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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Predators

October 18th, 2010

Predators - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Back when Predator came out in 1987, it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger before he became a massive box office draw. He did have a lot of fans and his movies were mostly hits, but he wasn't a $100 million star yet. Predator was at the time his biggest hit, and has since developed a huge following, spawning video games, comic books, even a franchise crossover. Trying to reboot the franchise 20 years after the original... well, I was excited. However, in the end, Predators made less at the box office in terms of raw dollars despite the 23 years of inflation backing it up. So what went wrong? Was it just a bad movie, or do we have to look for other reasons.

The Movie

The film starts right in the middle of the action, literally. The opening shot is Adrien Brody falling to the ground. After his parachute opens and he safely lands, more or less, he is quickly joined by another man, and then another, till their ranks grow to include a sniper, a Yakuza enforcer, leader of a death squad, a death row inmate... and a neighborhood doctor. After initial fighting, they form an uneasy alliance in an attempt to figure out where they are, who brought them there, and for what reason.

At this point, discussing any of the plot is a major spoiler, which I prefer to avoid. However, a lot of these details are spoiled in the trailer. For instance, they have been captured by the Predators and taken to this alien planet to serve as prey for training purposes, or perhaps just for fun. With so many of the "surprises" in the story revealed in the trailers, there are some issues with pacing early on. It takes about 25 minutes before we get to the big reveal that they are on an alien world. Granted, that is quickly followed up by the first action scene, but it is still another 15 minutes or so till we actually see a Predator. Then again, Predator showed up in a very similar place in the first movie. The only difference is, in the first movie, you could go in thinking it was a Commando jungle adventure and be surprised by the alien presence. That is not the case here and I can see a lot of people looking at their watches going, 'When's the action going to start?'

The early pacing is not too big of a deal, as it does allow us time to get to know the characters. This way we have a little more trouble guessing who will die first. Not all of the characters are developed enough to matter, on the other hand. Also, I never exactly bought Adrien Brody as the bad ass action hero. He's not bad, but he tries too hard to be a bad ass.

Once the action does kick in, there's quite a few great scenes, but not as many as in the first film. There were a number of homages to the original, which was a plus, but not so many that the film felt like a remake. It doesn't have the originality, or the sheer cool factor, but it is by far the best of the sequels and a fun entertaining ride. If I were to rate the best film in the franchise, Predator, as a ten, and the worst film, AVP2, as a zero, then Predators would rate a seven, maybe a seven point five.

It is certainly better than it's box office performance would suggests.

The Extras

I do not have the DVD to review, but the Blu-ray is loaded with extras starting with an audio commentary track with the producer, Robert Rodriguez, and the director, Nimrod Antal. The balance between information and entertainment is reached extremely well and it is definitely worth listening to. Up next is a "Motion Comic" that gives a bit of the back story to a few of the characters. There is also a 40-minute making of featurette that does have a bit of overlap with the audio commentary track, but not so much that it isn't worth checking out. There is a 5-minute look at the characters and a 7-minute look at the making of a scene, both of which are more fluff than the previous extras are. Next up are nine deleted / extended scenes with a total running time of just over 11 minutes, but some of these are just a few seconds added onto a nearly one-minute scene. There are some funny jokes that could have been kept, but also some wise cuts. Finally, the disc is BD-Live enabled and includes some exclusives like Live Lookup.

The Blu-ray also comes with a digital copy of the movie.

The film was shot digitally, so it should come as no surprise that the jungle locations in this movie are amazing. A lot of the scenes are quite dark, but this doesn't have a negative impact on the picture quality. While your surround sound speakers will get plenty of action. It's not reference level material, but it is a solid first-run release.

The Blu-ray does cost close to 50% more than the DVD, at least on Amazon.com, but it is loaded with exclusives and it is the type of film that shines in High Definition. It's worth the extra cash.

The Verdict

If you bought Predator on Blu-ray, then it is worth buying Predators as well. And if you are interested in buying, the Blu-ray is the way to go. On the other hand, the DVD is a solid rental if you don't think the film has enough replay value to purchase.


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Filed under: Video Review, Predators