Predator (1987)

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Released 14-Mar-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 101:35 (Case: 106)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:54) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John McTiernan
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
Carl Weathers
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Alan Silvestri


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Czech
Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Smoking Yes, a couple of cigars scattered throughout the film
Annoying Product Placement Yes, an MTV T-shirt worn by Jesse Ventura
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    "I ain't got time to bleed."

    Being the Arnie fan that I am, the opportunity to review Predator was one that I jumped at. Unfortunately, I was informed that the DVD that was about to be released and the one I would be reviewing would not be an uncut version. Rumour had it that it may have even been the completely butchered German version. Luckily, the version we have been presented with isn't too bad, but more on that in the censorship section.

    At first sight, Predator seems to be about a squad of marines, lead by Dutch (Schwarzenegger), who are sent into a South American jungle to rescue hostages that are being held by guerrillas. But in reality, they have not been sent to do that, as Dutch has been betrayed by his superior Dillon (Weathers). The original plan of rescuing hostages was a decoy - the team was really sent to stop the guerrillas before they struck further. Dutch was not impressed, as he was leader of a rescue team, not a team of trained killers. After completing the job (read: destroy every building in sight and kill as many South Americans as possible), the team departs from the area to the pickup site. However, the only way there is to venture through the deep jungle, into the unknown.

    Suddenly, some quite vulgar developments occur, involving the loss of a team member to an unknown force. As suspicious as Dutch can be, he does not suspect that something not of this world could be hunting them down, something that they cannot see. I won't spoil anything else for you, but if you haven't seen Predator to this day, where have you been?

    Predator is an action classic that has stood the test of time quite well, even in the area of special effects, which still don't look too bad. On that note, here is some trivia: Jean Claude Van Damme was the original Predator in the film, but only in the scenes where the Predator is cloaked. For this, he had to wear a blue screen suit (which was actually red). He quit working on Predator after two days as he was unhappy with being cast as an uncredited special effect.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    When the 20th Century Fox logo appeared upon first inserting this disc, my thoughts for this transfer were somewhat...dismal. The logo showed horrendous grain and looked like it dated back to the 1920s. Thankfully, things soon brightened up.

    Predator is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    For a film that is now fourteen years old, the transfer holds up well, even very well at times, but does get ever-so-slightly worse as the feature comes to a close, mainly due to the fact that the transfer degrades in the darker scenes. Never at any stage does it have the sheen that a top notch transfer would exhibit - it always seems to be somewhat lacking in resolution. The level of detail and sharpness on offer is acceptable, but is nowhere near brilliant, and is really variable scene by scene. While 45:00 looks great, and could be mistaken for a more recent film, 49:06-49:10 looks horrible. This is also a prime example of the transfer's greatest flaw, shadow detail. As the film plays out, the jungle gets darker and darker, and as 71:00 shows, the transfer is lacking in this area, with most minor details being simply omitted entirely.

    Colour, mainly consisting of greens and at times a fluorescent green were saturated well. At times like 4:09, the red of Arnie's shirt could have been overly bright being such a contrast to the rest of the scene but it is handled quite well. The most profound use of colour, being the Predator POV shots, were excellently rendered showing off the majority of the colour spectrum.

     Apart from the problems mentioned above, there were a couple of other hiccups. Lots of grain did show up at times, especially during the darker scenes - this problem seemed to be linked to the lack of shadow detail. Also, being a older print, marks on the print were consistent and telecine wobble was present for some of the opening credits, but these problems were never a distraction to the viewer. Surprisingly, I didn't notice a single case of aliasing - this could well be due to the limited resolution mentioned earlier.

    The layer change occurs at 60:54, and isn't in the best position it could have been placed in as it occurs during a tense scene, although it switches during a quick cut so it isn't that obtrusive.

Audio

    Predator carries an encompassing audio track, but with little variation unfortunately.

    Only one audio track is present on this DVD, that being a English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Though stated to be a stereo surround mix, the surround channels are actually sourced from a mono channel which has been mixed into both left and right channels, so in reality this is more of a 4.1 mix than a 5.1 mix. Note: the mono surround mix is present even on the Region 1 dts audio track.

    Dialogue is coherent for the most part, though a few lines do go astray, especially in the chopper at the start of the movie. Couple that with Arnie's thick Austrian accent and you have a slightly problematic dialogue channel, but nothing too disturbing. It is an Arnie film after all - how much dialogue do you need?

    The musical score by Alan Silvestri is an absolute corker (well, I liked it anyway), showing themes and characteristics that are reminiscent of his later works. I still had the main theme running through my head days after I watched the film for the first time on DVD.

    Surround usage was constant, from the opening credits (1:04) to the first use of Predator POV (17:50). There was intense surround usage at 24:00 also. While the surround channel was used extensively, it wasn't used too efficiently. The quieter jungle scenes that required ambience were supported very subtly and effectively by the channel, creating a pleasurable aural sensation, while the shoot-outs were simply loud. The LFE channel was aptly used during gun fights and really kicked in during the waterfall scene.

Extras

Menu

    A static menu with a still of Arnie in the background, it is 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (2:14, 1.33:1, DD 2.0)

    Quite the entertaining trailer, though it gives a little too much away as most trailers do. Visually, the trailer shows signs of age such as grain and flecks on the print, but that doesn't compare to the huge amount of hiss present in the soundtrack.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There have been two releases of Predator in Region 1, with the first release being superseded by an anamorphic re-release.

The original R1 release misses out on:

The current R1 release misses out on: The R4 release misses out on:     From the reviews I have read, the dts soundtrack isn't that different to the Dolby Digital track for this film. The determining factor here would be the uncut nature of the film in America, making the R1 dts version the version of choice.

Summary

    Predator is a fun action romp through the jungle that I enjoyed viewing yet again, unfortunately in a slightly abridged format. Nonetheless, the video is decent for the age of the film and the audio stands up well even with a mono surround channel. The extras are non-existent unfortunately - it would have been great to see some behind-the-scenes footage of Jean Claude Van Damme donning the red special effects suit.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Andrew Siers (I never did my biography in primary school)
Friday, April 20, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 34N9UXA. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha CX-600 Pre-Amp, Yamaha MX-600 Stereo Power Amp for Mains, Yamaha DSP-E300 for Center, Teac AS-M50 for Surrounds.
SpeakersMain Left and Right Acoustic Research AR12s, Center Yamaha NS-C70, Surround Left and Right JBL Control 1s

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