Predator: Ultimate Edition
1987 was the year that fledging Austrian tough guy actor and former Mr Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger's film career as action hero really took off. Schwarzenegger had already made an impact as the robotic bad guy in Jim Cameron's Terminator and also had his first attempt as the iconic action star in 1985's Commando, before the rather dated and disappointing Raw Deal a year later. He'd also starred in cult films as comic book hero Conan The Barbarian. All this so far had made him well known, but 1987 would launch his career into the stratosphere and make him the action hero of the late 80's and the 90's before marrying into the Kennedy clan gave political ambitions that would ultimately lead to being elected Governor of California.
And so to Predator…
A helicopter containing a Cabinet Minister has been shot down over enemy territory in Central America and so the Army have called in Dutch Schaeffer (Scharzenegger) and his team of commando's who specialise in rescue operations. Schaeffer is also reunited with old CIA buddy Dillon (Carl Weathers), but is a little disturbed to find that Dillon has overall command of the mission.
Dropping into the jungle, it's not long before the team find a group of hanging bodies, all stripped of skin and left as rotting flesh. This turns out to be a group of special forces well known to Dutch and his men, and although they are puzzled by the curious signs of a firefight, assume that the skinning is the work of the enemy paramilitaries.
Coming across the enemy camp, they are just in time to see the final survivor of the chopper get executed and so Dutch decides to attack the encampment for intelligence. After annihilating the enemy, Dutch and his muscle-bound buddies take a young girl Anna (Elpidia Carrillo) prisoner but don't realilse that something is watching them from afar and is a little impressed with their military skills.
Pretty soon the team find themselves being picked off one by one and are confused by what seems to be an alien hunter of some kind. It falls on Dutch to try and lead his team to safety and find a way to defeat the predator…
Despite some of the early stock shots looking a little blurred and grainy, the majority of the picture just looks superb and looks fantastic for a picture made in 1987. There is some discussion in the reviews on Amazon about overuse of Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) but I couldn't see any blatant use of it or the rather waxy skin tones complained about.
The picture is full of great detail with the Predator's chameleon-esque camouflage never looking better, only really spoiled by the rather disappointing bright yellow eyes (see where Dylan spots him just prior to dying).
A couple of new featurettes that reflect the imminent release of Predators at the cinema. The first is a First Look and last around 90 seconds, the second is a featurette on the evolution of the Predator character and looks at how Robert Rodriguez ended up on a Predator planet via the first film and Predator 2.
All the other extras from the 2006 DVD Special Edition are here, including the Easter Eggs such as Stan Winston: Practical Joker, Jesse Ventura's Ultimate Goal and Don't Drink The Water, only they are menu accessible this time.
Predator is one of Schwarzenegger's best films and it hasn't really dated at all. What puts it apart from a lot of other films at the time is that it successfully manages to combine two genres. Initially it is the military action genre, and pretty good at that it is too with a pretty unique mix of team members to back up yer main man, but then about a third of the way in it switches to the horror slasher genre where the cast start to be picked off one by one, only by an alien rather than some supernatural serial killer type thing.
I never tire of watching this film, there is a good blend of characters (despite the fact that they're all huge and not great actors) and obviously you get some great Arnie one-liners as well. It's not a cerebral film, it is very much a popcorn action film and as such should be enjoyed as such. The visuals on this edition are superb with the predator camouflage looking particularly impressive.
Most people already know what this film is and whether they're fans or not. The only question therefore is do you upgrade from the last DVD special edition or not? For me, it's an unequivocal yes. The picture and sound is much better and all the special features from that edition have been ported across.
Predator has never looked better…