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October 2010

Hunter Prey

cast: Damion Poitier, Clark Bartram, Isaac C. Singleton Jr, and Erin Gray

director: Sandy Collora

90 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Kaleidoscope DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 4/10
review by Ian Sales

Hunter Prey

It is a given that cinema and literature require entirely different modes of story-telling, and that adaptations from one to the other typically do not make the transfer unchanged. Often, it's hard to recognise the novel or short story in the film adaptation. And, in the reverse direction, the plot of the film sometimes gets lost in the much-expanded story of the novelisation. Hunter Prey, perversely, feels like a faithful adaptation of a short story and, as a result, is not entirely successful. More than that, it feels like a faithful adaptation of Star Wars fan-fiction, which helps even less.

A spaceship crashes on a desert world. Three guards and their prisoner survive, but the prisoner escapes. One by one, he picks off the guards until one is left. There then follows a chase, as the guard must recapture the prisoner before a rescue ship arrives. The guards are revealed early as aliens called Sedonians, so when the prisoner, previously masked, proves to be human, it comes as little surprise. He is also the last of his race. He was being taken to the Sedonian home world because he knows the co-ordinates of a planet-busting bomb ship en route to that planet. Except that's not what's actually going on...

There are twists and turns to the plot of Hunter Prey, but since so much the film comprises two men in costumes running around a desert, it's hard to care. The production design is reminiscent of Star Wars, and of generally high quality. The cinematography is also effective. But again, when much of the footage consists of a silent chase across sand dunes, a cat-and-mouse game in a featureless desert landscape, this can only hold the viewer's attention for so long. It doesn't help that the dialogue is poor, with characters explaining things to each other. At several points in the film, the sole surviving Sedonian, Centuri 7 (Damion Poitier), and the human (Clark Bartram) lecture each other on things they already know.

There is another character in Hunter Prey besides the alien and the human, and that is Centuri 7's portable computer, Clea, which behaves more like an AI than a computer. It is voiced by Erin Gray, who is best remembered as Colonel Wilma Deering in the 1980s' Buck Rogers In The 25th Century television series. In point of fact, Clea is crucial to the resolution of the story, although that resolution does hinge on an unconvincing display of foolishness by the Sedonian.

When a story can only be resolved because a character acts out of, well, character, or an obedient soldier disobeys an order, then the plot logic is faulty. So it is with Hunter Prey. Its visuals disguise the fact that as a story it is not very good. Sadly, those visuals cannot hide the fact that, as a movie, it is also badly-paced. There is a clever little short film hiding somewhere within Hunter Prey's 90 minutes, comprising a pacy story with a tight plot. Unfortunately, we have the extended version of that film. All one and a half hours of it. Which is a shame, as Hunter Prey could have been so much better.



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