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PREDATOR

While not the biggest or the best of Arnold Schwarzenegger's action spectaculars, PREDATOR ($30) is solid sci-fi entertainment than never fails to thrill fans of this particular genre. In PREDATOR, Schwarzenegger portrays Major Dutch Schaeffer, the leader of an elite commando unit that is sent on a rescue mission in the jungles of Central America to retrieve some diplomats who are being held hostage after straying into hostile territory. Also along on the mission is Dillon (Carl Weathers), an old comrade who now works behind-the-scenes at a government intelligence agency.

Soon after landing in the jungle and taking an encampment of guerillas, Dutch learns that ‘the hostages" was just a cover story to get him and his men to go and do a bit of dirty business for the government. Unable to do anything about his old friend who has played him for a dupe, Dutch and his men head for the pickup point on the other side of the border. However, before the commando team can get very far, an unseen enemy begins hunting down and butchering these exceedingly well-armed military men. The commandos use every bit of skill and every weapon at their disposal to try and stop whoever is decimating their numbers, but eventually they come to realize that their enemy is definitely not of this Earth. PREDATOR is a fast paced, albeit gruesome science fiction outing that benefits from director John McTiernan's action packed staging. Additionally, Stan Winston's impressive designs for the alien predator serve to make this an unforgettable motion picture experience. In addition to Schwarzenegger and Weathers, the cast of PREDATOR includes Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse "The Governor" Ventura, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves, R.G. Armstrong, Shane Black and Kevin Peter Hall.

This is the second time that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made PREDATOR available on DVD. Rectifying their previous mistake, PREDATOR has been reissued with the anamorphic enhancement for playback on 16:9 displays. Although now enhanced, the 1.85:1 image is unable to overcome the deficiencies in the film's original production photography. Let's face it, 1987's PREDATOR is a grainy and gritty looking movie- and no transfer is ever going to change that fact. Grain aside, PREDATOR looks pretty darn good. The picture is usually very sharp and delivers a good level of detail, although there are occasional slightly soft looking shots. Colors are fairly strong, the lush greens of the jungle vegetation are nicely rendered and the blood reds do make an impact. The hues are generally solid and I didn't detect any evidence of smearing. Blacks appear accurate, although the level of shadow detail is somewhat limited by the film stocks used to shoot PREDATOR back in the eighties. Dual layer authoring keeps digital compression artifacts out of sight.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack has a strong action movie mix with a lot of presence. There are no split surround effects, but whenever the rear channels are brought into play, they are used effectively. The forward soundstage has plenty of directional effects, as well as good channel separation, which keep them clean and precise. Dialogue reproduction is fully intelligible and pretty natural sounding for a mid-eighties flick. The bass channel is pretty strong, supplying the necessary kick throughout the film to enhance all of the film's gunfire and explosions. My favorite aspect of the track is Alan Silvestri's insistent score, which I think is one of his best. The music is well recorded and prominently mixed to really enhance one’s enjoyment of this film. For a track that originated in the 1980's, PREDATOR still holds its own. Also included on the DVD is a new DTS rendering of the sound mix, which adds a bit more clarity and depth to the music and sound effects, as well as producing stronger, tighter bass. No matter your preference, both 5.1 renderings are very pleasing. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer.

If you haven't already purchased PREDATOR on DVD, the new 16:9 enhanced presentation makes the disc worth acquiring. Those who have the previous DVD, but don't as of yet have a 16:9 enhanced display, may want to hold off until they pick up a new wide screen television. However, if DTS is your reason for upgrading PREDATOR, don't hesitate.

 
PREDATOR 


Predator

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 

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DVD reviews are Copyright © 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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