Prey will be broadcast exclusively on Hulu on August 5, 2022.
After 2018’s mild reception for The Predator, director Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane, Portal: No Escape) has brought the franchise back to basics in Prey… All Way back to basics. The film is set over 250 years before a Dutchman first met that ugly son of an ab! t¢#, Prey finds a Predator (Dane DiLiegro) landing in the middle of the Comanche Nation for a blood-soaked hunt. It’s an intriguing setting, to take on a villain whose initial appearance is determined by how easy it is to tear apart a group of toothy methades with guns and explosives and transport them to a time when their targets don’t even have those Reliable tools. But you are wrong to underestimate the possibilities of the Comanche. Prey traces the battle for the tribe’s survival through a fast-paced, no-prisoner shredder across the Great Plains while honoring the franchise’s roots and serving as the perfect entry point for newcomers who want to see all that backbone tearing, laser-guided goodness around.
At the center of the Comanche’s conflict with the predator lies Naru (Amber Midthunder), a teenage girl who has been mocked by her family and peers for not being content with harvesting crops for the rest of her life. Like her warlike father, she is a fighter at heart and intends to complete the rite of passage for a Comanche hunter: to catch something that is chasing her. But even her brother Tabby (Dakota Beavers), who leads the Comanche hunters, doesn’t think that’s possible. She nibbles on Naru throughout the film – more as those around her continue to exceed her apparent skill – and it’s this frustration that fuels the character of Amber Midthunder. The Naru battle that must be taken seriously by her tribe as a warrior is a strong streak, which is a good thing, because its scripts are the only ones that the script takes a long time to focus on. Previous Predator films have extracted great material from interactions between characters who clash with the alien hunter, and Prey’s choice to focus on Naru to the exclusion of everyone else means that the supporting characters are a little drawn out.
As Naru’s story unfolds, Trachtenberg weaves in scenes of a predator making its way up the food chain, which perform a dual function: they demonstrate their strength and technological advantage, while heightening tension in the lead-up to their first face-to-face confrontation with a budding Comanche warrior. Also through these episodes, the film begins to chart the differences between Naru’s and The Predator’s hunting methods, as the Predator’s over-reliance on its technology provides initial hints of how to overcome it. By comparison, Trachtenberg does his best to highlight Naru’s secret weapon: critical thinking. Whether it’s in a fight with the boys in her tribe or because she’s hiding from a predator as it makes its way across the plains, Naru is always listening and observing, always using loss or setback as an opportunity to learn. It’s a critical and well-communicated aspect of the character, given her major flaw in one-on-one combat, Naru is the only one able to stop the Predator’s rampage. Prey puts a lot of stock in Naru, being at the center of nearly every scene, and Midthunder keeps up with more of the fierce pace of action as she is constantly underestimated and underestimated, making her victories all the more impactful. Dry, determination and ability, Midthunder’s Naru is an excellent addition to the canon of sci-fi heroes, and that rope axe that you hurl scorpion-style will be anathema to convention security checks for years to come.
If you’re worried that prey happening 268 years earlier than the original would mean more primitive gear for the Predator, you’ll be glad to hear that Trachtenberg is finding space for most of its signature weapons between the chest cages of those unfortunate enough to get it on its way. And the predator rampage through the Comanche Nation looks amazing: Filmed largely on location in British Columbia, Trachtenberg uses that vast terrain to make Naru and Comanche feel insignificant alongside the towering alien stalking them. The Predator wasn’t the only enemy Naru faced, as a second group of invaders crashed halfway through, setting up an extended and utterly sinister showdown between the three sides.
The prey’s approach to predator attacks alternates between fast and risky encounters that Trachtenberg covers well (there’s a great one-off fight scene to watch), long and long games of cat and mouse, and chess matches in the trees where the predator screams “checkmate” by picking up people like twigs . Prey is judicious in how these different methods are applied, and even when the plot looks like an autopilot, the way Naru confronts her enemies seems dangerous and unexpected. Trachtenberg wisely allocates the Predator’s most brutal murders away from the Comanche and more than the story’s other foes, wielding more “modern” weapons. The Predator’s advantage is great, and with the Prey serving as a rare, high-profile platformer for Indigenous culture, it might be an overkill for the relatively under-equipped Comanche dies. Although the Predator doesn’t praise anyone, Trachtenberg portrays the retreats with a wise eye, ensuring that their deaths are a more dignified measure than the way the rest of the characters bite them.
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