"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Prey

This is one of those times in the world of so-called franchise filmmaking when things somehow go surprisingly right. The PREDATOR series didn’t seem necessarily alive – PREDATORS had come 20 years after PREDATOR 2 and didn’t really catch on, THE PREDATOR came 8 years after that, was fucked over by the studio, only to flop and be hated by many, loved by few, if any. (Personally I enjoyed it for what it was, but I can’t deny it’s a mess.)

That was four years ago now, and since then there was little reason to believe anybody was trying to make another one. Little did we know that a little action movie that director Dan Trachtenberg (10 CLOVERFIELD LANE) filmed in the wilderness of Alberta, Canada under the code name SKULLS was actually a new PREDATOR movie. Later they announced it would go straight to Hulu (or Disney+ in some countries), reportedly due to some bullshit politics about the streaming rights for Fox theatrical releases going to HBO Max first. The fuckers. I’m jealous of the lucky sonofabitches who got to see it at film festivals and special screenings, where apparently it went over well. But even going straight to streaming might be kind of a lucky break culturally. Now everybody is talking about how much they like it, including people who probly wouldn’t have gone out to see it immediately, and we don’t have to read those articles about the movie that’s been really well received but is underperforming. (Because what is “performing” in streaming? Nobody knows. Maybe there isn’t such a thing.)

Being able to release such a widely appealing PREDATOR movie without making everybody see the trailer over and over again for months is ideal, at least until the first bunch to see it unleash the hyperbole about it being the best in the series. Then the rest of us might want it to live up to the impossible. But don’t worry about some goofball getting too excited. Whether or not it’s the greatest thing since getting to the choppah, PREY is absolutely a solidly constructed and very entertaining action movie, monster movie, and PREDATOR movie.

The genius of it is its straight forward simplicity. It’s neither trying to drastically reinvent the form of a PREDATOR movie or leaning too hard on nostalgia for the original. It’s confident that telling a PREDATOR-like story in this setting is enough. So it just settles in to create a good heroine, give her a good underdog arc, and a good battle to fight against a cool looking Predator (Dane DiLiegro).

Instead of cartoonishly muscular special ops agents (plus Shane Black) on a mission in South America, this one is about young Comanche hunters in the Great Plains in 1719. When a Predator buzzes the woods while Naru (Amber Midthunder, HELL OR HIGH WATER, THE MARKSMAN, THE ICE ROAD) is tracking deer with her dog Sarii, she interprets it as a Thunderbird, and an omen.

Naru has many talents, including medicine and tracking, but she wants to be a hunter. Even if her mother (Michelle Thrush, DEAD MAN, PATHFINDER) and the others were more understanding about her challenging traditional gender roles, she would live in the shadow of her brother Taabe (rookie actor Dakota Beavers).

When Taabe and some other young men go to hunt a cougar that attacked one of their own, Naru convinces her brother to let her help them track it. She believes she’s ready for a rite of passage called Kühtaamia, where she must hunt prey that’s also trying to hunt her. So she comes up with a plan to lure and kill the mountain lion.

Well, that doesn’t work out. She’s carried back home unconscious. Taabe thinks it’s her wounded pride when she insists that some things she saw – including a mutilated snake, a giant footprint and something in the distance before she got knocked out – make her believe there’s something out there much more dangerous than the lion. As is horror (and perhaps societal) tradition, nobody believes her, so she has to go fuckin take care of it herself. Or at least be the leader – since Taabe and friends come looking for her, they end up getting in on the fight too. Unfortunately for them. But they contribute to wearing the thing down.

I wonder if this was shot in some of the same parts of Alberta used in DEATH HUNT? It looks naturally beautiful (director of photography: Jeff Cutter, ORPHAN, THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE), though it’s unnaturally stocked with digital critters – bugs, mice, hares, snakes, deer, wolves, cougars, bears – representing a hunting hierarchy. At the top is this visiting Predator, who finds little challenge from most of these animals. One exception is the bear, who gets in some hits and makes the Predator’s invisibility device fritz out a little before being body pressed and bleeding out onto the Predator from above to reveal his shape (a new iconic image in the Predator pantheon). Naru witnesses it and warns Taabe about this thing that beat a bear easily, but that’s not giving the bear enough credit in my opinion. That fucker put up a good fight. R.I.P., big guy.

I suspect this Predator might be undergoing a ritual similar to Naru’s. He seems to have been dropped off, after all. Go hunt some stuff, boy. I’ll be back. (Maybe Dad was going to some planet for more advanced hunters.) I like that his tech is still more advanced than ours today, but in some ways looks primitive compared to the movies that take place later. For example his shield is electronic and collapsible but looks kinda medieval. And instead of a sleek metal mask his appears to be made out of an alien (?) skull (with electronic attachments – they are a spacefaring civilization, after all, not barbarians).

Written by Patrick Aison (Wayward Pines, Treadstone) with a story by Trachtenberg, this is a tightly constructed action story. I enjoy seeing the pieces get laid out – the moments when she learns things, the incidents that inspire elements of her ultimate plan to defeat him, the pieces of foreshadowing. I worried that Taabe’s return to town carrying the lion’s head meant the Predator would make a similar trophy out of him. Luckily he’s spared that indignity and it sets up something better.

One of the moments that shows Naru is special is when she’s practicing her tomahawk throws and comes up with the innovation of weaving a rope to tie to it and yank it back to herself each time she throws it. Only later do we see that the Predator has his own version of the same sort of idea (surely just given to him, not invented by him) and that he likes to give his blade a little flip before using it just like she does.

