Rated R because the Predator tends to rip people and bears apart. Oh, you didn't know that a bear gets ripped apart in this movie? It does. It also bifurcates a snake longways. Predator movies tend to get quite violent and this is no exception to the rule. There's some language, which I can't say it plays out the same way in the non-Comanche dub. Still. Hard R.
DIRECTOR: Dan Trachtenberg
Oh, I don't think I have time to write this out. But I got to work early enough to get everything I needed to done, But I'm going to try. Listen, I knew this movie was coming out. It's a piece of genre from a major franchise. Of course I knew it was coming out. But I saw the trailer and went "meh." Now, the movie is far from "meh." But it was when Henson called it his favorite movie of the year that I said that I had to watch it. For those out there who ship Henson and I, chill. I didn't love the movie that much. But Prey might be the best or second best Predator movie...which isn't really saying much.
I can't imagine losing my mind over this movie. Like Terminator movies, there's only so many scenarios that can play out with a film series like this. At one point, you feel like you are watching the same movie over and over again. When I say, "You", I mean "me." And the thing is, I keep on turning up for them. There's something about the formula that is interesting enough to garner some degree of attention. But there needs to be something different about each movie. I mean, look at The Hangover movies. When you keep making the same movie over and over again, people are going to notice. So what makes Prey more interesting than say, Predators?
I know that some people are going to knee-jerk reaction the notion of being woke. Man alive, I hate these people. But Prey does consider having a story that transcends mindless action. By having a female protagonist with the title of Prey, there is something that is worth discussing. Naru's internal conflict is that no one treats her like the warrior that she is. That entire comes from her gender and the norms associated with her culture. I think we can naturally make that jump from a Native American culture in 1719 to the same patriarchal society in 2022. But in the case of Prey, at least we have some audience willing to watch a narrative with a female protagonist that can take down a Predator. And that's where the science fiction gets interesting. The thing about the Predator is that it always stalked other hunters. Anything that didn't threaten it was completely free to be whatever. It's not like it was a healthy thing. If you've ever seen a Predator movie, you'll realize that the entire story is macho garbage at best. But the idea of being in the position of being harmless is an interesting commentary. Naru is a hunter. She is skilled with an axe and is lethal. But because she doesn't revel in killing and that she's a woman, she's not seen as a threat.
So like with good sci-fi horror, the external conflict of a Predator hunting someone parallels the problem that the character deals with internally. There's something oddly passive about the insult that is lobbed upon Naru. We don't know anything about the intellect or gender politics of the Predators' species, but it simply assumes that Naru couldn't be a real threat. I don't know if I'm supposed to be celebrating when the creature treats her as a serious threat. That seems a little backwards. But it is somewhat gratifying knowing that Naru can catch this hulking beast off his game. This is a creature that she watched break a bear in half. She's aware of his abilities and power because she has witness countless deaths at his hands, often wielding technology that would be overwhelming to anybody. Yet, she still decides that it is her job to destroy this creature without the help of others. It's not that she wouldn't welcome help. It's just that everyone else is a hinderance because they don't believe her due to her femininity. Cool. I like that as a story.
But the part I don't enjoy is the basic root of Predator movies. It's not the hunter hunting other hunters bit. I like that. But the point of these movies is that the Predators visit planets and hunt dangerous games. They need to prove that they are the ultimate hunters and will continue hunting any creature that proves to be a threat. But Prey calls out the flaw in that. At one point, Taabe yells out, "Cheater." And he's 100% right. The Predator movies never really made a whole ton of sense to me. There's no actual challenge for these creatures. They are borderline invisible. They have massive weapons. Most of the people don't even know that they're being hunted because...why would they? Thematically, the message is that there is always a greater hunter. But the protagonists of these movies always destroy the Predator. (Part of me remembers Predators as a movie where everyone loses, but it's been a minute.) Sure, it involves using wits. But even in that first Predator movie, when the creature is beaten, he decides to nuke the entire area. How is that part of the story, teaching us that there's a danger in hunting?
I think I have a problem with Predator movies that I do with a lot of franchises. To me, the notion of The Predator is cool. He's real gross looking. He has awesome weapons. It's constant action and good times. But the intellectual side of me just gets bored. It's constantly eating junk food without substance. I'm going to give Prey some points. There was at least something to absorb that proved to be a pretty good time and something to think about. But was it something that would stick with me for years? Probably not. Honestly, a Hulu exclusive is the perfect way to describe this movie. It's good, but it's not so good that I can forgive the flaws of Predator movies overall.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.