Prey is a brand new film streaming on Hulu now! It is the seventh addition to the Predator franchise, and fans have been loving it. This movie specifically acts as a prequel set in the early 1700s. It follows Naru, a fierce Comanche warrior, who realizes that the mysterious prey that she has been tracking is actually a technologically advanced alien predator.
Historical Accuracy In Science Fiction
Not many think of historical accuracy in the Science Fiction genre. After all, it is fiction and is also typically futuristic fiction. However, this film sets a new standard by having a perfect balance between accurate indigenous living and fun alien tech. Amber Midthunder (a member of the Fort Peck Sioux Tribe) and Dakota Beavers (a descendant of the Ohkay Owingeh people) stated in an interview that the director, Dan Trachtenberg, was committed to keeping the film as accurate as he possibly could. Much of his information came from Jhane Myers, a producer of the film who is actually from the Comanche Nation, and some input from the widely Native American cast.
What results from this hard work is a beautiful story about a girl trying to prove herself to her people and representation that can’t be beaten. Trachtenberg even went so far as to include the smallest cultural details that many would probably miss. For example, Naru brushes her teeth with a chewing stick, a twig that is pounded and chewed until it forms bristles. Not only this, but the crew did plenty of research on what tools the Comanche would have used, how they would use them, and their significance. There is one brief montage where a hunting group creates a stretcher from the branches and vines around them. It was fascinating to watch and learn.
If this wasn’t enough, this film made the ground-breaking decision to dub the entire movie in the Comanche language, preserving a language that is rapidly dying with only about 30 recorded speakers in 2013. Admittedly, I was kind of frustrated as practically nothing was translated in the English dub, that includes the French. You could get the context, but I’m much too curious for them to be speaking an entire paragraph that I don’t understand.
How It Compares
As with most franchises with many iterations, the storylines can get wildly different as time goes by. From Yautja hunters in the jungle to hunters in central Los Angeles, the Predator franchise has had a decent number of memorable villains. Aside from the very first Predator, which will pretty much always be the best as it started the story, this new predator known as the “Feral Hunter” was the best so far.
The Feral Hunter’s design took the iconic pieces of the character and twisted them into a more simple and primitive hunter. We are used to the hunters looking like what they are—high-tech aliens working to become the apex predator. This hunter was shirtless, wore loincloth-esque fabric, a tech mask made from an animal skull, and used much more hand-to-hand combat than any creature before. The film managed to make it distinctly “Predator” as we’ve all come to know and love while giving it its own spin that keeps it interesting and unique from its many other counterparts. This puts it high up on the list of sequels.
There were a few small Easter eggs connecting it to the franchise as well, my favorite being the iconic line, “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”
Thoughts On The Actual Story
Unlike many of its other movies, this Predator rendition focuses much more on character development and overcoming daily struggles than the alien (until further through the movie). While we do get plenty of alien action, the film also focuses on issues such as chief transfers, lion attacks, colonizers, and more. I’ll be honest: I thought that the film would focus on the Predator being a colonizing force when in actuality, it just kills for sport to prove it’s the best (this is proven by it ignoring Naru several times when it could’ve easily killed her). I was glad to see that while there was a brief colonizing plotline with the French, it focused on POC characters overcoming their own challenges and reaching goals specific to their own culture. (A colonizing plot is fine, but I’m personally getting a bit tired of it being the main conflict.)
I love that the main character is a young girl who is constantly defying the men in her tribe who want her to go home and be “safe” instead of a hunter. I think it gives a wonderful role model to our younger generations. There were two instances where I thought it was unrealistic that an alien with literal wolverine claws, missiles, and bombs would be outsmarted by a girl with a bow, but you can’t have everything.
I think that the pacing was fine for a survival film and that the characters had compelling relationships and motivations. The dog companion throughout the film was apparently adopted specifically for the film and had no acting training, obviously making him one of my favorite side characters. Although I feel like franchises this large should slow down or leave the story alone, I’m happy with this entry.
Overall, this was a fun film with a fantastic balance between the everyday life of a 1700s Native American girl and high-stakes alien fighting. Almost all of the film’s main characters were POC and the Indigenous representation was probably the best we’ve had in years. It’s a film I think anyone should check out if they just want an entertaining watch. Honestly, it’s a crime that this didn’t get a theatrical release.