Tom Newman (Peter Weller) has a new wife and unfortunately his two children don’t quite see eye to eye with her. Seeing his upcoming business trip to Africa as the perfect opportunity to for his new family to bond together they all head south to take in the sites. Sending Amy (Bridget Moynahan) and the kids out for driving safari while he heads to work he assumes all will be okay upon his return. When a pack of hungry lions descends upon the safari jeep and attacks the park ranger their trip is everything but safe; stranded in the hills of Africa surrounded by starving lions Amy and the Newman kids hold on to their last shred of hope as the wait for someone to come look for them.

There’s much to love about a man against nature horror flick, but in Darrell Roodt’s Prey you’re going to have to work pretty hard to love it. Often times dull and slow it’s a bit of a chore to get too invested in both the characters and their peril. The acting was fine, in some cases even great, but the problem lies within the plot.

It’s pretty common knowledge that lions are dangerous. Logically, driving through an African savanna is equally dangerous. When looking at Prey in this light it’s a bit hard to become too scared as we know most likely what’s going to happen. With little build up and back story we jump straight to the plot of step mom Amy and the kids stranded out in the game preserve. The biggest problem of our plot lies in the stupidity and actions that get our gang in this perilous predicament in the first place. Starting out our tour group makes an unscheduled pit stop off the main road so Junior can go to the bathroom. With bathroom breaks seldom being a plot point as well as it seeming somewhat common sense to make the kids take a whiz before heading out for a day long car journey leaves the viewer somewhat disinterested with the initial setup. The second major flaw is when they finally locate the ranger’s keys enabling them to drive away from our pride of hungry kitties. Unsure of their surroundings knowing only that they left the main road for Junior to take a dump, Amy slams on the gas in a fit of panic. Bouncing blindly over hill and dale they eventually find themselves stuck and broken down even further into the wilderness. Yes, actions such as these may make the film seem more ‘human’ with warts and all however if our characters are not going to even try to save themselves, why should I bother to care?

There were some positive flashes throughout however. With the initial attack on the tour group the tension runs high as we first meet the antagonists of Prey. Subsequent encounters with the big cats still manage to hold some decent tension but soon begin to loose its gusto. They’re wild African lions after all. It’s what they do. Peter Weller in the rare fatherly roll was a stand out as well. Well known for his harder action type roles in films such as RoboCop and Screamers we see a softer side of Weller as the patriarch of the Newman clan. Flowing naturally in his daddy role he managed to be convincing as a concerned father; well enough to make his the highlight performance of the movie.

On the technical side the Prey DVD is a basic package. With no special features to speak of there is nothing here aside from the movie itself and a handful of trailers at the beginning. The transfer comes across crisp and clear however giving us lovely visuals of the African savannas and the big furry stars of this feature film. With the lackluster content contained within however our overall package seems destined for the bargain bin in the end.

If you are a fan of man against nature flicks, the National Geographic Channel, or lions in general, Prey may indeed be the movie for you. For the rest of us this is a movie that you may stumble across on your late night insomniac surfing and is well suited for that.

2 killer kitties out of 5

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