Customer Reviews: Predator (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD)
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on March 16, 2012
(EDIT) 12/19/2013. Now that Predator 3D has been released, I thought a brief update to this review might be useful.

I was surprised at the quality of the 3D conversion, given that it used the automated JVC Fox workstation that was used for Jumper 3D and I, Robot 3D. The process costs about a third of what a typical catalog 3D conversion costs and can be done with about 3 people in 3 months. In contrast, Titanic took hundreds of people over a year to convert.

The slow rate of adoption of 3D has been attributed, in part, to the lack of available content. Fox Home Entertainment with JVC developed a business model using automated equipment that allowed the 3D conversion of catalog movies profitably.
I was doubtful that they would be successful in this after watching 3D clips of I, Robot shortly after it was released. I changed my mind after purchasing and watching Predator 3D.

The only caveat is that the extras are provided via a Disk two DVD. (Disk one is the 3D/2D disk which has no extras). It would have been better to include the Ultimate Hunter Edition Blu-ray as Disk two as they did for the European release, since it has several more extras, some of them in High Definition. (END EDIT)

So, you have recently upgraded your home theater for blu-ray and want to replace your old Predator DVD. Should you buy the 2008 release or the 2010 (UHE) release? Perhaps I can help you decide.
When the 2008 edition was released, blu-ray disks were purchased primarily by film purists who believed nothing in the original film should be altered. Today, blu-ray is mainstream and the film purists represent only 4% of the market . Fox, in 2010 was intent on providing a release, Ultimate Hunter Edition, that catered to the tastes of the majority of consumers. The film purist minority is unhappy with that release as well.
I saw the movie in the theater when it was released in 1987. The graininess of the image was disturbing. After some research, I found that the film was shot with a film stock that, in low light conditions created an excessively grainy image and that it was not the filmmaker's intent to do that for artistic reasons.
I own both the 2008 and the UHE blu-rays and have compared them exhaustively. In my opinion, The UHE is the superior disk in terms of color accuracy and detail.
The last word from Fox on the Predator UHE blu-ray comes from Vincent Marcais, Sr. V.P. for International Sales in a taped interview. "The film stock (source for the transfer) was poor. The criticism is unfair. The filmmaker's were consulted, which we always do while they are alive. The UHE is how the filmmaker's wanted it to look"
Lets put aside the fact that the UHE has 5 hours of supplemental information and the 2008 version has none; and the fact that the UHE uses a modern video codec (AVC MPEG 4 vs VC-1 for 2008) and has a higher bit rate, resulting in more potential detail.
Your choice if you consider yourself a film purist is the 2008 release. If you want to enjoy the movie as the director and cinematographer intended, your choice is the Ultimate Hunter Edition. If you are still conflicted, buy both.
In conclusion. I own both, but I only watch the Ultimate Hunter Editon.

I would caution you about visiting other forums to help you make a purchasing decision. The people on those forums represent only 4% of those that purchase blu-ray disks today and most are biased in favor of the film purists view.

Edit. 5/19/2012. I thought it might be interesting to some of you to read some technical details about the difficulty with the source used for the BD and the issue of director's intent:

Perhaps this will put to rest any uncertainty about the director's intent regarding grain/grittiness.

"As I think much has been said online seemingly `authoritatively' about the Director's intent and the use of the film "stock" to make Predator intentionally look gritty or grainy. Well, that's pretty much inaccurate speculation according to someone I recently spoke with intimately involved in the production.
The DP chose the Eastman Kodak stocks he did for the simple fact of capturing "usable" images on film under relatively low lighting conditions in the jungle...'grit' or `intentional' graininess was never intended in any artistic sense for `atmosphere'. If anything, it was an undesirable side effect of the acquisition because it caused "murkiness" esp. in the greys and blacks of dark jungle sequences and didn't allow the filmmakers the opportunity to cut the different stocks together in the same scene, which would have been nice to have had that flexibility. To give you an idea of the challenge, they were apparently restricted to shooting at a max. of only T2 in anything but high noon and the middle of the day.

