Predator (4K UHD Review)
Release Date(s)1987 (August 7, 2018)
Studio(s)Lawrence Gordon Productions/Silver Pictures/Davis Entertainment (20th Century Fox)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B-
When a government official goes missing and is presumed captured by rebels during a covert mission in Central America, a highly-specialized black ops team is called in by the U.S. military to conduct a rescue operation. Led by Major “Dutch” Schaeffer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) under CIA supervision (provided by Carl Weathers), their mission is simple – slip into the dense jungle, free the hostages and get out quick. Things become far more complicated, however, when members of the team start getting picked off one by one, not by local guerilla forces but by a far more dangerous enemy – one that’s both unseen... and unearthly.
This is a great little film. Deftly directed by action familiar John McTiernan (Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October), the original Predator works on almost every level. Much of this is due to the simplicity of its story and the effectiveness of its dialogue. The film convincingly starts out as a basic commando actioner... but gradually twists in a different direction. The cast is solid across the board, breathing life into characters that are sparsely drawn, but become absolutely familiar. You like these guys, and while you don’t know much about them, you know everything you need to root for them. Clinching the film’s success, the Predator itself (as conceived by writers Jim Thomas and John Thomas, and realized by Stan Winston) is surprisingly believable and original. This creature is both dangerous and interesting. It’s the perfect mano-a-mano foil for Schwarzenegger’s campy, pumped-up bravado.
Predator was shot on 35mm photochemical film using a variety of cameras with spherical lenses. It’s been scanned in full native 4K, graded for high dynamic range in HDR10, and is presented here in the proper 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio. You’ll be pleased to know that this is either a brand new scan done just for this presentation, or at least a recent one, and it’s completely unmarred by digital noise reduction. I repeat: No DNR has been applied here. Every bit of the grit and grain that’s been a part of this image since its production – and that should indeed be there – is there. The occasional shot is still optically soft (as longtime fans will know), and the heavy use of on-set atmospherics (think smoke and fog) means there’s a little less detail that you might expect from time to time. But rest assured that every bit of the fine detail and texture that’s present in the original camera negative appears in this 4K image. What’s more, the high dynamic range opens up the image a little and gives it room to breathe. The blackest shadows are truly black, and the highlights are naturally bold. In between, shadows that have appeared more crushed in previous editions are somewhat improved, though they still have a gray quality due to the aforementioned atmospherics. Colors are rich and accurate, even vibrant in the brightest scenes. There are certainly films that look better in 4K Ultra HD, but this film has never looked better than it does here. I doubt even the original theatrical experience was this visually pleasing.
The audio is available in the same 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix found on the previous Blu-ray edition. It features good dynamic range, muscular bass, a wide and enveloping soundstage, strong directional play, smooth panning, and clear dialogue. Alan Silvestri’s score is presented with satisfying fidelity. True, there’s no object-based mix, but I’m not sure what one might add to the experience. This mix is plenty solid and represents the film well. There’s also an English theatrical mix in 4.0 DTS-HD Master Audio available, along with 5.1 Dolby Digital in Spanish, Czech, and Polish, and 5.1 DTS in French, Castilian, German, and Italian. Optional subtitles are included in English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish, French, Castilian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, two Chinese dialects, Czech, and Polish.
In terms of extras, the actual 4K disc includes:
- Audio commentary by director John McTiernan (with optional subtitles in English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian)
- Text commentary by film historian Eric Lichtenfeld
The package also includes the film on Blu-ray Disc. Unfortunately, this isn’t a newly-mastered Blu-ray edition, created from the new 4K scan. It’s the exact same Ultimate Hunter Edition Blu-ray that was released in 2010. That means it’s been scrubbed to within an inch of its life with DNR, so much so that everyone looks like a plastic G.I. Joe doll. It’s rubbish… except that it features a very nice package of extras. Those include the same audio commentary with McTiernan, the text commentary with Lichtenfeld, and the following additional features:
- Predator: Evolution of a Species – Hunters of Extreme Perfection (HD – 11:13)
- If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: The Making of Predator (SD – 28:47)
- Inside the Predator: Classified Action (SD – 5:21)
- Inside the Predator: The Unseen Arnold (SD – 4:42)
- Inside the Predator: Old Painless (SD – 3:30)
- Inside the Predator: The Life Inside – A Tribute to Kevin Peter Hall (SD – 4:26)
- Inside the Predator: Camouflage (SD – 4:54)
- Inside the Predator: Welcome to the Jungle (SD – 2:40)
- Inside the Predator: Character Design (SD – 4:41)
- Special Effects: “Red Suit” Special Effects (SD – 3 clips – 1:28 in all)
- Special Effects: Camouflage Tests (SD – 2 clips – 1:51 in all)
- Short Takes: John McTiernan on Learning Film (SD – 3:05)
- Short Takes: Jessie’s Ultimate Goal (SD – 2:18)
- Short Takes: Stan Winston – Practical Joker (SD – 3:02)
- Short Takes: Don’t Drink the Water (SD – 1:58)
- Deleted Scenes & Outtakes: Fleeing the Predator (SD – 1:43)
- Deleted Scenes & Outtakes: Chameleon (SD – :28)
- Deleted Scenes & Outtakes: Building a Trap (SD – 2:12)
- Deleted Scenes & Outtakes: Sliding Downhill (SD – :56)
- Theatrical Trailers (one for Predator in HD and Predator 2 in SD – 3:47 in all)
- Photo Gallery (HD)
- Predator Profile (HD)
- Predators: Sneak Peek (HD – 1:44)
That’s all of the extras from the original 2004 special edition DVD release, plus a couple new ones added just for the Ultimate Hunter Edition. It’s a shame that this isn’t a new Blu-ray master. If you want the film looking the way it should in HD, get yourself the very first Blu-ray release of this film from back in 2008. Seriously, you can get it for like $5. Anything else on Blu-ray is shit. The UHD package does at least include a Digital Copy code on a paper insert.
Should Fox have produced a new Blu-ray without DNR for this package? Yes. Should the fact that they haven’t prevent anyone from loving the hell out of this new 4K Ultra HD presentation. No, it shouldn’t. If you’re a fan of this film, you probably already have the original Blu-ray, which is okay. And you probably still want all those extras on the shitty Hunter Edition. More importantly, now that this 4K presentation is available, you should never ever watch it in any other way. Fox should absolutely still release a decent Blu-ray edition, with all the extras and a properly mastered transfer, for those who don’t intend to upgrade to Ultra HD. But if you have… this 4K edition is worth every penny.
- Bill Hunt
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