Every Predator Movie, Ranked From The Worst To Best
By Dan Auty on
While many hit movies spawn sequels in Hollywood, few have had as strange a journey as the Predator movies. The first film might have introduced one of modern cinema's most iconic monsters, but back in 1987 it was promoted as an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, and there is no doubt that Arnold's huge popularity during the '80s helped it become a box office hit. Yet neither Schwarzenegger nor director John McTiernan returned for the sequel, which changed the cast, tone, and setting, and was not nearly as financially successful.
More than a decade later, the Predator finally returned to screens, but he had to share screen time with another of cinema's great creatures--the Xenomorph. Unfortunately, the two Alien vs. Predator movies failed to satisfy fans of either franchise, and once more, a third movie fail to happen. By the time we reached the current decade, The Predator was back to headlining his movie solo, with 2010's Predators and this year's The Predator both trying to recapture what made the first movie so popular.
Even the most dedicated fan of the franchise would admit that the films haven't always lived up to their potential. And yet, it's not hard to see why the Predator has inspired so many movies, comic books, novels, and video games over the decades. From his technology and honour code to the ruthless pursuit of his prey, it's a testament to the enduring popularity of the creature that has kept the fans coming back for more. So with The Predator now in theaters, here's our ranking of every movie in the Predator series to date...
6. Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)
One complaint that fans had about the first Alien vs. Predator was the PG-13 rating, which somewhat curtailed the expected levels of violence. The sequel, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, certainly delivered on that front. There's chestbursters, bellybursters, impalements, exploding heads, and punctured faces, plus a willingness to kill small children and pregnant women with as much as glee as any other character.
Unfortunately, that's all it has going for it. Requiem is by some distance the worst movie from either franchise- a stupid, poorly-acted, awful-looking failure that starts dumb and gets worse from there. It picks up immediately after the end of the first AvP, and results in a small town being besieged by Xenomorphs. While the iconic Aliens look awesome stalking their victims around a spaceship, the sight of a Xenomorph chasing some witless teenagers around a high school is simply laughable. The Predator known as Wolf’s mission to wipe out the Alien infestation might have been exciting if we were able see anything, but the unbelievably murky cinematography renders much of the movie incomprehensibly dark. A real Predaturkey.
5. Alien vs. Predator (2004)
Fourteen years passed following Predator 2 before the Predator returned to screens. But while there was little happening on-screen, the series had become a highly successful comic line, which took the franchise in some interesting new directions. One of the most popular books was Alien vs. Predators, which saw the Predator take on another iconic movie creature--the Xenomorph. Expectations were understandably high for the movie version, which finally emerged in 2004 from Resident Evil director Paul WS Anderson.
Sadly, few of these expectations were met by the actual film. The big problem with AvP is not the Alien or the Predators--it's the humans. The story involves a group of scientists who are assembled by Lance Henriksen's Charles Wayland to travel to the Arctic and investigate a strange template that has been discovered beneath the ice, which turns out to be a Predator hunting ground for captured Xenomorphs. But a combination of bad writing and some very variable acting means that the 35-minutes it takes to actually gets to the action are a real slog. Anderson is clearly trying to replicate that unbearably tense build-up that Aliens did so well, but he is no James Cameron, and the results are plodding and tiresome.
The movie does pick up once the fighting starts. There are some cool confrontations between the two alien races, as each uses its own unique abilities and fighting skills to deliver some enjoyably crunching action. But the movie grinds to a halt whenever we cut back to the idiotic humans, and the PG-13 rating means that there is little of the bloody action that fans of the franchises were used to. The movie does deserve credit for the progressive casting of the movie's star Sanaa Lathan--still one of the only times an African American actress has been given the lead role in a big budget Hollywood action movie. But for the most part, Alien vs. Predator was a massively wasted opportunity.
4. The Predator (2018)
It took the return of Ridley Scott to rescue the Alien series, and similarly, the Predator movies sat dormant for nearly a decade until another A-list director--Shane Black--took charge. Black actually appeared in the original movie as Hawkins, the first of the Predator's victims. Since then, he has become known as both a writer and director his witty, clever action/comedy movies, such as Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and The Nice Guys, as well as Marvel's Iron Man 3.
The Predator is absolutely what viewers should expect from Shane Black movie. It's not a film that takes itself particularly seriously, and fans expecting a more serious Predator film will be disappointed. Black is far more interested in the wise-cracking banter between his squad of damaged former soldiers than he is about scaring the audience, and while there's plenty of action and gore, the suspense that the first movie generated so well is long gone.
