Prey ★★★½

It doesn't take a ton to be the best-ever Predator sequel, but I'm still glad this didn't have too much of a problem hitting that target. I'm not anywhere close to first to point out the extremely obvious reason for its success, which is that it's stripping out everything but the basics: a forest, an alien game hunter, a human cunning enough to be able to hold her own against said alien despite having nothing like sufficient equipment. It's honestly very little other than re-dressing the 1987 original in a period film suit, and it turns out that's all that we've needed this whole time, no need for all the increasingly lugubrious and puffy mythology and world-building.

It's not hardly flawless. It has rather less action and rather more wandering around the woods than I'd have wanted, and the action tends to feel a bit incongruously flashy for the setting, the scenario, and the brute force of the Predators we've seen before. The CGI animals are lousy, and in the case of the bear, lousy enough to pull me out of the movie. Also, not a single one of Amber Midthunder's line deliveries convinced me that she was a human being alive in 1719, and the routinely anachronistic dialogue doesn't help with that at all. But the good news is that there's not a ton of dialogue to start with; this is much more interested in showing than telling, and what it's showing is generally pretty strong thriller filmmaking, with some good nature photography only partially marred by how extremely digital it looks. Though the fundamentals seem strong enough that I'm wondering if maybe it's a problem with the streaming compression and not strictly the video per se. Speaking of which, let me also be nowhere close to the first to declare that it really sucks shit that Disney in its infinite wisdom decided there was no need to bother giving this a theatrical release (and maybe, as part of it, throwing a few million extra dollars at the CGI).

(Full review at Alternate Ending)

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