“Lions are born knowing they are predators. Antelopes understand they are the prey. Humans are one of the few creatures on Earth given the choice.” – Patrick H.T. Doyle
Much like the Terminator franchise, the Predator series has been a long and torrid affair of, at best, subpar entries since its original and far superior classic. While I would argue the original Predator is still by far the best of the bunch, 2022’s Prey is a great example of succeeding by a return to basics. Sometimes a homecoming is best experienced by taking what happened before and simply tweaking it for a modern audience. Director of 10 Cloverfield Lane, Dan Trachtenberg understands this better than most creating a fantastic surprise of a film.
Not only is it a return to form, Prey is proof that a female protagonist is equally as entertaining as a man. It’s evidence that just because a man is in the lead there is no guarantee of a quality film. It’s the same law for both, a good story, good actors and competent creators behind the lens makes for a good movie, no matter the hero’s genitalia. Kill Bill, Alien, The Terminator, all female led and all absolutely badass. While only time will tell if Prey is to be mentioned among these classics, I can say it wouldn’t surprise if it one day was.
As much fun as this movie is, it suffers from trying to fulfill the requirements of being a feature length film. In other words, it takes a long time to really get moving. The first act is entirely about the protagonist, Naru, being underestimated at every turn. She is meant to stay behind, stay with the other women and in the 1700’s sense, stay in the kitchen. It becomes a bit tiresome considering we all know where it’s headed. She’s going to overcome, she will prove her worth. I’m fine with some scenes showcasing her shortcomings and eventually becoming her true warrior self. Ultimately though I’m here to see some predator on human violence and while it achieves this in droves, the first forty minutes leave something to be desired.
That said, once it does take off, Prey is packed with tremendous sequences of bloody violence and ingenious, death defying stunts. One of its greatest strengths is acknowledging the size of the heroine, Naru. She is significantly smaller than her male counterparts and therefore must overcome certain obstacles unique to her physical stature. This is where the character truly grows as she discovers an ingenuity and inner strength she never knew she possessed. She alters tools and utilizes her surroundings to combat a predator unfamiliar with the wilderness she knows better than most. She fails repeatedly and learns from her errors to create the ultimate comeback becoming a more than worthy adversary to her otherworldly opponent.
Amber Midthunder is Naru. She is convincingly formidable despite her size and character’s lack of experience. If your distaste toward her is simply because Arnold Schwarzenegger is bigger and stronger and she’s a lowly woman, I say this with all disrespect, get over yourself. If you dismiss this movie before even giving it a chance, you’re the problem in this scenario, not the movie. Midthunder is a machine honing her skills as a hunter and warrior and it’s a real treat to watch her bloom.
Director Dan Trachtenberg proves once again he is a filmmaker to keep an eye on. Thankfully it would seem the days of shaky cam fight sequences are a dying technique giving way to wide angled shots of clear, fully envisioned choreography. Trachtenberg is certainly a purveyor of this wholly overdue concept. Much like with 10 Cloverfield Lane, Prey leaves you hopeful for what he does next.
While Prey didn’t knock my socks off, it still went above and beyond my expectations. As I said before, this franchise has been limping along now for the better part of twenty years. It’s a refreshing change of pace to finally see one come out on top. Prey is the proper continuation to what McTiernan, Schwarzenegger and his ragtag group of mercenaries started way back in 1987. Predator and Prey finally have their much anticipated return to the limelight.
Rated R For: strong bloody violence
Runtime: 99 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror
Starring: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Dane DiLiegro, Stormee Kipp
Directed By: Dan Trachtenberg
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 7.5/ Acting: 8/ Directing: 9/ Visuals: 8.5
OVERALL: 8 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes. Now streaming on Hulu.
Check out the trailer below:
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