Believe it or not, some film critics have been tossing around the word “masterpiece ” when describing the new Predator film – which Disney didn’t even have enough faith in to give a theatrical release – and I think we all know why.
While some critics will choose to focus on praising the film’s Native American representation, the fact is Prey is nothing more than a movie made for to give streaming service subscribers content to consume.
However, it can’t be any worse than the Predator film Olivia Munn torpedoed in 2018, right?
The last time Hollywood tried to put a Predator film at the box office, the film got off to a rocky start with audiences after Olivia Munn exposed the director for casting an actual child predator. Later, after they actually got to watch the film, it got terrible reviews from critics and audiences alike.
Seemingly not wanting to risk another $90 Million dollars on a Predator film that no one wanted to see, with Prey, 21st Century Fox opted to release the new prequel straight to the Hulu streaming service.
The biggest reason for relegating the film to Hulu is that instead of someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny Glover, or even Adrien Brody leading the pack against one of cinema’s most iconic monsters, for better or worse we have a 25-year-old CW actress at the helm.
Set in the year 1719, Prey centers on Naru (Amber Midthunder), a young Comanche woman who has been trained to be a healer but has dreams of becoming a great hunter like her brother, Taabe (Dakota Beavers).
Naru wants to prove her worth to the rest of the tribe, but they believe she should be a tracker rather than a hunter.
Later, while tracking deer with her dog Sarii, she witnesses the arrival of a “thunderbird” in the sky, though she is completely oblivious to the threat heading her tribe’s way.
When the tribe creates a search party for a mountain lion that they believed attacked one of the tribe’s hunters, an unknown stalker begins to follow and observe them.
It isn’t until the stalker starts killing larger animals that the threat begins to materialize in the form of the Predator.
Soon after, Naru is found to be the only person who has the tact to outsmart the monster before it wipes out the tribe and anything else that gets in its way.
Director Dan Trachtenberg understands how to put together a story that revolves around psychological terror. The tone of the film resembles a classic Predator movie in terms of its presentation, though in an effort to utilize as much of its smaller budget possible, the action is pretty basic.
The cinematography is one of the film’s strongest aspects, with some beautiful exterior shots taken in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The term bait-and-switch has unfortunately gained a lot of steam in Hollywood over the last few years due to the industry’s practice of marketing a production to audiences as something they’d actually want to see, only to give them something completely with the final product.
To that end, as previously hinted by Midthunder herself , Prey offers a stronger focus on its characters over the monster – a fact which could be a negative depending on the level of carnage you desire.
In fact, despite the film being a Predator movie, you don’t get to see much of the hunter until the film’s 45-minute midway point.
Instead, we get to know Naru, who is your typical ‘strong female lead’ looking for ways to overcome gender roles in the name of ‘female empowerment’.
Yet, the movie doesn’t seem to know how it wants to portray its protagonist, bouncing between strong and weak whenever it is convenient for the plot.
While the film portrays her as a strong character who is capable of taking out an army of men single-handedly, we are at the same time constantly told through its storytelling that the Predator refuses to kill her because he doesn’t see her as a threat.
This inconsistency of Naru’s portrayal leads to numerous plot holes within the story.
When you get to the meat and potatoes of Prey, it isn’t necessarily a bad film, but the uneventful nature of its story leaves it as nothing more than a mediocre adventure that will just leave you empty. Just like eating a large bag of chips.
While calling it one of the better Predator movies isn’t exactly the biggest endorsement given this franchise’s track record of the franchise, Prey is a much better film than 2018’s The Predator on the sole basis that this film does not attempt to insult you by being a comedy.
But don’t be gaslit into thinking that the film is a cinematic masterpiece. If it was, Disney would have put it in theaters rather than just sitting back and watching Lightyear help their reputation go up in flames.
NEXT: Predator – What Every Sequel Did Wrong