This is a spoiler-free review of Predator: Prey, released on Aug 5 on Hulu and Disney+.
I’ve been near ravenous for this movie since the teaser trailer was released months ago, as I’m a huge fan of the Predator universe (going so far as to read the books as well). I tried hard not to have high expectations.
What’s the premise?
A skilled Comanche warrior protects her tribe from a highly evolved alien predator that hunts humans for sport, fighting against wilderness, dangerous colonisers and this mysterious creature to keep her people safe.
This is a Predator movie unlike any other. The original two Predator movies were serious but had their (unintentionally) campy aspects.
Alien vs. Predator was less horror-thriller than action-adventure, AVP: Requiem is a bit derivative, Predators introduced a reversal of the premise that gave insight into the Predator world, and The Predator? Well, let’s say its cons considerably outweighed its pros.
Predator: Prey, in this horror-thriller family, is the artsy, contemplative sibling that has something to say about colonialism, resilience, and our reliance on technology. All the while including gory fight scenes and quite a few callbacks to Predator. Some subtle, some not.
The movie is gorgeous. The scenery, panning, and camera work suggest a movie deserving to be viewed on the big screen. Those who like the show Alone would likely enjoy the wilderness aspects. An adorable dog also gives the film a much-needed dose of heart.
The movie’s main character, Naru, is fighting to prove she can be part of her tribe’s hunting group. This is a story we’ve seen many times, often in coming-of-age films, but it’s common for a reason. Almost anyone can relate to Naru’s feelings of being an outsider and undervalued. “Why do you want to hunt?” her brother asks. “Because all of you think I can’t,” she replies. Yet, as much as she has bravado, she’s untested. She needs to convince herself she deserves to want this too.
There’s no denying Naru’s skills. The action scenes are exceptional (albeit a little flashy). It was great to see the Predator movie quickly (rather than somewhat plodding), and the movie was a good mix of the Predator kicking ass and action scenes that had nothing to do with him. And if you ever wanted to see the Predator fight a big animal, now’s your chance.
The new look of the Predator is interesting but doesn’t serve to give us any insight into their culture. Is he an off-shoot species of Predator, or just a design change? This one is leaner, almost reptilian-like, and scarier (which might also be due to that helmet). I also enjoyed his new weapons, such as a collapsible knife and dart gun.
Of course, the movie isn’t perfect (though, if you couldn’t tell, I adored it). The Comanche Native American characters speak English (clearly for the benefit of the viewers), but I would have preferred subtitles. And while it was easy to identify with Naru, her relationship with her brother could have been deeper.
One of the most interesting aspects of the movie, which gave it a gravitas lacking in all previous installments, is the inclusion of a different kind of predator, one dangerous to the Comanche and the environment. This would be the colonist poachers. The movie draws heavy parallels between the Predator and these men (unscrupulous trophy hunters too reliant on their technology), much to their detriment. As such, the film proves you can balance horror-thriller with thematic resonance.
Predator: Prey is a major glow-up from the original, no longer an “ugly motherf****er” but an elegant, stylistic film that still provides plenty of action and suspense.