Prey is a sci-fi/action movie directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) and stars Amber Midthunder (The Ice Road) as the main protagonist. It is also the latest entry into the Predator franchise, now owned by Disney.

The question that was on everybody’s mind, including mine, was why was this dumped straight onto a streaming service, Hulu in the US and Disney+ everywhere else. The answer to that question is a frustrating one. Due to the sale from 20th Century Fox to Disney, the Fox properties that Disney took over had an agreement in place that if they went to cinemas, they then got to appear on HBO Max as well as Disney+. This is why movies like Free Guy or Nightmare Alley appear on multiple streaming services. Well, Disney wanted this one all to themselves, so instead of doing the right thing and putting it in cinemas, they put it straight on their streaming service so that they didn’t have to share the streaming rights, using it as a vehicle to drive up subscriptions.

But none of that would really mean anything if the movie stinks, right? Well, I am happy to say that this movie does not stink. A lot of people are saying it is the best Predator sequel in fact, and with it sporting a 92% critic rating (from 158 reviews) and an 83% audience rating (from 500+ reviews), the argument can be made. For me personally, I still prefer Predators from 2010, but only just. That’s how good this one is.

For starters, Trachtenberg directs his ass off here. Teaming up with cinematographer Jeff Cutter (also 10 Cloverfield Lane), Dan gets some incredible shots throughout the film. There is one shot in particular (which is in the trailer so not a spoiler), where the Predator, while cloaked, is chasing a character through a cornfield. It’s an aerial shot and it shows the character running, with just corn (or maybe wheat) being smashed down behind it. My description doesn’t do it justice, but the film looks great.

The actual look of the Predator looks awesome as well. Most of the film it has it’s camouflage cloaking on, but when it doesn’t, it has a bit more of a prehistoric look to it. It still has the laser sights, but there are no laser cannons this time around. The laser sight shoots arrows, which is good. Sure, they have some advanced technology, but it wouldn’t make sense for a Predator in 1719 (when this is set), to have the same tech as a current day Predator. So, good choices there. It may seem obvious, but a lot of studios miss the obvious shit.

Our main character, Naru, played by Amber Midthunder, is really great in this. Admittedly, her story is quite cliche. Her family don’t believe that she can be a great hunter, but she is out to prove them all wrong. It’s basically the story of Mulan, set in the Predator universe. But the execution of said story is on point, so the cliches never really become an issue.

This review has been overly positive so far, but I do have a couple of issues. The first one relates to CGI. There is a lot of CGI in this, and while some of it isn’t bad, some of it really is. It’s quite noticeable in places. There is a particular sequence with a grizzly bear that looks horrendous.

My other issue is the decision to use English as the language with Comanche sprinkled throughout. The protagonists are a Native American (Comanche) tribe, so why didn’t they shoot the whole film in the Comanche language? Well, I know the answer (Americans don’t like subtitles), but it still hurts the movie. Especially when some of the English phrases they use (there is one scene where a character is hunting a lion, and they say “Don’t worry, I got this”), that does not even remotely fit the timeline of this movie.

But other than those two things (three if you count the generic story), this is a thoroughly enjoyable watch and a very solid entry into a franchise that has been struggling since the lackluster The Predator from 2018. I just hope enough people see it since the marketing behind it was horrible and it just got dumped onto streaming services.

But if you’re a Kiwi and you have Disney+, seek it out. It’s a brisk 1h 40m and just flies by. Totally worth your time.