The Predator first came to digital download on November 27th and arrived on DVD, Blu-Ray and 4K Blu-Ray on December 18th in North America while we in the UK had to wait until January 28th. Here’s my review of the 4K Blu-Ray release – this is my second viewing of the movie after I saw it in the cinema in September. You can buy the The Predator Blu-Ray on Amazon.
So Shane Black returns to the Predator franchise as director nonetheless after having starred as Hawkins in the first Predator. The script, written by Black and Fred Dekker, mostly takes place in Tennessee after our main character Quinn (played by Boyd Holbrook) encounters a Predator that crashed on the planet. The so-called ‘Fugitive Predator’ is captured by a government agency and breaks free and goes on a hunt to retrieve its stolen technology. Meanwhile, a new form of Predator, nicknamed ‘Upgrade Predator’, lands on the planet to find the technology too.
The Predator got a fairly mixed reaction when it was released back in September and I must admit after reading the leaked script prior to seeing it, the movie wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It certainly wasn’t the movie that Shane Black promised it was going to be – a big blockbuster for the mainstream audiences but instead it was aimed at the hardcore Predator fanbase. The Predator has its problems but it also brings something different to the franchise.
We’re soon introduced to the core characters. After Quinn is interrogated, he is thrown onto a prison bus with other ex-soldiers AKA ‘The Loonies’: Nebraska (Trevante Rhodes), Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key), Baxley (Thomas Jane), Lynch (Alfie Allen) and Nettles (Augusto Aguilera). I will say this group have such great chemistry and are genuinely funny to watch. Especially Thomas Jane with his Tourette’s and Keegan-Michael Key. Some of Shane’s Black wit shines through here in the script and some of their lines and comradery will leave you laughing out loud.
I know the original Predator had a lot of cheesy one-liners. Back in the 80’s this worked and nowadays, I don’t think you could really pull that off. The humour that you’ll find in The Predator is unlike anything we’ve seen in any of the subsequent Predator sequels. When the Fugitive Predator kills a group of soldiers in the back of a truck, he then takes a severed arm and gives a thumbs up to the driver. I would have found that ridiculous to see in the previous Predator films, but I did chuckle at it here. The humour is a great addition and is a ray of light in what was a fairly ordinary story. That’s not to say I would like this tone in every movie – it was just a refreshing change.
Rounding off the cast is Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn), who is an evolutionary biologist brought in by the CIA to study the Fugitive Predator. She eventually teams up with ‘The Loonies’ and gives exposition as to what the Predators are doing on the planet. A man called Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) is the main government agent we see in charge while Jacob Tremblay plays Rory, the autistic son of Quinn, who finds the Predator technology.
Like all previous Predator sequels, The Predator contains a few homages and lines to the series. One such character is Sean Keyes, son of Peter Keyes from Predator 2, played by Jake Busey, also son of actor Gary Busey. Unfortunately, it’s all just a completely wasted opportunity. Jake Busey plays the head scientist at the government base studying the ‘Fugitive Predator’ but disappears rather quickly when the Predator escapes. Keyes has no bearing on the story other than a loose connection to Predator 2 which is a shame. Another interesting homage is when Casey sees the Predator equipment from the first two Predator movies as well as Lex’s spear from Alien vs Predator in the display cabinets. I thought that was a nice touch as subsequent films tend to ignore the AvPs.
The ‘Fugitive Predator’ is the first Predator we see and is captured by the CIA as part of the Stargazer Project. He escapes killing a bunch of people in the process. For the first time, we see a Predator firing an assault rifle. Fugitive is played by 6ft 9” actor Brian Prince and like The Wolf from AvP Requiem, this Predator is sleek and agile and comes with brand new armour. Amalgamated Dynamics, who worked on AvP and AvP Requiem, return to create the suit, while Quantum FX crafted the armour. I thought it looked pretty impressive and Quantum came up with something unique to differentiate from previous Predators.
As with 2010’s Predators, The Predator brings forth the whole ‘Super Predators’ idea that there are bigger, stronger Predators out there. Following the ‘Fugitive Predator’, another Predator – the ‘Upgrade Predator’ lands on the planet in search for the stolen technology. He finally makes his grand appearance at the school when he easily overpowers Fugitive. Standing at 11ft tall, Upgrade completely overshadows the previous Super Predators. For the first time in the series, the Predator is a pure CGI creation and along with his dogs, were created by visual effects studio MPC Film. I actually think he is a much better design than the Super Predators even if he is fully CG.
