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April 18, 2008
Predator Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
20/8/19875/3/2008FoxJohn McTiernan
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
MPEG-2DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a hero of mine. I don't hide the fact. I have pretty much every one of his movies on VHS, DVD, and hopefully soon Blu-Ray. I have a signed photograph of his hanging in my theatre room. When Fox announced that both Predator and predator were coming to Blu-Ray it was like the gods decended to earth. Two of Arnold's best movies hitting high definition in the same month. What could go wrong? Well on some levels we were drooling, on others we were bitterly disappointed. But for those not in the know let's look at the story first...

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My, what a big gun you have there!
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in this action-packed adventure story of fighting men pitted against an unseen enemy, a force more powerful than their fiercest weapons. Recruited by the CIA to rescue hostages held by the guerrilla fighters in a Central American country, Dutch (Schwarzenegger) and his men encounter an enemy unimaginably more deadly than any on Earth - because the Predator is not of this Earth.

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.

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Shhh, we're hunting Predators...
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.

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This movie kicks ass decades after release!
As with most other Fox Blu-Ray releases the audio on this disc is provided in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Fortunately with the recent PS3 Firmware update to 2.30 the system will now convert this audio track to PCM to retain every bit of data exactly as intended. In the past PS3 owers (and many other Blu-Ray owners) were limited to the 1.5Mbps 'core' DTS track. While good the ability to hear the full audio adds a slight amount of liviness to the soundfield.

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.

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Predator - one of Arnie's best movies.
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.

The complete lack of extras on this Blu-Ray disc really is disappointing, especially given that there was a brilliant 2-disc DVD set released last year. The audio visual presentation on this disc, while easily the best we've ever seen at home certainly isn't as polished as most other Blu-Ray discs. Still, if you love this movie - as I do - then the improved sharpness and audio still makes it a worthwhile upgrade - especially if you find it on discount.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.