Friday, August 05, 2022

Prey, on Hulu

You'd think by now, the Predator planet would have issued a travel advisory for planet Earth. As our moralizing commentators keep telling us, we are a violent people. We have a tendency to give the galactic hunters quite a fight. Maybe that is part of the appeal for them. It’s a challenge, like climbing Everest. Even 300 years ago, a Predator will have his hands full dealing with a teenaged warrior of the Comanche Nation in Dan Trachtenberg’s Prey, which premieres today on Hulu.

Naru picks up on signs something is wrong in the woods, but her brother Taabe and the other young warriors are not paying attention, because she is a girl. At least Taabe respects her tracking skills, but he doubts her killer instinct. Nevertheless, she senses a threat and sets out to hunt it. Unfortunately, it is not the only danger out there. A party of cruel and wasteful French fur trappers is also on the prowl. Obviously, Trachtenberg and screenwriter Patrick Aison are suggesting the Predator is more sporting about it, which is probably a fair point.

Of course, the rest of the warriors are ineffective and the French are even worse than the Predator, but Naru can rely on her brother and her trusty dog, Sarii. In fact, Sarii, played by an American Dingo named Coco, is the true star of the film. Yes, even in R-rated science fiction action movies, W.C. Fields’ warning holds true.

Frankly, the
Predator franchise has had a whole lot of ups and downs. Some of the Alien vs. Predators films even suggested the Predators weren’t all that bad, because they acted as a check on the Xenomorphs. Prey doesn’t seem to see it that way. Regardless, Trachtenberg and Aison earn credit for taking a fresh approach to a mature property. The setting is interesting and the Eighteenth-Century level of weaponry (at best) adds a considerable degree of difficulty for the titular prey.

Amber Midthunder and Dakota Beavers both have a lot of screen charisma and show off a lot of action chops as Naru and Taabe, respectively. Still, Coco upstages everyone, so there was clearly some great handler/trainer work going on. Plus, Dane DiLiegro, a former professional basketball player in Israel, hulks menacingly as the Predator.

gets a little draggy when it stops to score anti-colonial points against the French, but it is definitely an original Predator storyline. Yet, it remembers what worked about the first (and for many only good) film in the series. Cinematographer Jeff Cutter also makes the natural vistas of Calgary look impressive on the small screen. Recommended as a largely fan-satisfying return to the Predator world, Prey starts streaming today (8/5), on Hulu.