Predator 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though it showed its age at times, the picture generally looked quite good.
Sharpness seemed fine. The movie came across as accurate and distinct. I noticed no issues related softness or fuzziness during this tight and well-defined presentation. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, but I discerned some light edge enhancement at times. As for print flaws, I noticed a little grit and some specks, but in general, the movie looked nicely clean and fresh. Some light grain also cropped up at times.
Predator 2 presented a lively palette, and the DVD replicated those tones well. It handled some scenes with red lighting nicely, and the other hues came across as tight and vivid. Black levels seemed deep and dark, but shadow detail could appear somewhat dense and murky. Since the film included a lot of low-light sequences, this caused some moderate problems. Nonetheless, I generally felt satisfied with the image of Predator 2, as it looked pretty solid for a movie of its age.
While the original Predator 2 DVD included only a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, this “Special Edition” tossed in a DTS 5.1 mix as well. I thought the pair mostly seemed very similar. The DTS version came across as a little smoother and better defined, but not significantly enough to warrant a higher grade. For the most part, they sounded a lot alike.
The audio of Predator 2 also demonstrated some issues related to its era, but it mostly was very satisfying. The soundfield presented an involving affair, though it appeared a little too active at times. Audio from the forward channels worked well, as the music showed good stereo presence and effects blended together neatly and cleanly. Material seemed well placed and elements moved smoothly between channels. Surround usage appeared somewhat excessive and artificial at times, but the rear speakers usually provided good reinforcement of the front speakers. Too much music came from the back channels, but effects became nicely engrossing and lively.
Audio quality seemed quite good. Speech sounded natural and distinct, and I noticed no issues related to intelligibility or edginess. Music appeared very strong, as the score consistently came across as bold and dynamic, with solid clarity. Effects also seemed clean and accurate, and they packed a serious punch. Low-end material appeared tight and deep; elements such as helicopters and the predator’s heartbeat presented tight and deep bass. Overall, the mix for Predator2 worked nicely and earned a “B+”.
How did this new release of Predator 2 compare to the quality of the original version from 2003? That one’s Dolby Digital soundtrack was identical to this one’s, but it lacked the DTS mix, so 2005 release gets a slight improvement in audio. Picture looked the same for both editions, as I noticed no changes in visuals.
While the original Predator 2 lacked many extras, this new two-disc special edition expands things greatly. On DVD One, we find two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Stephen Hopkins. He offers a running, screen-specific piece that covers logical subjects but never catches fire. Hopkins goes over story issues, the cast, locations and sets, visual and practical effects, the movie’s look, MPAA ratings concerns, and music.
All of these make perfect sense, and we learn a fair amount about the movie. However, the conversation usually remains fairly superficial and doesn’t deliver a rich examination of the topics. For example, Hopkins briefly mentions that they originally wanted to pair Danny Glover with Arnold Schwarzenegger, but the latter chose to work on T2 instead. And that’s that - no more detail about how the film would have differed in that incarnation or anything else. A moderate number of gaps interfere, and the track generally remains low-key. It comes across as average.
For the second commentary, we hear from writers Jim Thomas and John Thomas, both of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. When they speak, the brothers offer nice reflections. Unfortunately, they chime in too infrequently and leave quite a lot of dead air.
Nonetheless, I learned a fair amount of good information from this chat. We get notes about the original plans for the story and various changes that occurred along the way. They also discuss limitations placed on the filmmakers as well as anecdotes from the shoot. They elaborate on issues that didn’t get enough coverage in Hopkins’ piece; for example, we hear more of how a P2 with Schwarzenegger would have worked. As I mentioned, when the guys talk, they prove useful. It’s the gaps that make this a less scintillating commentary than I’d like.
When we head to DVD Two, we find the remaining extras. First we go to a new documentary called The Hunters and the Hunted. In this 35-minute and 38-second piece, we get the usual mix of movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear from Hopkins, Jim and John Thomas, Stan Winston Studios’ John Rosengrant, executive producer Michael Levy, stunt coordinator Gary Davis, creature creator Stan Winston, and actors Bill Paxton, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Maria Conchita Alonso, Ruben Blades, Morton Downey Jr., and Kevin Peter Hall.
”Hunted” goes over the basic concept behind the sequel, the characters and actors, the design and execution of the predator, filming on location in LA, stunts, sets, the movie’s climax, and finishing the flick. One disappointment: most of the interviews come from 1990. The only new comments are with Hopkins and Rosengrant; everyone else was shot during the making of the movie. Those kinds of chats don’t necessarily have to be less useful, but they lack perspective and they tend to be fluffy and without much substance, as they mostly exist to promote the film.
