Review of “Prey” (2022): A Thrilling Survival Flick

Have you ever wondered what happens when the classic Predator franchise ventures into the untamed 18th-century Comanche Nation? “Prey” (2022) answers that question with gripping intensity. Set 300 years ago, this prequel introduces Naru, a skilled female warrior striving to prove her prowess. The setting is not only visually breathtaking but also culturally rich, offering a fresh perspective on survival and hunting.

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, “Prey” has been praised for its adrenaline-pumping action and strong character development. Amber Midthunder’s portrayal of Naru is both compelling and inspiring, showcasing a unique blend of strength and vulnerability. The film has resonated with audiences and critics alike, revitalizing the Predator series by rooting it deeply in Native American history and tradition.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of the franchise or new to the series, “Prey” offers a thrilling narrative that balances suspense, action, and cultural authenticity. Let’s explore why this film stands out and what makes it a must-watch addition to the Predator saga.

Plot Overview

“Prey” (2022) takes us back to the 18th century, offering a fresh take on the Predator franchise. Set in the Comanche Nation, the movie follows the journey of a resilient young woman named Naru. Her story is both captivating and intense, as she strives to prove her worth as a hunter and warrior.

Naru’s Quest for Recognition

Naru is not just any young woman; she is determined, skilled, and has a passion for hunting. Raised in the shadow of legendary hunters, she yearns to be acknowledged for her talents. Her determination is put to the test when a mysterious threat looms over her tribe.

The Alien Predator

The suspense heightens when Naru discovers that the creatures threatening her people are not from this world. The alien predator, equipped with advanced technology, poses a new kind of danger. Naru must use all her skills and wits to stand against this formidable foe.

Protecting the Tribe

As Naru uncovers the truth about the predator, she realizes the stakes are higher than she imagined. She must protect her tribe, navigating through the wilderness and facing dangerous colonizers. Naru’s journey is one of courage and resilience as she battles to keep her people safe.

The Final Showdown

The climax of the movie is a thrilling showdown between Naru and the alien predator. It’s a battle of wits, strength, and survival. This intense encounter is packed with adrenaline-pumping action, showcasing Naru’s growth and determination.

“Prey” delivers a plot that’s both engaging and suspenseful, making it a standout addition to the Predator series. The film brilliantly blends action with cultural authenticity, providing a fresh and exciting narrative.

Characters and Performances

The cast of “Prey” (2022) has been widely praised for their stellar performances. Each character adds depth and dynamism to the film, making it a standout in the Predator franchise.

Naru – The Protagonist

Amber Midthunder’s portrayal of Naru is nothing short of remarkable. Playing the role of a determined young woman in the Comanche Nation, Midthunder captures the essence of a warrior with a blend of strength and vulnerability.

Naru’s journey is a compelling one. At the start, she is seen striving to prove herself as a hunter, living in the shadows of the male warriors in her tribe. However, her character undergoes significant development as the narrative progresses. She evolves from a determined novice to a skilled warrior, showcasing her resilience and resourcefulness. Midthunder’s performance is powerful, drawing viewers into Naru’s world and making them root for her success.

People in Star Wars Characters Costumes Standing on Stage Photo by Andres Garcia

Naru is not just a character; she represents the struggles and triumphs of many women, especially in male-dominated societies. Her battles are not only with the alien predator but also with societal expectations, making her journey relatable and inspiring.

Supporting Characters

The supporting cast in “Prey” adds substantial weight to the storyline. Notable mentions include Dakota Beavers, who plays Taabe, Naru’s brother. His portrayal is heartfelt and believable, encapsulating the sibling bond and the protective nature of an elder brother.

