Predator appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This turned into a solid representation of the film,
Sharpness usually looked fine. A dark movie, some low-light shots – which abounded – could feel a little soft, but the majority of the flick boasted appealing accuracy and delineation.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects emerged, and I saw no edge haloes. With a lot of grain, digital noise reduction didn’t seem to become an issue, and the movie lacked print flaws.
Given the jungle setting, the palette leaned toward a green orientation. These hues didn’t dazzle, but the disc replicated them as desired, and HDR added some depth to the tones.
Blacks felt dark and rich, while shadows – an important factor given the photography – seemed smooth and clear. HDR made whites and contrast work well. No one will use the dingy visuals of Predator as a demo film, but the 4K presented it nicely.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Predator presented a very active soundfield that seemed impressive for a moderately old film. The forward channels dominated the proceedings as they offered nearly-constant audio that made the movie much more engaging. Directionality seemed strong, with sound that was well-placed and vivid, and audio moved effectively from channel to channel.
The surrounds also kicked in a solid amount of support, from gunfire and explosions in the louder scenes to general ambiance the rest of the time. The rear speakers also added a lot of “oomph” to the score and complemented the mix nicely.
Audio quality seemed largely solid. Some of the dialogue was poorly looped, but speech usually sounded crisp and distinct with little edginess and no problems related to intelligibility.
Music was nicely bold and vibrant, and the score appeared fairly dynamic; it showed its age at times but it generally came across well. Effects displayed minor distortion during a few of the louder scenes, but as a whole they were clean and accurate.
The entire track boasted surprisingly solid bass. The low end didn’t compete with modern standards but it seemed nicely taut. This was a consistently impressive track that has held up well over the last 34 years.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the 2010 Blu-ray? Audio was identical, as both came with the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 track.
Visuals were a different issue. In terms of picture, the 2010 BD was a disaster, as it went noise reduction crazy.
That factor meant Predator look “good” in a superficial manner, but it didn’t represent anything that resembled film. Noise reduction eradicated detail and turned the image into a hyper-polished mess.
All those concerns vanished here, as Fox clearly opted for a more natural look. The 4K seemed better defined, smoother and much, much more film-like than the 2010 BD. It became a massive upgrade.
Two extras appear on the 4K disc itself, and we open with an audio commentary from director John McTiernan, who provides a running, screen-specific chat. The veteran of many commentaries, McTiernan proves illuminating - when he speaks.
McTiernan gets into his involvement with the project, his attempts to subvert genre notions, working with the actors and methods used to promote closeness, locations and effects, and differences between the script and the final product. The implementation of the predator creature receives good attention, especially when we hear amusing tales like the attempt to put a monkey in a suit at one point.
Most of the material is solid, and McTiernan seems honest and blunt about the various topics. He lets us know about the challenges he faced on his first studio flick. Unfortunately, a fair amount of dead air occurs.
The gaps don’t seem overwhelming, but they pop up somewhat frequently and make the discussion drag. There’s still more than enough good material to warrant a listen, but the empty space keeps this from becoming a thoroughly solid commentary.
We also find a text commentary written by film journalist/historian Eric Lichtenfeld. The track includes excerpts from his interviews with co-supervising sound effects editors Richard L. Anderson and David Stone, second unit director/stunt coordinator Craig Baxley, casting director Jackie Burch, special effects coordinator Al Di Sarro, editor Mark Helfrich, visual effects supervisor Joel Hynek, editor John F. Link, cinematographer Donald McAlpine, and screenwriters Jim and John Thomas. Lichtenfeld also occasionally tosses in some comments of his own.
A glance at the jobs of those folks gives you a good clue what topics receive attention in this text commentary, as it focuses largely on the technical side of things. Although that might have meant a dry discussion of the flick, instead it offers a lively and informative examination of the various issues.
It opens with a look at the story and script’s origins and gets into casting, visual and practical effects, photography, stunts and sound design. The last area receives a great deal of attention, as does a detailed examination of how one burns a man on film.
We learn a bit about how Predator fits into McTiernan’s style and some reflections on his work. Overall, the program is very informative and offers a solid look at the flick.
Everything else appears on the included Blu-ray copy, and we head to a documentary called ”If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: The Making of Predator. In this 28-minute, 46-second show, we hear from, McAlpine, Baxley, Hynek, production designer John Vallone, creature creator Stan Winston, screenwriters John and Jim Thomas, assistant director Beau Marks, producer John Davis, and actors Shane Black, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Duke, Sonny Landham, Jesse Ventura, Carl Weathers, Kevin Peter Hall and Richard Chaves.
