That predator Franchise is an unusual beast, a fantastic 80’s action/horror blockbuster that several filmmakers tried and failed to pursue. With preyfifth entry in the franchise, director Dan Trachtenberg brings new weight to the material while creating by far the best entry since the first.
prey pits the well-known Yautja Hunter against the 18th-century Comanche nation of the Great Plains region. It’s the first major franchise feature of its kind to star almost exclusively with a Native American cast. Amber Midthunder from legion Fame leads alongside Dakota Beavers, Stormee Kip, Michelle Thrush and Julian Black Antelope.
prey is about Naru, a young Comanche girl who has been extensively trained as a healer. Despite her medical skills, she longs for the glory and pride of life as a Slayer. Her brother is among the most skilled warriors of her tribe, but her people try to keep young Naru in her assigned role. Despite the disapproval of her elders, she trains hard and becomes a gifted warrior and an almost supernaturally gifted hunter. Naru eagerly awaits the chance to prove herself in a traditional competition by hunting and killing a creature that chases back. While doing whatever it takes to gain a position of favor and failing at every turn, she notices something more deadly than the typical forest wildlife. As the true extent of what she is up against is revealed to her, she must use all her skills to survive.
One of the most notable moments in John McTiernan’s 1987 classic predator comes as Sonny Landham’s Special Forces tracker Billy Sole discovers the eponymous threat and makes a choice. Instead of running and hiding, Billy stands up and faces the non-human enemy head-on in an honorable fight. The Yautja respect this decision, and although Billy is killed in battle, his death is the only one that matters. The Predator has always had a connection to Native American culture, with most of its behavior arguably linked to pop culture depictions of Native American peoples. With preyTrachtenberg tries not only to make this connection canonical, but to draw the lines in a much more positive light.
Fans of the franchise won’t be missing their trademarks. Aside from a few key references, this could easily have been the first entry into something entirely new. The brutal kills the franchise has become known for over the years come back in full force, the Yautja pulling no punches here. With the benefit of 35 years of blockbuster action history between the five films, this is easily the best showcase the Predator has ever had. It slices through armies with back-to-back creative kills, constantly surprising with its ever-evolving arsenal and the clever ways the Yautja throws them down. The typical Predator loadout is not abolished, but changed meaningfully. This film depicts the first contact between mankind and this capable species, so it stands to reason that their equipment is nearly 300 years less advanced. This surprises the viewer and serves the narrative at the same time. The action is outstanding across the board and the horror elements work flawlessly.
The only major weakness of prey is in his script. Dialogue is sparse with many long scenes in complete silence and a lot of exchanges in untranslated foreign languages. The story is simple, but in a good way. There’s never too much detail to get in the way of the fun, but the emotional depth is palpable in every moment. His most annoying habit is having to drop very obvious dialogue. There are a lot of lines that are obviously only there to reappear later in the film. It’s annoyingly common, and any savvy viewer would be taken a little out of the film by such obvious foreshadowing and reintroductions. Conversely, the script is very intelligent in how its characters react to the Predator. Naru’s thought process is logical, she never feels almighty or overwhelmed, and it’s interesting to watch her figure out all the details that fans of the franchise already know. The script is okay overall, but parts of it feel like it doesn’t expect enough of its audience.
prey is simply the best predator Movie since the first, and it’s a lot better than the source material in some ways. His imagery is immersive, often creating the best individual moments the titular creature has ever had on screen. Any moment from prey feels well made, it does exactly what it’s supposed to do and it does it with aplomb. Taking the franchise back to its roots, finding the heart of what made people love the original feature, and nailing every aspect with laser-like precision is all it takes. prey promised a lot and delivers even more, fans of the franchise or smart action sci-fi owe it to themselves to check it out.
prey now streaming on Hulu.
MORE: Could Prey fix a longstanding problem with the Predator franchise?
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