By Megan Bianco
Dan Trachtenberg’s soft reboot of Fox’s famous Predator franchise, fittingly called Prey, is the first time I’ve seen critics unanimously agree that this straight-to-streaming film “should have been released in theaters.”
After Shane Black’s ridiculous The Predator (2018) four years ago, Prey not only delivers what most were not expecting, it also reestablishes the old 1980s action-horror classic four decades later.
In the greater wilderness of 1700s pre-America, Naru (Amber Midthunder) is a female member of the Comanche tribe who wants to hunt and fight with the men instead of work domestically. Her older brother, Taabe (Dakota Beavers), already has the strength and skill she longs for, and thinks she’s in over her head.
When the bigger animals in the forest start getting brutally killed, Naru senses something unusual is lurking in the tribe’s territory.
Prey has been getting lots of praise for cleverly reinventing the Predator franchise, as well as putting the spotlight on Native American characters as film leads.
It makes sense the first prequel in the series would be set in historic Native years, as John McTiernan’s original Predator (1987), and most of the sequels, take place in the jungle, among natural surroundings.
The few complaints I’ve seen of Prey didn’t actually bother me. One is that everyone in the movie speaks English, when obviously they would be speaking Comanche. Because the characters are speaking English anyway, I don’t mind the dialogue and characters sounding somewhat modern, because this is ultimately a fictional fantasy with contemporary actors.
(And for those who did enjoy Prey enough to watch it again already, there actually is a Comanche-dubbed version also featured on Hulu.)
Another criticism I’ve seen is about the heavy CG effects during the action scenes. Naru’s canine companion, Sarii, is played by a real dog for its screentime, but all the big, wild animals are CG-animated.
I’m fine with mixing both practical effects and computer graphics, and I have to agree with the filmmakers that it’s probably easier for both humans and animals to just artificially create huge grizzly bears and wolves, rather than train them.
All in all, Prey does the simple, basic task of giving audiences quality popcorn entertainment without any fluff. Midthunder, Beavers and Trachtenberg, who also directed the refreshingly subversive 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), are impressive, and I’m excited to see what all three of them do next.