Depending on how closely you follow DVD and Blu-ray releases you may or may not know all of the terminology, but if you haven’t heard of digital noise reduction (DNR) you are about to get your lesson, as if you hadn’t already learned by mousing over the image comparing the original Blu-ray release of Predator and the newly remastered one directly above.
I’d heard discussions about the heavy amount of smoothing that took place in Fox Home Entertainment’s just released Predator (Ultimate Hunter Edition) prior to receiving a review copy. Most prominent was the remastered look at Arnold you see above on the mouse over (you can see it in hi-res right here).There is so much digital scrubbing and grain removal Dutch becomes a Playboy cover model and looks as if he belongs in Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. The question, however, is whether or not this makes for a “better” picture. If you’re having a hard time deciding, don’t worry, more examples are on the way. Perhaps even take a look at babyfaced Carl Weathers after his digital scrub down right here before we move on.
Fox Home Entertainment has become the poster child for excessive digital work on their Blu-ray releases although this is the first time I’ve been witness to it at this level. I’d heard similar discussion surround Fox’s release of Patton and have stayed away from it as a result, but this is the first disc in my personal collection that I can recall such a dramatic shift.
The effect of the massive DNR is used throughout the entire film as grain has been virtually removed from every frame. However, its effect on the facial features as you see in the waxy image of Arnold at the top of this article and Elpidia Carrillo directly above are not registered in every scene. Scenes with close-up shots of Bill Duke look particularly crisp with virtually no additional scrubbing, but my only explanation for this would be that throughout most of Predator, Duke’s character is sweating profusely and the opportunities to do anything with it just didn’t show themselves. Perhaps that’s why the softening of Carrillo above is primarily in areas where blood isn’t splattered all over her face. In fact I’d argue the blood splatter actually gains detail.
The other noticeable difference is a ramping up of the brightness. The colors pop off the screen with serious intensity, it’s like the “Vivid” setting on your HD television in overdrive. I actually played around with the settings on my TV and took a peek at the movie in the “Dynamic” setting rather than my customized settings and during some of the explosions it was almost too bright to look at.
You can see in the comparison above how much brighter the jungle gets when you mouse over the image. Is this how you want your Blu-rays to look?
As for the rest of the release the only new features not found on previous releases is a sneak peek at the upcoming release of Predators and a new 11 minute documentary about the movie in HD that looks back at the film giving a brief backstory and then bleeds into the new film with interviews with Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal.
As for whether or not you should buy this title over the previously released edition is up to you. I’ve given you the evidence and I can also tell you that buying the new edition is going to run you $21.99 at Amazon while the old one is now priced at $11.99. Make up your mind and click here to pull the trigger.
NOTE: The image comparisons in this post come from a huge discussion in the Blu-ray.com forums.