August 16, 2022 – Better than “Cowboys & Aliens” (2011) this movie (currently streaming on Hulu) takes us back to the Old West to show us an ancient war with an alien predator who is hunting humans.
Set in the year 1719, it shows battles between an alien predator and Comanche warriors, along with some French buffalo hunters. This is the fourth Predator movie (not counting those AVP mashups and spinoffs) following “Predator” (1987) “Predator 2” (1990) and “Predators” (2010).
This movie takes us back to the premise of the original movie, but without the political baggage of the Cold War and those two ex governors. As a result, we are treated to a visceral sci-fi horror movie which conveys its story in mostly visual terms. There are large swaths of film with no dialog, and some of that dialog is in Comanche and French.
The fact that this movie is centered around cultures foreign to most Americans, as well as being set in a time and environment alien to most of us, helps to set this movie apart from most other films in this genre.
The main character in this story is Naru (played by Amber Midthunder of “Hell or High Water”) a Comanche healer who would rather be a hunter and warrior like her brother, Taabe (played by Dakota Beavers). Taabe knows his sister's intelligence and tracking ability, so he lets her go along on a rescue mission to find a warrior wounded by a mountain lion.
The mission is successful, but along the way, Naru sees signs of something far more dangerous than a bear or mountain lion. The rest of the tribe refuses to believe Naru's stories about a monster. Naru's mother, Aruka (Michelle Thrush of “Pathfinder”) tries to convince Naru to stay in camp, but she sets out alone to find the mysterious menace.
During her dangerous journey she encounters deadly animals, steel traps, and a large party of French trappers who are killing buffalo for their hides. She also encounters a very powerful alien hunter who seems to be more than a match for any animal or man, even a mighty grizzly bear. She sees with her own eyes that there is a new apex predator in the area.
What follows is a running three-way battle between the alien, Comanche warriors and the French hunters, and it is bloody. The alien is a hunter with advanced stealth and weapons technology. He's big, strong and his armor seems to be a match for any weapon the humans possess, but the humans have numbers on their side and Comanche warriors are both fierce and cunning.
Writer and director Dan Trachtenberg (“10 Cloverfield Lane”) makes good use of largely visual storytelling. The narrative is clean and lean. The main characters are compelling. They provide most of the power to push this story along. The pace of the film is brisk and there are some unexpected twists here and there.
I am not a fan of horror films. More often than not they are low-budget, poorly made moneymakers for Hollywood studios looking for a fast buck. This, however, is one of the better ones I've seen. It ranks up there with the best films in the Predator series. For the record, I liked the first and third films in the series. The second Predator film was inferior to the other three. This movie rates a B.
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