Movie Review: ‘Prey’ is the sci-fi action thriller Predator fans have been waiting for

I consider myself a die-hard fan of the original 1987 “Predator” film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and directed by John McTiernan. I’m also a reluctant fan of the subsequent (sometimes disappointing) sequels. Needless to say, I didn’t have high hopes for “Prey,” another “Predator” film. Especially with the news that it was to be released by Disney on their streaming services, Hulu in the United States and Disney+ in other countries.

The Native American girl faces off with a Predator in Prey.

By Mark Daniel

My main concern was, will Disney allow a Predator film to be “a Predator film”?  Can this new film deliver the blood and gore fans have come to expect from the franchise? Well, as you can tell from my headline, “Prey” does just that!

Prey movie poster

Director Dan Trachtenberg’s “Prey” is very different from other films in the franchise because it doesn’t feature a cast of A-list Hollywood leads compared to the original “Predator“ all-star cast. But without those expected tropes and character types, it allows for the characters to develop without any expectations or assumptions.

“Prey” can stand alone as an introduction to the Predator franchise, however I would recommend viewing the original “Predator” and “Predator 2” (starring Danny Glover and directed by Stephen Hopkins) if you haven’t seen them. There are enjoyable Easter eggs and nods to these two films fans will definitely enjoy.

“Prey” is set in the Comanche Nation, 300 years ago, on the Great Plains. Trachtenberg captures the feeling of a time-before with beautiful shots of the vast wilderness and magnificent terrain before it was touched by modern humans.

I felt drawn into this new story because “Prey,” as a film, is visually stimulating. This is what I loved about the cinematography of the original movie. The jungle setting, dense and unforgiving, was like another character in the film – an obstacle the human characters would have to navigate and survive.

“Prey” also uses the diverse topography of the Great Plains for some very memorable imagery. The attention to environmental details and the characters within them really enhances the film aesthetic. This also adds to the movie’s authenticity.

“Prey” follows Naru (Amber Midthunder), a fierce, highly-skilled warrior. She has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters who roam the Great Plains, so when danger threatens her camp she sets out to prove herself a worthy hunter. The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien Predator with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries.

Even though I had my early doubts about the film. I was excited that “Prey” featured Native Americans. The cast is comprised of almost entirely Native and First Nation’s talent. The film feels like there was a true focus on authenticity and representation of the Comanche Nation. The soundtrack is beautifully orchestrated with indigenous highlights of drums and vocals that connect you emotionally to scenes that feature daily life and traditions among these indigenous people. 

Trachtenberg does a fantastic job introducing the audience to the Predator without revealing too much too soon. He presents him in a clever way, which allows the audience to see the Predator while its cloaking device is activated. The most exciting aspect for me as a fan, was finally getting to see how the Predator moves through the trees. This is something that was established in the original “Predator” film, but was never fully visualized until now. 

Prey movie native Americans

“Prey” also delivers all the bloody carnage fans expect from a Predator film. That being said, those scenes aren’t as gratuitous as its predecessors. Along with the blood and gore, fans also love the creature itself. A masked hunter with a humanoid physique that could be considered the ultimate beach bod (minus the green liver spots). The Predator creature has gone through many redesigns in the past, and this design is one of my favorites. The design of the armor features organic elements, and the bio-helmet made of bone implies an ancient and tribal elegance. The complete ensemble looks antiquated, yet advanced.

Fans also expect to see the Predator’s arsenal of high tech weapons. Because this film is set 300 years in the past, I enjoyed seeing the downgraded gadgets that are still no less deadly. I also enjoyed seeing earlier versions of some of the Predator’s more familiar technology, like heat vision. There is a scene that features the Predator using a familiar melee weapon first seen in “Predator 2.” Even though the weapon used in “Prey” is technically an older version of the weapon, its carnage seems more brutal and more deadly.

Being a fan of Dan Trachtenberg film directorial debut, “10 Cloverfield Lane,” I feel Trachtenberg is emerging as a master of using unconventional character perspectives to bring another level of suspense to the science fiction genre.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Prey.” My only disappointment is not being able to see it on the big screen with fellow “Predator” fans.

“Prey” is rated R and is an hour and 39 minutes long. There are no credit scenes, however, the credits are animated. I recommend watching them until the end.

  • Mark Daniel is a 25 plus cast member with Disney Parks Live Entertainment. He is also a die-hard fan of the 1987 film “Predator” (ask him about his little tattoo). Mark is also an avid collector of all things “Predator.” His collection consists of some of the earliest memorabilia available. From actual “Predator” 1 & 2 theater marquee posters, Dark Horse comics, Micro Machines Predator sets, the first ever die-cast Predator figure by Action Masters, and his prized piece, a custom built Predator costume created by Fractal Studio, and Predator Reebok shoes. During his career in the entertainment industry, has had the honor of working with and interviewing stars from the “Predator” franchise. Carl Weathers (“Predator”), Danny Glover (“Predator 2”), Derek Mears (“Predators”), Danny Trejo (“Predators”), and Robert Rodriguez (“Predators”).

In The Parks

This film isn’t represented in any way in any of the theme parks, but the “Alien vs. Predator” movies have, at past Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights. See the videos below the trailer.

Prey | Official Trailer | Hulu

'Alien vs. Predator' house highlights at Halloween Horror Nights 24

AVP: Alien vs. Predator maze at Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood

Alien vs. Predator house walk through at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2015

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