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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Predator 2: SE (1990)

"We've got a new player in town."
- Lt. Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: January 10, 2005

Stars: Danny Glover, Kevin Peter Hall
Other Stars: Gary Busey, Rubén Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton, Robert Davi, Adam Baldwin, Kent McCord, Morton Downey, Jr., Calvin Lockhart
Director: Stephen Hopkins

Manufacturer: Deluxe Digital Studios
MPAA Rating: R for (violence, language, brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:47m:51s
Release Date: January 25, 2005
UPC: 024543161073
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- D+B+A B

DVD Review

Here is one of those questionably misguided sci-fi films that was able to take one of the genre's most dangerous alien characters, plop him in modern-day Los Angeles as part of a story written by the writers of the original Predator, and somehow never rise above being anything more than a weak, noisy copy of the original. And this is a ridiculously noisy, noisy film, full of long, protracted automatic weapon battles between feuding drug gangs, the police, some mysterious government agency and the Predator himself, who has once come to Earth to do some human hunting, this time in the big city. That's pretty much the plot, in a nutshell.

Instead of Ahnuld, this time it's Danny Glover, playing one of those "live by his own rules" rebellious police lieutenants that Hollywood loves, especially producer Joel Silver, who was knee deep in the Lethal Weapon/Die Hard franchise at the time he produced Predator 2 for director Stephen Hopkins in 1990. So it's no surprise that a casual observer might actually confuse this one as just another in the endless string of lone-cop-against-some-bad-guys-shoot-em-ups, as there are so many gunfights and shootouts—augmented by the obligatory "I'm too old for this sh**" kind of exasperation on Glover's part—that the presence of the Predator just never really seems all that menacing. He (and I always call Predator "he") just seems like another run of the mill criminal, and the fact that the majority of his victims are gun-toting bad guys sort of waters down the impact of his kills.

The plot, if there really was one, is pretty loose, and though written by Predator scribes the Thomas brothers (Jim and John), all that really gets hammered out is the buildup to the inevitable confrontation between Lt. Mike Harrigan (Glover) and the Predator. In between this buildup a large number of Jamaican and Columbian drug gangs get murdered, along with most of Harrigan's colorful sidekicks, until the only thing that stands in the way of what we all know is coming is an undercard battle between high-tech government agent Keyes (Gary Busey) and the tentacle-mouthed alien, which just paves the way for the final chase and showdown.

One of the fundamental missteps in the not quite retread script is the newly revealed ability of the Predator to mimic human voices, which is done via some kind of built-in recorder. Conceptually it's an interesting idea, but instead of being explored and utilized effectively as some type of hunting tool, all that really happens is the unthinkably reprehensible, which is to give the Predator the chance to utter a couple of expletive-filled one-liners, just like the typical villain in a Joel Silver flick. That is just so wrong on so many different levels that I don't even want to get into it. It just makes my head hurt to even think about it.

I really wanted to like Predator 2, and no matter how many times I've seen it over the years, glutton for punishment that I am, I've always been disappointed. There are admittedly some fine action sequences here, such as the strobe light subway fight scene, with quirky cops Paxton and Alonso doing close-quarter battle against the alien hunter, but the one-dimensional drug gangs (who really ratchet up the wild-eyed glee bit a little over the top for my tastes) drag this one down into the bad-cop movie realm like an anchor, even with a dreadlocked Calvin Lockhart literally losing his head as the leader of a violent voodoo gang. To worsen the blow of liking Predator 2, age hasn't been kind to some of the visual effects (such as the Predator walking through fog during the film's final moments), and one of the fight sequences sport some laughably awful alien weapons effects shots.

It is really a shame when a wonderfully cool and menacing character like the Predator is relegated to stock villain status in a rogue cop movie. I always thought that maybe the right time and place would make a difference for Predator 2, but I think I'm running out of times and places for that to happen.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This appears to be the same print found on the previous release, but for a film pushing 15 years of age this is still a beautiful transfer, more often than not. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, Predator 2 contains a bright color palette that gets showcased during the daylight sequences, where the film looks its absolute best, but it is during some of the shadowy interior scenes, as with the climactic slaughterhouse scene, that the transfer reveals its biggest flaws—a noticeable loss in detail and clarity.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: For the special edition, 20th Century Fox has not only included the previously released and remastered 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track (a healthy step up from the film's original theatrical stereo audio, and a stellar mix in its own right), but has sweetened the pot with a new DTS offering, as well. The DTS track is plenty beefy, with frequent sub rumble during the recurrent fight scenes, and like the 5.1 mix, brings a fairly aggressive remix to life. Dialogue, pointless as it is, remains clear, and Alan Silvestri's macho score gets a dramatic boost here. Differences between the 5.1 and DTS are minimal (and neither is weak by any means) but for some reason or another I sensed a deeper, punchier .LFE with the DTS option.

A French language 2.0 surround track and a Spanish language 2.0 stereo track are also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
3 Original Trailer(s)
5 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Documentaries
7 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Steven Hopkins, John Thomas, Jim Thomas
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Stills Gallery
Extras Review: For this special edition, Predator 2 sports two new commentary tracks, with one from director Stephen Hopkins and the other from writers Jim and John Thomas. Both tracks have their share of dead space (never a good sign), and it is the Thomas' track that managed to maintain my interest for the longest. Hopkins chats up casting and the difficulties in cutting the film for a heavily edited airline version, but it is the Thomas brothers who at least kept the energy level up, even when fessing up to having written the script for Predator 2 in less than three weeks. Having seen it a few dozen times, I'm not surprised in the slightest.

The second disc contains the remainder of the mostly new "old" supplements, beginning with the nicely put together short The Hunters and the Hunted: The Making of Predator 2 (35m:38s). This follows the usual origins/creation process, and we're given a few glimpses behind-the-scenes, and watching this I would be convinced the final film would be much, much better than it actually was.

The Evolutions (08m:25s) segment discuss the then cutting edge optical effects for four particular sequences, with an interesting commentary track by visual effects director Joel Hynek. The four scenes given the once over by Hynek are Main Title, Something on the Roof, Enemy in the Alley and Subway Showdown. This leads neatly into a peek at some of the Predator's snazzy new arsenal in Weapons of Choice (07m:51s), which examines a few of the dandy fighting tools brought to Earth for this go round with humanity.

That's where the good stuff ends, because the rest of the content—The Predator Goes to Town (03m:33s), International Featurette (05m:51s), Creating the Ultimate Hunter (03m:31s)—features "deep voiced announcer guy" touting how Predator is in town "with a few days to kill." Ha! Lastly, Morton Downey Jr.'s annoying tabloid reporter character Tony Pope is given extended coverage in a pair of clips from the fictitious news show used in the film. Hard Core Special Report: City at War (03m:18s) and Hard Core from Penthouse to Slaughterhouse: A Special Report (03m:47s) give the late motormouth a chance to do his special brand of large-toothed screaming that was supposed to pass for journalism, but only this time he's a "character." Sorry, couldn't tell.

There are also three theatrical trailers and five television spots, as well as an automated photo gallery of 57 images that runs 04m:44s. The feature, on Disc 1, is cut into 32 chapters, with optional subtitles in English or Spanish.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

As a sequel, Predator 2 looks very nice, but squanders a lot of opportunities and quickly moves into the magical land of completely illogical thought. This is, however, a fine two-disc special edition—if you're a fan—and it sports a beautiful transfer and a booming DTS track, as well as a pair of commentaries and a couple of worthwhile documentaries. That is, if you're a fan.


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