Predator 2 (Blu-ray) (1990)

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Released 15-Apr-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Stephen Hopkins (Director)
Audio Commentary-Jim Thomas (Writer), John Thomas (Writer)
Featurette-The Hunters And The Hunted
Featurette-Evolutions
Featurette-Weapons Of Choice
Featurette-Hard Core Segments
Featurette-Promotional Gallery
Web Links
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 108:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Stephen Hopkins
Studio
Distributor
20th CENTURY FOX
Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Danny Glover
Gary Busey
Rubén Blades
Maria Conchita Alonso
Bill Paxton
Robert Davi
Adam Baldwin
Kevin Peter Hall
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $39.95 Music Alan Silvestri


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French dts 5.1
German dts 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Dutch
Dutch Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
English for the Hearing Impaired
English
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Danish
Finnish
French
French Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
German
German
German Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Norwegian
Swedish
Smoking Yes, and not of tobacco
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    In recent months, I have been attending classes in motion picture photography and related technical techniques. Not much of what was taught was unknown to me, but actually studying these things has fundamentally changed the way I look at the films I watch. A good example of this would be Predator 2.

    Previously, I have written in several places that I prefer Predator 2 to its more highly-regarded predecessor. As one can expect when one shares an unusual or unconventional point of view in a room full of normie trash, this has attracted a good deal of childish name-calling, denialism, and a total lack of anything remotely resembling an intelligent refutation. So I am going to do such wastes a bit of a favour and do that job for them. If you fit such a description, then thank me later. I think it is best to start with the real reason I enjoyed Predator 2 more than Predator: the acting. Whereas Predator was basically a G.I. Joe cartoon that E.T. had happened to drop into, and a star vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Predator 2 is more of an ensemble piece and enjoys the talents of several actors for whom the rest of the film is basically beneath them.

    The case for Predator being the better film basically boils down to the direction. As I said, Predator 2 has a number of actors that are too good for it. But more than a few of them, Maria Conchita Alonso in particular, deliver their lines in a manner that can only be explained by bad direction. Even if you disagree that such unnatural-sounding lines ("They're dying, man!") can be blamed on the direction, the lousy choices of camera angles, confusing shot sequencing, and frequent use of the wrong zoom level, make it no mystery as to why Stephen Hopkins has never directed such a high-profile title since (unless you count the 1998 production of Lost In Space, which I am sure he would rather we all forgot about). In fact, such sequences as the penthouse battle or the massacre on the subway break one of the first rules they teach you about the directions actors face in a given sequence of shots.

    Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) is a Lieutenant with the Los Angeles Police Department with a bit of a reputation for not playing by the rules. He drops into a gun battle on a city street at which two of his detectives, Leona Cantrell (Maria Conchita Alonso) and Danny Archuleta (Rubén Blades) are already present. After chasing the Jamaican Voodoo Posse members into what seems to be their headquarters, Mike and his team find that something has beaten them to their suspects. Anyone who has seen the previous film already knows what happened, so we see the director allowing his audience to get ahead of him, but this was likely unavoidable. Anyway, after we are introduced to a new addition to Harrigan's team in the form of Jerry Lambert (Bill Paxton), we catch up with a Colombian drug boss just in time to see him get killed by members of the Jamaican Voodoo Posse, who are in turn slaughtered by the Predator (Kevin Peter Hall).

    This sequence is especially memorable not only for the confusing choices of angles and actor positionings, but also for the pronged projectile we see being fired on an angle that cannot possibly explain the position Danny later spots it in. It is this projectile that brings us to the next plot point. Mike orders Danny to hang around the building and sneak in later to retrieve said projectile, despite being kicked out of the apartment by Federal Agent Peter Keyes (Gary Busey), who seems to work for an entirely different department than any arm of the Police force. Ignoring one part of Mike's instructions, Danny goes into the apartment on his own and attempts to retrieve the projectile. There, he is surprised and murdered by the Predator. Being that he and Mike have apparently been working together for time immemorial, Mike takes this very personally and goes on a hunt for the Predator in spite of being warned off by everyone around him, including Deputy Chief Phil Heinemann (Robert Davi).

