Prey (2022) Movie Review/First Impressions

The newest entry in the Predator series, Prey, was released over the weekend. This is a Lawrence Gordon and Davis Entertainment Company production, presented by 20th Century Studios, a division of the Walt Disney Company, distributed by Hulu in United States markets and Disney Plus Star internationally. It’s direct to streaming, so no more pesky movie theatres for the target audience who may happen to enjoy R-Rated mature content. What an age we live in. Compare this to even maybe just 10 years ago, when usually a direct-to-home-viewing release of a major franchise film such as this would be an

incredibly ominous sign. But things are different now. Especially since 2020 when the lines of theatrical exhibtion and at-home streaming are continuing to blur. You might have the choice to go see the movie in a theatre and at the exact same time have the option to rent it at home through a service such as iTunes or Google Play, or, the brand new movie may be available as part of a streaming service subcription, as is the case with Prey. I’ve been paying attention to many reactions of the film over this weekend and I’ve seen a lot of

fans sincerely disappointed that this movie could not be seen on the big screen, with the big sound, and with an audience. I’ll include myself in that wave of disappointment, but, nevertheless, I did very

much enjoy my experience with this movie. So, for today’s video, I thought I’d offer up a review of Prey, share some thoughts on it, and try to keep it moderate with spoilers while doing so. I’m not going to go ahead and spoil every single thing but I’ll get into some details here and there so if you haven’t seen it yet, I hope

that’s a fair enough warning. I’ll say this, though, I don’t think there’s all too much that could be spoiled or given away to ruin it. I guess you could take that as a criticism, although a mild one, that there’s nothing hugely suprising or mind-blowing about the movie that’s going to challenge whatever expectations you may have going into it. At no point did I really think to myself, “wow, I really wasn’t expecting that” or “this took me off guard,” which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all, I found myself thinking that and much more during the

previous entry in series, The Predator. That film probably strayed a little too far off from the formula for its own good. Looking at the original film from 1987, you’ll find a formula that is deceptively simple but done in such an expert way that it appears effortless. I suppose you could boil it down to: the predator stalks a group people, they’re taken down one by one, and finally the predator faces off against the most worthy and capable prey of the group. It works to great effect, and as it was replicated, altered, or arguably abandoned as series

progressed, the movies became lesser and lesser. I don’t think we should so easily write off a working formula like that. Critics and scholars have theorized about the neuroscience behind why we react to certain narrative formulas the way we do, and how it can be traced as far back as mankind itself, when we would hunt for our food. I’ll paraphrase the theory, probably poorly, but bear with me because I think it relates well to the movie. We, as humans, are far from the perfect predator – at least when it comes to our phsyical attributes. There’s nothing

especially strong about our sense of sight, or smell. The average human can’t run especially fast or jump especially high. Our teeth aren’t that sharp. We don’t have claws. We basically lack every natural ability that one would attribute to a predator. But our strength as a species is and has always been with the human brain. And our brain has an incredible ability to track. Our brain loves to track, in fact, and it rewards us when done successfully. So, an early human could throw a rock, or some kind of makeshift weapon at their prey, that may be

faster than us, but when injured leaves a trail of blood for us to track. We follow the trail…the blood, the prints, whatever else left behind… we track our prey, and with every step in the right direction, a pleasure signal is sent to our brain instinctively telling us, we’re going to get food. We’re going to eat. Our family is going to eat. Our species is going to survive and thrive. That’s why we create narratives, to give us those pleasure signals. We have the instigating action, and we have a trail that leads us to the conclusion- the

food, the pleasure signals. Stray off the trail too far, or lead to something other than the desired prey, then we get the opposite of that. And it’s the same reaction with our narratives and the reliable formulas we’ve come to familiarize. If it’s not done right, our reaction is bad. You might not have noticed it, but your brain did. This new film followed a reliable formula, did so very well, and by the end, my brain was happy. Of course there are other elements you’ll want to see specifically from a Predator film, and they’ve all had they’re

fun with bringing them to the new entires. We always like to see some new weapons, some shocking kills, and it’s always a point of interest to see how they go about with the Predator design itself. Prey does a great job on all counts here, with new elements, and familiar ones presented in different ways. I get a kick out of seeing what new gadgets the predator has and even in some of the lesser entries, they’re still fun to see, but that’s the bare minimum with delivering on a Predator movie, the most superficial of pleasures you can

get from it. You still need the good story, and the good characters laid out to enjoy the rest of the fun stuff. Once again, Prey excels in this area. It’s set in September 1719, in the Northern Great Plains. Amber Midthunder plays Naru, a Comanche who is very much endowed with the ability to track. She has a keen sense of world around her, with a strong intiuation about the prey she seeks. She can recognize things others may overlook and she has an approach to her hunt that may not always be the obvious one but is nonetheless

