Predator (Ultimate Hunter Edition) [Blu-ray] (1987)

Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura
Format: Color, Widescreen
Language: English
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Number of discs: 1
Rating: R (Restricted)
Studio: Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: June 29, 2010

Special features:

  • All-new Digital Restoration of Predator
  • All-new Sneak Peak at Predators
  • All-new “Evolution of the Species: Hunters of Extreme Perfection” Featurette
  • Feature-Length Audio Commentary by John McTiernan
  • Text Commentary by Historian Eric Lichtensfeld
  • “If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It” Making-Of Documentary
  • “Inside The Predator” Documentary
  • Special Effects Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
  • Short Takes
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Photo Galleries
  • Predator Profile


Let’s talk about monsters for a bit. We often fail to acknowledge how vital their place is in the cinematic landscape. No square-jawed leading man can leave such a lasting impression as they do; no glamorous starlet cuts quite the same niche into our subconscious.

They haunt our dreams, reflect our deepest fears and hold us rapt with their fascinating, horrifying beauty. We loathe and fear them, but part of us loves them as well, and when they truly reach the heights they’re capable of, nothing in all of film can quite match them.

When Predator first opened in 1987, few of us realized that such a figure was being born: created by Stan Winston, played by Kevin Peter Hall, but occupying the same place as King Kong and H.R. Giger’s Alien. It stalked through the jungles of Central America with a wet, inhuman gurgle, seeing all and yet unseen by its gaggle of hapless victims. When it finally revealed itself, it lent no doubts: this didn’t look like a guy in a costume or a clever bit of computer graphics, but a bona fide creature from outer space.

The concept worked so well that it held up three (and possibly four) increasingly shoddy sequels by its merest presence. The Predator has earned its place in the pantheon of great movie monsters because we believe in it. It lives, it breathes, we feel that brake-fluid blood pulsing in its veins. Its culture remains utterly convincing - inhuman but chillingly understandable - and we know instinctively that those supreme ultimate bad-asses it’s hunting might as well be teenagers in a Friday the 13th movie.

That last bit helps further cement Predator’s status as a minor yet undeniable classic. It arrived in another era of action films, dominated by steroid-laden übermenschen who triumphed over their adversaries by sheer force of will. Director John McTiernan sticks to that formula to a point, with Arnold Schwarzenegger (in one of his better outings) leading a team of machine-gun toting goodwill ambassadors into the jungle primeval to rescue a group of hostages from the local bad guys. Then the monster shows up and everything we assumed about the scenario gets tossed into a cocked hat.

That twist signaled the first halting steps in a sea change for the genre. Suddenly, the unstoppable killing machines upon which action movies had thrived looked weak and vulnerable. Suddenly, their swagger and bravado meant nothing. Big guns and bulging biceps couldn’t get the job done anymore; in order to triumph, the hero had to think his way out of the box while facing the very real possibility that he wouldn’t walk away this time. A year later, McTiernan’s Die Hard brought the trend to full fruition, but Predator laid the groundwork upon which it could grow.

In simpler terms, the film just rocks, thanks to McTiernan’s muscular approach to the material and Predator’s utter refusal to surrender to camp. The thing in the jungle demands that we take it seriously, even with Schwarzenegger’s cheesy one-liners and the Reagan-era simplicity with which it all unfolds.

The Predator scares us. We feel it even when it isn’t there and jump at it even when we’re not sure what we’re seeing. Both Winston and Hall have passed on, but their work endures in that utterly convincing visage . . . a visage that sent shivers through the Terminator himself and helped this film age like fine wine. In the end, it’s just a simple action picture, and yet it’s so much more. There’s a monster in there - a wonderful, terrifying monster - and the movies are a little bit better as a result.

THE DISC: The Blu-ray contains just a single disc, but packs it full of goodies. Excellent audio-video quality marks a big step up from previous versions of the film, which were marred by quick-fix transfers and degraded images. It also ports over all of the featurettes from the two-disc DVD set - covering everything from Hall’s legacy to Jesse Ventura’s ridiculously menacing chain gun - as well as a new behind-the-scenes doc intended to tie in to the new Predators movie. Indeed, the entire affair seems geared as cross-promotion for the 2010 film, but considering the quality on display, it hardly matters.

WORTH IT? Fans finally have an excellent transfer to enjoy, while newcomers can see how well the film has held up in the ensuing two decades. It took them long enough to get a proper Blu-ray edition together, but now that it’s here, the wait is worth it.

RECOMMENDATION: If you own the two-disc DVD, you may want to give it a pass. Otherwise, this new Blu-ray is clearly the disc to own.

- Rob Vaux



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