I’m no big fan of prequels. You really already know what’s going to happen, so there’s no thrill or surprise if you know what happens and doesn’t happen to characters. There were a few good prequels. You have Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and then there’s The Godfather Part II. Even as a Star Wars fan, I look at the prequel trilogy with some issues because sometimes knowing how the story began isn’t as much fun as watching it end.
Predator came out in the summer of 1987 and quickly became a success that it spawned a sequel in name only set in a crime-ridden Los Angeles in 1997. Predator 2 was released in 1990 and only referenced the incidents of the first one in passing. There was a new predator and cast of characters. That’s not saying Danny Glover didn’t do a good role in the movie.
After that in the 2000s, we got the Alien vs. Predator movies, which took an inside joke in Predator 2 as we saw a skull of a xenomorph in a trophy display on the alien ship. So, we got two of those movies but the relentlessly violent second one which went too far with the xenomorph infants. Both movies made money but they are almost forgotten as the reviews were more toxic than the xenomorphs acid.
Robert Rodriguez tried to revive the franchise by just focusing on the predators in a movie called Predators. But despite the plural title, this was no Aliens. Shane Black who appeared as Hawkins in the first Predator decided to make another entry with his friend and occasional collaborator Fred Dekker. It made some money like all previous but it got lost in a plot that I don’t even remember and that was less than four years ago. There were too many “Your momma” jokes and not enough of what made the original or even its sequel memorable.
So, since Hollywood and the entertainment industry is an incestuous business, why not do what the Alien franchise did and go back to the beginning. But in many ways, Prey could’ve been another Prometheus. Thankfully, it isn’t. The only bad thing I can say about this movie is why the hell didn’t 20th Century Studios give this a wide theatrical release instead of putting it on Hulu?
I have my concerns they didn’t anticipate a movie starring a young Indigenous Native American would fare well with some audiences. And I’m not talking about American audiences. It seems action movies are made for people overseas now more than ever. But Dan Trachtenberg learns from the mistakes others have made. He keeps it rather simple but yet it still functions as a high-octane action thriller.
While the original Predator threw a military base siege in the plot for the Rambo fans to get audiences on edge for what turns into a slasher, Trachtenberg, who co-wrote it with Patrick Aison, focus on a young Comanche woman, Naru (Amber Midthunder) in 1719 in the Great Plains area. Naru is being trained to be a healer but dreams of being a hunter like the other men in her tribe. Her brother, Taabe (Dakota Beavers), is one of the best of the young hunters in the tribe.
One day, when Naru is out in the woods practicing with her dog, Sarii, she notices an anamoly up in the sky as the alien’s spaceship is landing nearby. Naru joins Taabe in the search for a cougar that has been in the area and she is able to wound it, but a distraction causes Naru to be knocked out. Taabe returns Naru to the elders but goes and kills the weakened cougar and gets glory.
When she is better, Naru goes out in the woods and is attacked by a grizzly bear in a scene that is thrilling enough alone but the predator comes in to kill the bear. With the predator camouflaging its identity, the Comanche hunters are no match for it. Neither are some French fur traders also in the area. So, it’s up to Naru to use mind over matter to learn how to defeat the predator.
There’s a lot of scenes where there isn’t much dialogue and you just watch the action unfold. Naru’s relationship with her dog is a good one especially in the scene with the grizzly bear. Taabe is presented in a positive light even though the other Comanche young men don’t think a woman can and should be a hunter. But before you roll your eyes with this being a topical “woke” movie, there’s very little of it mentioned.
When we finally do see the predator, fans of the series will notice it bares a resemblance in some ways to failed first attempt at the predator back when it was conceived as more of an insect-looking creature in the 1987 movie. This was when a young Jean-Claude Van Damme was supposed to play the character before he was let go and the late Kevin Peter Hall was hired as the predator was redesigned.
This may be the best entry in the franchise since the original. Jesse Ventura who played Blain in that movie has come out and praised the movie. And Midthunder comes off as a great actress and action star for the role. As Warner Bros. Discovery shut down a Batgirl movie that was scheduled to be released on HBO Max, I’m thinking that out-dated middle-aged male media executives are too busy trying to satisfy a male demographic that doesn’t exist anymore and worried about upsetting China audiences to make diverse movies.
The rave reviews as well as audience support of Prey shows that people enjoyed it and want more. Trachtenberg has said he has plans for future movies. Hopefully, the studio executives will consider releasing this one in the theaters. I know people have huge TV sets and sound systems in their homes now. But seeing this movie on the big screen would’ve been thrilling for many audiences.
What do you think? Please comment.