The Predator brings a new concept to the franchise and that’s hybridization. Casey realises that the Predators have human DNA in them and theorizes that they’re upgrading themselves by using human DNA and DNA of creatures on other planets. The reason the Predator takes Rory in the third act is because he is autistic and the Predator sees this as an advancement in human evolution. Not really sure how I feel about this. I suppose it’s one reason as to why it’s so much bigger and deadlier than a regular Predator whereas in Predators, it was left a mystery.
As with Predators, new variations of the Predator Dogs appear alongside the Upgrade Predator. Again these are CGI and feature dreadlocks. While I can get over the design and so-so CGI, they added very little to the story. Both of them never actually killed anybody and one of the Dogs actually follows the main characters throughout the film like a lost puppy and even helps them attack the Upgrade Predator. I like the idea of otherworldly creatures but I just thought the execution was done a lot better in Predators.
The Predator is a very gory movie – up there with AvP Requiem and the Upgrade Predator is absolutely ruthless when it comes to slaughtering people. People’s heads, limbs and torsos are being chopped off left, right and centre. Something interesting we see for the first time is that both the Fugitive and Upgrade Predators do some pretty serious damage just using their mandibles.
It’s no secret that most of the third act of The Predator was completely reshot quite late in post-production. The two ‘Emissary Predators’ were completely cut, so were various hybrid creatures and key sequences such as the APC fight disappeared. As a result, the scenes move at a quick pace. CGI is a lot poorer – the Upgrade Predator in the trees is a good example of this. Editing is all over the place and characters are killed off in quick succession without you even realising it. There’s been a lot of discussion about the very last scene – The Predator Killer. Yes, it’s a bit over the top – it’s exactly like Iron Man’s armour from Avengers: Infinity War and it’s something I would have expected to see in AvP Requiem. I don’t think it’s that bad – just a fun little ending scene.
Overall, The Predator is a fairly run-of-the-mill Predator sequel and it certainly wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be given the small town setting. There’s a lot of set pieces and most of the CGI is actually pretty good. The opening scene of the Predator ships flying through space and crashing onto Earth looks stunning in 4K. One of my favourite scenes was the F-22s pursuing Upgrade’s ship – it’s just a shame it didn’t last longer than a few seconds. The two Predators do get a lot of screen time and the characters are entertaining to watch. The setting is what brings the movie down for me. Seeing the suburbs and a school gave me too many AvP Requiem vibes. Ideally, I’d love to see a Predator film take place in the past – there’s so many stories you could tell – a Spanish Galleon ship, Vietnam, World War 2 but alas, these are all costly and riskier options than having set in present day somewhere.
The Picture and Sound
The Predator comes to Ultra HD Blu-Ray using a 2160p HEVC encode in a ratio of 2.39:1. The film was shot on Arri Alexa Mini and XT cameras and finished at a 2K DI. This was then converted to 4K for the Ultra HD release. The transfer is as expected – brilliant. With the enhanced resolution, you’ll see much more detail and clarity on people’s faces. The CGI is for the most part really good – the third act still looks a little off due to them reshooting it. The HDR is really good throughout the movie. The opening of the Predator ships flying through space looks stunning. Most of the film is shot at night so blacks are black and still contains plenty of detail. Blues and reds really do pop though – such as the Predator’s plasma blasts or fiery explosions.
In terms of sound, the release comes with a lossless Dolby Atmos/DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channel sound. Like the picture quality, the sound quality is fantastic. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout but the action scenes is where it’s at. Straight from the off, the spaceships whizzing by you and then crashing onto the planet are really immersive. In the numerous action scenes, bullets fly from every direction, explosion are loud and punchy. The sound effects are great… from the ambient sounds of the forest to the Predator’s trademark clicking noises. Not to mention, Henry Jackman’s score which shares many of the same beats from Alan Silvestri’s original Predator score. Even if you don’t have a fancy Dolby Atmos setup, those of you will still get a kick out of the accompanied DTS-HD track.
