Alongside the Alien franchise, the Predator series remains one of the best ongoing blends of horror, science-fiction, and action. Just like the Alien movies, the quality of Predator movies has been something of a roller coaster. When Predator hit theaters in 1986, the Arnold Schwarzenegger-fronted thriller became an instant classic. Yet in spite of the movie’s robust influence, sequels have been few and far between. Good sequels have been even more difficult to come by. Fans are divided over 2010’s Predators but have warmed to Predator 2 in recent years. No one really liked either of the Alien vs. Predator crossover movies. Does anyone remember the last sequel, The Predator? But after years of waiting, Predator-prequel, Prey, has fully delivered a quality follow-up. So now seems like a good time to count down the Predator series from worst to best, including those Alien crossovers.
7 – Alien vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
Following fan criticisms of Alien vs. Predator’s PG-13 rating, 20th Century Fox wisely opted to return both series to their natural R-rating ground for Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. Too bad that was probably the only thing the studio got right. Though it wasn’t an outright box office bomb audiences and critics were united in their disdain for what was on the screen. Or what you could actually see. Directors The Brothers Strause hid most of the action behind very dark lighting and choppy editing. What you could see was often off-putting with the violence bordering on unnecessarily nasty. Dull characters and a poor story desperate to expand the crossover mythology didn’t help. Ultimately, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is a forgettable, cheap-looking entry to either franchise.
6 – The Predator (2018)
Before its release, the stars seemed to be aligned for The Predator, the first franchise sequel since 2010’s Predators. Ace action filmmaker – and cast member from the original – Shane Black was writing and directing. Promotional materials looked amazing. And the ensemble cast seemed perfect for what looked like a legacy sequel. However, a casting controversy signaled behind-the-scenes problems. What ended up on the screen was a surprisingly weak effort. Whether it was the shoddy CGI effects or the unnecessarily convoluted story, The Predator was underwhelming by all accounts. Yes, Black’s sharp dialogue was still present but it wasn’t enough to make this sequel memorable. Only Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem save this entry from being the worst in the franchise.
5 – Alien vs. Predator (2004)
AVP: Alien vs Predator isn’t a bad movie, per se. Rather it’s probably more accurate to describe it as underwhelming. Criticize Alien 3 and Predator 2 all you like, neither of those movies were boring. Comparatively, AVP is just kind of there in a completely underwhelming package. Though the visual effects are worthy of both franchises, everything else about the movie is just middle-of-the-road. Murky lighting, frantic editing, paper-thin characters, and a lack of drama are all culprits. If half as much time had been into crafting a compelling story as was put into the creature and set designs, AVP might have been worth the hype. As it stands, AVP has only one saving grace – it’s still better than Alien vs. Predator: Requiem and slightly more fun than The Predator.
4 – Predator 2 (1990)
At the time of its release, Predator 2 was a box office disappointment. And critics were pretty harsh in their assessment. Years later Predator 2 has justifiably earned some appreciation among fans. Nowhere near as bad as its critical reception suggests, Predator 2 is an over-the-top, bloody sequel that played a major role in furthering the series’ mythology. Audiences may have wanted Schwarzenegger back for another round with the alien hunter, but Danny Glover is excellent in the lead role and offers a necessary departure from the original alongside its urban setting. In addition to Schwarzenegger’s absence, Stephen Hopkins’ sequel was probably hurt by its contrasting tones. Part silly 80s actioneer, part gritty sci-fi/horror, Predator 2 came at the end of the 80s where the decade’s penchant for excess was on its last legs.
3 – Predators (2010)
Sorry haters, but Predators isn’t just a hidden gem. It’s a damn good mashup of science fiction, horror, and action. And it’s also the best Predator movie since the original – or it was until this year. Like McTiernan’s 80’s original, Predators drops you right into its alien jungle with a lean story that only sags somewhat in the middle. Similarly, Predators boasts a memorable cast – and yes, Brody acquits himself just fine – that’s just missing that 80s machismo dialogue. And the ending left open a world of possibilities that was sadly left unexplored. Most impressively, director Nimrod Antal retains what worked the first time around while carving out new territory.
2 – Prey (2022)
Finally. It only took 35 years to get a sequel that delivered everything fans could want out of a Predator movie. Prey isn’t just a great Predator sequel either – it’s a an impressive movie all on its own. Director Dan Trachtenberg absolutely nails the mix of action, science fiction, and horror. For the first time in what feels like forever, the titular Predator feels scary and menacing. Critics have justifiably lauded the prequel for its setting and inclusion of Comanche culture. Both Amber Midthunder’s performance and Prey’s heavy focus on character set it apart from everything else in the series. Though it connects itself to other franchise entries, Trachtenberg doesn’t exhaust his prequel with world-building efforts.
1 – Predator (1986)
It was going to be difficult for any other movie on this list – including Prey – to top John McTiernan’s original Predator. To date, it remains one of the best and most influential action movies of all time. McTiernan’s blending of testosterone-laden 80s action with horror and sci-fi elements is seamless. Schwarzenegger was at his peak and supported by an excellent cast of action movie veterans. And there’s Alan Silvestri’s memorable score to add additional firepower to the movie. Last but not least, the movie introduced an iconic movie monster with a design and mythology worthy of a franchise spanning beyond movies. All of these feature more than compensate for the movie’s dated hypermasculine action movie tropes. Besides it’s still an infinitely quotable movie.