Predator - 4K Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    Predator


    [​IMG]
    Movie: :4.5stars:
    4K Video: :4.5stars:
    Video: :2.5stars:
    Audio: :4stars:
    Extras: :3.5stars:
    Final Score: :4.5stars:



    [​IMG] Movie

    There is no better example of sheer, raw, unadulterated 80s machismo than 1987’s Predator. It’s the kind of movie where you want to go out and kill a deer with your bare hands and feast upon it’s flesh while flexing your muscles and strapping an M-16 to your back. Men (and women too, sorry, didn’t mean to leave anyone out) have been watching this 80s cheesefest for over 30 years (we just passed the 31st anniversary), and it seems to hold up just as well as it did during the wild excesses that was the 80s. With the new film The Predators coming out this year, it was the perfect time for Fox to package up the original films and give them a nice upgrade to 4K. Or at at the very least just slap them on 4K UHD without much work and call it a day, especially considering how poorly Predator has been handled on the Blu-ray (the transfer was mediocre for the first release, and absolutely ABYSMAL for the Ultimate Hunter Edition that came out a few years later). However, this is the release that fans have been waiting for. It looks like Fox has gone back to the source and struck a new master, and it looks gorgeous!

    Beside the Predator spaceship dropping into the jungle for opening shot, this looks like your typical 80s military film with Arnie as the lead. Arnold Schwarzenegger is Dutch, a heavily muscled (and oiled) leader of a crack commando team who has been called into the South American jungle to rescue a foreign diplomat from capture. His liaison is a CIA agent named Dillon (a heavily muscled, and just as oiled, Carl Weathers), who has some history with Dutch. Grabbing his team of commandos and heading into the jungle with Dillon, they soon find out that they’re in over their heads. The simple “rescue” mission turns out to be a CIA secret mission for some documents. off and feeling betrayed, Dutch pulls his men out of the area only to be set upon by an unknown force. One by one his men are sliced and diced, pulled from right under their very own eyes and gutted like pigs.

    The only link they have to what is actually going on is a South American woman who can only mumble about devils and demons of the jungle, and slows down their race to the extraction point. However, with men dying around them, and the sensation of being hunted like pry, Dutch sets in for fight to the death against an enemy that is most certainly not human.
    [​IMG] Predator was written by John and Jim Thomas (both a bunch of fledgling writers) who wanted to make a space story blended with elements of Rocky, as well as directed by the god of 1980s action movies himself, John McTiernan. Drenched in male sweat, oiled up bodies, and the awesome stench of machismo, Predator plays out like a sci-fi slasher, as the alien cuts down the entire squad until only Arnold is left to rip off what little shirt he has left in order to fight the alien hunter to the death. It’s the perfect amount of band Arnie one-liners, men flexing their muscles, and a sci-fi alien who has crossed over into the Alien franchise as well. I’ve watched Predator at LEAST 20 times over my lifetime, and every time I watch the film I just can’t help but sit back and watch the carnage with a huge sloppy grin over my face. McTiernan has such an awesome eye for fight choreography, and he infuses just the right amount of humor into the non stop gore and blood to make it the perfect Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle.

    While Arnie is the “hero”, the predator really steals the show. Back in 1987 it was a HUGE thing to watch the vicious hunter slash and hack his way through all the heroes. We all loved watching Bill Duke, Carl Weathers, Sonny Landham and Shane Black (yes, that Shane Black) get sliced and diced by a villain who is literally the baddest thing on the planet. The cloaking technology was pure awesomeness, and the infrared inspired technology used to hunt the men was revolutionary at the time. Still, Arnold is no slouch, and he’s spouting off one liners like “stick around!” (after spearing someone with a Bowie knife), or his infamous “Get to da choppa!” left and right. While it’s a bit campy and goofy if you THINK about it, you have to remember that this is not a thinking man’s movie. This is a movie about macho men, doing macho things, with macho guns, against a macho alien. So sit back, drink pure steroids from a glass, and watch things blow up in spectacular 80s style.




