Prey is one of the better Predator films, which sounds like small praise considering the fact that most of the franchise is littered with dreck. Predator 2 has its proponents — including myself — and I alone will sing praises on the total schlock that is Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. But on balance, it’s mostly crap. Predators? The Predator? Alien vs. Predator? Forget ’em. Anything after Arnold defeating the greatest hunter in the unknown universe has been diminishing returns. So what’s the big deal about Prey? Well, it’s pretty good. In a franchise this dire, that’s good enough.
Right out of the gate, one of Prey‘s best decisions is riffing on an idea seen time and again in franchise-licensed comics and novels during the 1990s: What if the Predator landed in a past era and the humans of that time were forced to use their wits and historic technology to ward him off? This story is set in 1719, and Naru (Amber Midthunder), a Comanche woman, dreams of becoming a hunter like the men in her tribe. Her brother, Taabe (Dakota Beavers), and his friends don’t take Naru’s dreams seriously. Into their lives comes the Predator, and it’s ultimately up to Naru to fend him off.
The first act of Prey is a little rote, playing out the story’s interfamilial drama over Naru’s dreams and skills versus the world’s gendered expectations of her. Given that Prey started life as a streaming release, there are moments where the effects budget is noticeably lacking — although director Dan Trachtenberg keeps things moving along at a fast-enough clip that it never becomes a chore. Once the Predator attacks, the kills, gore effects and Midthunder’s compelling lead performance combine for a satisfying action-adventure .
Prey is the first in a line of streaming-first releases Disney is releasing to physical media on Blu-ray, a sea change from the company’s digital-focused strategy over the last few years. There’s a deluxe steelbook available, although for the purposes of this review, only the Blu-ray was viewed. The special features are mostly sparse, which is standard for Disney, although the Comanche audio track is a nice touch (also available on Hulu). I talk shit about the Predator franchise, but I already own all the other movies and it’s nice to add this one to the shelf.
- The Making of Prey
- Prey For Your Consideration panel with cast and crew
- Deleted scenes and an alternate opening
- Audio commentary with Trachtenberg, Midthunder, director of photography Jeff Cutter and film editor Angela M. Catanzaro
- Full-length Comanche audio track