Predator 2 (Blu-ray)

“Okay p—-face. Your move.”

It’s been 10 years since Dutch and his squad got themselves smacked around the jungles of Central America by the interstellar hunter known as the Predator. Now a new Predator is Earth-side for another round of killing and corpse-decorating, tearing through the war zone that is 1997 Los Angeles. His target: Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover), a trash-talking cop who evidently loves wearing cotton pants in 100 degree weather.

But that’s just part of what makes him so badass, a fitting opponent for the Predator who will need to roll out all his interstellar gadgets to take Harrigan down. Meanwhile, a crazed government agent (Gary Busey) is also pursuing the Predator, hoping to freeze it in carbonite and run tests to figure out why its blood is all green and glowy. What no one is aware of is the throw-away alien skull gag that will lead to two horrible spinoff films.

Look, the original Predator is a film I love deeply, as any self-respecting connoisseur of hard R, balls-out action/scifi from the ’80s should, but I’ve got a real soft spot for the follow-up. In fact, I will be so bold — risking the e-vitriol of really bored Schwarzenegger fans — as to proclaim that not only is Predator 2 not bad, it can actually hang with its predecessor.

Here’s my case:

Danny Glover
Often pointed to as the weakest aspect of the film, Glover may not be Schwarzenegger, but you have to admit the guy’s hardcore. Look what he does through the course of the film: beats back a Columbian drug ring counter-offensive all by himself; punches Morton Downey Jr. in the face; survives a 50-foot drop down an elevator shaft; prevents a thermonuclear catastrophe by cutting off the Predator’s arm; shimmies down a pipe; talks back to his commanding officer; emasculates Bill Paxton; and, of course, kills a nine-foot alien in hand-to-hand combat. Plus, he does all this while screaming at the top of his lungs.

The Predator
Sure he might go down like a punk at the end (they never taught you the old hide-the-murder-disc-in-the-dry-ice trick at hunting school?), but the guy racks up an impressive body count. Best of all, we get a lot more shots of him in action, and the new arsenal is especially cool.

Gary Busey
He brings that wild-eyed, batsh*t insane demeanor and gets killed in excellently messy fashion.

Bill Paxton
In a largely humorless outing, he’s the lone comic relief, funny in a sleazy kind of way. Besides, with this film, he completes the holy trifecta of getting killed by a Terminator, an Alien, and a Predator.

Yes, yes the Alien Skull
Forget for a moment the pain and misery it wrought. You have to admit, when you first saw it, that was the dopest thing ever.

The Blu-ray treatment is solid. The first thing you’ll notice is the improved cover art over the laughable special edition DVD. Instead of an extreme close-up of Danny Glover’s half-face, we get a classic shot of the Predator himself looking all “I’m-the-most-badass-alien-in-movie-history.” The front end gives way to a noticeably improved 1.85:1 widescreen picture. I wasn’t blown away by the first film’s HD transfer, but Fox got it right with this release. The color levels are sharper and the heightened resolution translates into stronger detail work that will immediately jump out. These catalog re-releases can be hit or miss, but this presentation looks great. Sound is even better: a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio that turns the screws in the intense moments, blasts out Alan Silvestri’s memorable score, and utilizes the surround speakers in an impressive, enveloping manner.

Unfortunately, no one saw fit to pin some HD-specific extras on this release. All you’ll get are the standard-def recyclables: commentary tracks from director Stephen Hopkins and writers Jim Thomas and John Thomas, the “Hunters and the Hunted” making-of retrospective, two shorter featurettes detailing the effects work and the Predator’s weapons, a promotional gallery, TV spots, and some of the fake Hard Core newscast segments.

Not Guilty. Want some candy?


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