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Prey: Not Quite The Prequel We Needed

Updated: Sep 3, 2022

by Salty Skipper

Prey is a movie that came out in August of 2022 on Hulu and is the apparent origin story of the Predator in relationship with the Earth. The Predator encounters the main character, Naru, who is part of the Comanche Indian Tribe on the Great Plains in North America. The movie is set in 1719. IMDB gives the movie a 7/10 and states Naru is a skilled warrior who must defend her tribe against the Predator.

When speaking of the cast it should be stated that Predator movies have never expected much from the actors in any production. No one has wanted to see a predator movie because of the amazing acting of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The creation of this world that ties in with the Alien series is predicated on the fact that this will be a suspenseful action movie based on over-the-top action scenes and blockbuster actors to garner fans. There have been comic spinoffs and movies like AVP that establish some world-building and cannon, but most fans are not seriously following these things and do not expect canonical accuracy within the series. However, the movies are driven by having very popular actors fight the Predator in different locations and scenarios. We wanted to see Arnold fighting the Predator in the Jungle, and the rugged washed-up cop Danny Glover survive the attacks of the Predator in the big city. Without having a blockbuster-level actor to carry this movie, the lack of acting only adds to the horrific writing, and incorrect portrayals of cultures and even locations.

So, I won’t begrudge anyone for their acting skills in this film. Most of the actors have only seen a few films in their career and some have experience writing and directing small or indie films. The production specifically chose Native American actors, but in my opinion, the amount of incorrect portrayal of Native American culture makes this seem more like a slap in the face than a promotion of an underrepresented ethnicity in the film industry.

The main characters are Naru (Amber Midthunder), a young female Comanche warrior, Taabe: (Dakota Beavers), a hunter and next in line to be chief, Coco the dog: the smartest thing in this movie, Sumu and Chief Kehetu: (Stefanie Mathias and Julian Black Antelope) who are basically absent and have no real presence, a small group of Comanche hunters: various actors, who are overly chauvinistic and very European attitude of gender constructs, A French Hunter (Mike Patterson), who is in the wrong place, wrong time, and creates more of a plot problem than helps anything, and finally Dane DiLiegro as the Predator. Again, none of these actors have starred in any major blockbuster films, nor do they have extensive resumes to bring to the table. The film was directed by Dan Trachtenberg and written by Patrick Aison, both of whom have limited credits in writing and directing. The original writer, Jim Thomas, was also credited with writing the script, and with his extensive involvement in anything dealing with the Predator, we must assume he had some function in the story. However, the major credits seem to focus on Dan and Patrick as the bulk forces behind this movie. All three individuals have experience in writing, directing, and producing which makes this disaster even worse.

The plot is atrocious and adds little to the cannon or world-building and makes a mockery of the Native American Tribes during the early 18th century. To begin with, we have the story centered around a Comanche tribe, but they are supposed to be residing on the Great Plains near the Rocky Mountains. We can assume this area is right next to the Rocky Mountains due to the terrain looking nothing like Texas, Oklahoma, or Arkansas. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Comanche lived in most of present-day northwestern Texas and adjacent areas in eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, and Northern Chihuahua. The Comanche came from the Shoshone which did dominate the region in the movie, but they go out of their way to identify the tribe as Comanche. A better list of tribes to focus on in the North and Western Great Plains region might include the Crow, the Arapaho, or the Cheyenne who were closer to the region. For the point of making a great female character, the Crow are actually recorded as having great female hunters and even one woman who acted as a Chieftain, but the writers here would rather “play history” and just make things seem Native American.

We see a hunting ceremony taking place in the movie called Kühtaamia, which to my knowledge is not a real ceremony. I googled this word and after the tenth page seeing nothing but relations to the Prey movie, I must assume this is made up. We also do not see the chief leading hunts and training Comanche warriors. It was typical for a grandfather to educate and train Comanche boys to become warriors and hunters, and the chief would lead bands of warriors into war and great hunts. Hunts were considered a rite of passage, but I did not see the name the movie refers to as an actual ritual. The lack of horses is horrific as well, as the Comanche were known for their domination of the animal, and they dominated the region and were some of the most successful tribes to fight back against white aggressors. Here the chief is some old, coddled man who silently approves or disapproves of whatever goes on and has no intimate interaction with the man who is supposed to be taking up his mantel or the other boys hunting. There is some line about him not being physically well, but in that case, he would have been succeeded by his son. The Comanche respected strength and a chief that cannot hunt or fight wouldn’t be leading a tribe. Though the Comanche did have structured gender roles, most plains tribes would respect women who became warriors and hunters, so the overall story of a female overcoming some hesitancy to her fighting gender roles isn’t out of the world of possibilities. However, what we are meant to think, that her tribesmen are supposed to dislike her because of her gender is incorrect. The true reason is the female protagonist consistently shows she is incapable of performing the duties of a hunter.