effective. She believes she’s ready for her Kuhtaamia – the great hunt- which would finally establish her status as a warrior. However, while a skilled tracker, she struggles to reach that end portion of the trail. She can hunt, but, as her brother Taabe, the tribe’s new war chief, played by Dakota Beavers puts it, but she just can’t bring it home. He’s supportive of her, to a point, but other warriors make it well-known they believe she’s better off elsewhere. This also includes her mother, in probably a thankless role, but a very strong performance by Michelle Thrush. She

praises her other abilities, such as her talents for medicine. The unflinching desire to hunt perplexes her, but she’s patient, she’s accepting- but like her son, it’s to a point. She asks her daughter why she’s so determined to become a hunter, and Naru responds that it’s because no one thinks she can. The mother counters back. There is only one reason for kuhtaamia: to survive. It’s interesting, then, to consider that maybe Naru’s mindset is more in line with that of a Predator, than a human. Maybe too much of that tracking instinct insists that the hunt is its

own reward. So, what we see unfold throughout Prey is the story of two hunters somewhat out their element. This is a foreign world to the Predator, one full of possibilities and dangers. This is a familiar world to Naru, but one that doesn’t accept her. She sees the clouds and thunder in the sky – the predator’s ship of course- and interprets it as a sign that it’s time for her Kuhtaamia. I suppose she wasn’t wrong about that. A lot of the ads for the movie have been stressing that this a depiction of the very first time

a member of the Predator species has hunted on Earth, as if that makes for a more enticing hook for a prequel. Director Dan Trachenbergclarified in interviews that it’s actually the first hunt on Earth for this particular Predator, dubbed The Feral Predator. That’s just as well, because formulaic or not, the movie extends a courtesy to the audience that we already have a good enough idea of what The Predator is. Whether you’re well familiar the four previous movies, or the two Alien Vs Predator movies along with them, or just the first movie, or none at all, and

this will be the very Predator movie someone may be seeing but they’re aware of this being through pop culture, it trusts that we get the concept. It doesn’t shroud the predator in mystery all over again. This is a wise choice from writers Patrick Aison and Dan Trachenberg. It shows up very early in the movie and lets us in on the process. It’s able to indulge in this dual story going on, and offers some interesting juxtapositions between The Predator and Naru. This alien hunter obviously is a mystery to the film’s character’s, but not to us, so

that gives us a certain advantage which the film is comfortable exploring. We get a more intimate look into the Predator’s experiences. I really loved that angle to it, and it was really interesting to almost get into the Predator’s head, more than ever before. We of course have seen these kinds of moments in the previous Predator films. We see its point of view, and how it’s observing its prey, but just not quite like this in a way that we can truly align the hunter’s thought process. We see how it observes the world…how it takes note of

the food chain. The Predator slowly works its way up to the humans, making trophies of other predatory creatures along the way. This is probably a good time to mention that if you’re an animal lover, you might want to proceed with caution on this one. The Predator this time around is played by basketball player turned actor Dane DiLiegro. The casting of the predator is always key. You need expressiveness behind all the makeup. You need grace and intimidation simulatneously. You need to believe this creature could leap away into a tree as light as a feather in one

moment but come down on you light a ton of bricks in the next. We’ve had extremely talented actors take on the predator mantle and they’ve done fantastic work, but to be fair, no one could do it quite the way Kevin Peter Hall did in the first two movies. I think DiLiegro comes the closest. He makes the role his own and brings his own distinct traits to it. You get a sense the predator is always calculating, that it has a curiousity about everything he’s observing. This a smart beast, but still a beast, and is quite scary.

Diliegro understands this and it’s apparent every moment he’s on screen. The performance I’m sure most people will all be talking about though, is Amber Midthunder. as Naru. People are falling in love with her, I am too. This is clearly as star-making role. Because she does so well, it’s easy to forget the entire movie depends on the success of this performance. Not unlike the predator itself, much of it comes down to communicating this character’s drive in a visual way. We can just about see those little sparks of the brain working behind Naru’s eyes. This is a

character constantly navigating through confidence and doubt. The film allows our heroine to be undoubtedly strong, but also vulnerable, which I think drives our engagement just a little further and is different from previous heroes of the Predator franchise. We’d naturally assume that an ultimate Badass like Dutch in the original would be able to take on his enemy and win. With Naru, we have our doubts, and she shares them. There HAVE been voices of concern about whether or not this small girl could convincingly hold her own in a fight against such a beast, which may serve as

