Like a lot of people, I’m a fan of the 1987’s “Predator.” However, before I get into this article, I want to point out that I don’t take it seriously at all so I’m sorry if you’re annoyed by that. I actually have yet to take a single Predator movie seriously, and I’ve viewed them in the past as just really fun movies. I think a lot of people tend to think of Predator as a serious horror series because it had that brief crossover with Alien, but seriously, take a look back – it’s pretty campy.
With that said, the franchise as a whole is awesome and boasts some huge iconography that very few other movies have been able to achieve. I thought it would be fun to take a look back at every Predator film leading up “The Predator,” which is directed by Shane Black and comes out this weekend.
There have been five movies in the past featuring Predators, which are known as the Yautja on their home world. The first one, simply titled “Predator,” was released in 1987 and launched an action/horror franchise that still thrives today. There have been many different visual styles in these films, which I’ll talk about in the article, and the stories have been for the most part just “Predator hunts people.” That’s primarily to do with the premise that these Predators hunt humans for blood sport, which I’ve always found as the most interesting aspect of these films. It’s what separates these monsters from the countless others (including the Xenomorph from Alien). Anyways, I don’t want to get too much into it now so here we go!
NOTE: SPOILERS FOR ALL OF THESE, INCLUDING “THE PREDATOR.”
6. “Aliens vs Predator: Requiem” (2007)
Okay, so full disclosure: prior to writing this, I actually didn’t see either of the AvP movies… and I still don’t feel like I’ve watched them. No, seriously, I couldn’t see anything in the film. Like I honestly thought I got the wrong DVD or something (which, surprisingly yes, I actually bought this movie) or maybe it was visually altered because the screen became so dark. I thought maybe it was my TV, but the brightness was completely fine. No, this movie is lit that poorly. It kind of reminded me of that one scene in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” when Han Solo is supposed to be fighting for the imperial troops, but I don’t even know where he is because the movie is just so dark. The only redeeming factor of that scene in “Solo” is that “Requiem” makes that scene look like a fucking light show by comparison. It’s so dark, it almost qualifies as a podcast. So after the first movie, which I’ll talk about later, the big twist is that there are now Xenomorphs that burst out of Predators (in the middle of Colorado too) so they’re like supposed to be hybrids. So now humans and Predators have to destroy them. There are minor Easter eggs to both franchises, which you might find if you squint hard enough (although, you were probably doing that the whole movie). The sad part is that the actual costume design for both creatures is pretty good, I guess it was just a huge color correction problem. I would write more about this movie, but I have four other ones to write about so I’ll pass. AVP Podcast gets a 1/10 for at least trying, better luck next time.
5. “AVP: Alien vs. Predator” (2004)
I only got into the Predator films a few years ago when I saw the 1979 “Alien” and all the edgy kids were like “Mohit, you gotta check out the crossover if you think this is epic. Only the coolest kids can handle it, it’s so epic.” And I was like, “Oh no, I’m not cool enough.” Fast forward a couple of years and I’m a changed man. I can now watch “AVP,” the crossover event of it’s time, the “Infinity War” of the mid 2000s. So before I wrote this article, I watched these by year so I went straight from “Predator 2” to this. During that movie, I noticed a shot that I guess I missed the first time I saw it. The movie actually features a Xenomorph skull in the background of this shot so at this point in the marathon, I was ready. I was hooked, you got me, Fox. I know the film had bad reviews, but it can’t be that bad, right? Then I saw the PG-13 rating, and I knew these next two were going to be rough.
Then the movie started… with a date on the bottom that says 2004… on Earth. Wait, what? I’m not even going to get into how this messes up the “Alien” timeline, and I wanted to give the film a chance. Maybe I can accept it if it has nothing to do with the main “Alien” lore. Then one of the main characters is Mr. Weyland, the founder of Weyland-Yutani in the Alien films and Lance Henriksen (Bishop from “Aliens”) plays him. I guess this is before he creates David in “Prometheus,” but somehow looks older than Guy Pearce does in that movie. Oh, and he uh… dies. Okay, now the lore is messed up. Thanks, AVP! Film reviewer Chris Stuckmann does a great job in his review of the film breaking down why none of this makes sense even though it isn’t a canon story. But whatever, how’s the actual movie? It’s not the worst movie if you just strip away the extra canonical confusion. At least I can see it. This might just be me, but the Xenomorph in this movie looks a lot better the hybrid freak of nature in the second one. There are some fun fan service moments. Yeah, it’s bad, but it’s also schlock, and sometimes on a Saturday night that works fine. At least this one is in the middle of Antarctica, which is isolated and kind of acts as a leveled playing field for the two monsters. I’d honestly give the film a 4/10. It’s still bad, but it’s not absolutely awful. It takes way too long for the two creatures to fight, but once they do, it’s pretty fun.
