Ranking the Predator Movies from Worst to Best

Game over ma--wait.

Ranking The Predator Movies
Ranking The Predator Movies

Some people will claim there hasn’t been a good Predator film since the first one. While that specific opinion is a little ridiculous, few horror franchises have struggled as hard as this one has to live up to the enormous success of its first entry. The idea of diminishing returns with one sequel after another is not a new opinion for virtually any long-standing franchise, but this series in particular seems to be held up as a definitive example of this.

That’s not entirely fair. In the 35 years that have passed since the release of the first entry in 1987, Predator has never really subscribed to the same pace as other franchises. Indeed, the 1990 sequel, which would be the last film audiences got until 2004’s Alien vs Predator (another Predator-specific movie wouldn’t be released until 2010’s Predators), barely touches on the events of the first.

Subsequent sequels and follow-ups have struggled to build something consistent to expectations, while also capable of standing on its own, leaving fans with a group of movies that are mostly just vaguely connected to one another. Predator perhaps was never meant to be a series of movies.

With a new film on the way, one which promises to finally return the series to its essentials, let’s take a look back by ranking every Predator movie from worst to best.

 

Predator Movies Ranked

6. Alien vs Predator: Requiem (2007)

Aliens vs Predator Requiem
Aliens vs Predator Requiem

Director: Greg and Colin Strause

One of the worst movies ever made, few films in a given franchise are easier to stick at the bottom of a ranking than Alien vs Predator: Requiem.

While the film does provide plenty of Xenomorph-on-Predator action, with some pretty good fight scenes between the two species, the film is ultimately a depressing, mean-spirited mess with thoroughly unlikable characters, poorly executed plot points, and seemingly very little actual interest in its story and players.

Set in a small Colorado town, which winds up getting caught in the middle of the brutal conflict, there is something about the fast-paced chaos of this film that can certainly pick up the proceedings. These moments don’t happen often, and we’re left with something that is too ugly and violent to be any real fun.

Your mileage with that may be considerably stronger, and there are some who believe this film to be superior to the first Alien vs. Predator (no). The fact that you can barely see what’s going on half the time, which gives it the distinction of being literally dark, in addition to dark in every other possible way, is also worth keeping in mind.

Greg and Colin Strause would go on to helm the pretty-good Skyline franchise, so there’s that. It’s just difficult to imagine anyone watching the choices made in Requiem, comparing them to other Predator films, and thinking the Strause brothers made the right choices. A distinctly unlikable movie that’s worth watching at least once for completion’s sake and easily the worst Predator movie to date.

 

5. The Predator (2018)

The Predator
The Predator

Director: Shane Black

Bringing in one of the stars and uncredited writers of the original Predator to direct and breathe new life into a fundamentally damaged, almost-discarded franchise was a really good idea on paper. This is particularly true when we’re talking about a filmmaker as clever and talented with action scripts and its characters and unique world-building opportunities as Shane Black has proven himself on several occasions.

The Predator showed a lot of promise when trailers were released, and the hype was there for what should have been a rebirth of a beloved universe and species. The resulting release was met with a tepid box office and almost scathing reviews.

So, what happened?

Despite the presence of an excellent cast, including Oliva Munn, Thomas Jane, Boyd Holbrook, and Keegan-Michael Key, as well as the best possible crew for this kind of film, The Predator proved to be a mess. The efforts to connect the movie to its history were poorly realized, the action and pacing never quite picked up, and the movie doesn’t really have any interesting or appealing characters. This is a movie that feels like a victim of studio interference, but it sounds as though The Predator simply tried to do too much over a running time of an hour and forty-eight minutes.

The result is a mess with some good moments, but you’re going to have to slog through a lot of boring-or-worse elements to get to them.

 

4. Alien vs. Predator (2004)

Alien vs. Predator
Alien vs. Predator

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

By boiling the long-awaited showdown between two of our favorite species of intergalactic murder machines into a pretty basic slasher/action-adventure movie, Alien vs Predator does deliver on that very basic promise in its title. The way Alien vs. Predator unfolds for you will depend on your expectations. The movie is essentially a video game, which makes sense when you remember this matchup began with comic book appearances and a few Alien vs. Predator video games.

If you’re okay with something that’s pretty dumb in its story of an Antarctic expedition that winds up being a really fun place for a sci-fi/horror hubbub between the warring Xenomorphs and Predators, you’ll probably like this entry in the Predator canon. If you wanted something that would somehow combine the truly best aspects of these respective franchises (hiring Lance Henriksen was a smart move and clever nod all rolled into one) into a perfect marriage of mayhem, you’re going to be disappointed.

