Aug 142018
 

The first three Predator movies are fine entertainment with the sequels not quite reaching the level of excellence in my book, though I do greatly prefer the first movie over the others if only for the quality direction from McTiernan and Schwarzenegger’s tough man and charm appeal.

 

 

Predator
— 3-Movie Collection —
(1987-2010)

Genre(s): Action, Science Fiction, Horror
Fox | R – 342 min. – $59.99 | August 7, 2018

Date Published: 08/14/2018 | Author: The Movieman


MOVIE INFO (PREDATOR):
Directed by: James McTiernan
Writer(s): Jim Thomas & John Thomas (written by)
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Richard Chavez, Shane Black


MOVIE INFO (PREDATOR 2):
Directed by: Stephen Hopkins
Writer(s): Jim Thomas & John Thomas (characters by) (written by)
Cast: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Ruben Blades, Bill Paxton, Maria Conchita Alonso, Robert Davi, Adam Baldwin


MOVIE INFO (PREDATORS):
Directed by: Nimród Atal
Writer(s): Jim Thomas & John Thomas (characters by); Alex Litvak & Michael Finch (written by)
Cast: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo, Mahershala Ali

DISC INFO:
Features: Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: 4K, Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 6
Audio: English (Dolby Atmos), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 2160p/Widescreen 1.85 (Predator 1 & 2), 2.40 (Predators)
Dynamic Range: HDR10
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codecs: HEVC / H.265
Region(s): A, B, C

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

Note: The Predator and Predators portions, except for audio and video, were ported over from my Blu-ray review.
The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copies and are only to boost this review’s self esteem and make it look pretty.

THE MOVIES — 3.5/5


Predator (1987) — 3.75/5

The 1980s was quite a time for gratuitous violence, excruciating one-liners and oft-times laughable visual effects. While luckily the latter isn’t entirely true for the Arnold Schwarzenegger 1987 sci-fi/action flick, Predator, it still has many of the hallmarks of a movie made in the mid to late 80s.

The premise for Predator is fairly simple: A group of military specialists led by a man named Alan “Dutch” Schaeffer (SCHWARZENEGGER) accepts a job from old friend and current CIA agent George Dillon (CARL WEATHERS) to infiltrate the jungles of Central America and rescue an important cabinet minister.

Upon the arrival of his team – which includes Mac Eliot (BILL DUKE), Blain Cooper (JESSE VENTURA) and Rick Hawkins (SHANE BLACK) amongst others – they discover not everything is as it seems. And things aren’t; not only did the CIA misrepresent the mission – no surprise there – but an alien has been hunting in those jungles, killing and skinning its prey. After a massive and lengthy gun battle the team must trek through the jungles to a landing zone for pick up; this is when one by one get picked off by the Predator.

Being this was my first viewing of Predator in at least a decade, I admittedly was a little disappointed perhaps because throughout the years I always wanted to sit down and watch it and finally did, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. This one, despite many kick ass moments, didn’t impress me on the whole. Yes, the scenes when Ahnold goes mano-a-mano with the Predator for the final act was pretty good and it is the highlight of the entire film, but everything else didn’t quite live up to what I had remembered.

The acting is what you would expect when you get Ahnold together with Jessie Ventura and Carl Weathers and that’s puns aplenty amidst the gunfire, f-bombs and blood/guts. We’re not talking high art here, just good old fashioned 80s violence. God bless America. In all seriousness, I enjoyed the film for what it is and although I was a tad disappointed, it still fulfills its obligation for entertainment and being the quintessential 1980s movie.

Finally, I don’t want to undersell the movie or say it’s bad, because it isn’t… at all, I just wasn’t as enthralled with the film as I remembered being years ago since I last saw it. What I did like was taking the clichéd 1980s action movie – many have compared the first half of the film to Commando – and flipping it on its head and giving us one of the most unique creature films ever made.


Predators 2 (1990) — 3.0/5

The follow-up to the wildly successful 1987 original raking in $59.7M (or $141.6M adjusted for ticket inflation) takes us out of the jungle of Central America to the concrete jungle of Los Angeles set in the year 1997 (only so events can take place 10 years later, can’t think of any other reason).

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch is nowhere to found and instead our Predator hunter come in the form of LAPD Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (DANNY GLOVER) who, with this squad — Danny Archuleta (RUBEN BLADES), Leona Cantrell (MARIA CONCHETA ALONSO) and newcomer Jerry Lambert (BILL PAXTON) — are investigating the mysterious, and gruesome deaths, plaguing an already weary, and violent, population dealing with a heat wave.