Part of what I love about PREDATOR and PREDATOR 2 that hasn’t been recaptured since (including in this one) is that they take place in this supercharged Joel Silver dimension with that Viva Val Verde spirit of the biggest muscles, guns and swagger and most intense handshake ever created by the cinematic military industrial complex. That’s what makes the original film awesome, but what makes it transcendent is that (much like the macho space marines of ALIENS the year before) it’s not enough – they strut on in just to fire hundreds of bullets into empty trees, scream into the jungle and proceed to get picked off, skinned, and strung up one-by-one. Dutch prevails not because he has the body of Mr. Universe, but because he has the brains of Arnold. He realizes he has to become a hunter – strip off his equipment, cover himself in mud, and outsmart the monster with strategy, tricks and simple traps.

PREY doesn’t have the same tone, but it does a more 2022-via-1719 version of the same theme. The other hunters have a less 1987, more relatable type of cockiness about their ability to handle the situation, and a sadly timeless instinct not to listen to the little sister, to assume she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Though the movie and Naru obviously disagree with any assumptions about her that might be gender based, she does learn from and believe in their traditions. It’s important to her to protect her people from the Predator, but also to achieve the traditional status of a true hunter by defeating it. Initially I thought she wanted to prove something to the tribe, to her mother, to her brother, and to herself, but maybe that last one is already taken care of. Taabe is stunned/impressed when he finally sees what the Predator is capable of and realizes that she consciously chose it as her test. Wow.

I really like the brother-sister relationship here. He doesn’t fully support her hunting, is competitive with her, at times condescending. But he also gives her a shot when the others don’t want to, admits she deserves credit for his lion kill because he used her strategy, and realizes that she observes and understands things that he doesn’t.

Another element that complicates things is when they run into some Frenchmen. Like the Predator they’re invading the territory for some imbalanced hunting, slaughtering bison. (She prays for one of the bison.) They capture Naru and Taabe and try to use them as bait, and we get to enjoy the knowledge that these guys are gonna get fucked up by the Predator.

This ol’ Thunderbird-rider takes out quite a few humans, and the movie’s not afraid to be gory. Maybe due to the technology of the time he’s a more hand-to-hand fighter than other Predators, so there’s some fighting, our humans trying to get at him with arrows and axes and animal attacks. The stunt coordinator/second unit director is Jeremy Marinas (choreographer of CLOSE RANGE and GEMINI MAN).

I think the fun fan bullshit is handled well here, and in just the right amount. The biggest nod to the original is in dialogue, but it’s pretty cool because hey, these seem like the type of badasses who would also come up with that awesome thing to say. (Confession: I got up and did a little celebratory dance, thinking I was laughing about it at first, then realizing I was kind of serious, like Romy and Michele watching PRETTY WOMAN.) Others are more incidental – I like that Naru gets covered in mud by accident, and comes up with her own, different way to hide from the Predator. The only one that might seem off if you weren’t familiar with the material is the shot where (SPOILER FOR ONE THING HERE) they show the name on the musket to confirm for those of us who were wondering that yep, it’s the one we thought it was. Of course that also tells us that these peoples’ interactions with the Predator species are not concluded yet. Stay safe, Naru.

Ranking is pointless, but PREDATOR 2 remains my favorite PREDATOR sequel. It’s just such an unusual mix of early-‘90s-style big budget action with gory monster movie and near-future dystopian fever dream. It’s a very special movie unfairly dismissed at the time because Schwarzenegger chose not to come back (even though it stars fuckin Danny Glover!) and it seems to me like that specific type of magic is more unlikely to ever re-create than this will be.

So anyway, to quote MC Hammer, you’ve got to PREY (Prey!) – PREY (Prey!) – you’ve got to PREY just to make it today! Is it really better than PREDATOR or PREDATOR 2? No, I don’t think so. But is it worthy of sitting beside them? Yes, absolutely. And that is a high mark to meet. They’ve been trying for decades.

P.S. I don’t remember ever hearing this “Yautja” word until very recently so I still call them Predators. Sorry if that’s racist.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 9th, 2022 at 7:42 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

71 Responses to “Prey”

  1. Since this one went back to basics, it seemed like it was going t be boring…too much drama, etc. But the pace was great, no fat on it, just start and go go go much like the first one. I like how they followed the Predator too, and saw how it learned and chose what to kill. Real interesting, need more one-offs like this!

  2. As I said in earlier comments, this is an absolutely competent and entertaining sequel, that does absolutely nothing new, outside of its indigenous representation angle. This is gonna make me sound a bit assholeish, but I really appreciate how this is really “just” a popcorn movie and not about “issues”. Sure, there is a bit of “Every man underestimates the strong, female protagonist” and “White people slaughter buffalos so they are as bad as the monster from outer space”, but it’s really more interested in being an action/horror movie and not a history lesson about the mistreatment of Native Americans.

    On the other hand, that it doesn’t do anything actually new with the PREDATOR concept, is also its biggest flaw. There is always a bit of “Seen that before” swinging through the movie. At this point you have to wonder what’s up with those Predators anyway. They come to earth over and over with their futuristic space weapons, sometimes even kidnap a bunch of earthlings, but once the element of surprise is gone, they get overpowered by someone with voluntary hypothermia. The next sequel should be about them making official contact with Earth and inviting us to join them in their hunts, since Humans are obviously at least as good as them.

  3. I also loved PREDATE-R, which is not just a great Predator movie, but a better COWBOYS AND ALIENS movie without having any actual cowboys.

    Vern: “Initially I thought she wanted to prove something to the tribe, to her mother, to her brother, and to herself, but maybe that last one is already taken care of.”
    I don’t know, Vern, when she’s asked why wants to be a Hunter so badly, she does say “because you all think I can’t”. I do think it makes her a more three dimensional character with an arc if pride is part of it. Not to undercut the reading of gender bias to why she’s treated that way, but the movie also highlights that she’s valuable to the tribe in other roles so much that it would make sense they’d not want her to risk herself doing a job they already have so many others handling. I always find this type of thing a little annoying when it’s done in a story and even something that’s used to sell it, like when for INTO DARKNESS, Zoe Saldana felt it was a great step forward for women’s representation in Star Trek that Uhura got to be in a fight scene. Because in your progressive future set space opera about a more enlightened humanity, being a genius level interpreter isn’t as glamorous than being able to shoot a gun.
    I also like when a movie handles a female action lead in a non-patronising, non-pandering way like this one does. Which is to say when the lead isn’t a Gina Carano type, their physicality is actually considered and incorporated into the action. They take more damage, can’t deal out as much damage, and so have to be shown to be capable in other ways, making a more tense type of conflict. In this case, Naru’s speed, agility, ingenuity and preparedness is what makes her unique in the setting and a match for the Predator.