If you wanted something in the middle of that? Maybe.

Henriksen gives a great performance (as does Sanaa Lathan), the setting is perfect and well-utilized for the most part, and the fight scenes veer into fun sometimes. It’s just perhaps hollower than what you might be hoping for.

People at the time agreed. Opening to dismal reviews from fans and critics alike but stellar box office returns, Alien vs Predator at least fares better than the entries beneath it.

 

3. Predators (2010)

PredatorsPredators
Predators

Director: Nimród Antal

While it could be said 2010’s Predators was greeted with a lukewarm reception over a decade ago, the film’s esteem has risen in recent years. The film tried to restore the franchise after the borderline hostile reception Requiem received three years prior, and at least some people thought that it succeeded. Some felt the movie lacked its own distinctive identity, furthering the argument that Predator is perhaps a series that never really needed to continue in the first place.

However, while maybe suffering from an ensemble that never quite clicks, there are actually a lot of things about Predators that’s worth a look. The film benefits from Adrien Brody as a somewhat unconventional lead for this sort of movie, but also features surprising turns from Laurence Fishburne and Topher Grace. Alice Braga also stands out, but she, as well as the others, never quite gel as a group.

This is offset easily by the movie finding smart ways to establish a particularly fun premise, while also finding a better combination of humor, action, and genuine horror than we’ve seen from most of the Predator movies ranked on this list. Predators isn’t spectacular, but it has proven over time to be much better than many originally considered it to be.

 

2. Predator 2 (1990)

Predator 2
Predator 2

Director: Stephen Hopkins

Despite being a notoriously unpopular sequel to a film already considered a classic by 1990, Predator 2 is another example in this set of a movie whose reception is gradually improving. A lot of reviews out of the gate consider the sequel to be a failure merely because Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t in it. Director Stephen Hopkins certainly had a tough act to follow, considering 1987’s Predator came from one of the best action directors of the decade.

Despite all of that, Predator 2 establishes itself as a worthy successor to the hit original. Danny Glover is one of cinema’s most endearing weary figures of the law, and he finds the right way to use that energy in a movie that tries gamely to match the delirious testosterone of the first film. Predator 2 makes good use of a then-futuristic Los Angeles that doesn’t overdo that future element, creating an urban hellscape that is distinctly and uniquely different from the previous jungle setting.

The evolution of the concept of the Predators is also well handled, building in measured but fantastical ways off the basic information we were given earlier. This offers an expansion of mythology that works as a logical progression of things. The film’s more violent parts also reflect this building upon what worked the first time.

In fact, with an arguably better supporting cast than in Predator, this sequel, in some ways, even improves upon its predecessor. Still, every sequel/spinoff has to face the fact that this is one example of a franchise where it just can’t be as good as the first time around.

 

1. Predator (1987)

Predator movie
Predator movie

Director: John McTiernan

As a vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger alone, Predator is considered one of the best examples of that particular arena. However, the film proved then as now to offer receptive audiences and critics much more than just Arnold in his action epic element.

Predator might have seen a difficult production, but the result on screen is an incredible combination of action film essentials with a memorable, sometimes very humorous cast going up against a creature utilized to perfection by the pacing, cinematography (Donald Alpine), music (Alan Silvestri), and editing (Mark Helfrich and John F. Link). Predator is a masterwork of technique with regards to this specific genre. All of this is particularly important in terms of how the Predator is depicted.

We don’t get to really see this creature for a while, as the tension mounts, the dialog continues to be absolutely perfect for these characters and this story, and the body count gently climbs. When we do finally see this thing face-to-face, the results are breathtaking. The creature design from Stan Winston more than meets our expectations, with Arnold’s first impression being delivered flawlessly.

The build to that confrontation also benefits from the movie just being an incredible realization of what happens when you change the script on 80s action movie dudes. One minute you’re fighting soldiers in the jungle, and then all of a sudden, you’re at the mercy, cunning, and delight of something otherworldly that is also far more savage. We wouldn’t go so far as to call this a parody of action movies, but there is something very deliberate about forcing very specific character types into a different sort of film.

Even if you’ve seen the movie before, and know these steps, watching them executed by a cast and crew firing on every conceivable 80s cylinder is a joy. There isn’t a thing about this film that you need to change or improve upon — something the subsequent releases have each failed to completely address.

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