So Harrigan chases down the clues all the while a secret government agency headed by Peter Keyes (GARY BUSEY) is also hot on the trail, making every effort to keep Harrigan and his unit at bay. Soon enough, Harrigan learns the truth and manages to get a glimpse at the Predator who is at play in the city.

Predator 2 was an okay movie: it’s neither great nor bad and certainly doesn’t match the entertainment factor of the first film. One of the issues I had, and apparently Schwarzenegger as well when he turned down a role, was the urban setting. Although I do appreciate this sequel doesn’t just merely regurgitate the same beats as the original, taking it out of the seemingly more confined jungle setting alleviated any real suspense.

That being said, I did like that the filmmakers expanded on the Predator mythos and we do get a great finale to see Glover Detective Murtaugh, I mean Harrigan, go mano a mano against the Predator, as well as see the spaceship and trophy room with the first glimpse of the connection with the Alien franchise which would later lead to two vastly underwhelming, even poor, Alien vs. Predator movies.

Directed by Stephen Hopkins, with a script by the original film’s writers, Predator 2 is a perfectly fine entry into the franchise and it will be interesting to see what the upcoming The Predator film will bring as it is connected with Jake Busey taking on the role as Keyes’ son.


Predators (2010) — 3.5/5

There probably aren’t too many franchises that keep going at any cost and also branches out from movies to other mediums such as comic books, but the Predator series has been through many incarnations, twice in conjunction with the Alien franchise, with mixed results.

The original Predator is a fine action movie for its time but I didn’t find it particularly enthralling, though it had its moments while the sequel isn’t bad but was obviously not needed. Now 23 years after the Schwarzenegger star-making movie, power producer Robert Rodriguez resurrected the franchise with new life in Predators. It’s a fun title with a reminder of Aliens in ways; however the quality and entertainment value was not there, unfortunately.

Predators brings together a rag-tag group — including an ex-Special Forces turned mercenary (ADRIEN BRODY), an Israeli Defense Forces sniper (ALICE BRAGA), a criminal two days away from execution (WALTON GOGGINS), a Mexican drug cartel enforcer (DANNY TREJO), a Spetsnaz soldier (OLEG TAKTARVO), a Yakuza enforcer, an Revolutionary United Front officer and, in an odd inclusion, a seemingly simple doctor (TOPHER GRACE) — abducted from Earth to another planet. In the opening they fall from the skies with an un-deployed parachute plummeting to the ground and only becoming conscious half way down. On the ground they get their bearings and try to figure out what was going on, but have little recollection of what happened (think “Lost”) and throughout the first hour or so we find out some info on each person trying to find a common link.

The group tretch through the otherworldly jungle coming upon crates holding some sort of creatures while something/someone watching them from the treetops. During their search they also come upon another human, Army soldier, dead and realize they are not the first group to have been there, confirmed when later on, after taking a few casualties (what’s the point of having an ensemble cast otherwise?), are greeted (to put it kindly) by a man named Noland (LAURENCE FISHBURNE) who has survived out there with the Predator on the hunt. Oh, speaking of which, Adrien Brody’s character figures out what they are doing and what’s going on fairly early on and easily enough. But I digress, Noland was able to actually kill a few and hole away in one of their defunct factories. Of course being out there alone has loosened a few screws in the man’s mind…

The rest of the film has the remainder of the group trying to survive as the Predators are out for the kill while also trying to figure out a way to get off the planet and back to Earth.

All things considered, this isn’t a very long movie clocking in at around 100-minutes minus end credits but we actually don’t even get to see any of the Predators – at least one fighting – until the hour mark, although the remaining 35-minutes or so is filled with Predator vs. Human and Predator vs. Predator beat downs. This is perhaps something that will thrill hardcore fans but I found the entire process, as good as it looks, to be on the tedious side. I wasn’t quite bored throughout the movie but I also wasn’t entirely engaged with the plot for the time our ensemble walks around and surveys the land.

There are a few good aspects to the film, though. First, Adrien Brody actually comes out better than I had imagined playing the tough and loner mercenary with a Batman-like gruff voice. He has the presence to be the leader of that group. Also, the film was only made for an efficient $45 million so the make-up and costume design on the Predators (when we finally do see them) looks really good aside from a couple cheesy moments.

