To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Prey (Kühtaamia in Comanche) is a sci-fi action-thriller directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) from a screenplay written by Patrick Aison (Treadstone). Featuring Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Dane DiLiegro, Stormee Kipp, Michelle Thrush, and Julian Black Antelope, it is the seventh installment in the Predator franchise and a prequel to the first six films. The story follows Naru, a young Comanche woman who dreams of becoming a great hunter like her brother, Taabe. When she witnesses the arrival of a “Thunderbird” in the sky, she takes it as a sign to prove herself to the tribe.
In 1719 in the Northern Great Plains, a young Comanche woman named Naru (Amber Midthunder) and her dog Sarii awaken in her tipi. She grabs a bag and leaves to join other members of her tribe to gather herbs. While foraging with her tomahawk near the river, Naru notices a tree in the distance. She begins using the tree as target practice, making sure to hit the same spot each time with her axe. After a while, she notices a nearby deer and plans to take it down proving her hunting skills to her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) and tribe.
Ominous thunder begins to cackle in the sky scaring away the deer. Naru and Sarii begin pursuing the animal through the forest. Naru comes close to striking the deer, but it escapes. Elsewhere, Sarii gets his tail caught in a bear trap. After Naru frees Sarii she admires the trap and deduces how it works. She hears the thunder again and heads to a nearby cliff to see if a storm is coming. As she looks up to the sky she sees fire and lightning descending from the clouds.
The Predator franchise has had its ups and downs over the years. Entries rank from great (Predator) to good (Predator 2, Alien vs Predator) to passable (Predators, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem) to downright awful (The Predator). Of course, all film is subjective, but many fans thought this franchise has been on its last leg for a while. Talks of a Predator prequel film have been swirling around since the Elder Yautja gave Danny Glover’s Lieutenant Harrigan an antique flintlock pistol as a trophy for defeating one of them in Predator 2. Leading fans to discuss how long the aliens have been hunting on our planet.
Prey somewhat explains the moment in Predator 2, by taking us to the past. Aison tells a story that’s even simpler than the first film. Showing viewers how the trademark alien faired against the Comanche. Prey has a mostly Native American cast and a version dubbed in Comanche. I feel choosing the dubbed version adds to the realism of this piece. It helps cement the viewer in that period as opposed to hearing Native Americans use anachronistic American English.
For the first time in this franchise, we get a title that focuses more on the human protagonist than the Yautja. This alerts viewers that we are getting a more human story as we are usually the prey of choice in the franchise. The predator-prey relationship is evident throughout the movie. We see wolves hunting rabbits, snakes hunting mice, people hunting deer, and of course, the Predator hunting the people. The feature also makes for a good history lesson. Through Naru, we are shown how the fur traders would often kill and skin buffalo leaving the wasted carcasses behind. Many Native American tribes found this practice very wasteful as they used as much of the animals as they could.
The acting in this film is superb. Naru is a character that is very relatable as we all feel like we are called to greatness. To do something others say that we can’t. Amber Midthunder brings a ferocity and emotion to the role that puts her on par with Schwarzenegger’s Dutch. Even though she is not big and strong, she is intelligent and uses this in conjunction with her fighting skills to battle the alien. The supporting cast is equally good in the limited time they appear on the screen. The sound editing in the movie is really good. When Naru’s tomahawk hits a tree the echoes throughout the forest sound like the Predator’s trademark snarl. Something I feel was intentional to keep the audience on edge. The cinematography is also the best this franchise has to offer. Jeff Cutter (Orphan) showcases the plains, mountains, and forests in glorious wide shots. Showing off the beautiful landscape of the American Northwest as much as possible. The only negative is the CGI is noticeably poor on the bigger animals. It’s especially evident during the daytime scenes, but this isn’t enough of an issue to ruin the movie. This is not a problem for the Predator as he is camouflaged for most of his appearances.
Prey is the best Predator film in a long time and should have had a theatrical release. Its story is simple and that’s where this franchise succeeds. I give Prey a Decent 8.2/10. Hopefully, this film gives more life to the franchise and we get more entries set before the modern era. I wouldn’t mind seeing a Predator fight against a samurai in medieval Japan.