Predator – Widescreen Collector’s Edition

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Rating: R

Starring:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Maj. ‘Dutch’ Schaeffer
Carl Weathers as Maj. George Dillon
Elpidia Carrillo as Anna
Bill Duke as Sgt. ‘Mac’ Eliot
Jesse Ventura as Blain
Sonny Landham as Billy
Richard Chaves as Poncho Ramirez
R.G. Armstrong as Gen. Phillips
Shane Black as Hawkins
Kevin Peter Hall as The Predator

Special Features:
Commentary by John McTiernan

Text commentary by cast and crew

Deleted scene: Arnold Schwarzenegger Fleeing Predator

“If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It” documentary

Inside the Predator: seven featurettes

Three outtakes

Three Predator “red suit” special effects

Two Predator camouflage tests

Still gallery

Predator profile

Alien vs. Predator and I, Robot sneak peeks

Alien vs. Predator trailer

Easter eggs

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
French Language Track
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 106 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film was originally released in 1987.

When a helicopter goes down in a remote Central American jungle, Maj. ‘Dutch’ Schaeffer and his elite team of commandos are sent in on a rescue mission. However, when they arrive at the crash site, they find their fellow soldiers brutally butchered. Dutch and his men proceed to hunt down the rebels who they believe committed the atrocity, but they soon find that they themselves are being hunted. A lone camouflaged alien has come to earth seeking the most dangerous game on the planet and Dutch and his men are squarely in its sights. Can they all get out of the jungle alive before they are picked off one by one?

Predator is rated R.

The Movie:
I have a couple of fond memories of Predator. (I bet you never thought that you’d hear “fond memories” and “Predator” in the same sentence.) Back in the 80′s, my family and I lived in Norway. Each summer we’d come back to the U.S. and make copies of movies to take back and watch overseas. One of those movies was Predator. As I was making my bootleg of the film, my Grandmother came in the room and saw Arnie on the TV. She said, “Oh! Arnold Schwarzenegger! I like him. Let’s watch this.” Besides being amazed that my Grandmother liked Schwarzenegger, I told her, “I don’t think you want to watch this. It’s about an alien hunting Arnold in the jungle and brutally killing people.” Shocked, she said, “Oh no! I don’t want to watch that!” She then left the room. Of course when I got back to Norway I watched this film over and over and over. I know every scene by heart. Needless to say that I was glad to get it on DVD.

Predator is about as testosterone supercharged as you could possibly get in a movie. Every actor is pumped up. It has tough dialogue, big guns, and lots of macho action. Throw in a cool alien with amazing special effects and you have pure guy movie nirvana. It doesn’t hurt matters that it was the film that John McTiernan directed right before making Die Hard. It established that he could really handle action.

The cast of this film was perfect. It was a real ensemble piece with Schwarzenegger in the lead. In fact, I think Arnold was helped tremendously by the additional cast. He didn’t have to carry the whole movie on his shoulders and they helped elevate the level of acting and characterization. You had Carl Weathers as the CIA agent. He seems more than a physical match for Schwarzenegger and he definitely acts better. You also had Bill Duke as Sgt. ‘Mac’ Eliot. His quiet, intense gaze said more than anything else he did. You had Jesse Ventura playing the tough, tobacco chewing, gun toting guy who “ain’t got time to bleed”. (Did Ventura inspire Arnold to be a governor, too?) You had American Indian Sonny Landham as Billy, the guy with the haunting laugh. Then there was Richard Chaves as Poncho Ramirez who was also a favorite of mine.

The effects of Predator were also remarkable. Not only was the camouflage effect unique but the alien makeup itself was stunning. The alien was definitely a guy in a rubber mask, but the helmet, dreadlocks, and mandibles made him one of the more amazing looking aliens in movie history. Everything about the Predator was just cool. The character was a real high point in Stan Winston’s career.

The music by Alan Silvestri was also unique and a perfect blend of military march and horror suspense to give the movie the right feel.

This is one of those rare movies where everything came together just right to make a fun film. The actors, director, effects, music, and everything fit together just right to make one of the best popcorn flicks ever made.

The Extras:
This is about the third or fourth edition of the Predator DVD. I don’t have the others, so I can’t compare this edition to them. However, it is a big treat for any Predator fan. It’s on par with the Alien collector editions that recently came out. There are a ton of extras and bonus features that I had never seen before. Here are the highlights:

Commentary by John McTiernan – This commentary by the director is admittedly a bit dry. McTiernan comes across as a little flaky, but he does have all sorts of interesting trivia about the film. However, I don’t think I learned much from the commentary that I didn’t get from the other featurettes on the DVD.

Text commentary – If you turn on this option, subtitles appear on the screen. They are apparently transcribed commentary from the sound effects guys, some actors, editors, and other crew members. It’s interesting, but it’s a little distracting to have their conversations appearing as text on the bottom of the screen. I think I would have preferred an audio commentary. However, it is full of all sorts of Predator trivia that’s quite interesting. Predator fans might find one or two new things here they haven’t heard before.

Deleted scene: Arnold Schwarzenegger Fleeing Predator – In this deleted scene, Arnie hides under a log from the Predator and is covered in ants. He then runs and dodges explosions in the jungle as he runs from the Predator. The scene ultimately isn’t that great and is not missed from the film.

“If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It” documentary – This is an extended documentary on the making of the film. It’s about 30 minutes long. It shows interviews with the cast and crew from the 80′s and more recently. You learn the origins of the script, what it was like filming in the jungle, and more. It’s an excellent documentary.

Inside the Predator: seven featurettes – These are a series of 3 to 10 minute short features on various subjects. They include the special weapons from the film, the casting, the camouflage makeup, the Predator suit, Kevin Peter Hall, shooting in the jungle, and more. I was really surprised to see that the Predator in the film wasn’t the original one they had in mind. It was originally more bug-like and it looked quite stupid on film. It was good to see they went with the design they did. You also learn that the film was originally called “Hunter” rather than “Predator”. Again, there are all sorts of cool stuff for Predator fans here.

Three outtakes – One “outtake” shows Anna picking up a chameleon in the forest. Another shows Dutch preparing for battle with the Predator. I don’t even recall the third one if that tells you anything. They are all better left on the cutting room floor.

Three Predator “red suit” special effects – In order to make the camouflage effect in the film, they had the alien actor in a big red suit that was optically removed later. These show the original shots of the suit. Even the cheesy original alien is shown here.

Two Predator camouflage tests – This shows the various camouflage effects they tried before settling on the one seen in the film. These tests happen to use the footage of the original sucky alien.

Alien vs. Predator and I, Robot sneak peeks – These are quick sneak peeks of AVP and I, Robot. The AVP one is only around 2 minutes long, but you get to see the mechanical alien, the making of the Predator helmets, and more. It’s fun stuff.

The Bottom Line:
This is a required addition to the DVD collection of any Predator fan, but I can’t say how it compares to the earlier editions. The one you already have may be good enough (and it doesn’t come in a crappy cardboard box like this one does).

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