  4. I have bitched here before about trailers spoiling movies.

    When the scene with the bear started, I was already getting irked because we saw it in the trailer. Surprise! the trailer is actually a bit of a fake out, because (I won’t spoil it) there is a LOT more to that scene than the trailer would lead you to believe. That made me happy.

    And Amber Midthunder/Naru is just fantastic. Presence and charisma for days, the movie doesn’t work without her nailing it and she does. Honestly one of the better lead female protagonists in an action movie that I can remember in a long time. A few times she seems a LITTLE bit too capable (like when she single handedly wipes out a camp full of French Hunters), but by that point I was willing to let it slide.

  5. Really enjoyed the shit out of this. I’ve only watched the Comanche dub so far, but might go back and watch the English-language version this weekend. I particularly liked that the French guys’ dialogue wasn’t subtitled in English — Naru and the others don’t understand French, so the director leaves their dialogue as-is, and if you don’t understand French either, well, you’re as confused as they are. (I mean, it’s pretty easy to contextualize what they’re saying as variations on “Holy shit, we’re all gonna die” and the like, of course, but still it was a cool touch.)

  6. Yeah, I loved this. Exactly my kind of movie– lean, mean, looks great, minimal exposition, a smart tough protagonist in over her head. It reminded me of THE REVENANT in places– the environment, the fur trappers, the struggle to survive in a violent world.

    When the brother went for the horses, I was hoping he would say “get to the cloppers!”

    If they do sequels, rather than see more Predators, I want Naru to fight other horror/action antagonists. Naru vs. Alien, Naru vs. Terminator, Naru vs. Army of Darkness, etc.

  7. Just realized that, thanks to this being a prequel, we finally got a Predator trilogy in the classic Spider-Man/Batman/Star Wars mold.

    Prey: Pretty good movie.

    Predator: Even better sequel.

    Predator 2: Middling but still fun threequel.

  8. This was a solid little by-the-numbers thriller. Never great but always good. Third in the series sounds about right to me. I’m glad we got that out of the way so I don’t have to resent this unpretentious little genre mashup.

    My one major criticism is that the supporting cast wasn’t really there. All of these PREDATORs, even the shitty ones, are absolutely stocked with larger-than-life characters. In this one, the brother is cool but everybody else is just cannon fodder. Some more dynamic personalities might have put it over the top. As is, it is all very well done but a little flat.

    Also, I think this brash young hothead Predator’s MO of just barging in and hacking up everybody with no tactics just proves my theory that we always think we want to see our favorite cinematic killers do some berserker shit like that, but in the end, it’s never as satisfying as doing it the old fashioned stalk-and-kill way. I’m not even sure you could really call what this guy does “hunting.” It’s more like harvesting. But I think this links back to my earlier critique of the supporting cast. You need some distinct characters if you’re gonna pick them off one by one and make us care. These people are just homogenous masses of victim meat so they might as well be processed in bulk.

    But still. It’s better than it has any right to be. I’d watch more historical adventures of old timey Predators.

    No Vikings though. Please. I’m begging you. It’s time for us all to accept that the no-brainer Viking movie we have in our heads will never make it to the screen. They’ll just remake BEOWULF again and nobody needs that. It’s time to move on from that dream.

    Zulus, maybe. They’d come with the added bonus of lots and lots of dead Redcoats. Get the HARDER THEY FALL guy to do it. It could work.

  9. I thought this Predator’s lack of subtlety maybe came from the same place as his less-advanced (but still pretty advanced) weaponry, i.e. the fact he’s also 300 years earlier in history. I wondered if perhaps it was even supposed to be the first one to ever visit earth, given that he doesn’t go straight to find some humans but seems to be testing out whatever he comes across.

    Maybe I’m being too generous though. It could also support the idea that the hunt is an activity for Predator rich kids, and this one’s just more of an asshole than most.

  10. I was into the “primitive” weapons at first because I assumed it was a result of the Predator race’s idea of fair play: “You hairless apes have only developed crude edged and throwing weapons, so that’s what I will use against you.” But then I got a good look at the bone mask and the other weapons and figured that the movie is actually implying that a race that has developed interstellar travel is somehow 300 years away from figuring out metal masks and explosive projectiles. Which is, you know, a really stupid idea that I should not be contemplating in the middle of an otherwise not-stupid movie. I prefer my version a lot more.

  11. Was it me or was there a running theme of the Predator’s shin/lower leg getting constantly stabbed/bit/caught in traps? I’d be as pissed as he was too.
    Celtic peoples (Ireland/Scotland) could be a good match for Predators. Hell, you put it in a boggy misty setting and you could have a Predator who doesn’t need the cloaking device and is more sporting about it. Though I would really a future, sorta Alien universe, but not really, set one, where it’s a couple hundred years in the future, we’re colonising planets, and the Predators have been watching, letting us propagate and build up our own technology so they amp up their own.

    Sabalos: He might be more direct because he knows this is a planet with limited means of communication, so he can afford to be more high profile and less worried that they could call in backup.

  12. I won’t be able to get to watching this one until this weekend, but I’m so glad that with the arrival of Prey there seems to have been a reevaluation of the other Predator sequels. Outside of Shane Black’s messy fourth film, they’re all really good. I rewatched the first three in preparation for Definite Article Predator, and Predators was much better than I remembered. It does a great job of expanding the predator world while also just giving us a pulpy sci-fi story. It expands things without overly complicating them (which Shane Black wasn’t able to do).

