Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian.
When the first trailers for “Prey,” the latest installment of the long-running “Predator” franchise, were released back in June, I was intrigued by the concept: 18th-century hunters take on the most technologically advanced hunter in the universe. Spears and tomahawks versus homing missiles and invisibility cloaks. While the concept of Comanche warriors battling against cinema’s most ruthless and unrelenting alien sounds like something a 12-year-old boy would pitch as the “greatest movie ever,” “Prey” surprised me with interesting, well-developed characters and an authentic and respectful exploration of Comanche culture. Helmed by a strong performance from Amber Midthunder, “Prey” is the rare reboot sequel that successfully builds on its predecessors while taking the franchise in a new direction.
The first thing that stood out to me while watching “Prey” was the meticulous attention to detail given to the Comanche culture displayed. The tools, clothes, rituals and traditions of the Comanche people were respectfully portrayed, and the details of the Comanche village filled the screen with an atmosphere of authenticity. Director Dan Trachtenberg spoke in interviews about his commitment to accurately depicting 18th-century Indigenous life, from the weapons and language to the toothbrushes and medicine. “Prey” producer Jhane Myers, a member of the Comanche Nation, provided the film's crew with plenty of reference material to ensure an authentic representation of her culture. The film has been praised by Native American critics online. The release of “Prey,” out now on Hulu, also marks a historic step forward for Indigenous cultures: it will be the first film included with the option to watch in the Comanche language from start to finish.
Along with the cultural authenticity, “Prey” is carried by a standout performance from lead actress Midthunder. Midthunder, a member of the Indigenous community, shines in the role of huntress and warrior Naru. Midthunder gives a captivating performance that dominates the rest of the cast, which is comprised of even more Native American representation. This domination of a performance hides a supporting cast that does little more than provide hunks of meat for the Predator to disembowel. But in the shadow of Midthunder’s excellent performance, the rest of the cast’s mediocre roles do not detract from other aspects of the film. This mediocrity extends to the film’s villain, the relentless Predator, who spends 75% of the movie in the Walmart version of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak and 25% of the movie fighting the worst CGI-ed animals since 2019’s “Cats.” While Predator presents a real and dangerous threat to the humans in the film, his addition to the movie felt ultimately unnecessary. I feel like the whole Predator storyline could have been removed entirely, and “Prey” could have dove deeper into the Comanche and European dynamics instead of detracting from the sci-fi storyline.
Altogether, “Prey” stands out as one of the better reboots of a long-running franchise in recent years. The fresh and enjoyable story was marked by great direction and a fantastic performance from Midthunder. While the supporting cast and main villain were underwhelming compared to Midthunder’s role, “Prey” is a must-watch for fans of the “Predator” franchise, and provides a unique exploration into an underrepresented culture.
Contact columnist Ben de Lemos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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