Tag Archives: Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Predator” on Blu-Ray – Hi-Def Halloween Horror

If it’s reference quality video you want…look elsewhere?

It’s a fact little disputed amongst serious scholars of bone-crunching, gore-spattered, pectoral-pumping, 1980’s cinema that John McTiernan‘s action/sci-fi/horror mash-up “Predator” is a pivotal movie of the decade and ranks as some of iconic star Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s best on-screen work.

Shorn of many of the reactionary politics which accompanied many action-thrillers of the decade and focussing instead on creating one of the best variations on “The Most Dangerous Game” that we’ve seen on-screen, “Predator” doesn’t waste a second of its 107 minute running time and lives longer in the memory because of it – it would take a real bonehead to mess up this premise and the taut script by Jim and John Thomas thankfully provides director McTiernan with an opportunity to stage tense, violent and genuinely thrilling set-pieces which still resonate 25 years later.

25 years since this film opened?  Oy vey.

The set-up is simplicity itself – an elite team of covert military extraction specialists led by Major Dutch Schaefer (Alan Alda…Schwarzenegger) take on the job of entering a South American conflict zone to retrieve lost government personnel and instead find themselves on the wrong end of a terrifying big game hunt waged by an alien big game hunter whose dental bills must be crippling.

METAL!

It’s to the Thomas’ credit that they find ways to subvert expectations and misdirect the audience until the runaway train of the main plot kicks in and never lets up for the remainder of the running time.  Sparing as it is, there is at least some attempt to lend Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and the various tree-trunk necked cast passing character development amidst the shoot-outs, last-gasp escapes and deliriously homoerotic bro-bonding elsewhere in the film.

Things that McTiernan’s direction gets abundantly right are demonstrated by the action sequences – each one is shot in what would come to be recognized as the director’s signature style, which marries frenetic bouts of mayhem with always easy to understand spatial staging and razor-sharp editing.  The tension is always palpable and the gore is done with something approaching restraint – limbs are lopped, unfortunate soldiers are skinned and somehow none of it seems aggressively horrible or leeringly adolescent.

“Take that, nature!”

What’s honestly pleasing about this film is the way that it gets to have its cake and consume it greedily – whilst we get to enjoy early scenes of Dutch and crew laying waste to all comers with an array of absurdly fetishized military hardware (culminating in the scene captured above), it rapidly becomes clear that all of the mini-guns, grenade launcher attachments and over-developed biceps in the world are precisely no use whatsoever against the alien protagonist of the title when it starts hunting them in earnest.  There is always, as Uncle George Lucas would later remind us in Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace“, a bigger fish.

The mano-a-alien showdown at the end still thrills, wisely devoting a significant amount of on-screen time to beating the living crap out of the otherwise impervious Austrian Oak and making the certainty of his ultimate triumph rather more of a contest than it had been to this point – it’s also fun to see Dutch’s character pushed to rely less on his undisputed muscles and more on his adaptive, intellectual abilities to best the universe’s premier big-game hunter, deploying a valley’s worth of improvised traps and tricks to slow down old crab-face before the two can finally face each other down.

You can see why the sequels, spin-offs and remakes resulted from this utterly enjoyable original flick – but it’s telling that few of them (arguably Nimrod Antal‘s “Predators” being the best) have ever approached the seamless blend of horror beats, action gags and sci-fi coolness that McTiernan’s film has to spare.

The Blu-Ray, by the way, is fine – save for some utterly misguided digital makeover techniques being applied to the print, which result in all the cast’s craggy faces being uniformly de-lined and as feature-free as a Vogue cover model – and has much to recommend it.  If you can get past the layer of virtual polyfilla being applied to the actors, the picture itself is fine if devoid of the kind of film grain which you would expect to see in a film of this vintage.

The sound mix is pretty good – guns boom, explosions shake your subwoofer and Alan Silvestri‘s magnificent score jockey for aural position betwixt your speakers and don’t step on each other’s shoes too often.   Extras are reasonably generous – there’s a making-of, some deleted scenes and trailers, a McTiernan commentary and a text commentary by a film historian (it’s a living, I guess…).

If you’ve ever thought about buying the movie, this is fairly definitive stuff and it looks and sounds as good as it ever will, shy of what a hypothetical director-supervised edition for the thirtieth anniversary edition might offer up.  Not one for purists, but certainly a disc that fans should enjoy.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Films, Geekery, Random Notes

Sly Stallone – renaissance man or expensive saddlebag?

