Twentieth Century Fox had complaints when they released the original blu ray of Predator with some people saying the amount of grain in the image was too much for them.
When Predator 2 was released it had suffered from digital noise reduction and the image was less than optimal because of this. Many thought the reason for DNR on Predator 2 was because of the ignorant online reviews and complaints from a vocal minority.
Predators is being released in cinemas and so Fox have revisited Predator with the promise of a brand new digital restoration, many thought this meant the image quality was going to be dramatically improved upon the original release but this is not the case with early screencaps of Predator showing massive grain reduction and what appears to be some ringing and to my eyes a small amount of contrast boosting and colour changes.
To my eyes it does not look better but because it now looks clean and has a good amount of extra material it may sell very well as ignorant reviewers praise it from the hilltops.
If it sells well then Fox will think that clean grain free images are good and they may start to use DNR on other films in their back catalogue, this would be bad news for film fans.
The sad thing here is that many reviewers attacked the first release and are now praising this release and the casual person in the street will see the words ultimate edition and pick it up thinking it looks better, indeed many will consider the grain an issue and automatically think this new edition is better than the old release.
The problem with this sort of thing is that it may appease those who have their televisions set up wrongly and the film grain haters but it dimishes the whole point of high definition movie content which is to get as close as possible to the original filmed image, Predator was never meant to be clean looking like this and i love the texture a layer of film grain can add to a release.
For me one of the telltale signs of DNR is when you see an image with blur on it, other screencaps from the French release show this same blur effect and it stinks of digital noise reduction, you can read my glossary here for more info on DNR.
If your monitor is set up with the sharpness and contrast controls too high you will see unnatural heavy grain which indeed looks ugly as hell, reduce your sharpness and contrast and it will improve image quality, film grain should be preserved or you lose the finer detail.
Look at the first capture and note contrast levels in the new edition and check the treeline and rocks in both the releases and then look at the sea and the far off horizon, in the second image note the texture on the wood next to Arnie is now gone and it looks hideous to me.
Now the original release of Predator is not perfect and does suffer compression issues but this new edition looks to have gone too far in the opposite direction.
The use of DNR as seen on this release results in motion artifacts and the blur effect, the contrast boosting will also be an issue, if only Fox had went back to the original negatives and using the latest film scanners made a brand new master, doing this would have likely resulted in more detail and the best possible transfer. It's a pity Fox went cheap on this release.
Incidentally they have also used edge enhancement to artificially sharpen the image after the loss of detail from using DNR, you can see clear undisputable evidence of this in the first and fifth screencaps below, Twentieth Century Fox wants us to buy this rubbish, i think not.
It seems some people with their 40inch to 50inch sets who were brought up on smooth video games love this new release, they seem to think it has more detail than the old release, they are oblivious to edge enhancement and do not notice how processed things look even when you point it out to them, these people will eventually kill the film look stone dead as they have no understanding of what film grain is and are only interested in watching a super smooth image, they mistakenly believe they are getting more detail as they have not educated themselves on what DNR actually does to an image, such a shame really and i do wish people would take the time to learn and that way they might not be so quick to defend poor releases like this one.
Post now updated with new screencaps, its worse than i first thought, check out screencap 4 as an example of the smearing and blurry focus that DNR causes when used to excess, also check out screencap 5 which shows not only excessive DNR but you can see clear edge enhancement around Arnie's shoulders and all fine detail is now gone, Carl Weathers in screencap 3 would agree with me, this is a train wreck of a transfer, Twentieth Century Fox should be sacking the people responsible and recalling this release and giving people their money back.
Check out the blu ray screencaps of Predator below – Click twice for the full DNR frame.