Monday, April 9, 2012

From the Vaults: Hunter Killer

Let' start out with a little background, I have been wanting to watch this for a long time, but could never find the DVD when I was looking for it, but thankfully due the psychic nature that is Netflix's suggestions It popped up. This a interesting little movie, filmed in the Mexican desert over a seventeen day period, with a shoestring budget. The end result looks amazing and unless you knew it was a "small time" indie production you wouldn't be ridiculed for thinking it might be something from the Expanded Universe or even sandwiched into the Firefly universe somewhere. This incredibly polished production is a shining example that high quality sci-fi ( or non sci-fi) productions don't need millions of dollars, thousands of people, buckets of CG or need to come from "Hollywood"

Hunter Prey opens with what appears to be a group of space marine types who were escorting a prisoner when their ships crashes. They are all wearing helmets and armour, because of the harsh environment. Pretty soon the marines are whittled down to just Centari 7 (Damion Poiteir) chasing down their mysterious prisoner Jericho (Clark Bartram) whose existence somehow threatens his pursuers entire race.

The movie is essentially about one man hunting the other, while this could be quiet boring as a premise the introduction of a ticking countdown clock until Centari 7's back up arrives and the fact Jericho stole a communication device early on to allow the two men to have an ongoing conversation despite the fact they are rarely in the same place at the same time. It's this conversation that allows the main story and its mystery to unfold, it also allows us to explore the two different cultures and ideals of these two very different men, that may not be so very different after all.

I seen a lot of people slating the armour as a cheap Mandalorian knock off, and I wont argue that they don't look similar, but they also don't look cheap. From the offset the production looks great and highly polished. It's always very well lit and in focus. Not relying on cheap tricks like darkness, shadows and shaky out of focus shots to cover up cheapness of sets/costumes or CG.

Subtlety is the name of the game in Hunter Prey, that is mostly a strength and sometimes a detriment. The way they subtly flesh out the universe, you really feel there is a lot going on outside of the small window we are looking through. The space marines are clearly from a highly religious culture, they also have very advanced body modification technology to adapt to the harsh environments of the planet. Clea (Erin Gray) one of the main characters is an advanced AI, that assists and controls the marines power suits. She appears in voice only, with no fancy smancy 3D hologram as is the standard these days with AI characters. Possibly cause of budget or again to be subtle. It all just happens, there is no grand expository dialogue, But occasionaly this gets the better of the movie, where a little more tell instead of show would have been helpful in understanding the motivations of the main characters. But this is easily forgiven since it is choosing imaginative story telling instead of tired tropes that abound in so many other productions.

Hunter Prey is a real gem of low budget Sci-Fi that can easily compete in the big leagues. Despite it's abvious budget limits, not being tied down by big studio politics and other limits that come with having the Hollywood behind it really shines and shows what can be down. Hunter Prey is more important because it shows what can be done "cheaply" by an independent team and will hopefully it will open some eye and inspire some more amazing productions in the future.

You can check out Hunter Prey like I did on Netflix stream or grab it on DVD from the usual places.

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