Prey reduces the Predator formula to the basics, while still making some room for style

Prey reduces the Predator formula to the basics, while still making some room for style ...

Before Disney purchased 20th Century Fox, the studio had become well-known as a supplier of long-running genre films such as the Alien, Predator, and X-Men series, as well as as an interfering cost-cutter, defined by its willingness to place pivotal action sequences in common parking lots and Canadian forests. (See The Darkest Minds, Elektra, or X-Men: The Last Stand, among others, for examples of the Fox aesthetic at its worst.)

Prey is the latest Fox production to capture both sides of that Fox history while also nodding toward the studio's new identity as a Disney-owned content mill for Hulu. The latest entry in the Predator franchise that began in 1987 is a stripped-down version of the usual sci-fi hunt that comes directly to Hulu without hitting movie theaters first.

A new Predator movie may appear like a good idea on its own, but it hasn't been popular in years, like many R-rated sci-fi series. Predators and 2018s The Predator proved the series still has loyal fans, but also proved that the audience is small. Not that the other Predatormovies have strayed too far from the formula of giant, masked, mandible-faced alien monsters that eventually defeat humans.

Prey is set in the Great Plains of North America in 1719, following Naru (Amber Midthunder), a young Comanche woman who is prepared to undergo the training rites to hunt her tribe in other ways. However, Naru is reluctant to hunt down an unfamiliar creature because it is so old.

Naru works in solitude with a custom-made spear-thrown ax, and she fulfills her tribal duties with her trusty canine sidekick. (Seems like easy picks for an 8-foot alien with technology far beyond this world, but apparently this is the Predator equivalent of a tourist checking out local eateries.)

Prey makes some concessions to less-adventurous people. Rather than making full use of a Comanche language or simply avoiding dialogue whenever possible, the native characters speak primarily in English, in a vernacular that sounds suspiciously like contemporary screenwriters tying themselves together for a scene or even a moment that plays slightly more lyrical or mysterious. This is part of a larger pattern: When Dan Trachtenberg is allowed to withdraw from a scene or even a

Prey, a film about a young woman on a collision course with a cool skull-wearing alien dude, has one thing to offer: efficiency. The other members of the Narus tribe are there to naysay and/or become Predator fodder, while Trachtenberg provides more than enough time to record small details such as a muddy pit.

The Predators' neon-green blood is also used as an accent color against the more subtle, natural tones of the film setting. The film itself is shot cleanly and clearly. One scene pitting Naru against the fur traders is particularly impressive, considering it isnt related to the film's iconic monster.

Midthunder is put under a lot of pressure by Prey, who is the only human in the film who isnt there solely for narrative pleasure. She launches off the screen with her watchful, expressive eyes highlighted by tribal makeup, which sets her apart from previous Predator heroes in her brother: You want to pursue something that is after you?

At this point, he may as well be talking about the Predator. When the time comes, Naru must actively seek out the alien, who neveridentifies her as a hunt-worthy foe. The Predator underestimates Naru, keeping his eye on showier, less worthy prey. The simplicity of women can kill as good as men threatens to turn Naru into a Predator-fighting, bloodthirsty girlboss, but Midthunders's

Prey is easy to overhype as it is a direct-to-streaming movie that might have won over on the big screen. Its just as good as the other Predator films, rather than a game-changing revelation. This august, however, is a lovely summer drive-in activity, in the tradition of other non-Fox women-versus-nature films like Crawl or The Shallows.

The pursuit of summer entertainment that works as an enjoyable, unfussy B-movie isn't an area that the modern version of Big Disney typically explores. It's probably too much to hope that the Fox purchase will broaden the assortment of films Disney produces rather than simply eliminate another set of titles from the release schedule.

Maybe that's why Prey doesnt feel shameless, even though it theoretically encompasses everything that's tedious and unspectacular about big-studio filmmaking: a franchise extension traded from one subsidiary to another, designed to enthuse nostalgia pangs and stimulate Easter egg hunts. (Hint: There's a connection to Predator 2 afoot, too.) Trachtenberg's film has an elemental appeal of seeing sci-fi/horror weirdness

On August 5, Prey will launch on Hulu.

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