Is Prey Better Than Predator?

 Ever since I saw Prey a few weeks ago, I have found myself wondering if it is better than the original Predator film from 1987.  Over the years, almost all theatre offerings featuring this deadly alien have failed to capture both the terror and coolness of the intergalactic hunter.  The closest to success for me was Predators in 2010.  Originally I gave The Predator (2018) a recommendation with three stars, but then I remembered I'm sometimes an idiot.

Released on Hulu (Disney Plus here in Canada), Prey blew away my expectations.  In the age of streaming, we hear the description of certain movies being 'theatre quality,' an unfortunate term that has begun floating around and something that I intend to write an entire article about.  Many streaming films that claim to be worthy of theatres never make me wish that I had seen it on something bigger than my computer screen.  That isn't the case with Prey.  I really, really, reeeeaaally want to see it on the big screen.

Both Predator and Prey are films that fully sucked me in and immersed me in the story, characters, and antagonist.  Saying which one is better is an impossible task for myself.  I have watched Predator more times than I can count, and Prey twice now.  Before this year is out, I'm guessing I will have watched Prey at least two more times, and I will probably not be any closer to deciding which one is actually better (not that it matters, anyways).

Yes, Prey has a deep lead character with an arc in Naru (Amber Midthunder), and no such thing exists in Predator.  While that should be a massive point for Prey, Predator's story didn't need this.  All we the audience had to know was that Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his team were some of the baddest soldiers on the planet who ended up coming against an enemy that suddenly made them vulnerable and weak in comparison.  The only thing we actually learn about Dutch and his team is that they rescue people and want nothing to do with mindless slaughtering.  Now, they absolutely need to kill just for their own survival.

Yes, Predator has warriors that are better suited for fighting a Yautja (the predator), and Naru could seem completely ill equipped to take on the same challenge.  This is the interesting thing about Prey, as (just like the previous point) the story doesn't need the best warrior.  This story needs someone like Naru who is out of her element, because in a way the Yautja is as well.  

From what we can tell, this is the first time one of these alien murder safaris has happened, and the Yautja is figuring out what types of dangerous animals to hunt before learning that humans are the most interesting adversaries.  This experience is brand new to all of them, and makes the story unique from the original film.  As well, since this is set a few hundred years before Predator, the Yautja doesn't have the same advanced weapons and armour, and is a lot more vulnerable than those that we have seen before.

The point is, the types of characters are completely different, but so are the stories.  In each case, who we are watching and cheering for is ideal to the movie they are in.  Just as the leads are worlds apart in character and development, the titular killer is as well.  So many aspects in Prey and Predator are different, but, just like with the characters, different doesn't mean that one is better than the other.

These two films are worlds apart, and they both tickle my fancy in different ways.  They are both thrilling and fist pumping, but if I'm in the mood for just a pure action film, Predator is easily the pick.  If I'm in the mood for a kickass character story, Prey gets the nod.

Movies, and all art in general, are a subjective experience.  From a rating perspective, I have given Prey 4 stars, and Predator 3.5 (a rating that I still stand behind).  This, however, doesn't make it any easier to say which I think is better.  Because they are so completely different, they both resonate me in separate ways.  Star ratings really suck, because you are quantifying emotions as well as measuring technical aspects.  There are a whole lot of films I have given a four star rating to that I don't really want to watch again, while some three and three and a half star films are constantly returned to.

In short, this is all a mess.  Film criticism is a mess.  Star ratings are a mess.  None of that matters when you walk past the BluRay case and a title catches your eye and you instantly want to watch it again.  Who we are in any given moment and what we crave means that certain offerings will be perceived as better for the occasion than others.  There is no way for myself to make an absolute statement on what is 'the best' when feelings and life situations are always changing.  Prey is great.  Predator is great.  Which one is best actually doesn't matter, only which one you are craving to watch in any given moment.