Key Supporting Performances:

  • Taabe (Dakota Beavers): Beavers brings depth to the character of Taabe. He portrays a strong, yet compassionate brother who pushes Naru to her limits while also supporting her growth. Their dynamic is a central pillar of the film, adding emotional depth and complexity to the narrative.
  • Aruka (Michelle Thrush): As Naru and Taabe’s mother, Thrush delivers a performance that combines warmth and wisdom. Her role, though not as action-packed, provides a grounding force and adds to the cultural authenticity of the film.
  • Wasape (Stormee Kipp): Kipp’s portrayal of Wasape, a warrior in the tribe, presents a challenge to Naru’s ambitions. His skeptical and sometimes dismissive attitude towards Naru’s abilities fuels her determination.

Each of these characters contributes to the rich tapestry of the story, adding layers of emotion, tension, and camaraderie. Their performances are integral to the narrative, making “Prey” not just a thrilling action movie but also a compelling human drama.

The characters in “Prey” are meticulously crafted and brought to life through powerful performances. This attention to character development and acting elevates the film, making it a memorable addition to the Predator series.

Direction and Cinematography

“Prey” (2022) showcases a unique cinematic experience, thanks to Dan Trachtenberg’s direction and the film’s stunning cinematography. This section will explore the behind-the-scenes work that brought the movie to life, focusing on Trachtenberg’s vision and the film’s visual aesthetics.

Dan Trachtenberg’s Direction

Dan Trachtenberg, known for his work on “10 Cloverfield Lane,” brings a fresh perspective to the Predator franchise with “Prey.” His direction is meticulous, capturing the essence of the 18th-century Comanche Nation while infusing it with the intensity and thrill that fans expect from the series.

  • Vision: Trachtenberg envisioned “Prey” as not just another Predator movie but as a survival story rooted in Native American culture. This required a delicate balance of honoring the past while adding new elements to the franchise.
  • Execution: He succeeds by focusing on character development and cultural authenticity. Trachtenberg’s attention to detail is evident in the way he handles the interactions between Naru and her environment. Each scene feels grounded and real, making the stakes higher and the story more engaging.
  • Revitalization: By setting the film centuries in the past, Trachtenberg revitalizes the franchise, offering fans a new context and fresh challenges. This approach not only breathes new life into the series but also deepens the audience’s connection to the characters and their struggles.

Visual Aesthetics and Cinematography

The visual style of “Prey” is one of its standout features. Cinematographer Jeff Cutter, who has previously collaborated with Trachtenberg, plays a crucial role in bringing the 18th-century setting to life. The film’s cinematography is a visual feast, blending natural beauty with intense action in a way that feels both epic and intimate.

Expansive Wilderness Photo by Nico

Depiction of the 18th Century

Cutter’s work ensures that the 18th-century Comanche Nation is not just a backdrop but a living, breathing world. The vast landscapes, dense forests, and open plains are all captured with a sense of scale and detail that pull viewers into the time period.

  • Wide Shots: The use of sweeping wide shots showcases the expansive wilderness, underscoring the isolation and vulnerability of the characters. This technique also highlights the beauty and danger of the natural world.
  • Close-ups and Tracking Shots: The intimate close-ups and long tracking shots allow the audience to experience the tension and stakes of the hunt. These techniques enhance the storytelling by focusing on the characters’ emotions and actions.
  • Lighting and Color Palette: Natural lighting and a muted color palette give the film a gritty, realistic look. This approach enhances the authenticity of the setting and makes the Predator’s otherworldly presence even more jarring and menacing.

Cinematographic Techniques

Several cinematographic techniques stand out in “Prey,” contributing to its unique look and feel:

  • Dynamic Camera Work: The dynamic camera movements during action scenes create a sense of urgency and chaos, making the Predator’s attacks more terrifying.
  • Use of Natural Elements: Cutter effectively incorporates natural elements like fog, rain, and fire to enhance mood and tension. These elements are not just visual effects but integral parts of the narrative that heighten the suspense.
  • Symbolic Imagery: Symbolic imagery, such as the juxtaposition of human and predator tracks or the reflection of the Predator in water, adds layers of meaning to the visual storytelling. These subtle details enrich the viewing experience and invite deeper reflection on the themes of the film.

The combination of Trachtenberg’s direction and Cutter’s cinematography makes “Prey” a standout in the Predator series. Their collaboration delivers a visually arresting and emotionally compelling film that elevates the franchise to new heights.

