By: Amanda Guarragi
The Predator franchise has been going strong for years, and not all of the films in the franchise have been winners. Many were apprehensive about Prey being a prequel, but it worked. Director Dan Trachtenberg went back to the roots of the meaning of predator and reworked it to fit the natural way of life on Indigenous lands. In the Comanche Nation in 1719, a fierce and highly skilled warrior named Naru (Amber Midthunder) learns the prey she is stalking is a highly evolved alien with a technologically advanced arsenal. Fans of the original franchise have seen what the alien is capable of, but this prequel showcases its skills differently. Even though they went back to basics, Trachtenberg added another layer to the franchise by using basic animal instincts and survival in the wild.
The reason why Prey works as a prequel is because of how simple the story was. It wasn’t overstuffed with political jargon that is linked to the government. It felt like an open world with survival mode on high for these characters. Also, it bodes well that the highly skilled warrior is a woman and Midthunder did a great job carrying the film alongside her brother and the rest of the tribe. It just felt like the most natural form of storytelling for a predator film. Naru is highly skilled in tracking and they utilized that when going out into the wild trying to find their friends. The tension that was built throughout, just by them walking through the forest was really strong. The score and sound design also helped amplify those moments of nervousness from Naru. It was so well-paced because of the instincts and pathway to tracking the alien.
The action scenes were impressive because of how the VFX artists played into the character design for the alien. The invisibility and thermal vision were both effectively used throughout. The invisibility is what impressed me the most because of the way the kills were executed. It almost shielded the viewer from witnessing the brutality against the animals. It added so much tension to the scenes with Naru’s dog because he could have been next. From the action set pieces to the quiet, more intimate moments in the forest, Trachtenberg immersed the viewer into Naru’s world for the entire runtime of the film. This prequel does the Predator franchise justice and if anything, made it more intriguing to a new generation of fans.
Prey is one of the biggest surprises of the summer and, unfortunately, it won’t be getting a theatrical release. If you’re a fan of the Predator franchise then you will love what Trachtenberg did with this prequel. It gives roots to a franchise that had so much success over the years, only to validate its place in sci-fi action history as one of the strongest out there. Midthunder was the standout all the way through and carried the film on her shoulders. Without her compelling performance, especially her tracking the alien and adapting to its movements, it could have been a different movie. She draws you in with her eyes and then locks you in with her subtle movements. As someone who has never been a fan of the franchise, this prequel has made me want to go back and watch them all.
Prey will be released on Hulu and Disney Star on Friday, August 5th.