Predator 2 DVD Review

It's amazing how some movies become popular. In the case of Predator 2, it all came down to a brief glimpse of the title creature's trophy room. In it, sci-fi fans will see the skull of the "Alien" creature hoisted up as a prize. This single brief scene started off a comic, multiple video games, and a soon-to-be-released feature film. Hopefully this new film can resurrect the Predator franchise from the hole it dug itself into with this film. Predator 2 picks up in 1997 Los Angeles during a brutal gang war. Jamaican drug lords have overrun the city and the police are hopeless. In the center of the action is Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) who tries to dig deeper into the investigation when one of his partners is slaughtered ruthlessly. Instead, the government takes over the proceedings but a resilient Harrigan pushes on to discover that the gangs are not the only killers in town. Predator 2 is littered with problems. First up is the simply awful acting from nearly everyone on the cast. Bill Paxton is especially disappointing and Danny Glover not only puts on a poor performance, but the aging star is difficult to swallow as a fast paced action star. As if things aren't bad enough, Morton Downey Jr. gets a role and anyone who remembers him will certainly know why he doesn't fit in. There is very little explanation for the Predator's existence. It simply seems to be. A brief segment explains what it can accomplish, but this minor moment is a disappointment. The creature design by Stan Winston is admirable as are most of the special effects (for their age), but the cheap looking dreadlocks on the creature seem to be included only so they can wrap around the creature's face when he quickly turns around (which happens a lot). However, almost all of the disappointment comes from the potential this film had. Seeing the bounty hunting alien reek havoc in downtown L.A. is, in theory, a creature-feature fan's dream. The movie keeps the monster hidden for most of the film, a stupid move for a sequel when the vast majority of the audience knows what it looks like. The only real saving graces are some nice (if sometimes illogical) gore effects and a great sequence on a subway train. (** out of *****) Surprisingly, Predator 2 has received a wonderful audio and visual treatment from Fox. Presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, this is a crisp, clean print, especially the daytime sequences that can easily rival a HDTV broadcast. Scratches are almost completely absent and the black levels are solid throughout. Some grain will creep its way into the transfer, but everything is acceptable considering the age of the film. (****) Likewise, the newly remixed 5.1 Surround track is great. Though the film pre-dates the advent of the format, this mix is quite aggressive at times, especially the Alan Silvestri soundtrack. Though lacking any major punch in the LFE channel, rest assured the rest of the speakers in your set-up will get a workout. (****) Surprisingly, two featurettes have been included on the disc, though they are flat an uninteresting. The first featurette runs for 5:42 and is a basic promotional look at the actor's characters and some very brief behind the scenes footage. The second feature, "Creating the Ultimate Predator," runs at a brisk 3:41 and looks at a few of the creatures weapons and even recycles some of the clips from the first feature. The theatrical trailer has been included, though it is oddly in 2.35:1 widescreen, lopping off part of the print. (**) Predator 2 is simply a disappointment on every level. Had any of the actors put in a worthwhile performance, this might have been a tolerable film. As it is, this is one better left to the die-hard fans who are likely frothing at the mouth waiting for the upcoming entry into this series.

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