Directed by John McTiernan many would argue that this was Arnold Schwarzenegger at his best. Not only was he physically in his prime, but Predator offers a more 'hardcore' action then other previous movies including Red Sonja and Commando (which is also out now on Blu-Ray). What really makes this movie so special is the actual Predator. Created by Stan Winston the Predator remains one of the most iconic aliens ever to grace the silver screen, and he's more then a match for Arnie both in terms of size and stature.
If you're an Arnie fan that Predator is one of those movies that is probably near the top of your list as a favourite, if not at the top. Personally I find this not only to be one of the best movies he ever made, but also one of the best action movies ever.
Predator isn't a recent movie, indeed it has just ticked over 20 years of age and as a result we weren't expecting great image quality from this disc. One must remember that Predator has never looked great on DVD either with considerable grain throughout the picture (one prime example being rapeling form the choppers between 10:39 and 10:42), and we are somewhat sad to report that this Blu-Ray release doesn't make this a cinematic masterpiece in terms of video quality either.
Predator is presented in 1.85:1 using the MPEG-2 codec and despite variable video quality does have some nice aspects to this Blu-Ray release. The jungles look vibrant and certainly the picture, in parts, does look quite nice with some gorgeous brilliant red explosions to break up the greens of the jungles. While certainly sharper then any DVD release (due to the significant increase in resolution) the transfer on this Blu-Ray leaves much to be desired. Grain and film artifacts are still very evident, colours aren't stable in some scenes, and there is a general lack of sharpness.
Perhaps part of the problem is that Predator is only presented on a single layer 25GB Blu-Ray disc, and despite a runtime of only 1 hour 46 minutes, the bitrate remains around, and often well below, 20Mbps for the majority of the movie. Even during the shootout at the rebel camp, which provides the most explosions and visual eye-candy, the bitrate never reached above 32Mpbs, which is only just over 75% of the maximum bitrate for video on Blu-Ray. We never expected Predator to be a reference quality disc, but this falls short of our expectations.
Now we do say slight because, to be honest, there isn't a vast difference here and that can primarily be put down to the source material. When Predator was released in cinemas it was done so with Dolby Stereo sound - a far cry from todays best audio experiences. As a result the audio on Predator is limited in the use of surround channels, while the audio also tends to blend together and lose some clarity. This isn't unique to Blu-Ray either with the same happening on DVD releases of this movie.
Besides the English track the disc includes both Italian and Spanish DTS 5.1 tracks at 768kbps. From brief samplings these tracks didn't quite seem to be a as impressive as the English track, nor the DTS track which we have on a DVD here with slightly more muffled effects and speech. Still, they are more then adequate. Subtitles are provided in English for the Hearing Impaired, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Norweigen. Our brief sample of the English track seemed accurate enough to the dialogue on screen, although there is the odd extra word either present, or missing.
Certainly the biggest disappointment with this disc is the complete lack of extras. Predator was released in a two disc DVD set last year with many extras including an audio commentary from director John McTiernan, deleted scenes, featurettes, effects reels, still galleries and more. Given that this set was released in late 2007 it is disappointing, and we can expect a Predator Blu-Ray double dip in future. So here's what we're left with...
Predator Trailer (2:11/HD): A trailer for Predator presented in High Definition at 2.35:1, but with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio at 224kbps.
Trailers (2:16/HD): Trailers for Planet of the Apes and Eragon presented in High Definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.
Review By: Dave Warner