Review by C.J. Bunce
As one of the top 10 science fiction movies of all time, Predator is one of those movies you’ve likely watched over and over. Directed by John McTiernan, who would go on to perfect the action movie genre with Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October, Predator is equal parts action and horror highlighted by an incredible science fiction villain as realized by the great Stan Winston. But if you haven’t seen Predator since its theatrical release in 1987 or watched it only on video or DVD, then it’s time to watch it again.
Although it wasn’t originally filmed or released in 3D, Predator is now available in 3D as Predator 3D. Remastered and converted to 3D using the same methods to up-convert movies like those used for I, Robot 3D and Top Gun 3D, McTiernan’s direction and Donald McAlpine’s cinematography just happened to be perfect for a Predator upgrade. Who could have thought the 75% of Predator that is primarily jungle chases and little alien presence could still be so incredibly suspenseful?
Filmed like a typical 1980s action movie, full of well-known tough guys like Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura led by Arnold Schwarzenegger (the latter two who would later unimaginably turn out to be elected state governors), we follow a special ops team trying to locate a lost team in the jungle. Along the way the movie turns from action genre to horror, as members of the ops team get plucked off one by one, Friday the 13th style. They are skinned and hanged from the treetops, and others are blown apart, all with in-your-face Stan Winston style. Even with a short prelude bumper scene in which a space pod is jettisoned to the Earth’s surface, as well as a futuristic Predator’s eye view of his methodical hunt of the ops team, we don’t really understand what we’re watching until the film’s climactic mano a mano battle.
Along with the simple beauty of images of a military jungle mission, full of trees, insects, canyons and waterfalls, the outer space introduction is a stunning example of high definition, and each shot of the Predator alien, whether cloaked or seen in full armor, reveals a completely different movie experience far better than anything that made it to theaters.
I was skeptical about the prospects of a classic being converted in this manner. First, 3D in theaters is always a hassle. If you don’t have perfect vision you must mess with glasses over glasses or glasses over contacts, which can never provide a clear viewing experience. Even if you don’t have vision issues, most people report some level of eye strain or headaches with the giant images and bright theater lights. So the fact you can have the home 3D experience without the theater annoyance, added to the fact that Predator was not made for 3D, and therefore avoids all the silly 3D gimmicks current 3D movies constantly throw at you, makes Predator one of the best 3D experiences on either the small or big screen.
So credit improvements in home 3D watching in part with the success of Predator 3D. Not only should all 3D films look this good, all high-definition TV and films should appear this crisp and sensational. If Predator 3D can be achieved, just think what else could be in store in the future if 3D continues as a standard for new releases and up-converting classics takes hold like it should.
Predator 3D is available with additional 2D version and bonus DVD feature disc available at Amazon.com here, plus a high-end “Ultimate Hunting Trophy” limited edition with Predator bust and mask, available at Amazon.com here. Predator 3D is a must for 3D viewers and any fan of this sci-fi classic.