Despite most of the entire third act of The Predator being reshot, there is nothing at all about it in the deleted scenes section. Nothing about the alien creatures nor the Emissary Predators. Instead, there are three deleted scenes and 1 clip of outtakes. (You can read our The Predator Deleted Scenes page for a full run down that was missing).
The first one is entitled “Traeger Meets McKenna” and takes place just after McKenna enters the bar and tells the barman to post the Predator equipment. Traeger meets McKenna for the first time and tells him they’re going to take him to a remote prison.
The next deleted scene is “Lynch Goes Shopping” which takes place when the Loonies get to the apartment. Lynch is outside and tells a biker to stop revving his engine. The biker makes a remark and Lynch punches him. McKenna gets a cup of coffee while Lynch shows off some card tricks to a girl. Lynch then asks a trucker to see what weapons he has for sale in his truck.
The last deleted scene is “Surveying The House” where McKenna’s wife is painting. The Loonies are outside the house surveying the property. The scene continues off from the theatrical where Traeger visits the house. McKenna is still outside listening to the conversation.
The very last section is “Nettles’ Outtakes” which has outtakes from actor Augusto Aguilera who is on the bus rambling as he is talking to Casey.
A Touch of Black
This behind-the-scenes featurette is 10 minutes long and is all about the director Shane Black. It covers how he starred in the original Predator – he was originally brought in to do some script rewrites, add a few jokes and so forth. But Black felt it didn’t need them so they offered him a small role as Hawkins in the film instead. The featurette contains interviews with some of the cast members and producer John Davis and what it was like working with Shane Black during the shooting of The Predator.
This feature is 20 minutes long and is all about the titular creature – the Predator. There’s interviews with Amalgamated Dynamics duo Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis who recount how they crafted the Fugitive Predator. They created concept art and sculptures before creating the suit. They move onto the actor inside the suit – in this case 6ft 9” Brian Prince. They took a cast of his body and made a mould for the suit. Once that was done, they made a start on the animatronics such as the mandibles. Black felt the dreadlocks in the previous films were too simplistic so ADI made changes to the dreadlocks to differentiate them. Look out for some behind-the-scenes of the two Emissary Predators where ADI is demonstrating the animatronics of the creatures.
The feature moves onto weaponry and the Fugitive Predator’s weapons were made sleeker, more purposeful and more refined. The helmet is based on the original but updated. The targeting laser was updated and transformed into an actual cannon. There’s a section about the Predator ship and how it was created. The final section is all about the Upgrade Predator. They made a full scale upper torso of the Predator so the actors and crew could visualize it on the set. The Predator Dogs had this sort of armour, an underslung jaw and dreadlocks so they were rooted in Predator mythology.
The Takedown Team
This feature is all about the relationship between the characters and is about 16 minutes long. There are interviews with the cast including Boyd Holbrook, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Jacob Tremblay, Sterling K. Brown, Trevante Rhodes. Keegan-Michael Key and Thomas Jane came up with their own little background for their characters. Jane studies really hard to understand what Tourettes was and what it sounded like. Black tried to get these six guys together – The Loonies – because it reflected so well about the team in the original Predator.
The feature is just over 9 minutes long and just recaps the events in Predator, Predator 2 and Predators for those that haven’t seen them.
The Gallery features literally 21 concept art pieces from The Predator including the ship, Fugitive Predator, Upgrade Predator and Dogs.
This section includes the Teaser Trailer, Official Trailer and Final Trailer for The Predator.
I enjoyed the movie a lot more than Predators and AvP Requiem, that’s for sure though AvP probably is better overall because of the story. I imagine a lot of people hating The Predator because of the silly humour but I enjoyed it as a one-off entry into the series. The picture and sound quality on the transfer are amazing. The special features on the set are really lacklustre though and easily the fewest I’ve seen out of all Alien / Predator sets.
This is the first time there is no audio commentary on a set. Where was the Shane Black / Fred Dekker commentary?! They could have talked so much about the shooting and what went into the script. There’s only three deleted scenes. I never expected an uncut version of The Predator despite the third act completely changing but they could have added something about it into the deleted scenes. There’s nothing at all about the Emissary Predators apart from some rare glimpses of them in the behind-the-scenes feature. You get a couple of short behind-the-scenes features but that’s about it. Very disappointing in the features department.