Neither of the Predator vs. Alien films were as successful at the box office as was hoped. And this film has had its share of detractors since its release in 1990. I, for one, find it to be as good as, if not better than, the original film. Watching the two governors Arnold and Jesse take on the Predator in the Columbian jungles was certainly a hoot. Let’s be honest, however. Who didn’t cheer, if only inside, when the big bad ugly started to take on LA’s drug lords in Predator 2? This sequel is more than just a romp with a monster. The story is far more compelling. The cast of Danny Glover, Bill Paxton, Kent McCord, and Gary Busey team up well. The film’s production partner Joel Silver’s influence hangs heavy over the film. Glover’s Harrigan is really just Lethal Weapon’s Murdock without Riggs. The LA street firefights and car explosions are ready-made for the Silver cop buddy series. Don’t get me wrong. This is not great filmmaking here. It is a lot more fun than it has been given credit for, however. Now with the release of the movie in high definition on Blue-ray, I advise you take another look at this one.
An alien warrior is back on Earth for another safari. This time the jungle is the mean streets of LA. The prey happens to be ruthless drug lords. Federal Agent Keyes (Busey) heads a secret government team to track and capture the creature. Det. Harrigan (Glover) wants to avenge his partner’s murder even if it means clashing with the feds.
It was clever to move the sequel from the jungle to the streets of the L.A. urban setting. There are some great analogs here that play well into the scenes of the first film. The expanded cast makes it a better film overall. While the first film gave us some great thrills, this film fleshes out the entire franchise and leaves an unfired bullet in the chamber. There were so many places the franchise could have gone from here. But the combo platter films took up the reins and have been a huge disappointment. As much as it’s every fanboy’s dream to see these kinds of matchups, history shows us we’re better off leaving the distinct natures to their own devices. Now that the franchise is headed for a reboot, there’s some real opportunity to pick up where the potential of this sequel left off. I’m far more interested in that prospect than I am this release. I’m still waiting for a definitive high definition release of Predator 1 or 2.
Predator 2 is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC/MPEG-4 codec. We’re going to get into that DNR controversy once again. There is ample evidence that there has been some extensive DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) on this transfer. Combine that with a print that does not appear to be an upgrade, and this high definition image is not a significant upgrade at all. There is a great amount of clarity and improved detail. But colors are remarkably soft, and the DNR has removed any of the atmosphere of gritty L.A. streets this film once had. I realize some of you have no problem with all of this process work, and there has been more than enough heated discussion in the forums. I was referred to there as a no-name hack who didn’t know what he was talking about. Most legitimate reviewers, however, appear to be united in their disdain for this abuse of technology. Would it keep me from buying a title? Not necessarily, but it would keep me from making the upgrade that this release is demanding. I’ve had plenty of discussions with name/non-hack reviewers, and I’ve discovered we’re all pretty much of one mind on this one. Send a message to the studios, while the format is young enough, that we want restored, not over-processed high definition releases. Don’t take my word for it. Check out what some of the other experts are saying on the subject at places like The Digital Bits or DVD Talk.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track is two fists of dynamite. Here the release truly excels. The sub response is terrific. Those explosions and firefights will come alive, and you’ll be surrounded by full dynamic sound. This thing clocks in at over 5 mbps, so there’s a lot of strength in the lossless audio presentation. Dialog is clear, and everything is perfectly placed.
There are two Audio Commentaries found here. By far the most interesting is with John and Jim Thomas. They wrote both Predator films and offer a lot of good insight. The lesser commentary is by the director, Stephen Hopkins. This one’s pretty dry. I did find it to be an excellent sleep aid.
All of the extras are in SD and ported from the DVD.
The Hunters and the Hunted: (35:41) This is basically The Making Of Predator 2. It’s a half hour feature made up of mostly vintage interviews and a large helping of film clips.
Evolutions: (8:24) This one allows you to look at four aspects of the f/x process.
Weapons Of Choice: (6:49) A must for any true Predator fan. Here you’ll get a close-up look at the unique weapons designed for the Predator. This one’s killer. You can choose a weapon to see or use the “play all” feature to run them all.
Hard Core: (7:05) A very amusing look at some “episodes” of the film’s news show. Morton Downey, Jr. is a hoot as the obnoxious news reporter for this tabloid news program.
While I liked the film, I recognize it might not have a lot of rewatchability, which also plays into the upgrade decision here. I’d go for the rental so that you can see for yourself what you think of the whole DNR thing. You know my take: “This is what I call the speech, kid. It’s the only one I got and I only give it once, so pay attention.”