• Predators



    Released by: Fox
    Released on: 10/19/2010
    Director: Nimrod Antal
    Cast: Adrian Brody, Topher Grace, Danny Trejo, Laurence Fishburne, Alice Braga, Walton Groggins
    Year: 2010
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    The Movie:

    When Nimrod Antal’s Predators begins, we meet a mercenary named Royce (Adrian Brody) as he’s mysteriously dropped into the middle of what at first looks like a South American jungle. He has no idea how or why he got here, and neither do the other people that he soon meets up with – a Mexican gangster named Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), a CIA operative named Isabelle (Alice Braga), a Russian special forces operative named Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), an escaped killer named Stan (Walton Groggins), a middle eastern soldier named Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a Yakuza assassin named Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), and a meek doctor named Edwin (Topher Grace). Tensions flare instantly as the members of the group basically feel one another out, but they soon figure out how and why they’re all here when they realize that there are two moons up there in the sky – they’re not on Earth anymore – and they’re basically being used as game.

    When the Predators arrive and start killing off the group for sport, they meet up with a survivalist named Noland (Laurence Fishburne) but he’s not what he seems and before you know it, it’s man against alien in an all out battle for survival – but can everyone in the group be trusted? And do these humans stand a chance against the ultimate killing machines?

    Mixing up The Most Dangerous Game with the existing Predator mythos is a pretty decent idea that Antal and his company do well with. The film isn’t deep, perplexing or life changing but after a marginally slow first half, it does deliver all manner of action set pieces and cool man versus monster style mayhem. Brody isn’t bad here in the lead, and while you might not necessarily equate him with an action movie star, he handles himself well in the film. Trejo is sorely underused as are most of the other cast members save for Grace, the later providing some welcome, if not always wholly appropriate, comic relief.

    This isn’t the type of movie we watch for groundbreaking performances though, is it? We watch a movie like Predators for the violence and the movie provides it in spades and it isn’t just handed out by the Predators themselves. With the motley crew of a cast made up of trained killers, you can bet that the human characters in the film are just as likely to kill as the alien characters are (and there is the not so subtle double meaning of the pluralized title). Things explode, things get shot, spines get ripped out of bodies, corpses are hung, and Laurence Fishburne does his best ‘crazy guy’ performance as the plot comes crashing through to its inevitable ‘yes there’s gonna be a sequel’ style ending.

    It might be a bit derivative and it might take just a little while to get going, but once it starts moving at full speed, Predators is just what the franchise needed –a tight, mean, shot in the arm with some memorable set pieces, tough guy dialogue aplenty, and a fun cast.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Predators looks great in this AVC encoded 2.35.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer. Like so many projects that producer Robert Rodriguez has his hands in these days, the movie was shot digitally so the transfer to Blu-ray is remarkably clean. Detail is strong from start to finish and the image boasts excellent color reproduction throughout. Black levels are strong for the duration of the film and there are no problems with any noise reduction or edge enhancement. Close up shots look very impressive, letting us ogle every facial detail that appears in the cast and to check out the colors and reptilian skin that the Predators themselves have. Laser blasts and explosions all show nice, bright hues while the darkness and overbearing green of the jungle is also well defined and nice and natural looking. It’s hard to find anything to complain about here, Predators looks excellent.

    The primary audio mix on this release is an English language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix though standard definition Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound tracks are provided in Spanish, French and Portuguese with optional subtitles provided in English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, traditional Chinese, and simplified Chinese. But getting back to the DTS-HD track, it’s a good one. Plenty of surround activity is present throughout the movie with the rear channels demonstrating almost constant usage. Bass response is strong and powerful without burying everything else in the mix, while the levels are well balanced. Dialogue is always easy to understand, while the various ambient effects used throughout the movie give the jungle scenes a lot of really great atmosphere. The score also sounds quite good and all in all, this is pretty much a flawless mix.

    The best extra on the disc is the commentary track with director Nimrod Antal and producer Robert Rodriguez. Both men are keen on discussing the film, some of the ideas that they bounced around that didn’t make it into the picture, casting, what it was like revitalizing the franchise, effects work and more. Rodriguez seems to have a bit more to say here, but it’s still an interesting discussion.

    Evolution Of The Species: Predators Reborn is a rock solid forty minute documentary about the origins and completion of this project, starting with the original story idea from Rodriguez following the project all the way through to post production. It’s quite interesting and features some good interviews with many of the cast and crew members. Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making A Scene is a seven minute piece that shows us how the alien dog scene was shot, while The Chosen is a five minute piece that focuses on the human characters in the film.

    Rounding out the extras are the film’s theatrical trailer, ten minutes worth of deleted scenes, trailers for a few other Fox properties, a motion comic prequel to the story told in the film, animated menus and chapter stop. All of the extras are in high definition. A second disc in the case houses a digital copy.

    The Final Word:

    Exciting, fun, and packed full of actions, Predators doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it certainly does entertain. A strong cast and some good direction outshine the mediocre script and the effects are generally up to snuff too. Fox’s Blu-ray release is a good one, with excellent picture and sound quality and a pretty solid array of supplemental material as well.