The Dark Herald Recommends: Prey

The Dark Herald Recommends: Prey

Well, it isn’t the worst Predator movie.

I have to give it that.

I had to wait a little bit before doing this write-up.  The reason for the delay was figuring out where this one falls in the franchise’s best of all time lineup.  It genuinely does give Predator II a run for its money, and surpasses it in quite a few places but at the end of the day, I have to award this movie third place.

I was honestly expecting it to be so much worse than it was.  The advertising on this flick strongly indicated it was taking the Woke to 11.  It turned out the Woke was only a 7.  Which is about the lowest you are going to get from any modern Disney production.

The fundamental challenge of any Predator story is that if you are doing it right, then you are telling the same story over and over again. This doesn’t have to mean that it is automatically a bad story because a story succeeds or fails in the style of its telling.  There are plenty of books and movies that you are willing to sit through again and again, right?

The fact is that the Predator franchise’s biggest failures have come from the times when it has deviated from its basic plot. The Predator (2018) is easily the lowest of the franchise’s low points. 

Predator has also had lower visibility successes that followed the formula to the letter.  Larry Correia’s short story; Three Sparks is a personal favorite.  Three Sparks takes place in Japan around 1200 AD and is Recommended with Enthusiasm.

There have also been some decent fan films like Predator: Dark Ages or take note of this one. Predator: Warrior.  Which was totally ripped off (to include warpaint) to make Prey.  

Confession time, I wrote my own Predator story set in Africa with a Great White Hunter and Stalwart Native Guide back in the nineties. Truthfully it was a pastiche of Ghost and the Darkness, but it does tell you I love the franchise.

So anyway, does this movie succeed in the style of its telling? Pretty much.  

It did have a lot of things going for it.  The only advantage the Comanche girl (Naru) had (other than level seven impenetrability adamantium plot armor) is her knowledge of the land.  Naru also isn’t too much of a Mary Sue, the rules of the universe don’t rewrite themselves to make her look good. She screws up and it nearly gets her killed.  The first time she runs into the Predator she had just royally pissed off a bear.

The rules for the Predators as established in the first movie aren’t messed with. 

When the trappers put Naru and her brother in cages to be bait for the Predator, you know it won’t take the bait because that is against its established code.

Less acceptable was Naru losing her shit because the French were hunting bison. That was ridiculous for the 1600s. Bison wouldn’t be *scarce for a long ass time. 

Now on to the bad.

Naru was giving off the **pixie-ninja vibe.  She gets into a fight with a Commanche man and holds her own quite well and she kills a bunch of the trappers.

The evil white trappers were laughable stereotypes.  There was almost no effort put into them at all. French trappers were a fairly rough bunch but pointless sadism made them utterly ludicrous ethnic slurs.

It’s a very slow-paced film however the action scenes are first-rate.  It leans more toward horror than suspense but that works fine for a Predator movie. 

The biggest question I’m left with at the end of the day is, would I have liked this film more if it had been about a Comanche Brave than Naru? The answer is, it wouldn’t be the same movie at all.  It was too built around Naru being a STRONG woman in a man’s world. 

I would absolutely have had to say it was better than the first Predator film if they had just taken the Woke out of it.  The plot starts when one of the tribe’s members is taken by a mountain lion.  Naru muscled her way onto the hunting party that is sent after the mountain lion, in obnoxious feminist fashion. If it had been her brother or lover or any kind of close relationship, I would have accepted it without a qualm but she only wants on the rescue band to prove herself to the braves.  

Truthfully, it would have worked much better if Naru hadn’t wanted anything to do with the rescue at all. If she had been more passive in the first act it would have seriously elevated the work.  Think about Ripley in Aliens, she wanted absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with going near those damn things ever again. She only went because her arm was being twisted by the company and she was promised she’d be completely safe (heh).

If they had done the same with Naru it would have been so much more powerful.

Wasape: Naru, we need you to come with us.  You know medicine and you are the best tracker in the village.

Naru (clearly terrified): Track a mountain lion?

Wasape: We will protect you from the mountain lion.  I promise. Please we need you sister.

Naru (barely mastering herself): All right.

She then stays in a passive role until she is forced to turn and fight. She wouldn’t have been a kickass pixie-ninja then she would have simply been a Commanche woman who had to rise to the occasion. And that may have been the original version, but there is no way in hell Woke-ass Disney would have greenlit a script like that.

Regardless, I will grant that the way Naru killed the Predator was clever and probably worth sitting through this movie for the scene.

In summary:  It is a decent Predator movie that is Woke but is not so Woke it’s in Last Jedi territory. And I did have to think hard about it before I awarded it third place and I’m still having second thoughts about that.

The Dark Herald Recommends with Reservations. 


*I suspect habitat destruction had a lot more to do with Bison depopulation than white man hunters.  Where possible the railroad tracks were laid on Buffalo game trails.  You had nice hard-packed ground, there was water every ten miles and if you ran out of wood, you could just burn “buffalo chips.”

A much bigger problem was a Bision population explosion. The natives had been herding the bison effectively in common. They controlled the population. Then 90% of the native population died almost overnight due to disease. An out-of-control herbivore population always strips the land completely bare.

**I was going to make a joke about the screenplay being written by S. M. Stirling but there is no lesbian scene in it.

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