Predator

“Predator” is a film that holds a place near and dear to many Arnold Schwarzenegger fan’s hearts. And why not? “Predator” is a lot of fun, filled with powerful action sequences wrapped up in a silly screenplay by Jim Thomas and John Thomas.


predatorThe top draw is Schwarzenegger, playing a character true to form, a no-nonsense special forces officer who is recruited by the CIA to rescue some political hostages from guerrilla’s in a Central American country. No names please, as none are necessary. “Predator” begins like Sylvester’s “Rambo: First Blood II,” and might have even been shot in the same jungles of Mexico. The first act follows Dutch (Schwarzenegger) and his platoon of regulars as they make their way through the jungle with CIA operative Dillon (Carl Weathers).

Dutch and his men find the guerilla’s camp, but not before they find a group of Green Berets who had been skinned alive and left hanging in the jungle. Freaky stuff, but they have a mission to do, so Dutch and his men take out the guerillas. When Dutch learns that the mission was a cover-up to get the goods on invading Russians, he goes ballistic. The group then high tails it back to the pick up spot, with Dillon dragging along female guerilla Anna (Elpida Carrillo). Unbeknownst to Dutch and his men, there’s another enemy in the jungle, and this one isn’t taking hostages. It’s an intergalactic hunter in town for a little R&R (that’s stands for ripping and reaming).

Now he’s hunting down Dutch and his men, who have no idea what they’re up against. Thanks to some nifty visual effects, the alien moves about the jungle like a chameleon, almost invisible to his prey. In true cinematic fashion, the “Predator” takes out the platoon one by one, leaving only Dutch and the girl to kill the creature or become another trophy in it’s collection. Directed with lightning fast precision by John McTiernan, “Predator” kicks some major butt even though the script is weak and illogical.

The writers ask us to believe that the “Predator” retreats to his corner of the ring every time the characters want to take a break or set up a trap. How silly is that? It happens not just once but twice, and if it weren’t for the cast’s conviction, the film would fall apart. The supporting cast is wonderful, including new Governor Jesse Ventura who gets the alien’s electoral vote the hard way; Sonny Landham as Billy, the tracker with an uncanny sense of time and place; screenwriter Shane Black (“Lethal Weapon”) as Hawkins, a serviceable first victim; and Bill Duke as Mac, who believes in payback big time.

Schwarzenegger commands the frame when he’s on the screen, sporting a crew cut and an ever present cigar. “Predator” isn’t a classic by any means, but it is a pure shot of adrenalin served up in a large doses.

COMPLETE CHECK-UP

VISION: [ ] 20/20 [ X ] Good [ ] Cataracts [ ] Blind

For the most part, the digital transfer of “Predator” is exceptional, presenting sharp, vivid images with excellent color saturation and lots of depth. There are some low-lit jungle scenes that don’t make the cut, but the problem looks like an original negative flaw enhanced by the digital transfer. If it were just a transfer problem, all of the low-lit jungle scenes would look hazy and grainy. They don’t. Most of the images in the 1.85:1 widescreen transfer are vibrant and sharp. Except for these scenes, the blacks are impenetrable. My brother watched part of the film, and he couldn’t believe how clean and sharp the images were. Some compression artifacts, but not nearly enough to make a federal case out of. The colors range from hot to cold depending on their use, and all look natural. The heat images from the alien’s POV are like eye candy the color saturation is so pure and bold. The flesh tones are superb and very distinguished.

HEARING: [ X ] Excellent [ ] Minor Hearing Loss [ ] Needs Hearing Aid [ ] Deaf

Sound so boisterous and loud that I was asked twice to either close my doors and windows or turn down it down. The 5.1 Dolby Digital Stereo Surround is exceptional, making you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action. The surround and front to back separation is honest and direct. The basses are exceptionally strong, while the ambient noise (lots of bullets flying overhead) is powerful and present at all times. Crisp, clear soundtrack with no noticeable hisses or distortion. The dialogue mix is excellent. There’s a lot of chaos in the film, and the surround effect is so impressive you begin to feel disoriented. Alan Silvestri’s musical score is alive with low and high ends, and the creature’s organic sump pump noise crawls out of the speakers with an eerie flow. The Dolby Surround track in English also contains a decent mix, but it’s not nearly as definitive, plus there’s also a French language track. Pull down the windows, close the doors, and crank up the sound for a truly memorable aural experience.

ORAL: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Good [ ] Poor

Closed captions in English and subtitles in Spanish.

COORDINATION: [ ] Excellent [ ] Good [ X ] Clumsy [ ] Weak

The customary interactive main and scene access menus, plus the original theatrical trailer. The insert card states that there are 35 Chapter Stops when in fact there are only 25.

PROGNOSIS: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Will Live [ ] Resuscitate [ ] Terminal

Arn-nuld does the “Jungle Boogie” with an intergalactic Bob Marley, and the outcome is exciting and fast-paced. Whether or not you include it in your DVD collection depends on your affinity for the film.

VITALS: $29.98/rated R/107 Min./Color/25 Chapter Stops/Keepcase/#4109068

John Larsen

ATTENDING RESIDENT

ATTENDING RESIDENT: John Larsen

PATIENT: PREDATOR

BIRTH DATE: 1987

HMO: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment



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