    I’m somewhat surprised that Dan Trachtenberg took this long to make a second movie. I thought 10 Cloverfield Lane was superb. I thought we lost the dude to television. I’m glad I was wrong.

  13. Thoroughly enjoyed this! I watched it with my girlfriend last night and only told her that it was some movie called Prey about a Comanche hunting tribe (watched the Comanche language dubbed version). She became very excited once she realized that we were actually watching some sci-fi horror action and it was her first Predator movie ever and now she’s very interested in seeing the original so THANKS Prey!

    I would rank this after the original and above 2 though that sequel definitely has some great qualities. Glad Vern just left Predators and THE Predator out of the conversation because what a shame that those two missed the mark because there’s stuff that I really do like about them both.

    I plan on watching this again (likely when a 4k disc comes out) but what name was on the musket!? I totally missed that.

  14. RBatty, surprised as well, but I think he thought TV was his future. His pilot of The Boys and Black Mirror episode both rock.

    How about one set amongst a bunch of Samurai?

  15. Majestyk – I’m not going to say you’re thinking too hard about it, but I think it could be a bit of both.

    Predators could have Plasma cannons, but they haven’t figured out how to to condense them down to fit on their shoulders, 300 years is an eternity for human technological advancement.

    What if Predators are only in possession of ships for space travel because they took them, from some Colonizing Space Fuckers, who tried to subjugate Predator Homeworld.

    Vern – I’m sorry for stinking the place up with use of the word Yautja, some nerd who wrote for Dark Horse thought it up thirty or so years ago, a

  16. I would have to insist that a samurai one features a scene where the main character’s in the woods, and there’s a Ninja perched in the trees above them, about to assassinate them, only for a Predator to decloak on the branch above them and take them out without the Samurai being aware.

    Polynesian one too? Factor in how a water setting affects the Pred’s MO?

  17. And a really great band from Nashville shares the namesake, so I guess it’s more in my vernacular.

    Anyways I wouldn’t dare call anyone a racist for using the term Predators, but it’s been weird to hear people use the term
    ” Indians” when discussing this film ( Not Vern),
    Because where I’m from, when someone who isn’t First Nations* is using that term, they’re probably about to say something racist as fuck.

    Anyways sorry about the long bisected post, I caught me the Covid and am dealing with a foggy brain.

    * Unless we’re talking about literal Indians, people from India, that’s cool.

    Anyways I s

  18. Ray Gabriel – SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER – the name itself isn’t significant as far as I know, but it’s there to identify this as the same trophy musket that a different Predator will give to Danny Glover’s character as a sign of respect at the end of PREDATOR 2. Which seems to indicate that these people are not done fighting Predators. A friend pointed out that the drawings in the end credits depict three ships arriving later.

    Windows – You’re allowed to use the word, I just think it’s funny how many film writers I’ve seen dropping this arcane comics reference casually as if that’s what we’ve all called them all along.

  19. “Yautja” is kinda like how people in real life refer to the aliens from the ALIEN movies as “Xenomorphs” even thought it’s unnecessary in that context because they’re the only aliens around.

  20. I’m against further PREDATOR movies in historical settings. At some point it will become just too ridiculous how those technologically advanced super hunters from outer space will be constantly defeated by people from primitive(ish) cultures who probably haven’t even invented gunpowder yet.

    SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

    Even the more than capable heroine of this movie here had to trick the Predator into shooting himself with his own gun to win this battle.

  21. How about one set in ancient Egypt, and the predators end up fighting the aliens that built the pyramids? Actually, make one set in the sixties where they hunt down Erich Von Daniken – it’d be a very short movie, but satisfying.
    Or one set in the 00’s where Chris Hansen runs into a nasty surprise? That’d also be pretty short, I guess.
    Someone mentioned Predators vs. Pirates in the other thread, and I’ll take that with the condition that the predators dress in pirate clothes as well.

    Apologies, I had very little sleep last night.

  22. I would take a Pirate PREDATOR, if it takes place at sea and we actually get to see an aquatic predator.

  23. I’m sort of with CJ that there’s only so many times they can go to this well. Change the setting all you want, it’s still the same damn story every time.

  24. I think this is my second favorite but I totally support your love of Predator 2. I still love the hell out of it despite its unevenness. And that puts Predators 4th which I still like a lot!

  25. I’m gonna make sort of an unorthodox choice here and put PREDATORS last. The first half of it is pretty damn solid, way better than anything in THE PREDATOR, but the second half is the one thing I cannot abide in a movie: boring. Once they get to Fishburne’s place, I zone right the fuck out every time. THE PREDATOR is a fucking mess at all times but I’m never bored. That gives it a very slight edge for me.

  26. I would also like to take this time to make a solemn pledge that I will never, ever, on my mother’s life, use that stupid extended universe fan-fic head canon word that starts with a Y. I never even heard it once in my life before today and I am going to do everything in my power to forget that it even exists.

    See, because the thing is, they’re called Predators. Not stupid made-up Y-words. Says it right there in the title.

    I hope this clears things up. Glad I could help out.

  27. Vern: “And instead of a sleek metal mask his appears to be made out of some kind of alien skull”

    I actually think that’s supposed to be the bear’s skull it kills halfway through the movie.

  28. dreadguacamole- The original comics explanation that was created for the Predator 2 pistol was that it belonged to a Pirate called Andolini who the Predator helped kill the mutinying crew of, who gave him it out of appreciation.

  29. Good point KH. They did make a big show of him collecting it and putting it on his belt.

  30. “PREDATORS had come 20 years after PREDATOR 2 and didn’t really catch on, THE PREDATOR came 18 years after that”

    Time moves fast, so while my first thought was ‘No way that’s right,’ my second thought was ‘Wait, please tell me that’s not right.’ Phewph.

    This movie rocked by the way

  31. Vern sorry to be “that guy”, but the big show of cleaning / shining and putting in his belt was of the wolf’s skull, not the bear’s.

