Prey (2022) review: Return to form

The Predator franchise has varied wildly in quality over the years with many people holding the opinion that the original is the only one still worth watching. Thankfully, now in 2022, the latest movie in the franchise is called Prey and it’s also worth your time.

But let’s rewind things a bit. Quite a bit actually as Prey is set 300 years in the past, in the Comanche Nation in the 1700s.

Prey tells the story of the first Predator hunt on Earth with the prey being a young Comanche warrior named Naru, played by Legion star Amber Midthunder. And, on the other side of the camera, is 10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg.

We won’t be spoiling the story here but it’s best to start with the plot and the setting as it’s a unique one. This is one of the biggest projects ever focusing on a Native American setting and likely the only one with a female lead, something Midthunder brought up with a media roundtable we were involved in (check back to Hypertext in the coming days for more on that).

If nothing else this is a refreshing change of pace and we get a real appreciation from the scenery, much of which was real according to Trachtenberg in the aforementioned roundtable.

As a setup for humans fighting Predators it’s also unique given the importance on hunting and respect for life of the Comanche and, as alluded to in the trailers on this page, the real story is determining who is the actual prey.

Our only complaint when it comes to the story is that it’s on the simple side. There’s no extra intrigue or twists to speak of, just straightforward storytelling. We would have liked, for example, to see more of the Predator doing weird alien rituals in some of the movie’s downtime as a bit of extra flavour to the proceedings.

The cast did a great job here, especially Midthunder. This is rather important as you will spend much of the runtime with her as only a handful of scenes don’t feature the actress.

You really buy the character of Naru as someone who wants to be out on the hunt but is pushed by her tribe to be a gatherer or provider of medicine, which is her other talent outside of weapons.

Underneath the Predator costume is Dane DiLiegro and he did a great job as a more brutal version of this movie monster, at one point – again shown in the trailers – pit against a bear in what is basically a fist fight. It helps that a lot of the costume was practical (also revealed by Trachtenberg) which gives this antagonist a firmer footing and more believability in the world of the movie.

There are many other supporting characters who only appear in a handful of scenes and none of them standout if we’re being honest.

For those tuning in for the action, and maybe the gore, you will not be disappointed.

While there is some not-so-great CGI here, a lot of the fights are particularly brutal and practical. This is an R-rated movie and you get a level of violence which is appropriate for the Predator, an alien hunter known for keeping skulls and spines of prey as trophies.

The Predator is also using more primitive versions of familiar weapons we’ve seen in other movies in this franchise and we can’t help but get a Mayan or Aztec vibe from this version. This Predator uses a shield and melee weapons which look inspired by those cultures which is a great contrast to the Comanche and the French trappers which form the third party in this story.

The fights are imaginative and make use of the differing technological levels between these three factions and it’s always cathartic to see the Predator wipe the floor with an entire group off people, sometimes thanks to its advanced tech and sometimes with brute strength alone.

This is shorter review because, well, there’s not much else to talk about here, which we can see as a negative against this movie. It’s a bit too simple but we can’t help but feel like this was intentional given the ludicrous happenings of past movies.

While that’s commendable we were left a bit wanting at the end, but satisfied with what is here.

Fans of the franchise should be happy with the genuine care that went into it and other more casual watchers have a simple action adventure tale with a sci-fi edge.

Finally, how can you watch this movie? It’s a streaming exclusive but the platform differs depending on your region. Countries with access to Hulu will find it there while others without will need to go to Disney+, as a general rule.

Here in South Africa it has been confirmed to launch with the rest of the world on 5th August on Disney+.


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