Prey (2022) has impressed fans and critics since it premiered on Hulu and Disney+ in July, but now, director Dan Trachtenberg has compared the movie to Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015), which may leave some fans with a bad taste in their mouths...
It's no mystery that the majority of Star Wars fans absolutely despise the sequel trilogy, however, it's also fair to say that after seeing the last two entries in the series, they have become a lot more forgiving of The Force Awakens.
Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017) and Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (2019) quickly became the most hated entries in the entire Star Wars franchise, and by comparison, The Force Awakens isn't all that bad.
Related: Is Prey a Prequel to Predator?
In fact, the film, which was directed by JJ Abrams, is perhaps one of the stronger entries in the "Skywalker Saga" (although the sad truth is that there really isn't as much in the way of competition as we might think).
Nevertheless, it's a solid effort with a lot of promise - what's tragic is how all of that promise is squandered by its sequels. But The Force Awakens is not without its own flaws, and it's often compared to the very first Star Wars movie.
One of the biggest criticisms is how it's essentially a carbon copy of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), with many characters and story elements feeling far too familiar for the Abrams-directed flick to be a fresh entry.
We won't get into the nitty gritty of those similarities, but it's really the overall plot in The Force Awakens that feels like a beat-for-beat re-tread of the original film. Is this bad writing, or are sequels by their very nature "re-treads"?
Well, a more recent example is the Predator prequel Prey, which stars Amber Midthunder as a Comanche warrior who must face off against a Predator in the Great Plains of 1719 North America.
Structurally, it's very similar to the original 1987 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, which takes place in a South American rainforest. But maybe this was intended, as many are praising the film for going "back to basics".
Now, Prey director Dan Trachtenberg has defended The Force Awakens, and has said that it's as similar to A New Hope as Prey is to the original Predator. Here's what he said in an interview with Radio 1’s Screen Time podcast:
“I think some movies get maligned for being too fan-servicey," the director said, "and it’s like, it’s by a fraction, sometimes just one too many."
Trachtenberg then brought up the Star Wars movie in question, saying:
"And even Force Awakens," he continued, "I think- people are like, ‘Oh it’s too much of a retread,’ not everyone but like, there was a voice on the internet saying that. I think it’s just as similar to A New Hope as our movie [Prey] is [to Predator], structurally, we’re very similar, as Rian [Johnson]’s was to Empire Strikes Back, but perhaps there was one thing too many. There was one extra thing, you know? So it’s all just- all that’s to say, it’s very delicate."
The Prey director makes a good case, and oftentimes fans and audiences confuse structure with re-treading (we're all to blame).
A sequel is also a difficult beast to navigate - make it too similar to the original and you're criticized for being lazy, but make it far too much of its own thing and audiences will still have a problem.
Perhaps Prey is more similar to Predator (1987) than we care to admit, or maybe Star Wars fans should cut The Force Awakens some slack. Either way, looking at how the other sequels turned out, is "re-treading" such a bad thing?
As per 20th Century Studios and Hulu, here's the official synopsis for Prey:
Set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago during 1719, the film follows Naru, a fierce and highly skilled warrior, who has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters who roam the Great Plains. So when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people. The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien with a technologically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries.
— 20th Century Studios and Hulu
Prey is currently streaming on Hulu in the US, Star+ in Latin America, and Disney+ internationally.