  32. “How about one set in ancient Egypt, and the predators end up fighting the aliens that built the pyramids?”

    Except AVP kinda went there, Predators were the Aliens who built the pyramids, worshipped as Gods by the Egyptians, Mayans etc, who then built one more Pyramid 2000ft below the Antarctic Ice as a training ground for their teenagers to come down every 100 years where they fight the Xenomorphs, hatched out of eggs laid by the Queen Mother who’s kept on ice.

    But then again the AVP Duology is officially stricken off the Canon, so I guess why not?

  33. Hear me out: due to reparations, Amber Midthunder’s Native American tribe gets their land back. Unfortunately… their land is Camp Crystal Lake.

    Friday the 13th: Thanks, Obama.

  34. Petros – Okay then, I’m going back to my original alien skull theory.

    JTS – I was trying to go back to writing some reviews quickly like I did in the old days, but this brings out my terrible math skills.

  35. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 11th, 2022 at 6:38 am

    I liked this one a lot and can pretty much echo the positives being mentioned in the review and comments above. One thing I do want to mention is, I was disappointed with the amount of CGI used in the film, especially since it was often not incredibly convincing. Obviously I see the necessity of using it for all the different animal species running around (how else are you going to shoot a Predator fighting a bear?) but I would have loved it if more practical shots had been used for the Predator itself. Especially when the helmet comes off, it was so much less impactful than similar shots in the older movies where the head was a mask/animatronic. I get that using CGI makes it possible to have the Predator be more nimble and athletic and take out whole squads of dudes at once, which I loved, but I think a better balance could have been achieved. The same goes for the gore – there were lots of nice and brutal kills, but I feel the CGI severely lessened the impact in many cases.

    That said, I still really enjoyed the film and was able to roll with it easily since it was so entertaining.

    One last thing: I wouldn’t exactly call the bit where the Predator’s shape is revealed by bear blood “a new iconic image” in the franchise. It seems more of a callback to that moment in the beginning of THE PREDATOR when the dude’s body is cut in half and his blood and guts reveal the Predator standing underneath. It’s one of a handful of moments that make it impossible for me to not like that film, no matter how much of a sloppy mess the whole thing is.

  36. One thing I like about the Predator series is that they’re all very pulpy. They don’t have the baggage of two undeniable classic films like the Alien movies have. They don’t have to be some space opera like Star Wars. They don’t have to give us a grand utopian vision of the future like Trek. They can just be down and dirty movies about trying to kill an alien monster. And that’s it. That’s enough. So few sci-fi movies want to deliver those pulpy thrills and only that. The exception is, of course, Riddick. And that’s why I would absolutely love Riddick vs. The Predator comic book.

  37. I was hoping the big reveal/connection to the series would be that Naru is Billy’s great-great grandmother.

  38. I thought this was pretty solid but the final fight was a little Three Stooges for me and brought it down a lot.

    Mr. Majestyk touched on my main complaint, though, which is that the scene of the Predator slaughtering the trappers was a slog outside of a few funny gimmicks. I’ve notice this trend a lot in recent years and it just feels like people managed to completely misunderstand what’s fun about slasher movies. Or, you know, porn or comedy. Someone getting a bear trap to the face is pretty fun but stringing a bunch of those moments together without any setup is about on par with watching a ‘kill compellation’ on youtube, or whatever. That’s not filmmaking, come on with that.

    Nitpicky, but about the third time she woke up with facepaint on, I yelled at the screen, ‘Girl, you are going to get an eye infection.’

  39. I liked it a fair bit, but don’t really have much to add to what everyone else has already said. Broadly in agreement with the consensus here, on the more positive side of the spectrum. And yeah, definitely third best in the series.

    Much as I enjoyed, it *is* a bit too much like the first one, without the reversal that a bunch of 80’s action heroes with all the firepower in the world can’t put a dent on the enemy and get their asses handed to them. Here she begins wanting to be a hunter, and… ends up being a hunter.
    I also didn’t like the tethered axes (way too videogame-y for the tone of the rest of the movie, and I didn’t find them convincing in action) and that fight where she John Wicks a bunch of French trappers was completely unnecessary/didn’t fit with the character; it’s a fun action scene, though, and she does it to save her dog, so I begrudgingly respect it.

    Still, good movie! Looks like the sequel might be the comanche nation against the predators, and that might be fun, just… mix it up at least a little, folks, or preferably a lot like each and every other predator sequel but this one has done. (If they do do that it would be the first time they actually serialize these films; I’d rather they didn’t, that’s every other film series out there these days.)

    Stray thoughts:

    Didn’t the Comanche live further south?

    It falls well under the two-hour mark, and that’s worth celebrating whenever it happens these days.

    The scene where a bear almost revenants the predator is great! I kind of wish it would have succeeded, with the movie taking a weird turn there: Naru joins up with other predators to hunt the bear, who had swallowed the predator’s shoulder launcher and can now shoot arrows out of its mouth. Or -even better- Naru buddies up with the bear to kick the other predators’ asses.

    A bunch of years back a British celebrity caused a minor outrage and a lot of criticism by describing his elephant hunting antics, and even musing on how it would feel to kill a man. I wonder if that’s how all the other Predators in Predator Prime or whatever feel about the Predators we get to see in these movies, as a bunch of yokels/and or overprivileged asshats, out on overcompensating little trips. Did the Predators from the second movie go back to their homeworld just to shuffle back into mundane, boring little lives? That’d be my pitch for the next sequel.

  40. @Kaykay – Dammit, I had almost completely succeeded at forgetting the AvP movies. Thanks a bunch!

    @Stu – That comic stuff… sounds terrible/wonderful. is it too much to hope for that the predator wears a pirate hat, or that he samples shanties and plays them back to terrify the mutineers?

  41. It doesn’t appear like he does from a google image search of “Predator 1718”, but the predator does fight with a sword that looks a bit like a cutlass and it’s a tropical island setting.

