Predator: Collector's Edition
For fans Predator: Collector's Edition is a must have, even for others it will entertain you through repeated viewings.
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In all too many cases when a movie becomes too ambitious by combining genres the results are, shall we say, less than stellar. To its credit Predator, manages to transcend this dilemma and produces a fine action/thriller/sci-fi. It does this by smoothly flowing from one type of film to another.
The movie starts out as what we think will be a typical soldier rescue a lost platoon flick. Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) heads up a band of elite combat specialists to find a missing diplomat in the jungles of South America. Soon after the start of their mission they find the skinned bodies of some Green Berets hanging from the trees. Since the local drug cartel is know for their perverse torture methods this seems all within the normal scheme of things. There is a bit of mystery when the embedded CIA agent Dillon (Carl Weathers), is seemingly clueless as to why the berets are their in the first place. While you may be lulled into a familiar genre at this point the plot thickens when a young woman, Anna (Elpidia Carrillo) is found fleeing for her life. She tells a tale of a strange creature that horribly kills the men of her village. At this point the motif shifts to an almost slasher flick quality. One by one member’s of Dutch’s team are subjected to atrocious deaths. The monster in this case is the Predator, an alien that is capable of cloaking himself in an invisible shield and armed with an arsenal of futuristic weapons. Finally, when the team is gone except for Dutch the film shifts once again to the cat and mouse game. Dutch has to not only survive the overpowering force of the Predator but he is not set on revenge, thinking only of killing his foe.
What is really noteworthy here is the way the film smoothly glides from genre to genre. There is an organic, natural feel to how the film proceeds. There is nothing forced about the combination here, it actually works. Part of this is the way the script draws the audience into the action. We get enough back-story to have some emotional investment in the characters even though we know from experience that most will end up in a bloody heap. Predator is also novel in that although the alien here is technologically far in advance of us he prefers the thrill of the hunt. Seeing that this feeling is prevalent in today’s modern culture it is not a far stretch to consider an advance but brutal race using earth as a hunting ground. The sum total here is not a great movie but one that is entertaining and enduring.
Predator has the distinction of having two of its stars go on to become governors, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jessie, the Body, Ventura. While their political careers are subject to the judgment of history there is no doubt that these men can deliver action. While the lamented Ventura is dispatched rather quickly Predator is one of Schwarzenegger best roles. He does what he does best; provide a sense of intelligence to his action roles. The way he plays Dutch is not as a man desperate to live, although this is a component to his performance; he is a thinking man, able to shift his strategy to face a far superior foe. His combination of muscle and brains brings this film in as better than most of its contemporaries. The Predator was played by the gentle giant, Peter Kevin Hall. This 7’2" tall actor brings dimension to his role, a stanch determination that helps carry the flick.
Although director John McTiernan has recently turned his career into remaking classic films by Norma Jewison, this film represents what McTiernan does best, deliver action to the audience. Like his Die Hard films his hero uses his resourcefulness as much as his brawn. This separates films of his from the senseless slaughter seen in so many films released recently. He creates a mood of dread and horror not only with the special effects but by crafting each scene with an expert touch. The lighting and set up for each shot drives the audience into this strange world. The feelings of the characters are almost palpable; you can feel the terror as it turns to a determined vengeance. The exposition is given is small enough doses so as not to interrupt the flow of the action. There are no dead spots (no pun intended) that would result in the audience becoming disinterested. I hope that McTiernan returns to this type of film instead of remaking classic films.
There have been several releases of Predator on DVD but this ‘Collector’s Edition’ is the best presentation to date. This two disc set presents not only the film but is packed with extras. The anamorphic video admittedly could be a bit better. There is softness to the picture that takes away somewhat from the hard edge action. There is also noticeable grain to many of the shots, annoying but better than previous releases. The murky nature of some scenes detracts from the mood of the film but is not a deal breaking when deciding about purchasing this film. The video is presented in Dolby 5.1, DTS stereo and Dolby mono. The 5.1 sound track is excellent. All the speakers work to provide a full, realistic sound stage. The sub woofer booms out with the explosions, shaking the room. The audio commentary by McTiernan is a bit disappointing. He admits he has not seen the film in many years and often appears distracted, his voice reduced to an incoherent mumble. There is also a text commentary that provides trivia and other facts of the film. The featurette extras are better than normal. The production of the special effects and creature makeup are considered in detail. The featurette ‘If It Bleeds We Can Kill It" goes into how the film moved from concept to big screen. It is also interesting to see the off screen interaction of the testosterone drive cast as each strives to become the alpha male on the set. This film delivers what McTiernan admittedly wanted, a good old fashion popcorn flick. For fans Predator is a must have, even for others it will entertain you through repeated viewings. Review by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com
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