Another fine aspect is the lone female role played by Alice Braga who hasn’t had a massive film career but has appeared in a few high profile projects most notably I Am Legend with Will Smith. The reason I highlight her is because like in any ensemble action films, you don’t get a whole lot of dimensions with the characters aside from dialogue to fill in enough back story to explain various aspects (for Braga it’s her skills as a sniper), but I thought she had a strong presence to go head to head with her male counterparts (of course, she also had insights into the creatures knowing the story of what happened in 1987, though none of the knowledge is actually used…).

Overall, there are some elements to Predators that I enjoyed with some good make-up design, decent action sequences and some effective performances to go along with plenty of references to the original. While I believe die-hard fans will find some satisfaction with the film, I felt it just fell short of being memorable and just a generic action movie with some Predator moments thrown in. That said, it is heads and tails above the Alien vs. Predator films as well as Predator 2 so at least Robert Rodriguez and company have started the franchise anew, so I look forward to seeing what they do next.

2018 UPDATE: So I watched this again for only the second time and frankly I did enjoy it a bit more than the first go around. I liked that this ensemble were, for the most, flawed in their characters and the fights with the Predator (either with human or lower class Predator) were pretty damn entertaining. So, with that I have raised my rating from a 3 to 3.5. It is a shame we won’t see what happens to the surviving characters, I suppose they joined Elizabeth Shaw in the afterlife or something.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5


This 6-disc set (3 UHDs, 3 BDs) is housed in an HD Keep Case and side-slides into a semi-glossy slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy for each movie.


Predator — 3.75/5
Commentary by Director John McTiernan – The director goes through the making of the movie providing bits of trivia on the casting, filming on set, etc. I don’t care for some of these solo tracks mainly because when there are 2 or more, commentators are able to bounce ideas off each other, but McTiernan manages to keep things going throughout the movie.

Text Commentary by Eric Lichtenfeld – Lichtenfeld is a film historian and in this subtitled commentary, he interviews various members of the crew on the making of Predator. Personally, I don’t care for these subtitled commentaries (I would rather have audio from these interviews played over the movie).

Predator: Evolution of a Species: Hunters of Extreme Perfection (11:13; HD) is an origin featurette on how the movie came to be from its $18 million budget to what makes the movie so timeless. The featurette has interviews with Predators producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal. Rodriguez explains his involvement with the franchise and writing Predators which began in the early 90s.

If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: The Making of Predator (28:47; SD) – This featurette mainly has interviews on the set back in 1985/86 and goes through the genesis of the script, casting to filming and other tid-bits intertwined with behind-the-scenes footage.

Inside the Predator Featurettes (TRT 25:20; SD):

  • Classified Action (5:21) goes over the action scenes in the movie and how intense it all was for bother the cast and the crew and features plenty more behind-the-scenes footage of the rehearsals to filming.
  • The Unseen Arnold (4:42) focuses on the actor from the perspectives of his co-stars and other members of the crew on his positive attitude during filming.
  • Old Painless (3:30) is a simple featurette about the hand-held Gatling gun and its impact on the actors in all its awesomeness.
  • The Life Inside: A Tribute to Kevin Peter Hall (4:26) is a featurette focusing on the man inside the Predator suit who died of AIDS in 1991 due to a contaminated blood transfusion after a car accident.
  • Camouflage (4:54) – Getting more specific, this featurette focuses on the distinctive camo make-up for each of the characters.
  • Welcome to the Jungle (2:40) is on filming in the jungle and how it adds to the ambience of the movie and creating the jungle itself.
  • Character Design (4:41) goes over the various aspects of each character and how, amongst an ensemble, they are able to give each their own persona.

Special Effects (TRT 3:59; SD) are short test shots used for the Predator and include: “Red Suit” Special Effects (2:08) and Camouflaged Tests (1:51).

Short Takes (10:23; SD) is a collection of four mini-featurettes that were probably culminated from interview footage: John McTiernan on Learning Film (3:05), Jesse’s Ultimate Goal (2:18), Stan Winston: Practical Joker (3:02) – which is a very funny story – and Don’t Drink the Water (1:58).

Deleted Scenes & Outtakes (5:19; SD) are just four forgettable scenes.

Finally, there is the original theatrical trailer (2:11; SD) for Predator and the trailer (1:36; SD) for Predator 2 plus a photo gallery and Predator profile.


Predator 2 — 3.5/5
Audio Commentaries:

  • Director Stephen Hopkins
  • Writers Jim Thomas & John Thomas

Neither track is terribly exciting but you do get two different perspectives on how the movie came to be with the writers delving more into where the idea came from while Hopkins goes more technical on filming locations and his approach to directing the sequel.