    Rating:

    Rated R by the MPAA




    4K Video: :4.5stars: Video: :2.5stars:
    [​IMG]
    Predator has NOT had a good time on the Blu-ray format. The 2008 Blu-ray disc was maligned by many for being a heavily grainy film, and then put on single layer BD-25 WITH the outdated MPEG-2 codec. The reality of the situation was, that 2008 Blu-ray was really not that bad. It wasn’t GREAT, but it was maligned a lot more than it really should have been. Then came the 2010 “remaster”, which basically butchered the video by using the exact same master as the 2008 disc and DNR’d the living tar out of the film. Effectively turning it into an entry for Madame Tussaud's wax museum. But they packed the thing so full of extras it really made fans like me begrudgingly give up our cash to own those extras, despite having a transfer that was 10x worse than the 2008 disc.

    Fast forward to 2018 and I’m VERY nervous about popping in the 4K UHD disc of Predator. With how badly Fox has treated it in the past there was no way this was going to look good. Well, I’m now shoving a huge plate of crow down my throat as we speak, as the 4K UHD transfer is a night and day different than the previous release. The 2010 Ultimate Hunter Edition was just slaughtered in one fell blow, and the deficient 2008 release has been eclipsed quite easily as well. The release is pretty much DNR free, and the grain levels have been restored to their former luster. Colors are vastly improved from the application of HDR, and the rich greens of the South American jungle are just shocking in comparison. Fine details is improved a lot from the 2008 disc, and while the overall LOOK of the film is very similar, the upticks in clarity and color details are not even in the same ball park. Just look when Dillon and Dutch are in the jungle hut arguing about their mission. You can see little flecks of dust that was just a smeary mess on the UHE release, and the 2008 disc hat that nasty digital artifacting in the dark.

    Now, there is a certain caveat to this. Predator will NEVER look like a 2018 digitally shot film. It was shot with a low budget in the 80s, with one of the B-cameras given a sub par film stock that was never fixed before shooting. The grain will vary from scene to scene, with some shots looking heavily grainy, and others much more minimal. There’s some mild crush in the blacks in some shots (which I’m convinced is the source related after seeing the same thing on my old DVD, my old Blu-ray AND this edition), and that shot of Dutch jumping into the water from the cliff will ALWAYS look abysmal (that particular shot was a heavily zoomed in shot using sub standard film). However, this release is easily the best it has ever looked, and blows the old discs straight out of the water. It looks about as accurate to the source as it could humanly be, and that’s all we can ask for.





    Audio: :4stars:
    [​IMG]
    It looks like 20th Century Fox has ported over the same 5.1 (and 4.0) DTS-HD MA mixes from the 2008 and 2010 releases, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I would have LIKED to see a new Atmos or DTS:X object based track, but the mixing for Predator has always been rather simplistic. It was a good track that has a lot of explosions and gunfire, but the LFE response and surround mixing were never truly off the charts. The front of the sound stage gets the beef of the work, but surrounds and LFE are represented a goodly amount with the copious action scenes. The dialog is a teensy bit lower than the effects, but the it’s evenly balanced for the most part with just a few slight deviations. The track gets plenty loud and there are no signs of distortion or problematic dips in the audio mix. Again, while I’d love to see what an Atmos track would do, I’m not too disappointed with the 5.1 mix, as the film was originally mixed as a 4.0 track for theaters, and wasn’t really groomed to be a powerhouse audio mix, so any tinkering would be revisionism and would require a whole new mix with a different tone to make it sound any different.





