Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, now 20th Century Studios, a few years ago. All the hubbub was about them getting the Marvel characters back into the fold. Well, I think people have forgotten that Fox had a massive catalog of films Disney could pick from that were pretty good IPs, one of which is the Predator franchise. Arguably this franchise hasn’t always been good — just look at the last film by Shane Black. The Predator was a huge letdown from where I’m sitting. It hasn’t always been bad, though — Predators, starring Adrien Brody, which came out in 2010, wasn’t half bad. The standard bearer in this franchise will always be the original Predator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, and Jesse Ventura. That original film has another one that can stand alongside it: Prey.
Prey depicts a group of Native Americans living in the Pacific Northwest around the time the French started to explore the area. This tribe of Comanches the film depicts is led by a fierce warrior, Taabe (Dakota Beavers), whom his people are proud of. He has a younger sister that wants to prove herself amongst the tribesman. Naru (Amber Midthunder) is always trying to tag along with the other warriors in the tribe. She’s a good tracker and wants to prove herself in other ways. When a beast is noticed killing and leaving spineless caucuses in the surrounding area of their village, she starts to warn the others about it. When they don’t take her seriously, she embarks on a mission with her trusty dog sidekick to show the others what she’s talking about. She may be over her head, though.
Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) is the director of this film from a script by Patrick Aison. These two combined create a place and time in American history that has long been forgotten; a place where native Americans roamed the wilderness, plains, and mountains. They knew how to hunt and forage for food and were very good at it. This film wholeheartedly embraces those aspects of life back then and immerses the viewer into this breathing world we had forgotten. Creatures like mountain lions, wolves, and bears were roaming around freely, and these people lived and thrived amongst them. I just wish this were on the big screen so I could see all this beauty in its glory. That’s just nitpicking, though. This film looked gorgeous nevertheless.
Prey has a great look and feel, but that’s not the only tremendous part of the film. The acting by all, but most especially Amber Midthunder, is fantastic. She’s a revelation in this film. I felt like a part of her world and how she thought things out and fought every second for survival against not only a vicious alien hunting machine, a Predator (Dane DiLiegro), but the elements and those other vicious animals I mentioned. Without saying much, she made this character understandable and relatable. She did things we would do if we were in her position. She was trained by her tribe and learned these survival instincts on her own. In a tribe with a hierarchy, you must sometimes learn to fend for yourself. She did that and more, and I loved every second of it. The fighting, running, jumping, and even hiding were glorious.
All the things I talked about in this review are great, but the central part of this review has to be whether or not this is a good Predator film. If that part doesn’t work, it is a failure, and I am here to say enthusiastically it’s not a failure — it’s a huge success. The main story of a Predator film is they come from outer space to hunt and fight the best they can find on a given planet, and this specific Predator found a handful on this young Native American girl. Of course, his ability is second to none, so he had to be outthought by this young girl. And there is an analogy in the film, but I won’t spoil it. The Predator was awesome, though, and he fought like a total badass, Just what we would come to expect from a Predator. He uses all the technology we’ve seen in other films in the franchise, which makes for some pretty cool visuals. There are a lot of bloody scenes, which made me happy. Those that are squeamish might look away at some of these scenes, though.
Prey asks who the Predator and the prey are, and that answer is glorious to find out. The cinematography is gorgeous even though it’s on Hulu and not on the big screen. The action and survival instincts are on par with Rambo: First Blood. It’s visceral and realistic as far as I’m concerned. Amber Midthunder is incredible in this role. She was born to play this character. She brought everything she had to this film, which shows in the end result. Dan Trachtenberg and Patrick Aison should be proud that they made a movie in a long, storied franchise that people will talk about for years to come. It’s a rebirth of a franchise I liked but not loved. Now I am excited about where Disney can go with this IP. That’s all thanks to the filmmakers and actors who gave it their all, bringing the world another great Predator film.
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman Foinder/EIC disappointment media