Amber Midthunder leads 'Prey' to new heights - Albuquerque Journal

Amber Midthunder leads ‘Prey’ to new heights

From left, Taabe, played by Dakota Beavers and Naru, played by Amber Midthunder in a scene from “Prey.” (Courtesy of 20th Century Studios)

Thirty-five years have gone by since John McTiernan’s groundbreaking “Predator” (1987) came out in theaters. The story about a team of jacked up U.S. soldiers getting hunted and killed one by one at the hands of a stronger, bigger and smarter opponent became an undoubtable classic for its fiercely original combination of sci-fi and action.

A slew of sequels and spin-offs spawned following the undeniable success of the original Arnold Schwarzenegger hit. However, we had yet to see an entrance in the four-movie franchise that went back in time; luckily, Dan Tratchenberg’s “Prey” is here to set the precedent.

“Prey” is set in 1719, amid a Comanche tribe in the Great Plains.

Amber Midthunder, a Santa Fe native, stars as Naru, a Comanche warrior eager to prove herself as a skilled hunter among her male-dominated tribe. Her prey of choice? An invisible, blade wielding space monster that hunts for sport. By the 5-minute mark, the titular alien’s ship comes crashing down ominously as the camera glides to reveal the title card against the sky.

It’s clear from that moment, “Prey” is a true movie in the old-fashioned sense. Tratchenberg chose to shoot on location in the Canadian wilderness. The unique texture of a tangible environment gives the movie an added layer of quality that has become increasingly rare nowadays. It also helps that Tratchenberg is a skilled director, because even if making such a gorgeous landscape look bad on camera isn’t an easy task, he adopts a specific style that persists throughout the movie and gives it a cohesive, signature look that feels unique when compared against other “Predator” movies.

It’s great that the movie looks as good as it does because aside from that, it plays all the very traditional and familiar beats that populate the franchise’s other entries. If Shane Black’s terribly misguided “The Predator” (2018) had anything to say about the franchise, it’s probably that deviating from the original formula isn’t always the best idea.

Still, from beginning to end, “Prey” has no surprises; and anyone who’s seen at least one of the other movies already has a pretty good idea as to what will happen in this one.

“Prey” is a ruthless, action-packed summer blockbuster that urges for it to be seen on a big screen. Still, a home movie night should do the trick for this one.

Hulu includes a marvelous Comanche dubbed version that enhances the movie-watching experience. The stylish visuals are among the franchise’s best and along with a terrific performance from Midthunder, these two elements carry the movie to new heights.

 

‘PREY’
3 stars
RATED: No MPAA rating
WHERE: Now streaming on Hulu

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