Image

Sly, I love you, but you’re turning into Tony Bennett.  It’s really quite eerie.

Look everybody – there’s a new trailer for “The Expendables 2” (presented via the kind intercession of YouTube and IGN‘s channel).

Image

Subtlety is not on the agenda, as you might expect (or, indeed, hope).  Lots of things exploding, stunts aplenty and old dudes cracking wise – we’re in comfortable territory.

Image

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the only way to top the bonkers explosions and stunts in this trailer will be to take the next movie into outer space.   It’ll be like the Clint Eastwood vehicle “Space Cowboys“, only with more detonations and absurdly large, probably overcompensating range of firearms.   I can see it now….

As previously stated in an earlier post, “The Expendables 2” opens on August 17th – the perfect way to spend an aimless late summer afternoon for discerning middle-aged geeks and the younger nerd set alike.

Leave a comment

Filed under Films, Movie Trailer

China to “Titanic 3D” viewers – look, but don’t touch. On second thought, don’t look.

Image

Just check the date for me – it’s not the 1st of April, is it?

Offbeat China (via the EW magazine ‘PopWatch’ blog) reports that Chinese officials, ever vigilant for potential affronts to moral rectitude and charged with upholding national strength in the face of Western corruption have decided to make a few trims to the “Titanic3D re-release.

How do we put this?  Kate’s Winslets are no longer present within the release print in China – the fairly tame and chaste nudity in the life-drawing scene has been excised to prevent audience members from reaching out and responding publicly to the movie’s 3D make-over.

Does this kind of thing work both ways, I wonder.  If any of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 80s action flicks are going to get a 3D spit-and-polish, does this mean that his impressive pectorals will be edited out to stop similar public examples of virtual groping?  And, more to the point, has this kind of insanity happened in a cinema near you?

I’m pretty sure that the pressing problem with 3D is watching a long movie and not having your brain revolt and try to escape your cranium during the second hour of the film, so the idea that audiences are so utterly swept up in the wonder of three-dimensional film that they reach out and try to grab the screen smacks to me of our old friend censorship getting a techno make-over.

Not that something that odious would happen, right?

I’m due to take in this 3D re-revisit to Titanic on Saturday, so I’ll be able to report back on the degree to which I am overwhelmingly corrupted by Kate W’s assets in towering 3D – personally, I suspect that Billy Zane’s rug is going to be a far more terrifying sight…

5 Comments

Filed under Films, Geekery

Terminator on Terminator

“[I’m open to] all those things, if it’s True LiesTerminator, a well-made Terminator…the last one was awful. It tried hard, not that they didn’t try, the acting and everything. It missed the boat.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger, April 2012.

Image

Hold up, hold up – Arnold, I’ll let you finish, but know this – “Terminator: Salvation” really isn’t that bad.  And it’s a lot better than the godawful, woebegone, half-assed “Terminator 3: Rise of the Novelty Sunglasses”.  A film, lest I forget, that was reviewed by Mrs Rolling Eyeballs thusly – “After making me sit through this, you’re lucky that I didn’t divorce you”.  But then, I had to go and see “Something’s Got To Give”, so I figure that we’re essentially even…

If “Terminator: Salvation” is guilty of anything, it’s that it feels really episodic  – generic action sequence follows intense dialogue exchange and begets another huge action scene – and suffers a little from what we know about star Christian Bale‘s on-set temper flare-up – when you watch Bale’s John Connor in the film get all method and ticked-off, its hard not to expect him to suddenly get riled and start to fire his co-stars and demand better acting talent to work with.

I’m always going to be interested in seeing another movie in this universe – hey, I was hyped for part three before it opened and, well, you know how that turned out – and I really feel that it might be time to do the previously unthinkable and acknowledge that perhaps we don’t need to have Arnold present to make a film which is canonically acceptable and not painful to watch.  In fact, at this point, might it be argued that Arnold is more of a hinderance than a plus point?

Somebody call Timur Bekmambetov – if any cat can make a balls-out, utterly crazed “Terminator” movie that could erase the memories of recent instalments, it’s him.

2 Comments

Filed under Films, Geekery