HOLLYWOOD—I am so surprised that after countless sequels, prequels and remakes fans of the iconic “Predator” franchise have finally gotten a movie that lives up to the original if not succeeds it in my opinion. You had “Predator 2,” “Predators,” “The Predator” all absolute duds in my opinion compared to the 1987 classic starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, “Prey” which if you didn’t see the iconic creature in the trailer would have NO IDEA what this movie is about.
However, “Prey” doesn’t just reinvent the franchise, it’s a compelling movie that immediately grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. The first thing this movie does right is it takes the audience back to a time period where you almost think, whoa, there is no way our protagonists or heroes can survive in such conditions, but guess what you’d be surprised. In particular, the audience is taken back to the 1700s and in the Northern Great Plains region, where the notion of hunter and gatherer grabs the audience’s attention as we see the cycle of life play out right in front of our eyes and it is pretty captivating to say the least people.
I love that the narrative focuses on the Comanche tribe, not in a million years would I consider this a tale, but it is so fascinating and a major draw for the viewer. The audience meets Naru (Amber Midthunder), who is a healer, and to be honest I would call her a modern day doctor, but she wants to prove to her tribe, her family and her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) that she can hunt just like him if not better.
Let me be crystal clear that Amber Midthunder is fantastic in this role. She carries this movie from the moment she appears on the screen. She brings ferocity to a character that is seen as docile and incapable of hunting like the other males in her tribe. It deals with the typical gendering of roles in society. Men are supposed to do this, while women are supposed to do X, Y and Z.
The film kicks off with Naru hunting deer with her dog, and spots something from the sky that is coming to Earth. The audience doesn’t meet the Predator itself right away. It take a bit of time before the creature makes its presence known as it hunts, be advised ‘hunt’ is the key word here. The Predator was not simply killing for the sake of killing it was a game, a sort of sport and a testament of making sure that those who think they have the ability to overpower those who are smaller do not.
You might be on top one minute, and in the blink of an eye, you’re dinner or prey for someone else, which the Predator proves by viciously dispatching of a rattle snake that takes out a rate that ate a bug. It is a great sequence captured beautifully by director Dan Trachtenberg. The sequence is so expertly crafted it left me in awe as I watched.
Soon after the Predator makes his presence known and dispatches of several members of the Comanche tribe in brutal fashion that proves even in the 1700s this creature is not afraid to dispatch of animals and people. I didn’t love that introduction of the French voyagers making their presence known in the movie as the audience sees weaponry that isn’t an axe or something homemade to hunt. It didn’t really add anything else to the story besides a higher body count.
Loved the wink to the 1987 original explaining how the use of mud can be used to camouflage and hide one’s heat sensors for the creature. The climax is intriguing because it’s different to fight an unstoppable beast of this kind when you don’t have guns and other firepower as a backup. You have to utilize the mind and outwit, outmaneuver the creature and that dance that takes place keeps the viewer on edge.
For this to be a prequel I never felt like I know how this is going to end, I was immersed in this movie from the beginning credits to the final credits. Action-packed, amazing character development and having a woman as the heroine is a nice touch to this movie that has always placed the male as the lead. “Prey’ is a victorious accomplishment, that could usher in a new wave of sequels in the franchise that only one can hope can live up to this movie.