Don McAlpine shot the film with 35mm Kodak 5247 and 5294, depending on the lighting conditions available, with or without the aid of artificial light illumination. The '94 (400T) was used for really low lit conditions (like those night sequences in the ravine at the end which apparently were only getting 7 or 8 footcandles down there, with only 4 or 5 footcandles after the smoke starting flowing during the action) and the '47 (125T) stock was used for the set-ups involving wide clearances which had more natural light and as well, could be more easily illuminated with artificial light, when justified. You see, once you add artificial light in the deep jungle, all it accomplishes is lighting the foreground to such an excessive degree that it looks obvious and fake to audiences. Lighting considerations were where the real photographic `artistry", if you will, of the captured imagery took place, not in any consideration of grain being used for a `gritty' look."

Vincent Marcais Senior V.P. International Marketing, was asked about the policy when remastering catalog titles and specifically about Predator. The Fox executive acknowledges that they got a lot of criticism, "but I don't think it was deserved," he countered, because the movie was shot on a film stock that wasn't good enough, and the Blu-ray version "represents what the filmmaker wanted it to look like." He said that Fox discusses the issue of "removing grain or not" with the filmmakers, "as long as they are alive".

Corporate Execs at this level are very careful about the statements they make for publication. There will be no remaster or new transfer of Predator in the foreseeable future based on his comment.
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on January 20, 2012
I recently tried to watch my Predator DVD, circa 1997 (or thereabouts) and it looked horrible. It was a fullscreen, widescreen disc with black bars on top, bottom, left, and right (which insluts my HD TV). The film was also not cleaned before transfer so it included wonderful hairs and scratches too. That's not to mention the films always horrible fuzzyness.

Don't believe all the whiners, Predator: The Ultimate Hunter Edition is the best this film has ever looked, and probably ever will look. Some people complained about too much Digital Noise Reduction. They said that it doesn't look like its supposed to anymore...don't listen to them. I almost didn't buy this disc because of all the complaining people were doing, but I'm glad I did.

Yes, there are maybe 3 shots where Carl Weathers' face looks a little too smooth in the beginning of the film, but that comprises about 10 seconds of the film. The rest of it looks great. The film still has film grain, it just isn't as offensive as it was in the original release. Filmmakers on a budget and with location constraints chose a film stock that didn't need a lot of light, that meant super grainy film. They fixed that imperfection (which wasn't a design choice).

Bottom line, if you are a fan of this film BUY The Ultimate Hunter Edition, not the 2008 Blu Ray release.

P.S. Amazon, do you think you can stop cross contaminating your reviews. This movie's reviews are confusing because it includes reviews for every version of the film. Star Wars is even worse. Please fix this.
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VINE VOICEon April 8, 2008
My 1-star review is not for the movie, Predator, which I love. I bought it twice on DVD: the first single-disc release with no extras, and then the excellent 2-disc special edition. I am not going to be buying on Blu-Ray, however, until the chowder-heads over at Fox start including all of the ALREADY PRODUCED extras on their Blu-Ray discs. Case in point: Predator.

Predator on Blu-Ray features a higher definition transfer (though on a single layer disc), but carries over none of the special features from the 2-disc DVD. How hard would this have been? Make it a dual layer Blu-Ray, and just throw them all on there in standard definition. That would have guaranteed and instant buy for me. But this habit of dumping the film bare-bones onto Blu-Ray is reminiscent of the early days of DVD, and I thought we were past that. Other studios are doing a fine job of including all the special features, so why is Fox being dumb? And why are they slapping a $40 MSRP on a bare-bones release?