Action and Special Effects

“Prey” (2022) offers a fresh take on the Predator franchise with intense action and dazzling visual effects that capture both the ferocity and stealth of the iconic alien hunter. This section will focus on the film’s action sequences and its impeccable special effects, particularly the design of the Predator.

Action Sequences

The action scenes in “Prey” are nothing short of spectacular. They are choreographed with precision and creativity, bringing the visceral thrill of the hunt to life. Unlike its predecessors, “Prey” places a significant emphasis on the raw, primitive combat skills of the Comanche warriors, which stands in stark contrast to the high-tech arsenal of the Predator.

  • Choreography: The fight scenes are meticulously crafted. Naru’s battles against both human adversaries and the Predator are fluid and dynamic. The choreography highlights her agility and cleverness, making each confrontation feel intense and personal.
  • Tension and Pacing: Unlike many modern action films, “Prey” takes its time to build up to the action. This pacing creates a sense of suspense that keeps the audience on edge. When the action does unfold, it feels all the more satisfying and impactful.
  • Comparison to Previous Movies: Compared to earlier films in the franchise, “Prey” stands out for its grounded approach. Where past Predator movies relied heavily on modern military tactics and firepower, “Prey” returns to basics, focusing on stealth, cunning, and survival instincts. This fresh approach creates a unique and engaging experience that sets it apart from its predecessors.

Special Effects and Creature Design

The special effects in “Prey” are an absolute triumph, particularly when it comes to the design and portrayal of the Predator itself. The film successfully integrates advanced CGI with practical effects to create a seamless and terrifying alien presence.

Predator Design Photo by Lê Minh

Predator Design

  • Visual Aesthetics: The Predator in “Prey” has a distinctive look that differentiates it from its predecessors. The creature’s design is more primitive, matching the film’s historical setting, yet it retains the menacing features that make it instantly recognizable.
  • Integration with Setting: The film’s setting in the lush, untamed wilderness of the 18th-century Comanche Nation is enhanced by the Predator’s design. The creature blends into the environment with its cloaking abilities, creating moments of genuine tension and surprise as it stalks its prey.

Effects and Practicality

  • Blend of CGI and Practical Effects: “Prey” uses a combination of CGI and practical effects to bring the Predator to life. This blend allows for fluid and realistic movements while maintaining a physical presence that enhances the terror of the creature.
  • Impact on Viewers: The special effects contribute significantly to the film’s ability to immerse viewers in its world. The sight of the Predator emerging from invisibility or utilizing its advanced weaponry is both awe-inspiring and terrifying, keeping audiences engaged and on edge.

Overall, the action sequences and special effects in “Prey” are executed with a level of skill and creativity that elevates the film within the Predator franchise. The careful choreography, pacing of action scenes, and the seamless integration of special effects make “Prey” a standout, offering both excitement and a visually stunning experience.

Themes and Symbolism

“Prey” (2022) isn’t just a survival thriller; it’s a film rich with themes and symbolism that adds depth to its narrative. From the resilient spirit of the protagonist to the authentic portrayal of Comanche culture, let’s explore the film’s significant themes.

Survival and Resilience

The theme of survival and resilience is central to “Prey.” This is especially seen through the character of Naru and her tribe. Naru’s journey is a beacon of strength and determination. Despite being underestimated by her tribe, she relentlessly trains and hones her skills. Her resilience isn’t just physical; it’s also emotional and mental.

  • Naru as a Symbol of Persistence: Naru’s character represents the essence of never giving up. She faces not only the alien Predator but also societal expectations that question her capabilities. Her determination to prove herself as a capable hunter mirrors the universal challenge of overcoming obstacles and defying norms.
  • Tribal Resilience: Naru’s tribe epitomizes the theme of collective resilience. The Comanche people’s way of life, their survival skills, and their ability to adapt to threats, all highlight their strength. The film beautifully captures their daily struggles and victories, making their resilience a core part of the narrative.

