The Predator Blu-Ray Review
For a sequel that was released over eight years after the previous installment, The Predator came with surprisingly high expectations. The original Predator became an instant genre classic for numerous reasons, but the film’s simplicity was it’s greatest asset – along with an iconic performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Much like 1990’s Predator 2 and 2010’s Predators, the newest film tries to expand the mythology of the series, albeit in a completely different way than its predecessors. While all three movies are impressive in terms of keeping in line with the practical nature of the Predator, they all eventually failed at recreating the first film’s greatest trick: telling a good story.
As a director, Shane Black was a terrific choice for The Predator – at least on paper. In many ways, the movie is a throwback to B-movies of the ’80s that just happens to be told through a modern lens. Black brings a new visual approach that blends the best elements from the previous entries in the franchise, while creating something that feels distinct, but familiar. Tonally speaking, The Predator often sacrifices meaningful story and character development for a series of cheap laughs. At the end of the day, Black’s uber-violent stylistic approach to the material is a welcome, but ineffectual change considering how forgettable the movie actually is.
As much as Black brings to the table visually, he also takes too much of the film’s impact away through his misguided approach to the characters. Although it’s certainly nice to see a young character with autism and another with Tourette’s syndrome, both characters ultimately amount to nothing more than the reinforcement of stereotypes. The movie doesn’t ever try to justify or motivate any actions of the characters, especially in the third act. Moreover, The Predator does a really terrible job of giving any kind of meaningful conclusion to the story. This is probably also a byproduct of the film’s highly publicized reshoots, but it is so anti-climactic that the resolution is non-existent.
The Predator is certainly entertaining to watch on the surface, but we don’t really learn enough about this band of misfits to really care about any of them, let alone remember most of their names. This speaks to the larger problems of the screenplay by Black and Fred Dekker, but it’s the film’s often childish and near-misogynistic approach to the execution of the plot that makes it feel like a thematic mess. Black is known for being one of the smartest and one of the most talented writers in the business. However, in The Predator, Black’s writing style feels surprisingly inappropriate for what this movie is trying to accomplish.
Then there’s the final scene, which pretty much undoes any good will that the movie had built up to that point. This short sequence was obviously meant to come during the credits as a stinger. But taken as the final scene in The Predator, it feels tacked-on, convoluted, and completely unnecessary. Despite the fact that the movie has no strongly executed themes at play, it also manages to be simply unmemorable – both in terms of the characters and the overall story. There’s a line early in the film that really sums up what The Predator is all about: “It’s like the sequel to the first one, only stupider.” Maybe this is the screenplay’s own way of addressing the approach to the sequel, but it feels like the film ultimately should have taken its own advice.
The Predator only becomes more problematic when it attempts to re-contextualize the canon. The film’s overuse of Alan Silvestri’s iconic theme music from the original only makes viewers remember how that movie was far superior to The Predator. In may even force the audience to question whether the Predator movies are even worthy of being a franchise. This could be the final nail in the coffin of a franchise that might have been better off standing as a singular story.
Landing on Blu-Ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer; The Predator’s home video release offers a solid presentation of the film. Shot in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, this Blu-ray also preserves said ratio on the disc. Unsurprisingly, this transfer brings out the best in the practical effects of the film and the worst in the digital effects. Detail and clarity are ridiculously sharp for the former, but slightly soft for the latter. The Predator is not a particularly colorful film, but the sporadic use of color is well represented on this disc as well.
The contrast is acceptable, but the movie is often too dark for its own good – especially in the third act. If there’s one glaring issue, it’s that there’s a slightly unusual amount of noise in the image, specifically in regards to black levels in the transfer. The digital effects also suffer a bit on the disc, although that has less to do with the transfer itself and more with the third act reshoots in post-production. Although the UHD version of the movie probably solves the noise issue, this video transfer for The Predator is solid nonetheless.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix for The Predator’s Blu-ray presentation is easily the highlight of this disc. In fact, it’s safe to say that this is easily the most immersive sound mix of the whole franchise’s various home video releases. Dialogue crispness and clarity take precedence over everything else, even in the more bombastic action sequences. Despite this, the mix never denies any particular element, making effective use of all the available tracks on the mix, including Henry Jackman’s wonderfully layered score.
The Special Features
As a whole, the special features for the home video release of The Predator are passable fillers at best. It’s hard to tell if the film’s negative press upon its release hurt the insight into the making of it, but the lack of commentary by Black seems to suggest so.
Deleted Scenes (6:55; 1080p): Although the original footage from film’s reported 3rd act reshoots would have been nice to see here, it’s also easy to see why these scenes were excised from The Predator.
A Touch of Black (10:28; 1080p): This decent featurette focuses on Shane Black’s history with the Predator franchise, along with his directorial approach to the most recent entry. The first half focuses on Black’s role in the 1987 film, along with the key comedic relief that the he also brought to the screenplay of the original. The other half focuses on Black’s attempt to advance the franchise forward, both in terms of mythology and his visual approach to The Predator’s story.
Predator Evolution (20:11; 1080p): This fairly lengthy featurette looks at the classic design of the titular character, and more importantly, how they updated the look of the Predator for this film. Aside from the design aspects, it also digs into the nuts and bolts behind the practicalities of bringing the titular character to life on set.
The Takedown Team (16:14; 1080p): The next featurette focuses on the casting and characterization in The Predator. Aside from focusing on the dynamic between Olivia Munn, Jacob Tremblay and Boyd Holbrook, it also looks at chemistry between the ensemble cast as a whole.
Predator Catch Up (9:07; 1080p): This “featurette” is basically a lengthy montage that recaps the events of the previous movies. It basically spoils some of the best moments in all of those films with little context.
Gallery (1080p): A short gallery of concept art, mostly of the alien spacecraft and technology introduced in the film.
Theatrical Trailers (6:06; 1080p): A collection of the trailers that were used for the marketing of the film.
Is The Predator Worth Bringing Home On Blu-Ray?
The decision to purchase The Predator on Blu-ray really depends on your level of fandom for the franchise. Hardcore fans of these movies already know what they’re getting into. For those fans, it’s certainly recommended for the flim’s impressive technical aspects. However, casual viewers should absolutely rent the film before taking the plunge and purchasing the disc, especially when considering the disappointing nature of The Predator and the lack of commentary from Black.
Overall Rating: 3/5