DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Predators - Blu-ray Review


Predators

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Bypassing the largely forgettable Predator 2 and the entire run of the grossly unimaginative Alien vs Predator series, Nimrod Antal’s Predators dropkicks the action from earth and amps up the violence to a nameless planet full of nothing but jungle terrain.  Neither a vehicle for Hollywood muscle nor a straight-on excuse to fire a hell of a lot of bullets in a senseless script, Predators stays on course due to a healthy dose of mystery and plot complications brought about by its characters.  Visually engaging and tight on revved-up suspense, Predators climb to the top of the sci-fi genre might be similar to a hero’s journey through unending darkness, but, lest we forget, the real hero of the picture is director Antal’s well-focused control.

Produced by Robert Rodriguez, Predators is an ensemble piece with Adrien Brody in the lead.  Brody plays American mercenary Royce who finds himself – at the beginning of the film – falling furiously through the air.  He survives the hazardous fall only to hear the THUMP of other bodies – some dead, some alive – as they land around him.  Immediately engaging, we become intoxicatingly involved in Royce’s journey as he groups up with eight other people mysteriously dropped from the sky.  At this point, Predators wins over its audience because it plays like the entire first season of LOST: strangers, each with a particular skill set, are brought together to defeat/outsmart what lies just outside their immediate location.

Never forced by the conceits of the script or Antal’s superb direction, the characters emerge naturally, leaving room for a few surprises that hearken back to the events of the first Predator and a cameo from Lawrence Fishburne.  Joined by a Mexican gangster (Danny Trejo), an Israeli sniper (Alice Braga), a Yakuza enforcer (Louis Ozawa Changchien), a Russian VDV commando (Oleg Taktarov), a death-row inmate (Walter Goggins), a Sierra Leone death squad officer (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) and a young doctor (Topher Grace), Royce discovers, in quick soldier-like fashion, that their grouping is not as mysterious as originally thought.  They are ‘The Hunted’ and their story is one of survival – at any cost – and, thankfully, the script delivers.

Antal’s camera is like a straight-edge knife; not glossy and slick, but real and deadly.  He expertly shoots an old-fashioned narrative with Predators.  Most of the visual stylings we are used to from high-octane thrillers have been jettisoned in favor of some action highs circa 1987.  The design of the original predator has thankfully not been changed; however, Antal introduces us to a hierarchy of predators in a blood war hinted about in the Dark Horse comics.  Antal’s wider universe is fully realized under his direction and expertly sets the stage for the action at hand.

With a nod in title alone to James Cameron’s Aliens, Antal’s Predators delivers a fine piece of sci-fi awesomeness, which opens the mythology of the Predator universe with fine precision and, if the returns are large enough, with a hale and hearty hint at things to come.  Rest assured, Twentieth Century Fox’s Predator franchise is most certainly alive and well in the capable hands of Rodriguez and Antal.


Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 19, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin (Traditional)
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); Digital copy (on disc); BD-Live

Using the Genesis digital camera to film the movie, the transfer is rather more surprisingly of a film quality instead of a digital one.  It is quite nice and – to my memory – looks MUCH better than as presented in the theatres.  There is still a dark and dangerous lushness to the greens and blacks, but both hues are visually more realistic than first seen.  This could be because the levels have been darkened a bit or somehow tweaked for the transfer.  I mean, even the shadows reveal detail previously unseen.  The sound – which really works the surround speakers and sub-woofer – is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.

Supplements:

Commentaries:

  • There is a pretty exhaustive commentary provided by producer Rodriguez and director Antal that covers their commitment to the Predator franchise (they are already working on a sequel to Predators) and in entertaining the viewer.

Special Features:

The 60 minutes of bonus features really reveal that this – through-and-through – is the Predator sequel we’ve been waiting for.  There are a lot of informative and interesting features to this blu-ray, yet because there is a difference in quality and quantity from the SD version to the blu-ray, I will note what’s included solely with the blu-ray.  While it is disappointing that this isn’t an unrated blu-ray, the 9 deleted scenes provide a solid glimpse at what the filmmakers had/have planned should an unrated version of Predators ever see the light of day.

Motion comics:

  • "Moments of Extraction" – In this exclusive prequel motion comic, Rodriguez provides a series of comic vignettes voiced by the cast of Predators. Essentially, this feature fills in the blanks to the opening and provides the reasons why they were chosen to be hunted:
    • Noland Intro (part 1)
    • Isabelle
    • Cuchillo (BD-exclusive)
    • Hanzo (BD-exclusive)
    • Mombasa
    • Noland Ending (part 2) (BD-exclusive)

  • Evolution of the Species: Predators Reborn
  • Bloodline (BD-exclusive)
  • De-Cloaking the Invisible: Alien Terrain
  • Intelligent Design: The Hunting Camp (BD-exclusive)
  • Predators as Prey (BD-exclusive)
  • Yuatja Transformed (BD-exclusive)
  • Rite of Passage (BD-exclusive)
  • The Chosen Featurette (BD-exclusive)
  • Fox Movie Channel presents: Making a Scene (BD-exclusive)
  • Nine deleted and extended scenes (BD-exclusive)

BD-Live:

  • Exclusive Predator Features (BD-exclusive)
  • Live Lookup – Powered by IMDB (BD-exclusive)

{pgomakase}

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