    There’s also a Civil War story where Rebs and Union soldiers put aside their differences to fight a Predator that’s hunting them.

    Predator 1718

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  43. Ha, that’s amazing!

    Sorry, thought you’d read these – Didn’t meant to make you wade through this crap. I did find a terrible-looking ‘predator vs bear’ issue that… I don’t think was the source for the bear scene in this Prey. The Predator’s OH SHIT face in the cover is amazing, though:

    (Let’s see if I can get an image working…)

    Scripted by novelist and serial franchise novelization writer Kevin J. Anderson! (he’s apparently done two novelizations out of a Rush album – but that’s actually kind of sweet, as he’s old friends with Neil Peart.)

  44. Last try, sorry for the spam:

  45. My go-to Predator pitch has long been: Set it during the building of the Panama Canal. Not only would the technology/weaponry level be interesting to play with, but the Americans in charge of building the canal had a metric shit-ton of actual, real-world shit to deal with even before the Predator comes a-predating. It’s pretty fascinating stuff, and at least worth a wiki skim.

  46. Hi Vern – I had to comment as this was filmed near my home. I’d see all the multitude of trucks every time I was out biking the previous summer. Never saw the suit though the guy directing traffic assured me it was nearby.

    I can’t say if this was close to where Death Hunt was filmed (its locations are Canmore and Banff, so very close and with similar terrain). I can tell you that Brokeback Mountain and The Revenant were filmed here as well. Moreso Brokeback Mountain. Also the Fourth War just a little east of there.

    Also, Unforgiven was filmed a little bit south of here as well. Love the site. Was very excited to see my home on the small screen.

  47. Eh, we had Til Schweiger in my neighbour town last week, filming scenes for the sequel of his early 90s breakthrough hit MANTA MANTA.

    You definitely win, Jer.

  48. Parts of WILT with Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones were filmed in my neck of the woods a mere 33-34 years ago.

    And also STARDUST and AGE OF ULTRON a little more recently. But come on guys; WILT! Plus it’s actually recognisable in the film (to be fair STARDUST may be too, I’ve never seen it).

  49. Damn, WILT!!! Funny movie.

    All three of Harald Zwart’s LONG FLAT BALLS movies were filmed a ten minutes drive from where I live, and once in a while I see some of the amateur actors going about their daily lives, shopping, going to work etc.

  50. The director was on the Big Picture pod, said the dog companion and specifically the look of the dog was 100% so they could get a side by side shot that looked like The Road Warrior poster

  51. I didn’t think it was possible for a movie in this series to be more inefficient than the last one but PREY looked my way and asked me to hold it’s beer.

  52. Considering this movie combines four of my favorite things – Predator, The New World, nature videos, and pretty girls, it should have been in my all-time Top 10. But yeah, “third best Predator” sounds about right. (Not sure which one is second but I’m kinda leaning with Predator 2 or *gasp* AVP 1)

    I mean, the good parts are really really good. The idea is kinda ingenious, Midthunder is a star, and I actually appreciate the concerted effort to Make Predator Scary Again. But man, the movie just kept losing it’s grip on me to where I just checked out by the end of it. *SPOILERS* I remember the brother’s first scene where I’m like “Man, I really like this dude’s energy – I’m gonna be real sad when he dies”. And then by the time he actually dies I totally didn’t care anymore. I don’t think I’ve seen a movie start so good and end in this much apathy since…uh…10 Cloverfield Lane?

    So weird the movie is ostensibly a girl-power story, yet the structure is The Predator saving the heroine’s ass multiple times until she cheap shots it at the end. I mean, I get that it’s trying to play with the subtext of “everyone underestimates her because they think she’s not a threat”, but it honestly feels like “main character gets a bye in the tournament until the final fight like Daniel in Karate Kid III”. It’s about as satisfying if they had Maria Conchita Alonso kill the Predator in Predator 2 after he spared her life, because that’s basically what happens here. I probably wouldn’t mind so much if Midthunder killed the Predator in a satisfying way but man, “Predator entirely forgets that his arrows are guided by the helmet he’s not even wearing” is just a bad way to end things on multiple levels. Still, I’m down for the inevitable Prey 2 where the Predators somehow get the gun without killing Midthunder and the dog, since of course that’s what’s going to happen.

  53. Stu-That Andolini pirate guy you mentioned? That’s actually who the translator guy with the trappers is supposed to be. Which means if they’re following that comic you mentioned, the pistol was given to him by a predator, then given to Naru by him, then it eventually makes it’s way back to the predators, before ending up with Danny Glover about 300 years later. Seems a bit of a stretch that this one pistol gets around so much between predators and their prey, but there you go.

  54. Yeah, I watched it with subtitles which gave that away. But this is a different continuity from the comic, because HE gave the gun to the Predator, not the other way around. Also because

    COMIC SPOILER

    COMIC SPOILER

    COMIC SPOILER

    He dies on that island.

  55. this post-action crap looks horrible. they used 13 cuts to touch a dog’s tail. that should’ve been 1 take
    and when action starts they don’t even show it 90% of the time, just cutting away or showing dirt. the cameras are dirty and there’s lens flare garbage. they dof every shot to death you can’t see anything. the framerate struggles at times. and they cut every 0.3 seconds during any movement, often breaking 180
    it’s impossible to watch, compared to that blender smoozie in the end even quiet boring scenes of the entire first hour is better. avp and avpr are both better than this post-action

    and she has plucked eyebrows fake eyelashes and water resistant eyeliner in 1700

  56. “and she has plucked eyebrows fake eyelashes and water resistant eyeliner in 1700”

    tomato, then we might as well start dumping on hundreds of historical movies set centuries ago where the women are shown to have immaculately shaven legs and armpits, when depilation wasn’t really a thing with women until maybe the early 20th century?