The program goes through the piece’s genesis and path to the screen, McTiernan’s style, casting, training and competitiveness among the actors, location challenges and the film’s visual look, stunts and weapons, Predator-related effects and connected problems, the movie’s hiatus due to a lack of funds and inadvertent benefits, the Predator redesign and execution, and the flick’s reception.
If you already checked out the commentaries, you’ll have heard a fair amount of this information. However, “Bleeds” ties it all up in a neat little package, and it tells the story well.
Not that all the notes are redundant, as we learn a lot of new facts here. The best moments connect to the Predator design and execution, but this entire program seems like a solid examination of the production.
Inside the Predator breaks down into seven separate featurettes. “Classified Action” (5:21) looks at the filmed military mayhem with Black, Weathers, McTiernan, Duke, and Baxley.
“The Unseen Arnold” (4:42) presents remarks from Landham, Duke, McTiernan, Black, Davis, John Thomas, Weathers and Schwarzenegger as they reflect on the lead actor and his behavior during the shoot. “Old Painless” (3:30) focuses on the massive weapon with info from Ventura, Weathers, Duke and Black.
”The Life Inside (Tribute to Kevin Peter Hall)” (4:26) discusses the late actor via notes from Winston, Davis, McTiernan, Weathers, Duke and Hall himself. “Camouflage” (4:54) examines the actors’ military garb and other makeup with Chaves, Black and makeup artist Scott Eddo.
“Welcome to the Jungle” (2:40) looks at the film’s setting and locations with McTiernan, McAlpine and Vallone. “Character Design” (4:41) details those development issues with McTiernan, Vallone, Duke, Black, Chaves, and Eddo.
All seven pieces get into their topics pretty nicely. They don’t combine to make a coherent whole, but they go over the subjects well and offer lots of useful tidbits.
In the Special Effects domain we see a few smaller components. Three clips focus on “red suit” Predator elements; these last between 17 seconds and 57 seconds for a total of two minutes, eight seconds of material.
The first two show an actor in a sack-like red Predator costume for elements used to work the camouflage scenes, while the third shows the original, discarded design for the alien.
Two camouflage tests follow, and they run 35 and 75 seconds, respectively. None seem fascinating, especially since we already saw the unused suit snippet in prior materials.
Next we find a collection of Deleted Scenes and Outtakes. Called “Fleeing the Predator”, the sole deleted scene lasts 103 seconds and presents exactly what the title promises: more of Dutch as he runs from the alien.
It wouldn’t add much to the movie, but I feel sorry for Schwarzenegger that it didn’t make the cut, as they put ants on him for nothing! The outtakes span 0:28, 2:12 and 0:56, respectively. Only “Sliding Downhill” seems interesting, as it provides extra snippets of Arnie’s wild ride.
Some stillframe material appears via Predator Profile. Over nine screens, it gives us some details about the alien’s bodysuit and arsenal.
The Photo Gallery follows suit. It fills 101 screens mainly with a mix of publicity shots and behind the scenes pictures, though it ends with international covers from Predator videos.
For a new piece, we go to the awkwardly titled Predator: Evolution of a Species: Hunters of Extreme Perfection. In this 11-minute, 13-second show, we hear from producer John Davis, and filmmakers Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal.
Davis throws out a few details – which are already covered elsewhere – while Rodriguez and Antal do little more than tell us how great Predator. Why do we hear from them? Because they’re the head guys behind Predators. “Evolution” exists to promote the new movie; it doesn’t tell us much that we need to know.
Under Short Tales, we get four brief pieces. These include “John McTiernan on Learning Film” (3:05), “Jesse’s Ultimate Goal” (2:18), “Stan Winston: Practical Joker” (3:02) and “Don’t Drink the Water” (1:58).
These give us quick thoughts about various topics; I believe they appeared as Easter eggs on the 2-disc DVD. They’re never special, but they’re fun additions, and I’m glad we don’t have to hunt for them ala the old DVD.
The disc opens with an ad for Predators. It also includes a one-minute, 44-second Sneak Peek at the 2010 film as well as trailers for Predator and Predator 2.
Note that this Blu-ray replicates the flawed release from 2010. A 2008 BD also exists, one that apparently offers an erratic visual experience but still one superior to the 2010.
I found the Predator to be a somewhat lackluster but decent action piece. It never quite lives up to its potential, but it provides enough solid adventure to deserve a look. The 4K UHD boasts solid visuals, terrific audio and informative supplements. This 4K Predator becomes the definitive release of the film.
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