Much of “Hunted” suffers from that tone. Especially in the program’s first half, it fails to deliver many interesting notes as it stays with superficial elements like basic character information or praise for the actors. The program improves in its second half as it gets into the technical aspects of the predator creature and actually shooting the movie. Despite those better elements, the documentary remains lackluster.
A section called Evolutions offers some special effects development clips. These pieces last a total of eight minutes, 25 seconds and cover four scenes: “Main Title”, “Something on the Roof”, “Enemy in the Alley”, and “Subway Showdown”. In these, we see effects elements at various stages of completion while we hear commentary from visual effects supervisor Joel Hynek. He discusses the material and lets us in on the methods used to execute the elements. I like the rough footage, and Hynek’s remarks present a nice discussion of the work.
For a look at the predator’s arsenal, we head to Weapons of Choice. This offers “weapons analysis clips” that take a total of seven minutes, 51 seconds. They cover “Gauntlet Knives”, “Self Destruct”, “Plasma Cannon”, “Net Launcher”, “Smart Weapon” and “Telescoping Spear”. We hear remarks from Hopkins and (mostly) Rosengrant. They get into the design of various weapons and how they were made to seem real in the flick. The show goes through the bits awfully quickly, but it develops the topics with reasonable detail to make the show informative.
Within the “Promotional Gallery”, a number of components appear. We discover three theatrical trailers, only one of which appeared on the prior P2 DVD. All three come presented anamorphic 2.35:1 with Dolby Surround 2.0 audio. It seems unusual that the film’s original 1.85:1 dimensions got cropped to 2.35:1 for the ads; usually trailers reverse that prospect. Five TV Spots also pop up in this area.
Three featurettes fill out the “Promotional Gallery”. The Predator Goes to Town runs a mere three minutes and three seconds. It features remarks from Jim and John Thomas, Hopkins, Levy, Alonso, Glover, Busey, and Paxton. We also get some goofy comments from Californians on the street. The filmmakers go over basic story issues and not much more. Some of the footage from the set is fun to see, but there’s no useful information here.
Both of the other two featurettes repeat clips found on the prior DVD. We get a 1990 international featurette that runs five minutes and 41 seconds. Mostly it shows movie clips in addition to some behind the scenes snippets and interview tidbits from Hopkins, Glover, Busey, Alonso, Blades, and Paxton. A few of the shots from the scene seem decent, but the interviews lack substance and the featurette exists as nothing more than a glorified trailer.
Another promotional program from 1990, Predator 2: Creating the Ultimate Hunter lasts three minutes, 40 seconds. (This component also appeared on the prior P2 DVD.) However, at least this one tries a little harder to divulge filmmaking information. We get the same mix of materials as we learn about the creation of predator vision, urban camouflage, and the predator’s weapons. The piece names none of the participants, so while I recognized Hopkins, Winston, Glover, the Thomas brothers and Downey, I couldn’t name any of the other technical personnel. The material from the set seems moderately useful but not deep, and the details about the effects also fail to tell us much. Like the prior featurette, this one remains very oriented toward hyping the film, so don’t expect to learn much from it.
For a fun addition, we get two Hard Core segments. These are the clips created for the fictional tabloid news show seen in the movie. “City at War” lasts three minutes, 17 seconds, while “From Penthouse to Slaughterhouse” goes for three minutes, 47 seconds. Some audio elements fail to appear; no narration can be heard, and Pope’s reports lack a lot of the necessary sound effects. Nonetheless, it’s cool to get a closer look at these pieces.
Finally, we discover a Photo Gallery. It includes 57 shows from the set and from the movie. These present a decent collection of snaps, but the presentation stinks. They proceed as a running gallery that you can’t control in any manner. You can’t move forward, backward, or pause, so if you want to see a certain picture, you’ve got about five seconds to look at it before it’s gone, and then you have to sit through the other parts of the program to get back to it again. Whose bright idea was this? A still gallery isn’t a complicated concept, so why ruin it with a dopey presentation like this?
A lively and generally exciting little action flick, Predator 2 doesn’t do anything to redefine the genre, but it works well as a whole. It seems consistently more satisfying than the disappointing original movie, and it contains enough solid thrills to make it a success. The DVD offers surprisingly strong picture and sound, and this new special edition adds many extras not found on the first release. Unfortunately, “more” isn’t always “better”. With two commentaries, a documentary, and other components, the supplements of P2 seem great, but the quality of the pieces is usually fairly mediocre.
That factor complicates my recommendation. Of course, if you don’t own the prior version of Predator 2, I’d push you toward this one. It presents picture and audio at least equivalent to its predecessor, and despite my disappointment with the supplements, they’re still vastly superior to those on the nearly extras-free original disc. However, if you have the old version, I’d only advise that you get the special edition if you’re really into Predator 2. The new supplements are decent but just not good enough to merit a double-dip on their own.
To rate this film, visit the original review of PREDATOR 2