another deceptive aspect of the Predator formula. Dutch proved to us that it wasn’t his weaponry, or his brute force that would save him. He had to tap into something deep within mankind’s survival instincts. Something much more primal. Dutch was cunning. He was resourceful, and ultimately, it was his mind that bested the predator, and the way he embraced the hunter’s spirit. He and Naru share that spirit. To place them at odds is to deny the true endurance of that spirit. Not that each them don’t put up good fights against the predator, they do, but it only

gets them so far. In order to bring it home, they have to shed certain things they think they know. My favorite moment of Predator is when Dutch lifts his flame and lets out the battle cry, and Naru has a similar moment, which may also be my favorite of THIS film. These two movies, like the characters themsleves, compliment each other extremely well. But there are further compliments of Naru character to be found here, and much of it has been sidestepped in the ads. Taabe, her brother, is a very important character in this story and their relationship

plays greatly into its strengths. We learn fairly early on that their father had died, possibly during a hunt, and Taabe takes it upon himself to *somewhat* take over that paternal role. He shares stories of their father, reminds of his teachings, and offers a similar kind of support to Naru. But, in a way, it’s Naru who wants that role. Each of them has their own gifts for hunting but each are held back by what they are lacking. Naru is expert tracker, capable of lateral thinking- there are ways about the hunt that come easily to Naru’s mind

but things that would never occur to her brother. Taabe has an unflinching bravery, and he understands aspects about the relationship between hunter and prey and Naru just can’t grasp. He gives her advice. “when the lion comes, you tell that thing: ‘this is as far as you go. No more. This is it.'” What we end up getting in the undercurrents of Prey is the story of two children who have lost their father, and are trying to honor him – trying to live up to the expectations of this ghost looming over them. They don’t quite yet realize

that the expectations are truly their own, and it’s only once this incredible force comes down to earth to threaten their existence that they’re able to combine their gifts and exercise their capabilities to the fullest. If this is true of the characters then it’s certainly true of the actors. Dakota Beavers is excellent as Taabe, and the chemistry between him and Amber Midthunder makes her all the better. And while we’re on the subject of supporting roles, then, I guess I need to bring up the dog. This is Sarii, Naru’s canine companion throughout the film, played by a

dog named Coco. Everyone fell in love with this dog, too. Coco is a Carolina breed, apparently a historically accurate choice, but very much a non-actor. Coco was a little bit difficult on set by all accounts. Coco had trouble hitting her marks. Didn’t take direction well. Anything you see on screen where the dog does what it was actually supposed to do is nothing short of a miracle. But we love Coco, anyway. Thumbs up for Coco. Surely one of the best cinematic animal companions of recent years. Considering the troubles they had with the dog, it’s no suprises

they didn’t go to the lengths to train the other animals found throughout the film. This is where we enter CGI territory, and undoubtedly, to me, the weakest points of the film. Some of the CGI-rendered animals look a little dodgy. I understand that these days, whether it comes down to ethics, practicality, or just good old-fashioned safety measures for the cast and crew, you’re not going to be able to see a real giant grizzly bear trained to pursue the actress on-screen. I also understand that the budget for the film was a farcry away from a Jon Favreau

lion king remake production. So you almost have to take the hit and accept that what you’re seeing is imperfect. It’s not that bad its servicble. It’s really cool to see a shocking moment like the predator lifting up the bear over its head, and I appreciate the imagination behind such scenes. But it’s just very obviously CGI. And if I have one specific pet peeve when it comes to CGI – and I know I’m not alone in this- it’s CGI blood splatter. It makes me cringe a little bit. They have not perfected this art form. It looks

so strange to me. And unfortunately, Prey has plenty of it. There are maybe a few things here and there that looked to be practical FX, but it wouldn’t have killed them to lean into those types of effects a little harder. Let it be known that I don’t care if it’s very obviously Carl Weathers’ arm tucked behind his back and replaced with a prosthetic. I don’t care if it’s a somewhat shoddy mold of Bill Duke’s head filled with corn syrup. I don’t even care if the camerawork and editing is a little dodgy due to the photochemical

effects at the time when Gary Busey gets sliced in half. It just looks better. It looks cooler. I think these CGI blood animators just get a little too overzealous with the effect. The blood dances around a little too much, as if it has a life of its own. And inevitably, in these kinds of movies, we’re going to see that little single line of blood dribble out of the corner of a character’s mouth, and ugh, I just hate it. I really do. Thus concludes my elder millenial rant on CGI vs Practical blood. All that aside, I