4. “Predator 2” (1990)
Alright, that’s enough of me ranting. I know the reviews for this movie are really bad, but I actually kind of like it. It has some pretty neat visuals, and both Danny Glover and Gary Busey are pretty good in it. I think it’s a little jarring to see a Predator in 1990s Los Angeles, but I guess it works. I actually really like the final battle in this movie between Danny Glover and the Predator. To top that off, once he kills the Predator, he turns around and sees all these other Predators just show up. I thought they were going to kill him or something, but then they just pick up the dead Predator body and leave. One of them throws a gun at Danny Glover and literally speaks English, saying “take it” before they all leave. Danny Glover checks the gun and on the side it says that it was made in 1715, showing that Predators were visiting Earth for a long time. It also reaffirms what’s shown in the first film that Predators actually respect their opponents.
“Predator 2” doesn’t really fall into the syndrome that so many other sequels have, which is the “bigger is better” issue. Yes, this film has a bigger budget, but it uses it effectively, opting for better set design rather than more explosions. Like AVP, it’s also schlock, but this one does a good job of expanding the lore and showing us more of what a Predator does. I’d give the film a 5/10. It still has a bunch of missteps and it’s very forgettable, but as sci-fi sequels go, it’s still pretty fun.
3. “Predators” (2010)
This one was weird in that it works as a story set in the Predator universe, but it just has too many issues to be good. It’s very clearly an homage to the first film with direct recreations of shots. I guess by this point, people really wanted to go back to what made the first “Predator” so good. However, Adrien Brody is nowhere close in this movie to the sheer action awesomeness that Arnold Schwarzenegger is in the first one. Like “Predator 2,” this film is very forgettable. Also, I get that Topher Grace is supposed to be a nerd, and I actually bought into his character at first. However, he double crosses everyone else and becomes the main antagonist. I liked how the crew is just dropped into this random word and that they’re all high ranking people of some elite force back on Earth. Like there’s an assassin hitman dude, a Yakuza guy (who by the way *fights a Predator with a katana*), someone on the FBI’s most wanted, and they all had their problems and sins in life that brought them here. But then there’s Topher Grace’s character, who seems to be the only normal one. But then nope, he’s secretly a doctor serial killer (!?) and then he starts to talk like how he did in “Spider-Man 3” and I just started laughing at every scene.
The Predators in the movie are actually cool, and I liked how this expanded the lore without over-explaining everything. I like this one scene where they’re getting chased by these alien beast things and everyone kind of saves each other. Like this team surprisingly works together even though none of them know each other and Adrien Brody wants to go alone right from the start. My main issue with it was the second act in which Laurence Fishburne is in it as this exposition type character, and he kind of grinds the film to a halt. I wouldn’t say it’s bad, it’s just very messy. I’d give “Predators” a 5/10. It’s one of those interesting lore pieces that has seemingly nothing to do with the new film so it’s cool to look into if you want to learn more.
2. “The Predator” (2018)
I just saw this so my mind might not be so clear yet, but there’s a lot to like and dislike about Shane Black’s “The Predator.” I’ll start with the good: the acting is great, the direction is pretty good, the opening ten minutes are actually incredible, Henry Jackman’s score blends well with Alan Silvestri’s themes from “Predator,” and Black’s sense of humor lends itself well to the film. Now for the bad: this movie is an absolute mess, especially in its third act. I felt like it was going one way with a group of characters led by Sterling K. Brown’s character, but then it didn’t and the whole first two acts fell apart in an instant.
The thing that I hated the most about this movie was the ending. I gave a spoiler warning before so here we go. The plot centers around a rogue Predator trying to send something to humans, but it gets hunted down by an upgraded Predator. In the ending, the rogue Predator’s pod finally opens and we see what it was storing all along: the “Predator killer,” as Jacob Tremblay’s character calls it (side note, I’d like to point out that most of this movie hinges on this 8 year old being smarter than an entire team of researchers who have supposedly been studying Predators for years). The Predator Killer is a suit equipped with all the Predator tech that covers your whole body like an Iron Man suit. It’s literally an Iron Man suit, but worse.
