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PREDATORS
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne
Director: Nimrod Antal
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 105 Minutes
Release Date: October 19, 2010

This planet is a game preserve...AND WE'RE THE GAME.”

Film ***1/2

Predators is one purely awesome surprise of a flick, and one of the best times I've had at the movies this year. As tired as I am of remakes/reboots of every popular movie franchise, this is hands down the best one to come along since last year's Star Trek. Furthermore, I think it is right on par with the original Schwarzenegger classic!

What I admire about it most is that it's not so much a reboot as it is a direct sequel to the first movie, and it manages to honor what made the original such a remarkable genre flick while at the same time crafting an entirely new storyline that is entirely worthy of the franchise. And this is a series that definitely needed some readjusting. I'm a fan of Predator 2, but I think we can all agree that the two Alien vs. Predator movies were hugely wasted efforts.

Robert Rodriguez is the man to thank for getting this project off the ground. Having conceived the story idea many years ago in the hopes that he would get to oversee a follow up to the original movie. Rodriguez finally had his wish granted when the decision had been made by the studio to greenlight a reboot.

As producer and godfather to the project, Rodriguez was clearly determined to find the perfect director to help get this series back on its feet. And he truly succeeded in his choosing of Nimrod Antal, a director who already displayed skillful promise with his last two films, Vacancy and Armored. Those were both tightly directed thrillers made under modest budgets, and this would give Antal the opportunity to exercise his directorial skills on a much bigger scale.

And talk about a great way to open a movie. The very first thing we see is a man waking up as he is falling from the sky. He narrowly survives the fall by crash landing thanks to a late parachute release.

His name is Royce (Adrien Brody), a mercenary soldier of some type. Just when he wakes up trying to comprehend what just happened, he realizes he's not alone. Other soldiers/trained killers appear, also without any knowledge of how they got here.

Among this group is a female sniper (Alice Braga) from the Middle East, a death row prison inmate (Walton Goggins), a Mexican outlaw (Danny Trejo), a member of the Yakuza (Louis Ozawa Changchien), and a Russian mercenary (Oleg Taktarov). The only one of the bunch who appears to be a bit out of place is a doctor (Topher Grace), since he immediately shows signs of being the wussiest. As the group attempts to find a way out of whatever planet they've landed on, Royce eventually comes to suspect that they've been brought here for the same reason.

And he turns out to be right, as the planet itself is actually a hunting ground for the alien inhabitants we've come to know and love (and when I say love, I mean FEAR) as the Predators. Basically, from this point forward you know what you're in for in terms of story. It all adds up to the humans vs. the aliens, and getting to see the various Predators dispatch their human victims in fantastically eye-popping ways, and no movie since the original has done a more outstanding job in that regard.

The most astonishing aspect of Predators is the notion that it contains so much engaging spectacle and bang for your buck, and yet the budget of the movie was only $40 million. To look at it, you'd swear the budget was upwards of at least $100 million. It's amazing to note just how much this movie pulls off when compared to how little so many movies with twice the budget manage to deliver.

The movie also marks a most surprising turn from Adrien Brody in the role of action movie badass. Brody has long been a remarkable dramatic actor, and has the Oscar to prove it, and it is extremely rare these days to see an actor of such a high caliber make a transition to that of cinematic ass kicker, but he pulls it off remarkably. And as you'll see in the climatic one on one with the lead Predator, Brody clearly wasn't kidding around when it came to bulking up for the movie.

Predators is a relentlessly thrilling and solid entry in this sci-fi monster series. I don't find myself using such words when describing many of the reboots being churned out nowadays, thus indicating that this is a major exception. If you're a fan of the Predator series and were more than let down by the wasted potential displayed in the AVP movies, you owe it to yourself to check this one out, cause it flat out ROCKS!

Video ****

I can also happily report that this is the absolute best looking of the Predator movies on Blu-ray, having seen the first two in their respective BD releases. This release from Fox boasts a thoroughly terrific and richly detailed presentation that brings the jungle setting the vivid life. And that's saying a lot because the movie doesn't contain a great deal of heavy lighting, as the interiors of the jungle and darkened set pieces are basically what we get. In both cases, the 1080p delivers endless image detail. The sequences set in darkly lit areas, in particular, impressed my quite a bit. And the gory bits provided by the Predators themselves have never looked more horrific and in your face!

Audio ****

Fox has loaded this release with a intensely superb DTS HD 5.1 mix. The opening freefall sequence is even more of a remarkable opening when hearing the movie through a home theater system. I also want to point out that it is extremely cool to hear a cue from Alan Silvestri's score of the original movie during this sequence. The jungle setting comes to life in the build up portion of the movie, as noises are frequently heard coming from every possible surrounding area. Then when the Predators show up, it's a nonstop assault on both the humans and your surround sound. Gunfire, laser blasts, blood bursts, skull dismembers...all sound nothing short of astonishing!

Features ***1/2

Nice batch of extras are featured on this Fox Blu-ray release, starting with a fun commentary track with director Nimrod Antal and producer Robert Rodriguez, during which you get a good sense of their working relationship and the direction they wanted to take this series in. Also included are two sets of Motion Comics that serve as prequel stories to what we see in the movie. Next up is the documentary “Evolution of the Species: Predators Reborn”, which runs about 40 minutes in length and covers all basic aspects of the development of the movie and the actual shooting of it. Also included is “Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene”, which focuses on the execution of a pivotal sequence from the movie. Rounding out the extras are 11 minutes worth of Deleted/Extended Scenes, and extended character based commercial titled “The Chosen” and the truly awesome Theatrical Trailer for the movie.

Lastly, there's a Bonus Disc which contains a downloadable Digital Copy version of the movie.

Summary:

Predators was one of this summer's most rousing pieces of popcorn entertainment. Producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal should be credited for their roles in redirecting this franchise in the proper direction. It's also a must have Blu-ray release, as it contains the best look and sound of any movie in the series to date!

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