  57. It’s kinda odd to criticize the pretty clear action in this movie, yet praise ALIEN VS PREDATOR: REQUIEM, which is infamous for its extremely dark cinematography, that barely lets you see anything that is going on during its exciting parts.

  58. Yeah I’ve got alot of problems with the movie but the action’s not really one of them – I mean, there’s a fight between an invisible man and a CGI bear going on in the BACKGROUND of a shot and it’s still remarkably clear what’s happening. The final fight disappoints not really because of poor clarity but because (I’m gonna be the guy who says this) – you can’t really have Naru get beaten up the same way Dutch or Harrigan got beat up, so we just end up with some Marvel-style Black Widow-y flippy action which just feels out of place for the timeframe and the movie.

    One thing that was NOT done with clarity though, is what the heck that body-cooling potion was at the end and what was she trying to do to Raphael with it? Was she trying to kill him by shoving it down his throat? (Kinda looks like it, especially when she kills the other trapper guy in the next scene) Or was she honoring their deal and trying to heal him from his wounds? Either way it’s a giant stretch that she assumes it makes him invisible to the Predator (who knows, the Predator might have walked by him because he’s already wounded and not a threat). And the fact that she takes it herself with no side effects at all is modern-day screenwriting at its worst (You can almost hear the executive say “We need to ape the mud stuff in the original and Predators took that already, so we need to come up with something else but don’t worry about any actual details”). Still I’m glad we have another head-scratcher in this series to go along with “How was Arnold’s trap SUPPOSED to work?” and “Where did the top half of Gary Busey’s body go?”

  59. I’m sure all of the complaints are technically accurate, but it all looked fine to me, told the story, conveyed geography and character. You know, the entire point of cinematography and editing. It’s not masterful work but it does the job.

    I feel the same way about these film grammar wonks as I do about the guy who bitched about Vern using the word “icky.” They’re invested in gatekeeping, not communication. These people tend to have no content to offer so they get real hung up on formatting. They have their place (proofreading the work of actual creatives and being ignored like 80% of the time) but I have a hard time respecting them.

  60. I’m not pointing fingers, naming names or hinting at anyone in particular, but this relatively new obsession on the world wide web with over-analyzing easy entertainment, does not sit well with me. The hunt for easter eggs and hommages and connections to previous works, is not helping me enjoy a movie that’s just supposed to get my mind of the rat race for 90 – 120 minutes.

  61. Dunno. I don’t agree with Tomato’s comment (surely the amount of edits is down to style as long as the scene is well planned/blocked and the action is clear and understandable?)
    But then again I’m conscious I must sound like that to people who enjoy some Marvel movies that will remain unnamed… and that most of us here would be insufferable about 00’s action movies with very low ACR to people who don’t really watch movies for their action scenes.

    Extraneous stuff (easter eggs, hidden connections, shared worldbuilding, etc) is sometimes fun to talk about once the movie is done, but if I find myself thinking about that sort of thing while first watching a film (beyond a flash of recognition or a quick ‘that’s cute’) then the movie has problems. That’s actually one of my main complaints with the whole *CU mindset, even before we get into how business-driven it is.

  62. Yeah the weird thing is I definitely watched the original Predator with an over-analyzing mind this go round (i.e. I was high as shit), and I think I liked it better than I ever have before. There’s so much richness in every aspect of the movie (music, cinematography, acting, etc….) that I actually think it’s the rare classic that’s still somehow underrated. I mean, respected film critics like to go on and on about how Alien is really about Freudian sexual fears (fear of oral rape, fear of giving birth, slimy phalluses and protrusions, etc…) but I think most of them still think Predator is just a dumb guys-with-guns movie, even though I think it’s just as deep and interesting.

    I’m not saying Predator is insincere or satire or parody or anything, but I do think it’s a commentary on how awesome machismo is, and also how fragile it can be. It gives us some of the most badass characters committed to film, then unceremoniously and bluntly kills them off with no room for sentimentality. I remember a few years ago when everyone on the internet suddenly acted like it was bullshit that we didn’t get a long back-and-forth fight between Billy and The Predator…but that would totally defeat the point. All the bravado and Ole Painlesses in the world ain’t gonna do shit to this alien that you can’t even see that has no qualms about shooting you in the back or sniping you from a tree. (You think if they made this movie today, Mac would get the sudden undignified ending he got?) I love the fact that the plot is literally about a group of very smart men who make very dumb decisions because of their macho code-of-ethics. Dillon loses one team before the movie even begins, then he sends in another to die. Dutch boyscouts up a huge trap to make a stand, gets the rest of his team killed, then doubles down and boyscouts up more traps. Dillon absolutely knows he’s going to die when he goes after Mac, and Dutch knows it too – but he can’t not go out like a man to save a dude who he doesn’t even like. I love how their final exchange is Dutch throwing him an extra gun. (These men don’t say either hello OR goodbye like normal people, this movie says) Hell, even the Predator gets in on the macho bullshit at the end – critics like Roger Ebert complained that the Predator could have just shot Dutch at the end instead of fighting him hand to hand, like that’s a giant plot hole they figured out instead of y’know, something thematically tied in to the rest of the movie.

    Prey does seem to have a few bits that comment on the machismo of Predator – the search party’s initial mission is to save and heal a wounded member, not to kill anything. The iconography of Arnold’s cigar in his Predator introduction is now repurposed from being a universal symbol of badassness into being a symbol of colonialism and disrespect for the land. The villain’s advanced technology is now his own undoing, hoist by his own petard or whatever. But I guess I wanted more. Even Predators had more to say about human nature, with Isabelle and Royce continuing the themes of the Dutch/Dillon subplot. Both Dutch and Isabelle make a huge deal about having upstanding morals that justify their extreme proficiency in killing, while Royce and Dillon think they see through their bullshit – they think Dutch/Isabelle like killing as much as the next guy and no amount of moral speechifying can cover it up. (Both movies smartly never really reveal who is right). The only theme Prey really seems intent on exploring is generic girl-power “fuck the patriarchy” tropes that would be fine if some of us didn’t literally just see these tropes in The Princess, and honestly done much better there which I’m surprised to hear myself saying.