I have major issues with this because it takes away from what made the 1987 “Predator” so good. The battle between Arnold and the Predator is primal and visceral, it feels like a battle of raw strength, almost like a gladiator dual. There’s even a level of respect between the two fighters. If Fox goes forward with a sequel that incorporates this Iron Man suit, it not only becomes yet another CGI filled Marvel clone, but also takes away the grit of this franchise. I feel like Black, who directed “Iron Man 3” and even acted in the first “Predator,” should know that this doesn’t differentiate the Predator from any other big franchise. Yes, people want to see cool stuff, but people also want to see something different and fresh. This concept is a rehashed idea that seemingly every big blockbuster franchise is trying to pull off, and it just doesn’t fit with “The Predator.”
This movie reminded me a lot of “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” and I might not be alone in this. Both movies have great opening scenes, they’re both centered around hybridization of a certain species, have really messy third acts, and both ultimately exist just to set up a sequel.
The only reason I’m putting this above “Predators” is that it is a technically better shot film. Shane Black actually does a good job directing actors that I can somewhat care about in this movie, and his stylistic visuals translate surprisingly well to this franchise. However, I’d still give “The Predator” a 5/10.
1. “Predator” (1987)
Alright, we’ve made it. I finally get to talk about the one I really like. I recently showed this movie to my dad, who had never seen it before, and we had a really fun time. Neither of us was serious about it, but I think the film is subtly aware of its camp. The film opens with Arnold Schwarzenegger looking like a total badass. He walks over to Carl Weathers, goes in for one of those bro handshakes, but then it turns into a fucking *arm wrestle* and it’s amazing. Like I get it, some people think this movie is dead serious, but it’s hard to keep a straight face when stuff like that happens.
To me, this is a straight up action/comedy, and it’s perfect. Arnold says a one-liner every other line, but actually good ones that aren’t ice puns like another certain movie has. Obviously, there’s also the go-to Arnold one-liner in this, “Get to the chopper!” I can’t say how many times I’ve screamed that at the top of my lungs. Like I wish I recorded the audio of me watching this with my dad because we were laughing the whole time. Again, that’s not saying the movie is bad, it’s just really 80s.
The coolest thing about the new Predator film is that Shane Black, who is the first guy to get killed by the Predator in this movie, directed it. The cast in this film is actually really good and everyone knows the type of movie they’re in. They feel like a team, and each member adds something unique. Jesse Ventura has a railgun, there’s the Native American dude who scars himself with his own machete before fighting the Predator.
The best thing in the film (besides Arnold because he’s the best) is the Predator himself. The movie starts like out like a regular action movie like “Commando,” but quickly devolves into a game of hunters and the hunted. The benefit of only having one of these creatures in the film is that we learn this creature inside and out from the visuals alone. At first, you think this thing is impossible, but then it gets wounded and you see it trying to patch up its cuts. I really like the one part when Arnold says “If it bleeds, we can kill it.” It’s badass, but I guess it’s Arnold so what did you expect, right?
The actual design of the Predator by Stan Winston is incredible. Apparently the story goes that the creature didn’t actually have those cool mandible things, but Stan Winston was on a plane to Japan with James Cameron, who suggested the addition. Great work, James, that’s why you’re one of the best. This was only a few years after Cameron launched Arnold’s career with “The Terminator.”
It’s not perfect by any means. I think the first act is pretty jumbled together, and there would probably be a better way to get the real story going. I don’t think it’s a good idea to start the movie by showing the Predator’s spaceship sending it down to Earth and then never mention the creature until the second act. Aside from that, I really like “Predator.” It’s fun, gory, classic 80’s monster romp, and I’d give it a solid 8.5/10.
Alright, that’s all of the Predator movies (minus “The Predator”) ranked! If you liked this ranking, please feel free to check out the first episode of the site’s new series, Heroic Weekly! Every week, I’m taking a look at any superhero movie from the past (and there are a LOT), and I’m giving my take on the film and how its aged to figure out the best superhero films of all time.
Anyways, what do you think of this ranking? Would you change anything? Please feel free to let me know in the comments section! Thanks for reading 🙂