7/10 Since I’ve become accustomed to getting excited for movies, only to be extremely disappointed when they fail me to differing degrees (“Don’t Look Up”, last year’s “West Side Story”), I always love when I expect a film viewing experience to let me down, only to be shockingly and pleasantly surprised when I enjoyed myself far more than anticipated. The latest case in point happens to be the latest film in the Predator franchise. What makes this film even more of a palate cleanser is the fact that it follows the worst Predator movie in the franchise, 2018’s “The Predator” which was a painful abomination to get through, highlighting the worst of modern day film making with forced political propaganda, annoying characters and the need to stick comedy where it doesn’t belong, like you’re Taika Waititi or something. “Prey” writer Patrick Aison and director Dan Trachtenberg surely witnessed why virtually every Predator movie following the original 1987 film completely failed and were smart enough to take the franchise in a new and exciting direction. This is the best Predator film since the original, despite having some issues, which I will get out of the way first. While I will get to the pacing being a positive aspect a bit later, the only negative side to quick pacing in an hour and a half long film is that there isn’t time to develop characters. None of the supporting characters get a single second of real development and even our lead female protagonist Naru (Amber Midthunder) is likeable but we never really get to know her. We know that she wants to hunt like the men in her tribe so she can prove everyone wrong and that she has skills with tracking and medicine and that’s about it. We definitely could have used some more time to get to know her and be given even mild development to other supporting players so we would care if they live or die. How the white, Frenchmen are portrayed vs. the Indigenous people are portrayed is also insultingly simplistic, broad, unrealistic and rather racist. There are a couple of moments of great convenience (characters over a huge amount of land running into each other at the perfect moment) and a couple moments that are way too on the nose, particularly when we see four different predators in nature killing each other back to back to back to back, which felt silly. Finally, while the predator itself looks fantastic, CGI technology still hasn’t been able to make animals look extremely realistic yet so every time we see a CGI animal in the film, you can clearly tell that it is CGI and therefore fake. Those problems aside, this is still a good film worth recommending for various reasons. When I saw the initial trailer I thought to myself, “If 300 pound muscular special forces, elite military teams, hardened criminals and experienced detectives have all struggled to injure a predator at all, how can a 100 pound, skinny girl with no modern weapons or technology take one down?” Thankfully, the film shockingly has all of the fighting with the predator done in a realistic way so I was convinced by her skill set, watching her train, using her environment to her advantage, etc. By the end of the film, I believed that she was able to do everything she did without me ever rolling my eyes at how unbelievable everything was. Midthunder gives a strong performance and the action/fight scenes, along with the realistic gore was a blast to watch. The fight choreography was impressive and eye catching. Despite the film needing more time for character development, I did love the simplistic story that flew by with its brilliant editing and pacing. The film’s score from Sarah Schachner was tribal, fantastic and added to the time period’s brutality. The cinematography and lighting was great, showing the beautiful landscapes by day and the danger of nature by moonlight. There was no hidden political agenda and no forced humor like we see in modern Marvel movies. This is a simple survival story that reminded me of “The Revenant” in more than one scene, which is a good thing. Strong writers can create badass, original female characters (Ripley from “Alien”, The Bride from “Kill Bill”) without having to force cringe worthy, modern day feminism into films that portray all men as incompetent or evil. Luckily, “Prey” has added another badass female character into the cinematic universe without having to gender switch an already existing male character, so props to Aison and Trachtenberg for coming up with a cool, capable and most importantly, original character to root for. The film isn’t perfect and could have used a polish of the script to flesh out characters more but Trachtenberg, in his limited filmography has proven to be a more than capable director and I am looking forward to whatever he directs next.

#PreyOverYourMeal / #Trachsevenoutoftenberg / #DogPreyAfternoon / #NotAtLibertyToPrey / #AmberHidUnder / #ChainOfComanche

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