have to be fair. The scenes of Predator carnage are admittedly awesome, with some brutal kills. The Predator has some new toys to play with, and I thought the shield especially was really cool. Ultimately they deliver quite nicely on the bloodlust demanded by Predator fans. There’s definitely imagination behind them. They’re definitely aided by Diliegro’s intense portrayal, and Dan Tratchenberg has a very good sense of how to compose these types of action scenes. Overall, it’s very fun and thrilling. Where all things practical shine is in the effects of the Predator creature itself. This is Studio ADI, the

custodians of the Stan Winston legacy. They very quickly became legends in their own right post-Aliens and post-Predator 2. There will always be a place for their effects, and from effects studios like them, and if someone at the studios decides there isn’t, then we’re gonna be in big trouble. This is the 5th Predator film – the 7th including the AVP spin-offs, and I’m truly impressed at how they constantly find new ways to explore the creature’s design. The creation of the Feral Predator cleverly pays tribute to original design of the creature from the 87 film mixing in

the more familiar Predator traits. The suit and gear is all great, and I think the bio-helmet made of bone is a nice touch. I also like how you can see the mandibles sticking out from the bottom. It’s a good design. It’s unique. With the mask off, it might be a different story. The intention here is to make it more monstrous, and the money shots in seeing the full predator visage is either entirely CGI or aided heavily by CGI. In addition to fact that we only get quick looks, or looks in the darkness, a lot of

the expression is unfortunately lost. As much as I like having variety for this particular predator, and how it fits in just fine with this movie, I prefer the original design. No question. I have other criticisms of the film as a whole, I’m sure more will eventually pop up on repeat viewings, but nothing too major. I liked that they added the fur trappers to the story but I have some issues on how that was all executed. They’re almost comically over-the-top and don’t really feel like actual characters. Only one of them is actually even given a name,

which, I won’t reveal for certain reasons, but if you know, you know. They speak in French, and either the subtitles didn’t work on my streaming service, or it was an artistic decision to immerse you further into Naru’s point of view and the confusion she feels. But, I’m canadian, so I picked up on some of it. But whatever the case may be I think they should’ve given us some subtitles for the trapper scenes. In fact, I think they could have fleshed them out just a little bit more, because we learn there’s this whole other sidestory going

on where the trappers have come to learn about this mysterious predator and they’re trying to hunt it down, too. I think even just a little maybe 30-second-to-a-minute scene from their perspective to show they have some skin in the game might’ve been useful. Instead, they’re treated as a mystery, with little hints of them appearing throughout the first half, until, finally, they’re revealed. That’s just my opinion, the movie works fine without all that, but the sudden appearance of the cartoonishly evil french bastards is a little jarring even with the hints along the way. I also would’ve have

minded seen a little bit more of the comanche tribe aside from the warriors. The women, and children, and elders on the home terf. Some more interactions with them would have been nice, because aside from the mother character, they feel like they’re just in the backdrop instead of fully realized community. Even if they added a scene just before the last act with the comanches at home getting word that there’s some mysterious evil force out there would have been very useful. It would have added to the tension, it would’ve risen the stakes a little bit, and made

it all the more clear that should Naru fail in her mission, they would be doomed. We get a scene close to something that, but it’s more focused on a certain emotional release, and is played without dialogue. we obbviously know theyre in danger implicity, but adding just a little more would have brought it home. Again, just my opinion, and nothing that severely hinders the movie. It’s extremely well-done in most respects. I appreciated its visual nature. The locations are breathtaking and the cinematography by Jeff Cutter is beautiful. It’s able to tell the story mostly through its visual

queues and isn’t abudnant with a lot of spoken exposition or uneeded dialogue. This is something you could watch with no audio at all and still be able to follow precisely. But what’s interesting is that in addition to the standard version of the film there’s an option to watch Prey with a Commanche language-dubbed audio track. This is the first time in history a fully commanche dub of a film has been made available, so there’s definitely a cultural significance to that. I’ve watched both versions, and it’s pretty interesting to compare the experiences. In viewing it with subtitles

you catch certain things that are said in Comanche only in the English version, and there are few changes to the dialogue in the translation. Apparently Trachenberg did, in fact, film scenes specifically spoken in Comanche, and has produced such a cut, but that’s something we haven’t seen yet. This alternate version available is alternate strictly in its audio track. But I’d be very interested in seeing this other cut and I hope gets a release some day. Maybe with that they could take the opportunity to explore a theatrical release, because, still, my biggest disappointment in the movie is

that I wasn’t able to see it in a theatre. My TV’s a decent size, my soundsystem is pretty good, but you just can’t top the theatrical experience. It would have been great to take in the lush visuals of the film on the biggest screen possible. To hear all the nuances of the sound effects, including the great muscial score by Sarah Schachner. And it would’ve just been fun to see it with an audience. To see how everyone reacted to certain moments. Streaming is undoubtedly convient, but it robs us of that shared experience of a bunch of

