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08-16-2004, 11:21 AM
Picked this up last night for $20 on sale at Tower Records, Massapequa, New York. Beautiful packaging, inside and out, with actual quotes from different characters in the film written all over the inside covers. Havent seen packaging this nice, in fact, since the two-disc Special Edition of John Carpenter's Escape From New York.

Let's get some of the hang-ups I had about the film itself, after all these years that have passed since I had seen it, out of the way before going into the technical aspects of this two-disc package. I dont know if its just me getting older, but I am finding as I revisit more and more titles I used to love when I was younger, some of them....well...just "dont do it for me" anymore; I cant really explain it. Not that any of these films are BAD, because they are not, but I have found that with my last DVD purchase, which was The Lost Boys Special Edition, and now with Predator, re-watching these films as an older, wiser adult, I just dont know where some of the appeal of some cinema came from. As I watched Predator tonight, I couldnt help but just sit there, with my better half, and think man....when is the action just going to PICK UP already? Where is the predator already? Why arent there more battle scenes and more gore and.....well, you get it....and yet when I was younger, films like this used to always interest me....I remember cating Predator on cable and always watching it when it broadcast....even The Lost Boys....I even have home-recorded VHS copies of both. But somehow, now that I am older, it seems I am, well, a bit impatient when it comes to developing a story, believing some of these nonsense, over the top screenplays....or simply just wondering what was so GREAT about some of these films I USED to think were great. The same thing happened when I bought the "Airport" movie collection, about the airplane disaster stories (included the original Airport, Airport 1975, Airport 77 and The Concorde: Airport 79). I remember LOVING these films as a kid, never missing them when they were on.....when I bought the DVD set, I was watching them and I was thinking to myself "yeah.....and...what was so GREAT about this? This is boring!" as I cringed at the horrible acting and horrendous special effects.

Be that as it may, Predator was nice to revisit after watching Predator Vs Alien this weekend, and the two disc set looks good on my wall unit above my TV with my other boxed sets, right alongside my center channel speaker next to the Die Hard Trilogy...

The technical aspects of this DVD are hard to analyze; 20th Century Fox presents Predator in a 1:85:1 widescreen scope, but the picture quality is utterly unstable....what I mean is, some scenes look really awesome for a film of this age....then suddenly, in another scene, the screen is LOADED with grain. This happens throughout the length of the film. Opening shots are fuzzy and grainy too, but eventually things clear up (if only to be riddled with grain and noise again later on). This ping-pong effect of the picture quality got tiring after awhile.

The audio is presented in either Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1, and I am happy to see 20th Century Fox being a massive supporter of offering good action titles with DTS mixes....and they have pretty much all delivered, from Daredevil to Die Hard to Predator. The only thing I am dissapointed with is their decision to offer Independence Day without DTS...

Of course, I ran the DTS track, and the results are a mixed bag, just like the video quality analysis....the overall volume of the DTS mix is awesomely hot and aggressive (meaning loud), which I like.....the score is particularly loud and engulfing, and during the predator attack sequences, the score really heightens the mood. But for some reason, the audio on this disc does something weird....sometimes it gets muted and low during explosions, then there is loud gunfire from the center channel, but then some gun shots and other effects sound muted and weird again....I cant really explain it. The audio quality seems to go in and out during certain scenes, sounding excellent and polished one minute, then turning low and very old-sounding the next; something definitely was not balanced right. BUT, this does not take away from the fact that the overall mix was aggressive and pretty much loud most of the time. Dialogue was, as usual, needing to be cranked up a bit to hear, especially when Arnie is whispering to his troops in the jungle. The dialogue also had this audio problem where lines would sound "old" and "stale" as if they were lifted from the original mono stem of this soundtrack, and then suddenly, a second later, the dialogue would sound fresh, alive and new....REALLY weird. I dont know what happened with this mix.

There is a sneak peek at Alien Vs Predator on Disc 1, along with some other Fox coming soons, such as I Robot, but I didnt get a chance to look at the features on Disc 2 yet.

Worth the $20? I dont really know...even though the box does look cool next to my other boxed sets...

08-26-2004, 11:50 PM
You know, I watched Predator yet again tonight, this two disc "Collector's Edition", and all the things I mentioned in my original review stood out even moreso, and do each and every time I rewatch this DVD....20th Century Fox should really be ashamed of themselves on this one. From the VERY FIRST opening 20th Century Fox logo theme, with the spotlights, the image is RIDDLED with horrible grain....as if it were struck from a terrible VHS copy or something; in fact, I have seen VHS tapes that look tremendously better than that opening sequence. It just does not make any sense, because from there, the film exhibits an extremely uneven, wavering quality difference as it progresses --- as I reported on the first time --- although I needed to see it a couple of times just to really make sure.

As Predator goes on, some rare scenes look absolutely fabulous for a film from 1987 --- the lush greens of the jungle seem to jump off the screen at certain points. Then, as fast as those scenes arrive, they dissapear into another scene where grain and dirt fill the screen, and this happens all through the length of the DVD. Some scenes are downright atrocious with regard to the grain; worse than some sequences of Universal's "Scarface" Anniversary DVD reissue, and THAT was bad. Why? Why couldn't Fox get this right? Why the constant "ping-ponging" of the video quality throughout this sci fi classic? The audio does the same thing --- dont get me wrong, the DTS mix is fantastically loud overall, the way every single DVD soundtrack should be, in my opinion, especially for action films....but throughout the film, once again, the audio gets muddy and "congested" sounding during key action sequences....there are times machine guns are being fired, and you hear the sound coming loudly and with authority from the center channel....then suddenly, the same gunfire begins coming from the two front channels and the volume drops down and becomes congested and muted....this happens with explosions, too. Explosions rip across the screen, but instead of coming from all channels in an expansive, aggressive manner, the effect seems muted and "dated" almost, before gunfire begins sounding modern and loud in the next scene....its so weird. Why, is my question for Fox Home Video division....why did you let this happen? Why DOES it happen? Why couldnt it be cleaned up better? Isnt there any quality control before this stuff goes out?

I just wanted to reinforce my original findings during this DVD review regarding the "unbalanced," bizarre nature of the audio and video. Still, two huge thumbs up for the way I need to keep lowering the volume of my system --- especially late at night --- because the DTS surround mix is so god-damned hot on this DVD....all action surround mixes should be processed so loud.