There is no doubt that the arrival of Prey in the Disney + catalog has caused a great uproar and divided the fans, between those who appreciated this new version set in the time of the natives and those who instead labeled everything as a mere commercial operation daughter of contemporary cinema. To immediately cut the head off, the writer falls into the first category and promotes in full terms this evolution of the Predator franchise, which returns to the dawn of history to detach itself from the latest operations that had reduced the saga to a sort of involuntary parody of itself. Our Prey review is just a click away.
The criticism posed mainly by those who did not appreciate is instead related to the fact that the original remains on another planet and that the courageous Amber Midthunder’s native warrior can’t compete with the sweaty muscles of an Arnold Schwarzenegger in top form. In this article we will analyze some points of contact and elements of divergence that bind the two films, different and similar at the same time.
The theater of the battle
In Prey the Great Plains of 1719, in Predator Central America – to play the part of a failed Vietnam – at the end of the Eighties. Both stages capable of exposing themselves as perfect theaters of the showdown between the human protagonists and the Yautja, evolved aliens with monstrous features with a predilection for hunting. An open hunt in which the game between prey and predators becomes more and more difficult each time and the struggle for survival relies on often desperate solutions, where cunning must win over brute force.
This is especially the case with Preywhere the young and determined Comanche Naru helplessly witnesses the slaughter of his peers, the warriors of his tribe, at the hands of the fierce and relentless extraterrestrial. His brother will also pay the price, in one of the most intense sequences of the film before the final showdown, partially forced but not without a healthy genre show. In Predator instead the green beret Alan “Dutch” Schaefer, the only survivor – together with the only woman in the group – of the slaughter that cost his companions their lives, also relies on the fbrute luff, combined in every way with a certain amount of ingenuity in the tricks used to eliminate the threat.
A bit of magic
In both films the characters find themselves using ointments or miracle remedies to hide in the presence of the enemy. If in Prey Naru relies on a local flower in Predator it is the mud that almost entirely covers Schwarzy’s sculptural body, allowing him to disguise himself in front of the alien’s thermal viewer. Neither solution can actually be said to be more realistic than the other, but as often happens in productions of this type it is necessary come to terms with certain dynamics and if one accepts one, one must also accept the other, without posing too many problems in terms of logic.
Great charm is obviously given by the outline and in this case the approach used is very different, although fascinating in both contexts. In 1987 John McTiernan made the most of the rude and wild charm of the Mexican jungle near Puerto Vallarta, making the most of the pitfalls that could hide around every corner. Lesson widely learned and evolved by my colleague Dan Trachtenberg who, both through a more authorial directorial approach and thanks to the splendid photography by Jeff Cutter, gave life to evocative landscapes, with immense skies that stand out on the horizon memory almost certainly Fordian cinema.
Cross-references and continuations
Among marked citations of Prey to the progenitor, such as the presence of the snake which allows to underline once again the ambiguity of the role between victim and hunter or even that symbolic joke “if it bleeds, we can kill it“, translated into Italian in a less incisive”if he can be hurt, he can be killed“that Naru’s brother pronounces in one of the key passages, this one last episode of the saga refers to prototypescomplete with an epilogue that is openly linked to the ending of Predator 2 (1990), paving the way for new narrative contortions that can further expand its mythology.
So much so that the realization of another piece of the saga, suggested by that possible mass invasion suggested during the credits, would not be at all out of place: Amber Midthunder herself replied on the sequel in an interview. In the hope that we will finally stop making comparisons between films belonging to different eras and ways of staging entertainment cinema and focus or not on the actual quality of them. Whether Arnold Schwarzenegger or a young actress in her twenties is facing the deadly alien hunter, it doesn’t matter, what counts is the result, centered now as then.