The Hunters and the Hunted (35:41; SD) is an extensive behind-the-scenes featurette looking at the development of the sequel following the successful first installment with archival interviews by the cast and crew discussing the story and characters.

Evolutions (8:24; SD) looks at the visual effects on things like the main title and the alleyway scene.

Weapons of Choice (6:49; SD) breaks down the variety of weapons by the Predator.

Hard Core Segments (7:05; SD) is footage for the fake show on the “City at War” and “Penthouse to Slaughterhouse” parts.

Promotional Gallery contains 3 Theatrical Trailers (4:02; SD), 5 TV Spots (2:24; SD), The Predator Goes to Town (3:03; SD) featurette from 1990, an International “Making of” (5:42; SD) featurette, and Creating the Ultimate Hunter (3:40; SD) featurette.


Predators — 4.5/5
Feature Commentary – Producer Robert Rodriguez and Director Nimrod Antal providing an informative but lively track covering the different aspects of filmmaking and storytelling. If you’ve ever listened to a commentary from Rodriguez you already know it’s not going to be dull as he (and Antal) use every minute to convey interesting production tid-bits.

Prequel Motion Comics (TRT 10:56; HD) – There are a series of motion comics featuring the voices of the cast that chronicle each of their characters origins. The first series under “Moments of Extraction” (8:45) shows when the Predators grabbed them and dropped them into the jungle. The parts include stories for Isabelle, Cuchillo, Hanzo and Mombasa as well as an intro and ending with Noland (Fishburne). The other part is called “Crucified” (2:11) that covers the Predators side as the Predators fights one of their own (it’s the one featured in the movie that the group finds strung up).

Evolution of the Species: Predators Reborn (40:12; HD) – This 6-part documentary (Bloodline, De-cloaking the Invisible: Alien Terrain, Intelligent Design: The Hunting Camp, Predators as Prey, Yuatja Transformed, Rite of Passage) details the making-of Predators from the origins of making a sequel to the 1987 original and trying to do something new in 2010 (although Rodriguez had done a treatment/script in the 1990s). This is like many other making-ofs where we get comments from various members of the cast (Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, etc) and crew (Antel, Rodriguez and others) plus behind-the-scenes footage including seeing the Predators in action on the set.

The Chosen (4:52; SD) – This is featurette that goes through each of the main characters and who they are with some actors appearing on screen in character (be warned there is a spoiler in there about one of them). Not sure, but I think this probably was released as part of a promotional campaign.

Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene (7:06; SD) – This seems to be a staple of many high profile Fox movies where we go behind-the-scenes to check out on a scene was shot with comments from the cast and crew. I’ve never found these that interesting as they were made to air on FMC to promote the film.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (11:21; HD) – We get 9 deleted/extended scenes a few of which are nice (especially any involving Danny Trejo) but no doubt removed to keep the pace. It’s a little surprising that Fox hadn’t just added a few of these back in to make the “Unrated Version They Didn’t Want You to See!”.

Last we get the theatrical trailer (1:56; HD), Fox’s Live Lookup where you can see an actor’s or crew member’s bio via BD-Live and IMDb plus bits of trivia, and the BD-Live portal where you can access the Exclusive Set Visit (~2 min.).

 


VIDEO – 4.75/5


Predator, Predator 2 and Predators each received a new 4K Ultra HD presentation (HEVC/H.265 codec) and are shown in their original aspect ratios. I was rather impressed with all three transfers, with the incredibly sharp detail, excellent color arrays without appearing artificially boosted just for the sake of the format and that it includes HDR. The first two films actually, in terms of detail, look the best but the third does make the most out of the HDR as there is plenty of bright colors, and a good sampling of them, such as the scenes inside the alien spaceship, very impressive. Along with those, the black levels looked stark and yet can still make out detail.

AUDIO – 4.0/5


Each film comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and it’s likely these are the same as the ones on their respective Blu-rays. But even if it didn’t get an Atmos upgrade, they do sound pretty darn good, every one of them showing off good dialogue levels and modest to fine depth for the various action sequences coming from the front and rear channels. While it will not blow your socks off or give your surround system any kind of a workout, they are above average.

 


OVERALL – 4.5/5


The first three Predator movies are fine entertainment with none of them quite reaching the level of excellence in my book, though I do greatly prefer the first movie over the others if only for the quality direction from James McTiernan and Schwarzenegger’s tough man and charm appeal. This 3-disc 4K collection offers up a nice selection of bonus material while the video transfers were fantastic and the audio on each film did sound good, however likely did not get an upgrade.

 

 

 

 

The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.

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