    The original Predator never had any ambitions other than being a novelty action piece. I do not personally believe it was really anything else, either, but its titular monster had enough of an impact to inspire multiple video games and comic book series. Predator 2 really needed more time to hammer out a better script - many of the actions of characters in the piece do not make sense. Still, as a revenge-themed actioner, you can certainly do a hell of a lot worse.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Even if you disagree with my opinion of the series and this entry, and I respect your right to do so, one thing that is most certainly not in dispute is that this is the best Predator 2 has looked in the home, if not ever. Previously, Predator 2 has been released twice on DVD-Video. I took the time to review the first, bare-boned release. While I have not viewed the subsequent rerelease on DVD, I can say with confidence that this video transfer blows it away.

    The video transfer is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 within a 1920 by 1080 progressive window.

    This is a sharp transfer. The film still looks its age, for certain, but to use one of my favourite sayings, if you have only seen Predator 2 on DVD or VHS, then you have really not seen it at all. My favourite example of this transfer's sharpness would be Lilyan Chauvin's hair. Given her age at the time of principal photography, that would certainly appear to be her natural hair colour, but this transfer reveals several different shades in it that I had never seen in previous media. Shadow detail is good, but a little diminished when compared to more recent films. There is no low-level noise.

    The colours in the transfer are nothing special, with no manipulations or fancy tricks pulled here. The only possible exception would be the slaughterhouse sequence, which is practically monochrome. The transfer renders these colour schemes accurately without any bleeding or misregistration. A dot crawl type of effect was visible in one of the Hard Core segments that occasionally dot the film (and are of noticeably lesser resolution than the rest of the film). At a guess, I would say these segments were shot on some form of video, as this artefact is not visible anywhere else in the film.

    Compression artefacts were not visible in this transfer, which is an improvement over the DVD version I previously looked at. The transfer is encoded in the AVCHD codec, and the bitrate is frequently as high as 34 megabits per second. The disc itself is dual-layered, which leaves plenty of room for such a generous bitrate (another mistake BD has failed to inherit from DVD). Film-to-video artefacts were non-existent, which justifies the purchase of this disc on its own. Film artefacts were either absent, or generally so infrequent and small as to not be noticeable, suggesting that Fox did a bit of clean-up work in order to get this transfer in shape for BD (which in turn explains why it took this long to be released).

    Subtitles are offered in English for the Hearing Impaired. These frequently abbreviate the spoken word, but are accurate enough to it that one can get the true gist of the dialogue from them.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Another statement I frequently make when describing to others how much of an improvement over DVD the BD-Video format is goes something like this. Even if you are utterly blind, you would also need to be stone deaf to not notice. Predator 2 exemplifies this statement, and is one of the ten best 5.1 channel Blu-ray Discs available at present.

    A total of five soundtracks are offered. The first, and default, is the original English dialogue in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, which I listened to. Second and third are a French dub and a German dub, both in DTS 5.1, the plain old lossy kind. Rounding out the soundtracks are a pair of English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio commentaries.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, although I did miss the occasional word here and there. In this respect, the transfer is a vast improvement over the previous versions I have listened to. Part of this can be associated with the added separation from the sound effects and especially the music that the dialogue enjoys here. To repeat another of my sayings in a different form, if you have only heard Predator 2 on VHS or DVD, then you really have not heard it at all. Audio sync was occasionally out in the sense that people talk without opening their mouth, but that would be more of a problem with the direction than the transfer. No other identifiable problems with audio sync were noticed.

    The music in this film is mostly comprised of a score by Alan Silvestri, who also scored the original Predator. This score repeats cues from the original like there is no tomorrow, but rearranges them just enough to make them fit with the onscreen action. The score has a frenetic, excited feel to it that generally complements the action. A handful of preexisting numbers such as the Spanish rap song En Mi Barrio by Gerardo are also offered just to reinforce the point that this is meant to be Los Angeles.

    The surround channels are very aggressively used to wrap gunfire, music, and ambience around the viewer. A good directional effect occurs at 83:26, when Danny Glover peers around a vent to be surprised by a flock of birds. Dialogue sequences do tend to collapse into the front channels with very slight twitters from the rears, but these only occur as often as is necessary to advance the plot anyway. If your 7.1-channel receiver handles 5.1-channel soundtracks by repeating the signal intended for the rears into the other two speakers, like mine does, then your entire system will get quite the workout from the action sequences here. The IMDB has it that 70mm prints of this film were presented with 70mm six-track audio, so obviously the source materials were there to create a good mix from.