    Extras: :3.5stars:
    [​IMG]

    • Predator: Evolution of a Species-Hunters of Extreme Perfection
    • Audio Commentary by Director John McTiernan
    • Text Commentary by Film Historian Eric Lichtenfeld
    • If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: The Making of Predator
    • Inside the Predator Featurettes
    • Special Effects Featurettes
    • Short Takes with the Filmmakers
    • Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
    • Photo Gallery and Predator Profile









    Final Score: :4.5stars:


    Predator was a seminal film not only for Arnold, but also for the 80s itself. John McTiernan rivaled the greatness of Die Hard, but with a sci-fi twist. There are so many quotable lines from the film that are still quoted today, and 20th Century Fox has FINALLY given in the release it deserves. For the 31st anniversary, we not only get a transfer that isn’t garbage, but one that really does excel in every way. The extras are ports from the Ultimate Hunter Edition (and except for the commentaries are found ON the Ultimate Hunter Edition Blu-ray in the combo pack), and a snazzy new slip cover. For those wondering if I find the video as the sole reason for upgrading being enough. Yes, yes I do. This isn’t a small different on the video, and while the audio and extras are the same, this is a FANTASTIC looking transfer that really does show how much improvement there could have been from the abysmal 2008 and 2010 Blu-rays. Well worth picking up.



    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sonny Landham, Carl Weathers, Bill Dukes
    Directed by: John McTiernan
    Written by: Jim Thomas, John Thomas
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 HEVC
    Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 4.0, Spanish DD 5.1, French DTS 5.1
    Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish,
    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Rated: R
    Runtime: 107 Minutes
    Blu-ray Release Date: August 7th, 2018






    Recommendation: Must Buy

     
    #1 Michael Scott, Aug 8, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
    Todd Anderson likes this.
  2. Todd Anderson

    Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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    Just got back inside from rolling around in the mud in the stream bed behind my home.

    The “mow-down with guns” jungle scene ranks up there with one of my favorite movie scenes ever.

    So many great lines.

    This is a MUST HAVE, MUST OWN disc!


    Question, did you watch this on the projector or display?
     
    #2 Todd Anderson, Aug 8, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
  3. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    no, the projector is still 1080p.... This was watched on the 65 inch Sony X900e from 8 feet away

    oh, and teaser... you're going to see a review for the trilogy boxset as well in the next 24 hours
     
  4. Todd Anderson

    Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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    Box set?? Nice!

    Only asked about the PJ because my experience with some of these older films with HDR and the projector has been somewhat middling... almost as if the presentation is a bit harsh (particularly shots with bright day light.
     
  5. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    hmmmmmmmm, I've never tried it on your projector, but I'm wondering if it's settings thing? It looks great on my TV
     
  6. Ralph Potts

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    Greetings,

    I agree with Mike Todd, never really an issue with my JVC-RS500. Are you using a custom gamma curve for HDR playback or JVC's Gamme D?
     
  7. Todd Anderson

    Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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    I'm using the JVC "ST 2084" HDR gamma setting... I don't believe the 520 has "D" setting...

    I'm assuming you probably have a calibrated/custom gamma setting?
     
  8. Ralph Potts

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    Greetings,

    Yes, the ST 2084 setting is their replacement for Gamma D. It's an improvement over Gamma D but really isn't a standard setting that would capably handle varying types of HDR material. I have three calibrated/custom gamma curves that I use depending on how the disc is authored (meaning its luminance point). Just thinking that perhaps that could account for what you're seeing.
     
  9. Todd Anderson

    Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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    Ugh. I figured as much. How do you identify which custom curves to employ?

    Is there a dump somewhere that custom settings that others can try on their own PJs?
     
  10. Ralph Potts

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    Greetings,

    Todd, if you pull up the extended info menu on your Oppo during playback of a UHD title it will provide the authoring details, namely what its luminance is (1000 NITS, 4000 NITS etc.). That is of course only a reference as over the course of a film that could ebb and flow up or down. What you would really want is to utilize several custom gamma curves. One for brighter peak values, one for lower peak values and one that operates somewhere in between. It all sounds like a lot but, once you have them dialed in, you're essentially good to go and can utilize which ever works best given the material. You would decide this simply by viewing it and opting for the curve best suited to your eye. There is a thread on AVS in the Projector Forum that offers details.
     

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