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Prey Review

The Predator franchise has had a bumpy road with its previous entries by attempting to replicate the original classic. After the negative reception received from the previous film, the latest chapter, Prey, looks to go back to its roots with director Dan Trachtenberg at the helm. The new film is a prequel that takes place 250 years before Predator where we find ourselves in the settlement of a Comanche tribe who find themselves in the middle of a deadly hunt by the alien hunter. It’s an interesting take on the franchise where we find the Predator who is far more advanced than its prey with the Comanche natives relying on primitive weapons and instinct. However, it’s those qualities that give them the chance to survive and overcome the obstacles that this alien breed puts in front of them. It’s this unique spin that makes this perhaps one of the better entries in the franchise as it pays homage to the lore while serving up a fresh take on the once popular film series.

Leading the story of Prey is our young heroine Naru (Amber Midthunder), a young Comanche teen who tries to prove herself to her tribe as a warrior but is often pushed aside and wants to do more than tend to their crops. She wants to be taken seriously among her people by participating in a hunting ritual that is a rite of passage for any warrior. Her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) sees potential in her but doesn’t believe she will be able to complete the task at hand. This doubt from her people has cast a shadow on Naru, pushing her to prove them wrong and go out on her own to find and hunt a worthy opponent. Midthunder’s character is at the heart of the story and takes greater focus on how she evolves to become the warrior she was meant to be. 

As we get to see Naru’s story unfold, the film also weaves the Predator into the narrative as we get to see how formidable this creature is in the wild with his arsenal of weapons slowly taking out many of the wildlife. By having this setup, it builds up what culminates in the final confrontation between the Predator and Naru. The film manages to balance both these characters and their distinct hunting styles, learning how each of them captures their targets. The more we learn about how the Predator relies on its technological weaponry, the smarter our main protagonist becomes once she learns how to beat it. Naru’s greatest asset in the wide range of skills she has learned in the wild is her intelligence. It’s a great quality that we see with this character and Midthunder sells that really well on screen.

Trachtenburg takes advantage of the beautiful landscape to shoot some terrific shots of the action that happens on screen with the Predator. He uses the wilderness and transforms it into a character in itself where both our hero and villain use their surroundings to be better hunters and strike their targets. It gives us a better look at how powerful this early iteration of the Predator really is against the Comanche. The Predator also encounters another party that comes halfway into the film, turning this into an all-out bloody battle between all three parties. We get some really nice kill shots with the Predator whether he’s fighting a bear or against a tribe of Comanche warriors. It gives audiences tension once they hear the sound of the Predator before it strikes down on its prey. 

The story of Prey does lay the groundwork for Naru’s struggles to prove herself to her people as the film goes on. It is pretty clear how much injustice Naru faces among the tribe, which can sometimes be a bit on the nose to some. However, the film doesn’t waste any time getting to the action and it does a great job pacing itself to give us the cat-and-mouse type of tension that these films are known for. By taking this film back to the 1700s, it gives us a completely different setting from the previous films and it often feels more like a Western than a pure sci-fi horror action piece. Sometimes the CGI can be a bit off-putting, especially when it comes to the violence on the animals and the face of the Predator. However, it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the action style that we get from the director.

Prey delivers what it’s supposed to do as another chapter in the Predator mythology. It gives us everything we would want by honoring the film’s legacy with the signature style of violence and tension that are classic traits known in the franchise. It also helps build up our main star Amber Midthunder, a true highlight of the movie. Even though the rest of the characters take a backseat to let Naru be the main focus, it pays off in giving us the ultimate showdown between our heroine and the Predator. Prey is perhaps as close as we have to recapture the essence of the original by blending the old with the new.

Prey is now available to stream on Hulu.

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