- Run time: 1 hour 39 minutes
- Studio: Fox Studios
- Director: Dan Trachtenberg
- Where to Watch: Hulu
300 years ago on the great American plains of the Comanche Nation territory, a young woman named Naru fights to prove her skill. When she discovers gigantic tracks belonging to an unknown beast, she pleads with her brother and fellow tribesmen to believe her. Dismissing her claims, they treat this beast as ordinary prey.
Prey Review – The original 1987 Schwarzenegger classic Predator is one of the first movies I ever reviewed. I gave it an 87 and looking back, I stand by that. I’m also impressed that I was able to read through my whole review without cringing, but that doesn’t really matter. More of a point of pride for me. Anyway, Prey is directed by Dan Trachtenberg and stars Amber Midthunder and Dakota Beavers. Set 300 years in the past, both humanity and the galaxy’s best hunter are significantly less advanced – but no less deadly.
Prey is an original movie premiering on Hulu by Fox Studios. It is the first Predator related movie to be released in the Disney ownership era. For reasons unknown to myself, it was relegated to be released directly to streaming services. While this is probably the safest way to avoid a box office blemish, it is mildly disappointing. The entire time I found myself thinking about how much more I could have enjoyed Prey if I was watching it on the big screen.
The quiet scenes would have been quieter, the loud scenes would have been louder, and the awesome hand to hand combat would have been that much bigger. I wouldn’t have had my phone buzzing from a random discord conversation. I wouldn’t have the glare from my windows landing on my tv. But with a bigger screen comes bigger expectations, even if they are unfair. Given that I had to watch the movie on my tv at home, I was still able to enjoy the score and the grand sweeping landscape shots with just a modicum of effort.
Starring Amber Midthunder, Prey doesn’t fall into the girl power trap. Midthunder’s character Nara does the things that any good character would do and she does them well. There is no overly feminine inspiration. The motivation of “they said I can’t, but I say I can” is universally applicable and that makes her story incredibly satisfactory. Nara is a smart character and just as skilled as her male counterparts in the movie, ultimately earning their respect at the end of the 100 minute runtime. Supporting Midthunder is Dakota Beavers, who plays Nara’s brother Taabe. Both Nara and Taabe are smartly written, with only a few moments of cringey dialogue. The chemistry between the two and the respect they command from their fellow tribesmen is impeccable.
With a concrete character base, the story of Prey sounds schlocky on the surface. The one liner in the Hulu description says it all “An all-new entry in the Predator franchise, set 300 years ago, tells the story of a young Comanche woman, a fierce and highly skilled warrior, who stalks, and ultimately confronts, a highly evolved alien predator with a technically advanced arsenal”. Shlocky as hell, right? But once you hit play and watch the intro ad on Hulu, it only takes about 15-20 minutes to really get going.
There’s a lot of polish on this movie that fans of the Predator franchise can appreciate, and it makes for an exceptionally great movie. Dan Trachtenberg sprinkles little easter eggs and call backs throughout the story that shows he gets what made the original ’87 action movie so fun. There are modern influences (like the grappling hook hatchet) that will date the movie significantly in the future, but for today’s audience they are excusable.
When compared to the other Predator franchise movies (Predator, Prey, Predators, AVP, The Predator, AVP2) Prey is without a doubt the second best entry in the franchise. Unlike Minions: Rise of Gru, there is no sign of prequel syndrome and it thoughtfully adds relevant and entertaining information to the franchise. Great character performances with understandable and relatable motivations propel the story forward in mostly logical ways. With the right set up and a little bit of effort, watching Dan Trachtenberg’s Prey at home can be an incredibly enjoyable experience for fans of sci-fi and Predator fans alike.