Everyone liked John McTiernan’s 1987 Predator, about an alien warrior loaded with high-tech weaponry arriving on Earth in search of worthy (i.e. armed) prey. The inevitable sequels, spin-offs and match-ups not so much. Not only do I remember nothing about such cash-grabs as Alien vs. Predator, I’m not sure I even saw them. The franchise was pretty much played out.
So it was a pleasure to catch Dan Trachtenberg’s run at it. The 10 Cloverfield Lane director has stripped the concept to its core, positioned it as a prequel taking place in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, and produced a far better movie than even the most rabid Predator fans could hope for.
He also scored heavily by casting Amber Midthunder (most of the cast are native Americans or Canadians) as the plucky protagonist. A newcomer to watch. Her Naru is a self-trained warrior whose battle against this super monster is also against her tribe’s sneering, ingrained sexism. Hard lady not to root for.
It’s non-stop; there are few quiet moments and the violence an tension constant. The SFX can be cheesy in spots, but the action is pretty engaging. Bottom line: Great movie? Not really, but a B-movie masterpiece that gets the job done. Best Predator flick since the original? Absolutely!
Note: though this cries out for the biggest screen you can find, it has only been released online, on Hulu. (99 min)