Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

dir Dan Trachtenberg
scr Patrick Aison
prd John Davis, Jhane Myers, Marty P Ewing, John Fox
with Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Michelle Thrush, Dane DiLiegro, Stormee Kipp, Julian Black Antelope, Stefany Mathias, Bennett Taylor, Mike Paterson, Nelson Leis, Tymon Carter, Skye Pelletier
release US/UK 5.Aug.22
22/Canada 20th Century 1h39

midthunder beavers diliegro
See also:
Predator (1987) AVP (2004)

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Midthunder, Beavers and friends
It's a terrific idea to set a Predator origin story during Native Americans' early encounters with European invaders. Director Dan Trachtenberg makes the most of the wilderness setting and sharp young cast, and holding back on effects while skilfully cranking up suspense. So it's a shame that the film's design looks like it's based more on old movies than actual anthropology, including how everyone speaks in California-surfer dialect.
In 1719, Comanche teen Naru (Midthunder) sees lights in the sky as a sign that she's ready to hunt on her own. But her brother Taabe (Beavers) and mother (Thrush) think she should do less manly things, even as they recognise her innate skills. Meanwhile, a shimmer-cloaked alien (DiLiegro) is prowling through the forest, and when it attacks her tribe's macho warriors, Naru manages a series of narrow escapes until she runs into a group of cruel French explorers who use her and Taabe as bait. But they certainly don't give up without a fight.
Essentially a super-feisty Disney princess, Naru is an inspiring figure who refuses to let a setback stop her, or allow anyone to define her limits. Indeed, she learns from her mistakes and continually bests the boys. She's the only person who understands that there's something inexplicable out there in the forest. Meanwhile, Trachtenberg continually uses hunter/hunted imagery to remind us of both everyday life in this place and the bigger threat that has arrived. Fight sequences have a remarkably vicious sensibility to them, continually flipping ideas about who is preying on whom.

Midthunder is engaging as this strong-willed, endlessly talented young woman who refuses to be sidelined by her gender. It's her smaller-scale adventures that make this film watchable, building intrigue and tension for the more predictable bigger set-pieces, which she dives into with terrific physicality. She and Beavers play their sibling connection cleverly, finding ripples of conflicting emotion and deeper loyalty between them, even in the midst of a scarily messy battle. And DiLiegro gives the predator a superbly menacing hulkiness.

Despite a script that often feels rather lazy in the way it continually reverts to convenient plot elements, the film is superbly augmented by Jeff Cutter's expansive, textured cinematography and Sarah Schachner's surging score. As the story progresses, the situations become gritty and desperate, which adds fascinating angles to the increasing grisliness. This means that the way Naru thinks outside the box is often exhilarating. If only the film's script and structure had the same originality.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 1.Aug.22

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Review by Rich Cline

dir John McTiernan
scr Jim Thomas, John Thomas
prd Joel Silver, Lawrence Gordon, John Davis
with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves, RG Armstrong, Shane Black, Kevin Peter Hall, Peter Cullen
release US 12.Jun.87,
UK 1.Jan.88
87/US Fox 1h47

See also:
Predators (2010) Prey (2022)

Is it streaming?

The original print review from Shadows on the Wall Vol III No 6, September 1987:
Yet another in the seemingly endless string of Arnold Schwarzenegger muscle-rippling films, Predator carries on the tradition offering an original twist on a worn-out theme while providing a few laughs along the way. Just like Arnold's other muscle-ripple films.

As usual, the plot is ridiculously complicated – something about a commando group tricked into going to Central America, lost in the jungle and being killed off slowly by an alien creature who dresses like a robot, drips green fluorescent blood and has a laser mounted on his shoulder.

As usual, it's utterly stupid, especially the other characters like double-crossing Carl Weathers [as Dillon] and a lovely Latina girl in distress [Elpidia Carillo's Anna]. But Arnold is great, outwitting the beast at every turn.

And as usual, the whole thing is sprinkled with wit and oneliners, with not one iota of a preachy message. This, friends, is what makes Arnold's films fun and Sylvester Stallone's atrocious.

rated r graphic violence, language Jun.87

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© 1987 and 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall