The Predator is one of those iconic film franchises that is absolutely beloved by fans but hasn’t been great since the first film. However, with Prey, the latest film in the storied Predator film universe, 20th Century Studios, now owned by Disney, will put the film franchise back on the course to greatness with the introduction of new stars Amber Midthunder and Dakota Beavers.
Prey Hits The Reset Button On The Predator Franchise
In Prey, the story doesn’t continue in the future but returns to the past. The setting is no longer urban or modern. Instead, it’s more primal, bringing the franchise to a place where it was made great. Gone are high-tech military units or a group of mercenaries. Instead, we’re introduced to a Comanche Nation 300 years ago.
We meet a young woman, Naru (Amber Midthunder), a fierce and highly skilled warrior who wants to be taken seriously as such but, due to tribal norms, is not respected in that space. Naru also lives in the shadow of other legendary hunters who roamed the great plains, like her late father and her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers).
Her skills are put to the test when a mysterious threat endangers her tribe, and she sets out to stalk her prey which turns out to be a highly evolved alien predator with substantially highly advanced weaponry. This showdown with the Predator could be the one hunt that proves to her fellow people that she is a great hunter and tracker.
Ahead of the film’s release, Cassius Life’s Bernard “Beanz” Smalls spoke with Amber Midthunder and Dakota Beavers about their groundbreaking breakout roles in the movie.
We touched on their knowledge of the Sci-Fi film franchise, what it means to them as Indigenous people to see the Commanche tribe being featured in the film, facing the Predator, and, of course, their favorite catchphrase from the original films.
Step into the interview below.
Cassius Life: How familiar are you with The Predator franchise? Did you watch any of the films prior to filming?
Amber Midthunder: Prior to filming? Yes. Prior to auditioning for this movie? I think I had seen the first one, but definitely, after I found out what it was, I went back and made sure that I watched them, made sure that I knew all the things.
Dakota Beavers: Obviously, like everybody else, I was a big fan of the first one. I just thought the first one was deadly. You got Billy and Dutch and the whole gang. I loved it.
CL: Did your homework. Nice. What makes Prey special is the fact that the story revolves around an indigenous tribe dealing with the alien threat. Being a Native American yourself, what does that mean to you?
AM: I mean, that’s personally my favorite thing about this movie. Obviously, it’s a wild film about an alien who comes and hunts human beings in the 1700s, which is crazy. But also, the representation element to me is astounding. The fact that a big studio was able, and Dan Trachtenberg, who is not a Native person… But these people all got behind this story and felt like it had a lot of life to live and a lot to give.
And then brought on people like Jhane Myers, our producer, and stuff like that, she’s an enrolled Comanche tribal member, to make sure that everything was accurate and stuff like that. So to have that kind of representation, because media influence is so much, and it’s so much of how our people have been seen for a long time. And it’s really like, that’s how the information about us gets delivered to the people. So to be able to kind of have a piece of making things accurate, or showing a strong character, or real social dynamics, stuff like that was really, really incredible to me.
I mean, that’s personally my favorite thing about this movie. Obviously, it’s a wild film about an alien who comes and hunts human beings in the 1700s, which is crazy. But also, the representation element to me is astounding.
DB: Oh, that was just so cool to go into a project where we can represent Natives accurately. Jane Meyers, our producer, she’s Comanche herself. So she was always there to make sure that everything was legit and culturally correct. So I was just so thankful to be a part of something that was trying to get things right, and I think did a fantastic job.
CL: Now, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny Glover, you’re joining a great list of people who fought the Predators. So what is it like going toe to toe with the Predator yourself?
AM: I literally have, I still have it, a little, the things (Funko Pops) with the big heads. I have an Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of him covered in the mud. That was like when I got there. That was my gift. He sat at my table every single day. I’d look at him and be like, “you and me.” I mean, it’s so cool. I loved seeing the Predator for the first time. It’s a man in a suit, but it’s so cool to look at.
And there’s an animatronic head that takes four people to run. So when the mouth moves and when the eye… Everything is all there in front of you still. So it’s like, to see it in person. Because I was living in the movie I was making, which was like, it’s about a Comanche girl. And then, all of a sudden, there was this thing in front of me, and I was like, “Holy crap.” So no, very, very cool.
DB: Oh, it was insane, man. I mean, just from seeing it on the screen to being right there. One of the Ads (assistant director) looked over at me one day, and he said, “You realize you’re like one of seven to 10 people who has fought the predator toe to toe on the planet?” And I was like, “Hey,” I love the whole fight sequence and everything. I was just. I’m on cloud nine.
I mean, just from seeing it on the screen to being right there. One of the Ads (assistant director) looked over at me one day, and he said, “You realize you’re like one of seven to 10 people who has fought the predator toe to toe on the planet?”
CL: What was it like working with your costar Amber Midthunder on this film?
AM: It was great. It was educational. She’s so knowledgeable. We flew in on the same flight. We met in Minneapolis and came in. I had never been on an international flight before. So even she helped me through the airport. She helped me on set, knowing what the crap was going on. It was just really nice to have somebody who was so willing to share how things work and to be friendly about it.
CL: Now, she also is joining a list of sci-fi heroes. There’s Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, all these people who save the world. How high do you think she’ll be on a list after people watch this movie?
DB: Oh, I think she’ll definitely be up there, especially because in this movie, she’s finding herself, she’s finding her groove. Because she’s been out before, but she’s not been out like this. This is her coming out ceremony almost. So I think after this movie, even so… I mean, I don’t know what the future holds, but I think she could definitely have a good seat up there.
I think she’ll definitely be up there, especially because in this movie, she’s finding herself, she’s finding her groove. Because she’s been out before, but she’s not been out like this. This is her coming out ceremony almost. So I think after this movie, even so… I mean, I don’t know what the future holds, but I think she could definitely have a good seat up there.
CL: In the Predator film, there are tons of one-liners. That’s a key to every action film. So if you can borrow any of the one-liners from the first film, what would yours be? Which one would you borrow?
AM: I would say “GET TO THE CHOPPA” because that’s how Dan tried to tell me that I had the job. Didn’t know, didn’t get the riddle. He gave me a riddle to tell me that I had booked this role, which was like, “If you could get some”… He like FaceTimed me and was like, “If you could get somewhere only by air and something, something, what would you use?” He goes, “What would you say?” And I was like, “I would take a hang glider.”
And he was like, “No, it has an engine.” And I was like, “a hang glider with an engine?” Like, I don’t know. And he was like, “No, you’re supposed to take it to the chopper because you have the job.” And I was like, “Oh.” So definitely, “Get to the choppa.” Because it lives in my heart.
CL: That’s a great choice. It’s a great choice.
DB: I love… I mean, this is not necessarily to the Predator, but whenever Billy’s like, “There’s something out there, and it ain’t all bad.” I’m like, “Ah.” I love that.
CL: That’s pretty damn good.
DB: Ah, thanks, man. I would have loved to say, “Get to the horses. Get to the horses.”
CL: That’s a pretty good impression, man. You’re pretty good, man.
DB: Thanks, bro. I appreciate it.
Photo: Hulu / Prey