For the most part it's still pretty enjoyable. Black might focus more on the jokes than the scares, but it's frequently damn funny, and it has a great cast that includes Boyd Holbrook, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Trevante Rhodes, and Sterling K. Brown. There are also plenty of callbacks to the earlier movies, and the action is well handled, with the biggest Predator yet, a 10-foot hybrid creature. Unfortunately, the movie also feels messy at times, with the widely-reported reshoots contributing to a climax that is rushed and confusing. Nevertheless, the end of the movie attempts sets up a sequel, so this might be far from the last we see of the Predator.
3. Predator 2 (1990)
While the general rule of Hollywood sequels seems to be if it ain't broke, don't fix it, Predator 2 deserves credit for trying to do something different. It would've been easy to send another elite squad back into the jungle for more of the same, but the 1990 sequel changes the environment entirely, and instead sends a Predator to the city. It's Los Angeles in 1997, which has become a crime-ridden urban nightmare where drug gangs fight it out on the streets. Schwarzenegger did not return, so instead we have Lethal Weapon's Danny Glover as veteran rule-breaking cop Harrigan.
Predator 2 is nothing if not ambitious. There's voodoo-practising Jamaican gangsters at war with a Mexican drug cartel, tough cops, shady Government agents, and the Predator picking all of these rival factions off one-by-one. The cast is veritable who's-who of '80s character actors, including Glover, Bill Paxton, Gary Busey, and María Conchita Alonso.
The movie's biggest problem is the wildly varying tone, and director Stephen Hopkins can never quite decide if he's making a tough urban sci-fi thriller or a cartoonish, over-the-top action movie. The performances are all very broad and exaggerated, but given the talent of his cast, this was presumably a deliberate choice. Nevertheless, for the most part, it's fast moving and highly entertaining. The action is exciting and bloody, and the it's very cool to see the Predator given a much bigger pool of victims to choose from.
2. Predators (2010)
After the small-town idiocy of Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, the filmmakers wisely returned to the jungle for 2010's Predators. This movie was actually based on an early script that Sin City director Robert Rodriguez had written but had been considered too expensive to make. Many years later, it was revived at Fox, with Rodriguez also producing and Nimród Antal directing.
The jungle in question is actually on an alien world, where the Predators drop dangerous humans to act as their prey. The group that the movie focuses on is made up of assorted soldiers, assassins, gangsters, and serial killers, which provides an interesting contrast to the loyal soldiers and cops from the first two movies. Despite basically hating each other, they have to team up to survive.
Predators comes as close as any other movie in the series to capturing what made the original so good. The mix of tension, thrills, and action is well handled by Antal, and there's plenty of over-the-top gore. The cast is good too--while star Adrien Brody doesn't really convince as a gruff, ruthless mercenary, the likes of Walton Goggins, Alice Braga, Laurence Fishburne, and Danny Trejo all deliver entertaining performances as these gun-toting bad-asses. And while a bit more humor might have worked, Antal and Rodriguez understand that to make the Predators scary, they have to feel like a serious threat once more. These Predators are bigger, stronger, and nastier than any before, and truly worthy of their name.
1. Predator (1987)
Arnold Schwarzenegger was already a huge star when he took on the role of Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer in Predator, but its success helped cement his position as one of Hollywood's most popular stars. The movie began life as a script titled Hunter by brothers Jim and John Thomas, but with super-producer Joel Silver on-board, it became a big budget sci-fi action vehicle for Schwarzenegger. 31 years later, it is rightly considered one of the best action movies of the decade.
While Schwarzenegger is unquestionably the movie's hero, unlike many of his '80s movies, he is part of a memorable ensemble. From shady CIA operative Dillon (Carl Weathers) and the intense Mac (Bill Duke) to enigmatic Billy Sole (Sonny Landham) and trigger-happy Cooper (Jesse Ventura), these characters might be stock action movie types, but they all play a vital part in the movie's plot and there is a great chemistry between them. The movie is packed with great action scenes, but it's easy to forget just how suspenseful John McTiernan's direction is. Much of the movie consists of the team being stalked through the jungle by the Predator, with his cloaking device ensuring that we never know when he will next strike.
As for the creature itself, the movie delivers one of the most iconic movie monsters of all time. This nearly wasn't case; shooting began with a very different Predator (and Jean-Claude van Damme in the suit). But technical problems led to a decision to shut production down for several months while special effects visionary Stan Winston worked on a new design. What he came up with was a brilliantly iconic look--both the suit and the creature itself--that remains largely the same three decades later. While some of the subsequent movies have been very entertaining, none have got close to Predator's perfect combination of action, sci-fi, and horror. A true classic.