  63. The action was inoffensive. Far from exciting and even at times extremely illogical when placed against the rules set up by the previous 4 movies (that poor wolf didn’t pose any threat to the Predator at all and was just following it’s nature) but I had no issues following. This was just a very poorly written movie overall. I couldn’t believe the dude said “If It bleeds we can kill it” like 4 seconds after I mockingly said it to my friend during our viewing of this thing.

    I’m not a Hollywood writer Mr. Writer of PREY but you are. Do better than remain a hacknyed amateur scribe when you get paid nicely for this job. It really felt like a first draft never taken beyond the point cause they didn’t have enough budget to invest in rewrites or something. I’m no big PREDATORS fan but after rewatching it lately for the first time since theaters I don’t know what universe I woke up in where anybody would feel this was better off the writing alone. To each their own I suppose.

  64. I don’t agree that it felt like a first draft. It was a pretty tight script. Everything that happened in the final fight was methodically set up by earlier events in the movie, for instance. The movie doesn’t have a tonne of dialogue and the majority of it is there for a pretty clear reason. Even if you don’t like it or think it’s ineffective, that’s not indicative of it being a first draft.

    If you look at a movie like DAY SHIFT, to me, that was clearly a first draft of a script. The lore is half-baked and nonsensical, the humour isn’t funny, the character dynamics are stock placeholders. That’s what happens when you hand in a first draft. A second run at it might have tried to make some sense of the world, to flesh out some of the characters and their relationships, to punch up the jokes.

  65. “The lore is half-baked and nonsensical, the humour isn’t funny, the character dynamics are stock placeholders.”

    Can’t argue with that. But rather than call it a first draft, I prefer to think it’s makers/writers knew precisely which demographic to target, meaning simpletons like me, who upon seeing JJ Perry and Scott Adkins in the credits, expect the plot to be nothing more than a half way decent excuse to unleash some kick ass action sequences. Or they’re clearly saving it for the sequel (DAY SHIFT 2: THE RISE OF EL JEFE). A lot of these vampire/werewolf flicks can’t keep their shit consistent even within the running time of a movie, like a superhero’s powers. Like, garlic and silver work…until they don’t. Like crosses are Bad News…until they aren’t.

  66. I don’t think things have to exactly be a threat to a Predator, but something worthy enough that can be a prize. I think a wolf counts, they could do damage to a Predator. And let’s not forget these guys kind of have a code but they also have zero problems being invisible and sniping people from trees, so it’s not like they’re always putting themselves in real danger.

    neal2zod is right, Mac done today would not get done dirty like in the original…which is a shame because I love how ruthless the movie is in wiping them out. They don’t all get to go out like Dillion, blasting away with one arm. Mac is maybe the best character and down he goes, and it was shocking how quick Ventura goes down…and how easy, just shot in the back, and lights out.

    This one didn’t look great to me but I liked it way more than I thought I would. I don’t think I like it as much as Predators (although it has been awhile and that movie really loses steam when they go to the sip for the night), but more than Predator 2.

  67. What Muh said.

    They do have that honorable hunter culture going on, which is what’s cool about pitting one against an actual hunter culture in this movie. In P1 the predator was a vindictive prick that laughed before taking down an acre of jungle, trying to bring Dutch down with him, and used overwhelming technology to bring down the rest of his team with very little risk to itself. Not cool.

    They’re way closer to modern hunters using all available technology to lower risk when going after dangerous prey than Comanche hunters using bows and arrows against animals that might just as easily maul them instead; I think predators were supposed to be seen as assholes -proper horror movie villains- before their cool aspects were amped up, they were comic’d up and made to fight Batman and Aliens and pirates and Archie. Much as I like the second movie, it’s as guilty as any of this

    I liked the return of Predator assholism for this one. That it’s much more gung-ho and hands-on about it I think just reflects that it doesn’t see the technology level of the time as dangerous as the one in the other movies, or maybe that it’s just more of a bloodthirsty mf.

    *: That’s after Dutch uses a trap to beat him during hand to hand contact, but still.

  68. Things we know about the Predators (From the official movies, not the comics, games or AVP ones):

    – Hunters who go after dangerous prey (Doesn’t have to be dangerous to them)
    – Travel to far away planets to find exciting hunting grounds (Apparently they do prefer forests) and worthy prey
    – Sometimes they kidnap prey to bring them to their personal hunting grounds
    – They don’t kill unarmed people, pregnant women, sick people (Unless they pose a threat or suddenly scream when they step on them)
    – They cheat all the time by using heat vision, cloaking devices, laser guns and all kinds of advanced space technology
    – Once the element of surprise is gone from their hunt and they probably even can’t rely on their tech anymore, they can be overpowered by soldiers of regular size, soldiers of Mr Universe size, middle aged cops who are probably too old for that shit, young indigenous women, etc
    – If you invite them to a fair man vs man duel, they will probably accept it
    – Can be sore losers who rather commit suicide with a small nuke instead of admitting defeat
    – Can also be pretty cool dudes who give you a present and let you go if you kill one of them in a fair fight
    – They come in different sizes and the big ones seem to pick on the “small” ones

  69. – Also possesses a unique physiology, whereby if an Alien Facehugger implants an egg inside of them, out pops not a pure Xenomorph but an Alien/Predator hybrid- a PredAlien

    – Have a hierarchy system in their society whereby the bigger ones frequently fuck up the smaller ones.

    -Have such evolved Tech, they even have a weapon to annihilate their own species. Comes in Black and can be interstellar couriered

  70. Oops! Made one redundant point. Sorry!

  71. “– Can be sore losers who rather commit suicide with a small nuke instead of admitting defeat”
    That’s an assumption. It may just be that they have a rule about not leaving any remains of their tech/bodies behind for other species to find.

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