My understanding is this story takes place in under 72 hours, and during that time we see a small woman who can barely hit a still target, turn into a full-fledged MMA fighter who is also a sniper. Anyone who hunts, fights, or engages in extreme contact activities knows that repetition is key, and to be any good at fighting you must fail a hundred times before you’re even bad at the sport. This is true regardless of gender. There are female MMA fighters and female snipers who are as good or better than most men in those activities. What we get here is in less than three days this small woman is going to take down a 9-10’ Predator with the precision of a sniper, and strength of a 200 LB man.

Naru is told by the boy hunters, the villagers, her brother, and her mother that she is not good enough to be a hunter. She is given multiple chances to prove her prowess and fails consistently. It’s not until she adds a lanyard to her tomahawk that suddenly she can hit anything she wants. The Predator is a warrior creature who has trained its entire life to kill acid-spewing aliens and the fiercest warriors in the galaxy. Her brother has been trained since a boy to be a warrior as well as his group of boys who follow him. Yet, in 72 hours we see a magical character growth spurt that places our main character in the realm of experts. Naru is not a skilled warrior, and the story takes great pains to show that. If we’re to believe she of all people can kill a Predator, then what achievement is it really to kill one at all? Anyone should be able to take one out once they learn how to throw a rock stick with a string. The people who have spent their lives chasing dangerous prey and having battles with other people are nothing compared to the power of feminine will. I don’t care how strong a female character is, but to take down a 9-10’ tall alien that can crush your bones with its bare hands takes more than just having the internal will to do so, even if you’re a man. I think back to a YouTube video I saw a few years ago showing a female Marine practicing Puggle fighting with a male Marine. She had heart and was in the correct stance to take an attack. She braced herself with everything she had, and at the end of the day, it didn’t matter. The male Marine threw her to the ground with one bash and she was left winded and had to be picked up by her fellow Marines. A giant alien monster fought a group of highly trained SF operators in the jungle and easily took most of them out, at times lifting their bodies above its head with one hand. Yet, here, we want to wave the flag of gender equality to show that a female can be a badass too. There’s nothing wrong with that if it’s done correctly. If we saw Naru practicing for months in the wilderness, catching game, fighting Spaniards, and living off the land then we would be able to believe she is up to the challenge. But instead of building a character or creating a decent back story, we have to suspend our disbelief. If the movie opened with Naru being a crack shot with a bow, and never missing a target then I would have every reason to assume all the men in her tribe were assholes. This isn’t the case, and they plainly tell her to go back home because she sucks at hunting.

Aside from the magical female level-up that Naru receives, we see French hunters parading around the Great Plains when this is clearly Spanish territory. I don’t understand why French fur traders would have wanted to be on the Great Plains let alone chase down a Predator, and we don’t get a real good reason why they are involved. You could just as easily portray colonial hatred and retribution against the actual colonial power that was actively in conflict with the Native Americans, which were the Spanish at the time. This entire plot seems out of place, and a mockery of our history, which has already been whitewashed and blurred enough. The fact that these men continue fighting a giant demonic looking alien is also beyond me. Most people back then were extremely superstitious, and the band of hunters would have immediately abandoned the fat French leader as soon as they saw the Predator.

What this movie needed was a giant rock star of a celebrity, as well as some researched backstory for the Native American aspect. I like the idea of a historical backstory to the Predator and having wild indigenous people fighting this alien is exciting. I just can’t stand the lazy storytelling and character development. What it did get right would be the action sequences, the gore, and the design of the Predator. His new look was actually refreshing and made the character intimidating. His gear was on point, and his brutality was everything I would expect from this alien monster. For this, I would Prey a rating of Average on our five tiered scaled (Bad, Below Average, Average, Above Average, and Excellent).

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