Deadliest Warrior: Alien Edition

After attempting to sort out the Predator formula with, at best, mixed success through the sequels, it’s Prey that nails the concept, distilling Predator down to its core themes – survival, the unknown, and a warrior’s willingness to endure.

Prey does become a platform to dispel Predator’s muscular, beefy masculinity. The hero is now a heroine (Amber Midthunder), rejected as a hunter by her Commanche tribe, refusing the male-dominated social order. With limited dialog, Prey becomes an often quiet film about honing survival instincts, and gender formalities be damned, she does so out of need. Midthunder, as Naru, lacks sustainable hunting skills, and that’s a deficiency she must work to overcome.

While far less splashy than prior sequels, that’s why Prey works

It’s the need to survive that propels Prey; that’s the plot, not inherently the alien species that made this franchise memorable initially. Naru finds herself in a swamp, sinking, helplessly throwing her ax, tied to a rope, hoping to find a solid hook. She does, and then continues to mature her skills. Those innate instincts awaken over the runtime, and while unlikely in the speed of their development, Naru finds her will for the inevitable clash at the end.

While far less splashy than prior sequels, that’s why Prey works. It’s a reduction, a rare feat considering the unwritten rule is to forever make follow-ups ever larger and engorge the lore to an unsustainable level. Prey adds hardly anything to the Predator(s) as a species. They arrive, they hunt, they kill. With that, Prey delivers in creative ways, forcing the Predator to brawl with a bear in a spectacular sequence that likewise continues Naru’s evolution. A stand-off against a wolf becomes character development, showing the Predator not as inherently aggressive given the numerous chances to kill the canine, but a being living by a twisted ethical, cultural code. That’s impressively done without words or direct exposition.

Partway through, Prey introduces French colonizers, seemingly a way to bring historical subtext to an (obviously) wildly fictional sci-fi story. That never comes to be, and those Frenchmen become the main body count fodder, nothing more. Focus remains on Naru and a shaky relationship with her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers), delivering a personal need for Naru to better herself as much as to stay among the living. It’s simple, but elegantly told, and the action is nothing less than sensationally composed.

Video

Marvelous, clear digital video from a pure 4K source makes for perfect demo material. The detail and texture excel, the precision flawless. Prey’s countless images focusing on natural skylines pair well to the numerous nature documentaries on the format. Prey’s tree and skylines equal any of those features.

Intensity from the contrast bakes every scene in pure sunlight, HDR adding the extra glow necessary to make Prey pop. Flames and Predator weapon lights all sport an impeccable peak brightness. Unsurprisingly, the stellar black levels compliment this contrast. Pure, dense, and absolutely black shadows never lose their grip.

Color grading favors earth tones (of course), especially the browns and greens from the surrounding forest. Prey’s palette is a splendid one, rich and full. As needed, intense primaries show their value, from fireballs to the Predator’s targeting lasers. At night, a crisp, dense teal takes over to cast dim moonlight over the image and that too is fantastic.

Audio

To answer what is likely the immediate question, yes, the Commanche language track is on the 4K disc, although it’s Dolby Digital only. The English mix is Dolby Atmos, and it’s sensational in its precision. Simple things like axes being thrown, the sound traveling front to back, happens effortlessly. Ambiance runs high in the open air forest, the soundstage delicate but pristine. Height channels during a bear attack rank among the most convincing overhead use to date. Even the Predator itself jumps from tree-to-tree, the sound effortlessly panning above.

Bass makes numerous prominent impressions, the first coming as the Predator ship heads toward the surface; the engines rumble with great force. Attacks (the bear, again) dive into the low-end even further. Tightness and depth impress.

Extras

A commentary track with director Dan Trachtenberg, editor Angela M. Catanzaro, director of photography Jeff Cutter, and actress Amber Midthunder. Deleted scenes and an alternate opening (with optional Trachtenberg commentary) are followed by a promotional panel discussion. A 12-minute making-of is a decent watch afterward.

Note this is all on the Blu-ray, even the commentary.

Prey
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Tense, unnerving, and well considered, Prey stands as the best Predator sequel for its commitment to original film’s concept.

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User Review
2 (4 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 43 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


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