor toilet. Once the film is over, you can pretty much forget this score at your leisure.
Predator 2 was originally exhibited in theatres with Dolby SR sound, and presented on VHS with what was really quite an ordinary Pro-Logic mix. This Dolby Digital 5.1 remix is the best soundtrack I've ever listened to the film with, although it's not the greatest example of a remix that I've heard. The surround channels were constantly active to support the music, gunshots, and disembodied voices mimicked by the Predator, among other things. While there did not seem to be any significant split surround effects, the soundfield created in this transfer was quite immersive and increased the enjoyment factor of the film ten-fold. The subwoofer had a whale of a time supporting gunshots, explosions, music, and all sorts of other bass-heavy effects without skipping a beat or calling attention to itself. The manner in which my floor seemed to vibrate during this film was a constant and very pleasant sensation.
The video transfer is good, but a cleanup of the source material would have elevated it to reference status.
The audio transfer is a shining example of the right way to remix a stereo source into a discrete 5.1 track.
Considering that this DVD uniquely retains the R-rated
cut of this film, the extras can be looked upon as superfluous. Still,
a little more effort would have been appreciated.
© Dean McIntosh (my
bio sucks... read it anyway)
March 15, 2000
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|