You would have had me with a good release, Fox. I would gladly plonk down the cash for a true upgrade from my DVD version. But you blew it, and you're not getting my money.
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on September 6, 2008
This is the worst quality Blu-Ray I have come across so far. $26.95 is outrageous for a DVD to Blu-Ray dub. Your probably better off getting the widescreen DVD than the Blu-Ray and playing the movie on upscaling DVD player, you will get the same quality. The movie is classic, just don't buy the Blu-Ray version unless you find it in a bargin bin somewhere.
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on September 23, 2008
WOW what a bad looking print. Who the heck was in charge of this Blu-Ray transfer??? Does the 'Ray' stand for Ray Charles? because it looks as if a blind man choose to use this print! All the fuzzies, dots, lines, and blemishes on this print look ever better in hi-def! Why on earth can't the original negative be used? If I'm gonna pay a higher price, then I should get a much better picture. Shame, shame, shame, on them.
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on July 28, 2004
Predator is about as testosterone supercharged as you could possibly get in a movie. Every actor is pumped up. It has tough dialogue, big guns, and lots of macho action. Throw in a cool alien with amazing special effects and you have pure guy movie nirvana. It doesn't hurt matters that it was the film that John McTiernan directed right before making Die Hard. It established that he could really handle action.

The cast of this film was perfect. It was a real ensemble piece with Schwarzenegger in the lead. In fact, I think Arnold was helped tremendously by the additional cast. He didn't have to carry the whole movie on his shoulders and they helped elevate the level of acting and characterization. You had Carl Weathers as the CIA agent. He seems more than a physical match for Schwarzenegger and he definitely acts better. You also had Bill Duke as Sgt. 'Mac' Eliot. His quiet, intense gaze said more than anything else he did. You had Jesse Ventura playing the tough, tobacco chewing, gun toting guy who ain't got time to bleed". (Did Ventura inspire Arnold to be a governor, too?) You had American Indian Sonny Landham as Billy, the guy with the haunting laugh. Then there was Richard Chaves as Poncho Ramirez who was also a favorite of mine.

The effects of Predator were also remarkable. Not only was the camouflage effect unique but the alien makeup itself was stunning. The alien was definitely a guy in a rubber mask, but the helmet, dreadlocks, and mandibles made him one of the more amazing looking aliens in movie history. Everything about the Predator was just cool. The character was a real high point in Stan Winston's career.

The music by Alan Silvestri was also unique and a perfect blend of military march and horror suspense to give the movie the right feel.

This is one of those rare movies where everything came together just right to make a fun film. The actors, director, effects, music, and everything fit together just right to make one of the best popcorn flicks ever made.

the extras

The Extras:

This is about the third or fourth edition of the Predator DVD. I don't have the others, so I can't compare this edition to them. However, it is a big treat for any Predator fan. It's on par with the Alien collector editions that recently came out. There are a ton of extras and bonus features that I had never seen before. Here are the highlights:

Commentary by John McTiernan - This commentary by the director is admittedly a bit dry. McTiernan comes across as a little flaky, but he does have all sorts of interesting trivia about the film. However, I don't think I learned much from the commentary that I didn't get from the other featurettes on the DVD.

Text commentary - If you turn on this option, subtitles appear on the screen. They are apparently transcribed commentary from the sound effects guys, some actors, editors, and other crew members. It's interesting, but it's a little distracting to have their conversations appearing as text on the bottom of the screen. I think I would have preferred an audio commentary. However, it is full of all sorts of Predator trivia that's quite interesting. Predator fans might find one or two new things here they haven't heard before.

Deleted scene: Arnold Schwarzenegger Fleeing Predator - In this deleted scene, Arnie hides under a log from the Predator and is covered in ants. He then runs and dodges explosions in the jungle as he runs from the Predator. The scene ultimately isn't that great and is not missed from the film.

"If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It" documentary - This is an extended documentary on the making of the film. It's about 30 minutes long. It shows interviews with the cast and crew from the 80's and more recently. You learn the origins of the script, what it was like filming in the jungle, and more. It's an excellent documentary.

Inside the Predator: seven featurettes - These are a series of 3 to 10 minute short features on various subjects. They include the special weapons from the film, the casting, the camouflage makeup, the Predator suit, Kevin Peter Hall, shooting in the jungle, and more. I was really surprised to see that the Predator in the film wasn't the original one they had in mind. It was originally more bug-like and it looked quite stupid on film. It was good to see they went with the design they did. You also learn that the film was originally called "Hunter" rather than "Predator". Again, there are all sorts of cool stuff for Predator fans here.