    The subwoofer is constantly active throughout Predator 2 to support gunshots, explosions, the music, and the general movement of the Predator. It is integrated well into the soundtrack, and in my opinion benefits the most from the lossless compression.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    Yes! Finally! Fox has done something right and included a proper Top Menu. Said Top Menu is animated with excerpts from the film, and accompanied by Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Although there are still some navigation issues with this menu (specifically, the language options), I hope Fox continue with this, as it looks so much more professional. Also worthy of mention is that Fox provides us with an adequate number of Chapter Stops relative to the film's running length.

Audio Commentary - Stephen Hopkins (Director)

    Okay, I have been a bit hard on Hopkins in this review. For what it is worth, he does not acquit himself well in this commentary, as there are frequent pauses and repetitions of information that are already painfully obvious to those who know enough about filmmaking. He also has a bit of a habit of starting on one thread, abandoning it, and then picking it up again without much regard for whether the audience can follow him. Sort of like how he put together some of the shots, if you will. It is sort of worth a listen at times, but there are far more educational commentaries out there.

Audio Commentary - Jim Thomas (Writer) and John Thomas (Writer)

    It is always interesting to hear the writers of a film talk about the finished product. About eleven minutes into the commentary, they begin to describe the inspiration for how they wrote the Predator's camouflage effect. All I can say about the dream John describes is that whatever these two were smoking at that time, I want some.

Featurette - The Hunters And The Hunted

    A thirty-five minute, forty-one second featurette presented in the aspect ratios of 1.33:1 and 1.85:1 (roughly) with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Standard definition.

Featurette - Evolutions

    This is actually a group of featurettes showing how certain special effects shots in the film were accomplished. They can be played in one big block or one at a time. They are:

    Each featurette is presented with making-of footage in 1.33:1 and the finished footage in 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. They are standard definition. They are disappointing in that they do not go into nearly enough detail, especially the Subway Showdown.

Featurette - Weapons Of Choice

    As with the previous group, this is a collection of featurettes about the weaponry used by the Predator in the film. They can be played together or one at a time. They are:

    Again, each featurette is presented with making-of footage in 1.33:1 and finished footage in 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Standard definition. Again, there is not enough detail on offer. These are basically puff pieces that do nothing but waste disc space.

Featurette - Hard Core Segments

    Also a group of featurettes, which can be played together or one at a time. These are:

    These are not the same fragments we see in the finished film, but rather other footage that was specifically cut together in order to produce these little segments of their own. Each is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Standard definition. They have not aged very well, either. They also add next to nothing to the viewing experience.

Featurette - Promotional Gallery

    Another group of featurettes that can be played together or one at a time. They are:

    I do not believe I would be mistaken in my belief that these featurettes, and by that I mean all of the featurettes on this disc so far, were not intended by the studio to be so widely seen. They do not even resemble electronic press kits, really.

Weblinks

    A pair of adverts for www.fox.co.uk and www.foxinternational.com. Nothing to get excited about.

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.

    Reliable information about the Region A release of Predator 2 was difficult to come by. High Def Digest does not have a review as yet. The review I did find at Blogcritics Video generally indicates that the two discs are fairly identical. The usual warning about Fox discs being Region Coded applies.

Summary

    Predator 2 had potential, but is generally held back by its director and some aspects of the screenplay. The acting, on the other hand, is a hundred-fold improvement over the original. The commentaries, oddly enough, make references to there being negotiations with Arnold Schwarzenegger to appear in Predator 2 that ended when he was informed he basically had a choice between Predator 2 and Terminator 2. We all know how that one turned out. Any way you slice it, however, Predator 2 is never boring, which is all I really ever ask of what I watch.

    The video transfer is excellent, and close to reference quality.

    The audio transfer is excellent.

    The extras are all standard definition, but Fox do deserve a lot of credit for finally getting the menu system right.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic Viera TH-42PZ700A. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR606
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Wharfedale Xarus 1000 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, Wharfedale Diamond SW150 Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Better movie? - Le Messor (bio logy class) REPLY POSTED
re: Better movie? - Bran (my bio, or something very like it) REPLY POSTED
Thanks a bunch -