Review by Gordon Justesen
Glover, Gary Busey, Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton, Robert
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Audio: DTS HD 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 108 Minutes
Release Date: June 9, 2009
“He’s on safari. The lions, the tigers, the bears…OH MY!”
The year was 1987 when the future governor of California (Ah-nuld) and the future governor of Minnesota (Jesse Ventura) ventured into the Central American jungle on a top secret military assignment and ended up battling wits with an alien creature with the power of invisibility and all around nasty killing methods. The movie was Predator, which is unquestionable one of the best action flicks of the 80s, as well as one of Schwarzenegger’s best.
Three years later, a sequel came along which managed to bring back the Predator, but Schwarzenegger was nowhere to be seen. Because he was shooting Terminator 2 at the time, he was unavailable to return to battle the creature once more. Though this presented a challenging task, Predator 2 managed to be a most exceptional sequel, if not superior to the first one.
Since the Predator wrecked havoc in the jungles of Central America in the first movie, it was a gesture of genius that this time around his hunting site would be another kind of jungle…a crime ridden Los Angeles. Since The Predator is attracted to extreme heated atmospheres, L.A. with a temperature of 110 degrees seems like a fitting spot.
Because this movie was released in 1990, it was indeed a futuristic movie, since the story takes place in the year 1997. Therefore, the movie is set 12 years ago in the future (BIG LAUGH HERE!) It’s not every day one gets to summarize a movie in that fashion.
The movie opens with a big bang of an action scene, as the Predator closely observes an intense shootout between cops and drug dealers/gang members. The human hero of the movie is Lt. Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover), who, along with us, cannot believe his eyes as the same gang members are mysteriously killed by an invisible force at the end of the shootout.
Harrigan is puzzled beyond words, and is even more ticked off when he’s told to remove himself from the case. The reason for this is that a mysterious federal agency, headed by agent Peter Keyes (Gary Busey), knows there’s something much bigger here, and it involves the mysterious new visitor who has wiped out the gang members.
As the movie progresses, the body count of humans, both cops and drug dealers, keep rising and rising. Harrigan, who believes he to be the Predator’s next victim, ignores all authority and vows to confront the mysterious being himself. Even though he’s still unclear about who, or what, he’s going after, it will take agent Keyes, who has inside information, to reveal what it is he’s going after.
At best, Predator 2 is a solid guilty pleasure. When I first saw it, at a young age, it was perhaps the most violence, blood and guts I had ever seen at that point. And yes, the look of the Predator did terrify me. Now I look at the movie as pure brilliant trash cinema, which I’m sure that’s all it ever intended to be. The wonderfully campy performances of Gary Busey and Bill Paxton as one of Harrigan’s team members conveys this notion even further.
Sequel-wise, I feel the movie is a bit underrated. Like Alien 3, it’s one that never gets as much credit as it deserves. Though it’s not as memorable as John McTiernan’s predecessor, director Stephen Hopkins, who also directed such favorites of mine as Judgment Night and The Ghost and the Darkness as well as several early episodes of 24, does an effortless job and gives the movie a level of intense energy that never lets up for a second.
Nineteen years down the road, Predator 2 still holds up very well and maintains a high level of thrills.
My expectations weren’t quite met for this Blu-ray upgrade as far as video quality goes. The previous 2-Disc DVD release featured a fairly impressive picture presentation. My feeling is that the added age to the film was simply difficult to appear superb in high def. The image itself feels much softer than it should be in the 1080p. However, that’s not to say that the overall presentation isn’t well handled. Color saturation, in particular, is most improved this time around. All in all, a presentation that’s overall equal to that of the standard format release.
Sound-wise, the movie sounds more intense than ever! The DTS HD mix fully enhances every bombastic instance of sound this flick has to offer. The movie is nothing but gun battles, explosions and multiple scenes of the creature tearing and ripping through humans. Even the Predator’s sinister hiss has never sounded more effective. Fantastic music playback, in addition!
All the extras from the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD can be found here on this Fox Blu-ray upgrade. We have two commentary tracks; one with director Stephen Hopkins, the second with writers Jim Thomas and John Thomas. Also included is the documentary titled “The Hunters and the Hunted”, as well as three additional featurettes; “The Predator Goes to Town”, “Creating the Ultimate Hunter”, and an International Featurette. Other extras include “Evolutions” (Special Effects Development Sequences) and “Weapons of Choice” (Weapons Analysis Sequences). Lastly, there’s a promotional gallery, with trailers and TV spots, a full length mock news report, and a behind the scenes photo gallery.
Predator 2 has long been a slick and violent guilty pleasure of a movie, and thanks to Fox’s Blu-ray upgrade, the movie is now more enjoyable than ever. Enjoy the hunt, and don’t lose your skull!