PREY (2022) is the direct-to-streaming Predator prequel set on the Great Plains in the 1700s. The protagonist is a Comanche woman healer who wants to become a hunter; when she discovers something mean and monstrous butchering the local wildlife she tries to warn her tribe, but will they believe her (in a nice touch, some of the butchery turns out to be French trappers at work)? Easily the best film since the first, which raises the question whether they’ll try more historical stories; I notice the Predator has much less armor than later versions, which fits the aesthetic of the setting well. “You see what I miss — you always have.”
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (2022) stars Michelle Yeoh as a burned-out laundromat owner facing failure on every level, only to discover that very failure makes her as potentially invincible as Jet Li in The One (because there are so many alt.timelines where she succeeded, and she can draw on her skills in all of them). This makes her the logical Player on the Other Side to an equally formidable multiversal destroyer, provided Yeoh can master her powers in time.
This is as good as I’d heard but several times more bizarre; the Ratatouille parody alone is worth the price of admission. With Jamie Lee Curtis as a stressed out IRS agent. “There’s beauty everywhere, even in that stupid universe where we have hot dogs for fingers.”
Barbara Loden directed and starred in WANDA (1970) as a housewife in a mining town who drifts into a series of one-night stands after her divorce — and wouldn’t you know, one of them’s a criminal who drags her into one of his robbery schemes. This is very well done but it’s very low-key and Wanda is almost completely passive as a character, which makes it hard to get into (there’s apparently much debate whether second wave feminism made the character instantly outdated or it reflects the way so many women in a man’s world just go along with twhat men want). “Maybe you never did anything before — but you’re going to do this.”
BLACK WIDOW (2021) is a textbook example of Hitchcock’s belief the McGuffin doesn’t matter. The McGuffin in this case is an antidote to the mind-control drugs a Russian spymaster has used to create a slave army of Black Widows all over the world but I didn’t give a crap about the drugs or his Big And Evil Plan. The point of the movie to me is the chance to watch Scarlet Johansson’s Natasha kick spectacular butt, escape near death and have a very awkward reunion with her quasi-family of Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz and David Harbour (the premise being they were a sleeper cell like The Americans but without real blood ties). The movie is a lot of fun, making it a shame Black Widow is one of the few characters who didn’t survive the war with Thanos (which I’m sure doesn’t relate to her being one of the biggest and most expensive stars in the MCU). “We’re just weapons with no face that he can throw away.”
MOTHERLAND: Fort Salem wrapped up with its third season (S2 review here) and happily they stuck the landing. At the end of last season the “Bellweather unit’ of Raelle (Taylor Hickson), Tally (Jessica Sutton) and Abby (Ashley Nicole Williams) went on the run after Vice President Silver framed them for murdering his daughter, the inciting incident to justify a literal witch hunt. Now they have to survive long enough to fight back, despite the schemes by the witch-hating Camarilla to bring back the days when witches were outcast.
To their credit, they resolved everything by going big, not only wrapping up the romantic arcs (and happily avoiding Bury Your Gays tropes) but the clash between the witches and both the Spree and Camarilla extremists. This remains one of my favorite fantasy series of recent years. “I’m not exactly sure what we did, but I’m fairly certain we changed everything.”
#SFWApro. Comics cover by Adam Hughes, all rights to images remain with current holders.