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Predator 2 (1990)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/9/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/17/2009
If you get down to it, there has been violence in movies since the very beginning. And for most of that time, there have been people who have been complaining about the violence in movies. This came to a head during the 1980s, and for good reason, as Hollywood did release some bloody films during that time. When I think of violent films, 1990 always comes to mind. This was the year of the violent 2s. We got RoboCop 2, Die Hard 2, and Predator 2. For big-budget Hollywood movies, the body-counts in these films were noteworthy. Twenty years later, will Predator 2 seem as crazy?
Predator 2 takes place in 1997, 10 years after the events in Predator. The setting is Los Angeles, which is in the grip of a brutal heatwave. A war is brewing between rival drug gangs, and the LAPD is caught in the middle. Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) and his team -- Danny Archuleta (Ruben Blades), Leona Cantrell (Maria Conchita Alonso), and newcomer Jerry Lambert (Bill Paxton) -- are doing their best to contain the violence, and after an especially violent shootout, they are surprised to find that someone has slaughtered some members of the gang. They assume that it was a rival gang. The next night, another gang is found, not only killed, but hanging upside down. Harrigan's investigation is blocked by Federal Agent Peter Keyes (Gary Busey), who is very secretive about what is looking for. It seems that a Predator (played by Kevin Peter Hall) has come to town and has decided to join the battle, taking out players on both sides. As Harrigan gets closer to the truth, he decides to challenge this new enemy head-on.
In my recent review forThe Cell 2, I wrote about the practice of having direct-to-video sequels which don't contain any of the actors from the original. Predator 2 is that rare theatrical release which falls into this category. Granted, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Elpidia Carrillo were the only two left alive at the end of that movie, but still, it's unusual to get a Hollywood sequel which doesn't have anyone come back from the first film. This could be seen as a detriment to the movie (more on that in a moment). What we do get with Predator 2 is a master-stroke of an idea -- the Predator goes from the actual jungle to the urban jungle. In the first film, it's implied that the Predator is an alien hunter who is attracted to areas of war and conflict. Thus, it makes perfect sense for the hunter to go to a place like L.A. to hunt. And, as with the first film, the Predator doesn't choose sides -- it kills characters whom we consider to be both good guys and bad guys.
Unfortunately, there is a problem with the execution with the first half of the film. There are two main problems here, both of which are tied to the absence of the Predator. First of all, the first two acts are played almost like a murder-mystery, as the police wonder who is killing the gangsters. But, we, the audience, already know who is doing it, so watching their investigation is somewhat dull. This seems like an odd decision on the part of the writers, as we've seen the first film, and we've already gone through the "what is stalking us?" storyline. This section of the film is filled with all kinds of bloody violence and mayhem, but the action all seems quite pointless at times, as we are waiting for the Predator action to begin. In the same vein, Predator 2 becomes one of those movies where the monster isn't the primary threat to the main characters. The cops are fighting the drug lords and while they are busy killing each other, the Predator is sitting on the sidelines. We want to see the characters fighting the Predator, not street thugs! There is also an issue with the miscast Danny Glover. Harrigan is supposed to be a tough-as-nails, rule-breaker cop, and we simply never see Glover in that light.
Having said all of that, the last act of Predator 2 is interesting. It's at this point that the movie actually becomes about the alien. We get a better look at its physical form and we see some of the tools which it carries. (Is that a gas stove?) Of course, the most memorable part of the movie is the finale, which sets the stage not only for Aliens vs. Predator, but presumably for other stories which show the Predator's visiting Earth. Predator 2 isn't a terrible sequel, but because it lacks surprises, it doesn't live up to its predecessor. If you can make it through the first half of the movie, the second delivers some good action and interesting story points.
Predator 2 polishes a skull on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. For a film this old, the transfer looks pretty good. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only mild grain and no defects from the source material. The picture has a nice crispness to it and the picture is never too dark or bright. The colors look good, but there is some mild smearing of skin tones. The picture has a very nice amount of depth, especially in the city-scape shots. The Disc offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely detailed and show good stereo separation. The action scenes deliver nearly constant surround sound effects and we get good bass from the explosions.
The Predator 2 Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Stephen Hopkins. At the outset, this is a fairly good commentary, as Hopkins looks back on the making of the film. But, as it progresses, the silent periods grow longer. Next is a second COMMENTARY with Writers Jim Thomas and John Thomas. At least in this talk, the two can play off of each other. They talk about the story and what it was like to visit the set. "The Hunters and the Hunted" (36 minutes) is a making-of featurette which mixes some modern interviews with a great deal of archive comments from the cast and filmmakers. The piece focuses on the story, the actors and characters, the Predator creature effects, and the production. There's an amazing amount of on-set footage here and it's bittersweet to see the late Stan Winston and Kevin Peter Hall here. "Evolutions" (8 minutes) is a four part segment which looks at the main title sequence, the first shot of the Predator on the rooftops, how the invisible Predator effects are done, and the subway scene. We get a closer look at the Predator's various armaments in "Weapons of Choice" (7 minutes). "Hard Core Segments" (7 minutes) offers a complete look at two TV news specials which are just glimpsed in the movie. The "Promotional Gallery" features 3 THEATRICAL TRAILERS and 5 TV spots. Along with this, we get "The Predator Goes to Town" (3 minutes) which is sort of an extended trailer, which contains comments from the cast and crew, as well as moments from the public, as they hyphotesize why Predator would come to L.A. The "International Making of Featurette" (6 minutes) and "Creating the Ultimate Hunter" (4 minutes) contains a lot of footage which we saw in the other special features.
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long