Three outtakes - One "outtake" shows Anna picking up a chameleon in the forest. Another shows Dutch preparing for battle with the Predator. I don't even recall the third one if that tells you anything. They are all better left on the cutting room floor.

Three Predator "red suit" special effects - In order to make the camouflage effect in the film, they had the alien actor in a big red suit that was optically removed later. These show the original shots of the suit. Even the cheesy original alien is shown here.

Two Predator camouflage tests - This shows the various camouflage effects they tried before settling on the one seen in the film. These tests happen to use the footage of the original sucky alien.

Alien vs. Predator and I, Robot sneak peeks - These are quick sneak peeks of AVP and I, Robot. The AVP one is only around 2 minutes long, but you get to see the mechanical alien, the making of the Predator helmets, and more. It's fun stuff.
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on October 9, 2005
When I was younger a friend told me about a monster that came from outer space and hunted humans, taking their skulls as trophies and moving with the greatest agility and speed. The monster he was talking about (of course) was the inimitable and lethal "Predator." And that's when I decided to rent the 1987 release of "Predator" on VHS for the first time - and all I can say is that I was dumbfounded - and am still mightily impressed today...

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Dutch, a hardened special-ops commander who has experienced much violence and conflict during his life. This time Dutch is called by the CIA to rescue hostages held by viscious guerrillas in Central America. His team are inserted deep behind enemy lines to accomplish their mission. However, once the mission is completed, Dutch discovers that the whole hostage story was a cover-up and is outraged by this turn of events. However, it is not Dutch's hurt ego or anger that becomes his biggest problem. It seems that there is some kind of creature hunting him and his men, and one by one his team of experts are picked off by something that is clearly not of this Earth. Dutch will have to use all of his past experiences, military training and wit to survive this seemingly hopeless situation...will he be victorious, or will this hunter claim his skull as his ultimate prize? The storyline is enthralling and certainly creates interest. There's no fooling around and John McTiernan presents a believable and direct story that ensures plenty of action and drama. 10/10 for the storyline!

Another interesting thing about "Predator" is the relationships and conflicts that exist between Dutch and his team members. For example, Mac and Dylan don't get along at all while Billy and Dutch seem to understand and appreciate each other. This makes the audience believe that this team really is experienced and that they are familiar with each other. It also presents their individual traits and personalities with great effect. This also adds to the realism, drama and impact of the film as a whole and so Predator gets another 10/10 for its clever structure and sub-plots.

Now the Predator himself is amazing: he's tall, silent, tough as s*** and armed to the teeth with some incredible otherworldly technology. He's more than a worthy opponent for Dutch and his crew, and every aspect of the Predator is interesting, terrifying and awe-inspiring. We also see through the eyes of the Predator, we "become him" during certain periods. We see how he sees, in a thermal vision which makes spotting prey all the easier. We also get a glance at his weapons, such as his wristblades and shoulder cannon. His active camoflauge from his shift suit does not make him invisible, but it does cause light to bend around him, making him nearly undetectable. The medikit he uses contains various medical devices, but it seems he prefers to suture and burn his wounds shut in order to continue in his hunt. The attention to detail on the Predator character is simply phenomenal, and we actually learn alot about this violent yet intelligent invader through this film. McTiernan has developed and presented believable and interesting, multi-dimensional, complex characters; and the Predator is certainly unsurpassed as a character in the genre of Sci-Fi. It's just total genius, what can I say?

The fight scenes are fueled with action and energy, and the showdown between Dutch and the Predator is epic to say the very least. The film is not overly complex in its approach, but this is perfect since "Predator" is a no-holes-barred, to-the-point and brilliant film that totally rips other Sci-Fi Action movies to luminous green shreds.