Expansive Wilderness Photo by Nico

Cultural Representation

The cultural representation of the Comanche Nation in “Prey” is not just a backdrop but a crucial element of the film. This aspect is handled with respect and authenticity, adding depth and richness to the storyline.

  • Authentic Depiction: The film showcases the Comanche Nation’s customs, language, and traditions accurately. This authenticity isn’t just cosmetic; it’s integral to the story, providing a genuine look into their lives.
  • Significance of Representation: The portrayal of a Native American protagonist in a mainstream film is significant. Naru’s character is a strong, intelligent, and skilled warrior, breaking away from stereotypical representations. This accurate cultural depiction is a step forward in bringing diverse stories to the forefront.
  • Cultural Elements and Symbolism: Symbols and traditions of the Comanche are woven seamlessly into the narrative. Whether it’s the way they hunt, the tools they use, or their combat techniques, these elements serve both as cultural education and as narrative devices that drive the story forward.

The themes of survival, resilience, and cultural representation in “Prey” make it a unique and powerful addition to the Predator franchise. These elements don’t just add depth to the narrative; they also resonate with audiences, making the film both engaging and meaningful.

Audience Reception and Critic Reviews

“Prey” (2022) has garnered significant attention from both audiences and critics. This section delves into the varied responses, shedding light on what aspects resonated positively and what drew criticisms.

Positive Reception

The movie has been praised widely for several key elements. Here’s what stood out:

  • Character Development: Many viewers appreciated the depth of character in Naru. Amber Midthunder’s portrayal was particularly lauded. She brought a unique blend of resilience and vulnerability to her role, making Naru a compelling protagonist.
  • Action Sequences: The film’s action scenes drew rave reviews. The combat was choreographed to highlight both the primitive weaponry of the Comanche and the advanced technology of the Predator. This juxtaposition created a fresh and thrilling dynamic, setting it apart from previous entries in the franchise.
  • Cultural Representation: The authentic depiction of the Comanche Nation was a standout feature. The film was praised for its respectful and accurate representation of Native American culture, adding a unique layer to the storyline.
  • Visuals and Cinematography: The expansive wilderness of Alberta provided a stunning backdrop. The film’s cinematography was often described as breathtaking, with wide-open spaces that looked spectacular on-screen.

Expansive Wilderness Photo by Nico

Negative Criticisms

Despite its many strengths, “Prey” did face some criticisms. Here are the areas some found lacking:

  • Pacing Issues: A segment of the audience felt the movie’s pacing was uneven. Some scenes were considered slow, which might have taken away from the film’s overall intensity.
  • Simplistic Plot: Critics noted that the plot, while engaging, was fairly straightforward. Some felt it lacked the complexity and twists that could have made the narrative more gripping.
  • Overuse of CGI: While the special effects were generally well-received, some viewers believed there was an overreliance on CGI for certain scenes. This sometimes broke the immersion, especially in more intimate combat sequences.
  • Lack of Character Depth in Supporting Roles: Though Naru’s character was well-developed, some critics pointed out that other characters did not receive the same level of depth. This sometimes made their motivations and actions feel underexplored.

Overall, “Prey” has been a hit among fans and critics alike, revitalizing the Predator franchise with its fresh perspective and cultural depth. Yet, like any film, it has its share of criticisms, making it a fascinating topic of discussion among movie enthusiasts.

Conclusion

“Prey” (2022) stands as a strong entry in the Predator franchise. Its blend of intense action, cultural depth, and compelling characters makes it notable. Amber Midthunder’s performance as Naru is a highlight, bringing emotional and physical strength to the role. The film’s direction and stunning cinematography add to its appeal, though some felt the pacing was uneven.

Where “Prey” excels in originality and cultural representation, it might fall short for those expecting complex twists. The CGI, while impressive, was occasionally overused. Despite these minor issues, “Prey” revitalizes the Predator series with a fresh perspective and thrilling narrative. Fans of the franchise will find it a worthy addition, and newcomers will appreciate its engaging story and vibrant setting.