Predator 2 (Blu-ray)
Directed by Stephen Hopkins
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 108 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; DTS 5.1 French, Spanish, others
Subtitles: English, Spanish, others
MSRP: $ 29.99
Release Date: June 9, 2009
Review Date: June 18, 2009
Stalk and kill; stalk and kill. That’s the essence of the Predator films, and the sequel to the hit original thriller dishes up more of the same murder and mayhem for fans of the genre. Truth to tell, the sequel doesn’t find much new to offer despite its change of setting and a bunch of new characters-for-the-slaughter. There is some surprising restraint in not showing every bloody moment of evisceration and decapitation, but those are among the few positives that Predator 2 offers first timers.
The year is 1997 in Los Angeles, approximately ten years after the events in the jungles of Central America from the original film. Amid violent all-out street gang warfare involving the heavily armed Colombians and Jamaicans against the overwhelmed police, an alien predator (Kevin Peter Hall) arrives in the sweltering 109 degree heat and begins its own hunting spree against all who cross its path. With the Colombians markedly wiped out with only brutal carnage left behind, lead detective Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) and his team (Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton) begin investigating the deaths only to be stopped by federal agent Bill Keyes (Gary Busey) who has his own secret agenda. As the Jamaicans and then his own team begin suffering losses, Harrigan tracks down Keyes to get some answers about the enemy he’s facing and the ways they have to combat it.
Jim and John Thomas once again share the writing honors for the film, but they’ve basically reshuffled their story deck into new terrain without adding much in the way of innovations or surprises (even the last act revelation underground falls a little flat). There are plenty of brusque murders on display for the bloodthirsty, none of which much improve on the effects from the first film, and amid the smog and grime of Los Angeles, this bloody business makes for a far less visually arresting experience than we had the first time around. To be fair, there are some decent action scenes in a subway and in an atmospheric blue-tinted meat warehouse during a climactic showdown with the creature. These are among the film's few pleasures.
And director Stephen Hopkins has hired some wonderful actors but has a badly miscast star trying to be an action hero and failing miserably. Amid Danny Glover’s striking ineptitude in the lead (I‘ve never heard him handle lines so coarsely, and the physical stuff is rather embarrassing), the others come off looking far worse than usual in previous films, especially Bill Paxton whose braggart-turned-chicken was one of the highlights of Aliens, but who here is merely annoying. Ruben Blades exits the picture much too early, and Gary Busey’s over-the-top style clashes with everyone else around him making him seem almost like a cartoon. Familiar faces like Kent McCord, Robert Davi, and Adam Baldwin get a moment or two to strut their stuff effectively, but Morton Downey, Jr. is truly terrible as a loudmouth reporter mixing editorial observation with news reportage.
The film’s 1.85:1 aspect ratio is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. The smog and grime of the city landscapes don’t cause the Blu-ray any problems in this encode, but they also don’t make for a very dimensional picture. Color can be spot-on and flesh tones reliably solid, while sharpness is usually good though seldom outstanding. The film has been divided into 32 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix has some very impressive split channel effects for a film of this era, but the audio design is never as full bodied and immersive as more modern action thrillers. Alan Silvestri’s music score vibrates through the entire soundfield impressively while the LFE channel gets some more than adequate chances to demonstrate some power.
There are two audio commentaries though neither is anything really special. The first and lesser of the two is director Stephen Hopkins basically describing what we’re seeing on the screen and adding little about the film’s actual production. There are also frequent long pauses with his track. Better are the Thomas brothers offering anecdotes about the writing and filming of the movie in a much livelier and more interesting talk.
All featurettes are in 480i.
“The Hunters and the Hunted” is a 35 ¾-minute making-of documentary describing many aspects of the production. Speaking about it are several of the film’s producers, the director, the writers, the stunt coordinator, the make-up supervisor, and production designer along with actors Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Peter Hall. It’s in 480i.
“Evolutions” collects four brief featurettes on special effects sequences in the picture. They are the main title sequence, the rooftop effects scene, the alley sequence, and the subway showdown scene. They can be selected individually or combined into an 8 ½-minute whole.
“Weapons of Choice” arranges six featurettes on the Predator’s weapons arsenal: the gauntlet knives, the self destruct communicator, the plasma cannon, the net launcher, the smart weapon frisbee, and the telescoping spear. They can be viewed individually or be combined into a 6 ¾-minute grouping.
Two complete “Hard Core” segments can be viewed in their entirety. Together they run 7 minutes total.
Three theatrical trailers can be viewed in a 4-minute montage.
Five TV spots can be viewed in a 2 ½-minute collection.
“The Predator Goes to Town” excerpts interviews and behind-the-scenes clips from the lengthier EPK featurette on the making of the movie. It runs 3 minutes.
The International Making-of Featurette, repeating information from the EPK and various trailers, runs 5 ¼ minutes.
“Creating the Ultimate Hunter” is another compilation EPK set of interviews running for 3 ¾ minutes. It describes the thermographic camera which is used for the point of view shots for the Predator.
Fans of the original Predator will undoubtedly be keen to see further adventures of one of their favorite alien killers, but Predator 2 is really mediocre in every respect. An above average high definition encode offers the movie its best possible home video presentation.