While certainly not the most original feature, John McTiernan's "Predator" remains a classic action picture, taking a simple concept and ramping up the tension immensely. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in the 1987 film as Dutch, a leader for an Army team that's been sent into the jungle to locate and rescue a lost group of officials who are believed to have been taken by guerrillas.
Everything seems to be going perfectly, until they find what actually happened to the group they were looking for. Little hints start to suggest they are not alone in the jungle - they soon realize a being from another planet is brutally hunting them down, one-by-one.
McTiernan's movie successfully builds tension using "less is more", with only brief views of the creature during the first part of the movie, with views of the creature spying on the group using its heat-seeking vision. When the creature finally appears, it's both an intimidating creation visually and manages to bring a wide variety of its own inspired weapons to the table. The creature also remains a cinema classic, as - much like the aliens in "Alien" - the creature is clever and intelligent enough to create an enemy not only intimidating from a brute force perspective, but from a tactical perspective.
The performances are also wonderfully over-the-top, especially Schwarzenegger, who delivers a memorable lead effort. The supporting efforts are also first-rate, especially Carl Weathers. The picture also delivers on the visual front, with terrific visual effects (for the time) and make-up/creature FX from Stan Winston.
VIDEO: "Predator" is presented in 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC) and the results aren't perfect, but are still at least moderately enjoyable. Sharpness and detail do vary, but are generally fine, overall. The issue is that there does appear to have been noise reduction applied to the presentation, in a way that's overdone. This is a (fairly) gritty, grainy picture and it has been given a smoothing-over here that's a bit too aggressive.
That said, the presentation otherwise doesn't show too many other concerns - some minor specks and marks on the print were seen and a few hints of edge enhancement were spotted. Colors looked satisfactory, with reasonably good saturation and no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film is presented by 20th Century Fox in DTS-HD 5.1. "Predator" still provides a surprisingly exciting experience in either version for a movie that's now 13 years of age. For a film like this where the characters are in the middle of a place where they could be attacked from any side, it's important to have atmosphere; that undercurrent that something could go wrong at any moment. Although not as well as some more recent pictures, "Predator" succeeds at this very well.
The audio does a pretty convincing job of providing the detail of the jungle surroundings such as the minor bird or jungle sounds. Alan Silvestri's score sounds dynamic and crisp, and does a very effective job at adding to the tension of the movie. The action sequences are stunning at times; the intense attack at about 24 minutes into the movie provides some deep explosions and heavy surround use. There are also a few scenes throughout the movie that have quite a lot of gunfire, which sound particularly excellent. Dialogue is rather flat at times, but usually sounded acceptable.
EXTRAS: Commentary with director John McTiernan and additional text commentary written by film journalist/historian Eric Lichtenfeld. The McTiernan commentary is better and denser than most of the director's previous tracks - we learn a good deal about filming on location, working with the actors, story development and more.
As with the commentaries, we also get the other extras from the prior SE, such as the "If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: The Making of Predator" documentary, "Inside the Predator" featurette, deleted scenes and special effects clips, as well as a photo gallery. "Predator: Evolution of a Species: Hunters of Extreme Perfection" is a new featurette that features interviews from Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Attal, who are the producer and director of the new "Predators" film. We also get trailers and a few new mini featurettes.
Final Thoughts: Still a highly entertaining popcorn film decades later, "Predator" offers a great performance from Arnold and some terrific action sequences. The new Blu-Ray edition offers some interesting supplements (most carried over, a couple of new), as well as satisfactory video quality and excellent audio quality.
The Film B+