Overall, "Predator" gets a pure platinum 97% in my opinion. It's just great and a movie you will watch over and over again. It's a fascinating, action-packed, enthralling, exciting and wonderful Sci-Fi flick. This movie is unquestionably a must for all fans of the Sci-Fi genre. This movie has it all and even the special-effects are impressive, even today. So what are you doing reading this? Go rent or buy "Predator," right now, otherwise I may have to take your skull as MY trophy...
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on November 2, 2000
Predator, directed by Die Hard's John McTiernan, is a masterpiece of the action-horror, sci-fi genre and arguably Arnold Schwarzenegger's best film, the film that showcase's Arnold's action skills and Mr. Oylmpia physique. As the leader of a squad of elite commandoes, sent into the deep jungles of Mexico to carry out an unclear mission(We know eventually of course it is the discovery of the predator not mercenaries that is the real secret) and they are an efficient, colorful bunch. They all compliment Arnold's Dutch and they soon realize that, not only do they have to operate in an almost impossibly oppressive jungle but they start getting picked off one by one gruesomely by an unknown force. Most of the squad see the predator too late or give up at its almost immortal fighting power.The cinematography is superb. I've never seen the jungle photographed in any movie better than Predator and the way the director uses it for the dense hunting ground for this malevolent creature. And what a creature! Stan Winston, the creature's designer,has outdone himself and created one of the most awesome aliens in sci-fi history. The action is fast, furious and bloody. There seems no escaping this predator unless, like Dutch, you become as savage as he is, and even then, only by luck survive to be saved by a chopper.The special effects are astounding and with all the computer enhanced effects today, predator walks away with some of the most orginal special effects is history, appropriate to the story, the jungle, and the action, with ultraviolet filters and the predator recording all the human dialogue and then echoed at another point in the movie. A classic, that any action lover should own and re-watch for years. I think it was under rated at the time and after seeing it again for at least the tenth time, I'm sure it will last and is a classic and Arnold will never do anything better. Highly recommended but not for the very young; it might be a little too vilolent for the very young and a little too intense. For Predator, intensity is its middle name and John McTiernan continues his run of first class action flims.
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on October 10, 2008
There is NO WAY, that this film gets a cumulative 4/5. The ratings have been pulled over from the SD. Amazon, please consider adding a separate database field for PQ and AQ for the hi-def products.

This movie itself for me is a 5. I love it! The transfer- a nightmare. Tons of noise, color flutuation and light changes/artifacting. The picture is soft, too.

Fox/MGM were just (10/2008) given some of the worst ratings, for their Blu-Ray releases and I understand why. I am a huge fan of this franchise, and was incredibly excited to see this in hi-def. If 0 stars was an option, I'd give it a 0. This Blu-Ray transfer is among some of the worst that I have seen.

For the premium price paid for Blu-Ray I expect a pristine picture and sound. Fox/MGM I hope you're listening. This truly is shameful!

I am thoroughly disappointed and all of the future MGM/Fox titles will be considered "rentals" until I see an review.
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on May 27, 2008
Do not under any circumstances purchase this blu-ray DVD. Decorum prevents me from using certain unsavory verbage to accurately describe this item but I will try all the same. Let me put it this way: If you accidentally dropped this DVD on your lawn, flowers would grow there because this DVD is crap.

Let's just put aside the fact that Fox opted not to include any of the extras from the regular DVD release from a few years ago. Knowing this going in, I bought it anyway thinking that the superior video and audio quality alone would justify the purchase. Nope. The picture is appalingly bad. Fox didn't even bother to clean the print up for the transfer, so all the dust particles and artifacts from the print can now be seen in High Def. Bravo, Fox.

What's more, Fox is commanding top dollar for this P.O.S. Suggested retail price is $29.95, a price range reserved for the higher end blu-ray DVD's with superior quality and gobs of extras. It's barely worth $9.99 and that's being generous.

Avoid this one like the plague. If someone gives you this DVD, use it as a coaster because it isn't good for much else. Maybe target practice. Don't buy COMMANDO either, that one sucks too.

If Fox messes up FIGHT CLUB this badly, I will be royally pissed. Right now I'm just annoyed. You are on probabtion, Fox. Get on the ball or get out of the game.
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