people sitting alone in the dark, eyes glued to the screen. I would have liked that experience with Prey. I think it’s actually a pretty special movie we have here. So, my opinion on it is ultimately a very positive one, and I would recommend it to just about anyone, regardless of how familiar you may or may not be with the franchise as a whole. This would be starting point for anyone unfamiliar and they could determine if they want to seek out the others. The only people I wouldn’t recommend this to are the ones who have been

vocal against the movie since just about the very beginning, who, for one reason or another, don’t want to support it in anyway. To them, I say, yeah, don’t bother it. Maybe you’re watching this review and have reached this point and feel I have questionable taste. Fine, but I would hope you would at least trust me enough to be honest with you, and tell you, the movie isn’t going to win you over. I won’t say you’re missing out. I won’t say it’s going to take you by surprise. I’m fairly confident you won’t like it. This channel

has no affiliation with Disney or 20th Century Studios. The thoughts and opinions are my own. I have no ulterior motives or hidden agendas. I don’t have a dog in this fight, save for the fact that I’m absolutely thrilled we finally have a new predator movie that isn’t just OKAY, that doesn’t just have its moments here and there but is otherwise sloppy, it’s a movie that’s really good in my opinion and I genuinely feel enthusiastic about it. Now, if you happen to be sitting on the fence, you’re still a little unsure, then I say go for

it. I say take a chance. But if you’re absolutely adamant about being against the movie, then I think you should save yourself 98 minutes of frustration and avoid it. Just watch the original again instead. It’s still the better movie. It’s still the reigning champion. Predator is simply one of the greatest action movies ever made and one of the most entertaining movies ever made in my opinion, and it’s just about impossible to top. This has been proven time and time again by the sequels. I’ve been seeing a lot of reviews that praise this new film as

the best since the original. That…I’m not 100% sure on. I really do love Predator 2. It’s just…such this precious thing. We have the Stan Winston effects. It’s Kevin Peter Hall as The Predator. It’s a story from the original predator creators Jim and John Thomas. Bill Fuckin’ Paxton is in the movie. It’s a wonderful and often-overlooked movie. And Prey is just too new to really get a sense if I like it better than Predator 2. But both are worthy, I think. Prey is a welcome addition to the Predator family. The only question now is where do

we go from here? Prey has proven that the formula still works, and it could open the door to apply it to different concepts with different time perioids. It would be fairly easy to ignore the proclaimations of the ads saying it’s the first hunt and they could justifiably go back even further in time. The possibilities are endless, and there’s a slew of source material in the comics they could ignore. But perhaps depending on the success of Prey, audiences may want to see the return of the Naru character. You could see them playing it safe and doing

a straightforward sequel where another predator, or a group a predators come back to the Comanche Nation and settle the score. Hardly inspired, but a reliable enough concept to put together. Or maybe they could go really crazy and make a sequel where the predators return, scoop up Naru, and have her live and train amongst the species. Sort of a riff on the Machiko Noguchi character from the comics. There’s potential in that. I think it’s great that we’ve seen a Predator movie taking place in the past, but there’s still so much untapped about whatever other species the

Predators hunt. Going to a different planet and hunting a monstrous kind of alien creature – other than xenomorph this time around- would be fun to see. In order to sell something like that I do think we’d need a human anchor, and Naru could be just the right fit. But for now, I’ll enjoy the movie we got. Prey was a great time, I really enjoyed it. I hope to explore it further on the channel. Are you part of the Prey love fest? Would you agree with the reviews that have been saying it’s the best since the

original? Did it let you down? I’d love to hear from you, so please share your thoughts below. As always, I’d like to thank you very much for watching today. If you enjoyed this video, please be sure to leave it a like, and be sure to subscribe to the channel to keep up with future videos. A very special thanks goes out to Brandon James, Grizz4756, Ronni Jensen, and XenoshadowMorph, Queen tiers of the Patreon Hive. Thank you to Gregory Ford and John Griggs, the Hive’s Praetorians. A very special thanks goes out to lady anne, in the Ellen

Ripley Tier of Excellence. And, in the role of Weyland Yutani Excecutives: Michael Cole, Nicholas Butta, and Wesley A Weaver Jr. If you’d like to join the hive and support the channel, check out my patreon page for exlusive posts and contests. In the meantime, you can catch up with Alien Theory over social media. Follow @Alien_Theory on Twitter and @AlienTheoryYT on Facebook and Instagram for more. And, until next time, this is Alien Theory, signing off…

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