With the release of Prey the latest in the predator franchise that hoped to reboot and relaunch the series we’re taking a look at the films and rating each from worst to best including those Alien v Predator starting with the worst……
6. Alien vs Predator : Requiem
With the 2004 Alien vs Predator met with a mixed reaction it still made enough to prompt a sequel in 2007 titled Alien vs Predator : Requiem an appropriate title as it prompted fans of both series to remember the previous and frankly infinitely better films for each franchise. Directed by the Strausse brothers Colin and Greg two very experienced visual effects artists who had worked on films as varied as Titanic, Terminator 3, and The Day After Tomorrow and having sporadically directed music videos they landed this sequel to a spin off. The story focussed on a both alien races descending on a rural Colorado town where the residents band together to fight off the monsters. The film picked up off the post credit scene of the first film where an alien hybrid burst out of a predators chest and had fans stoked for a follow up film. Unfortunately they got this. It was nigh on unwatcheable as much due to its murky cinematography where little if anything could be seen with the film set mostly at night in the pouring rain as well as featuring some unsavoury moments notably an alien attack on a maternity ward of pregnant women. With its awkward titled already abbreviated to AVPR a better acronym we suggest would have been Carnage & Rioting Aliens & Predators or CRAP for short. It still earned $130m at the worldwide box office but reaction was general derisory and was enough to kill off any further spin off sequels. The brothers made one more feature, the sci-fi film ‘Skyline’ in 2010. They haven’t directed since.
5. The Predator
There had not been a predator film for eight years when The Predator was greenlit with the studio having been content to let the franchise lie. But then writer director Shane Black had helmed Iron Man 3 which had been a huge success and gave him enough clout to get a couple of pet projects made firstly his private eye comedy The Nice Guys but also gave him an opportunity to resuscitate his favourite movie monster with the predator. Having appeared in the first film and having been on script polish duties too he was ideally suited to the project. Set in surbubia the Predators come to town having upgraded their own DNA spliced with other species and were even more of a formidable fighting machine and their return to Earth has been triggered by a young boy’s bedroom experiment necessitating a rag tag of mercenaries ….and a science teacher taking on the alien warriors. The film was intended as a direct sequel to the original and Black was determined to make it bloody and brutal. However when test audiences saw it they were unimpressed and the entire third act of the film was reshot to include far more action. The film ended up with plot holes, continuity errors and a troubled edit that saw Edward James Olmos excised from the end of the film altogether and an end scene that would have had Schwarzenegger appear to continue the story was dropped as Arnie turned the film down. The Predator bombed earning only $160m and all but killed the franchise until Prey.
There had not been a predator film for twenty years before a third film appeared in 2010. Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez he consciously moved away from its contemporary setting to a future world where a whole bunch of bad ass killers found themselves on a jungle like planet not knowing how they had got there. Unusually it cast Oscar winner Adrien Brody in the lead role as an ex-military type who finds himself having to band together with a group of nefarious types that included criminals and other shady types as they fight for survival against not one but a while bunch of predators. It was a decent enough concept but the introduction of Laurence Fishburne’s crazy loner in the woods didn’t help. Rodriguez had submitted his script to the studio some years previously but had it initially rejected on the grounds of cost but rewrites and a studio keen to relaunch the franchise saw it eventually go into production. Schwarzenegger had been approached about appearing but his work commitments as governor of California meant he was unavailable if indeed he would have accepted it anyway. Rodriguez was known for his swift shooting style and the film was shot on time and on budget but hardly lit up the box office earning only $127m effectively meaning the studio lost interest in any further sequels at that point.
3. Alien V Predator
So we’re going out on a limb here with placing the first spin off so high on the list. A mash up of the two franchises which were both owned by 20th Century Fox was fist hinted at in Predator 2 when we go inside the alien mothership where an alien skull is seen on the trophy wall. It inspired a number of comic books and eventually a spin off was greenlit to be helmed by writer director Paul W S Anderson. His Resident Evil film in 2002 had shown that a film-of-the-game could be done successfully and he was handed the keys to the spin off and came up with an origin story that saw the predators hunting aliens as a rite of passage with nods to Egyptian culture set in a South American pyramid with shifting walls and secret passages for monsters to leap out. A decent cast that included Lance Henriksen, Colin Salmon and unusually Ewen Bremner all of which were lined up as fodder for the monsters saw a breezily entertaining spin on the franchise and did decent business earning $177m worldwide enough to warrant a sequel, Unfortunately that sequel was Alien vs Predator Requiem.
2. Predator 2
So we’re courting controversy here by going for the second film in second place. Transferring the action from the jungle to the city Schwarzenegger was broached about appearing but arguments over his fee saw him turn the film down and of course the obvious choice for the muscle mountain white Austrian was ….urrrr….Danny Glover. The Lethal Weapon films had raised his star status and he would again play a cop facing off against an unknown killer of Jamaican drug gangs. Predator 2 expanded the premise of individuals being picked off and introduced a covert scientific group led by a deranged Gary Busey and his crack team aware of the alien and attempting to capture it for research which would obviously go awry with Glover in pursuit of the alien and ending up inside the predators space craft and THAT skull on the trophy wall. The years have not been kind to this first sequel with allegations of racism levelled against it taking in the predators dreadlocks to Glover himself ending up as a white man when he ends up covered in ash. Perhaps because of this or maybe because audiences wanted Arnie but the film only earned a measly $57m worldwide. Arnie had chosen to make Total Recall instead and that had pulled in more than twice as much
Which means that the best film in the franchise is……
So the best in the franchise as is so often the the case is the original film Predator. Arnie’s career was very much on the rise here and was now turning out a film a year with each progressively becoming something of a summer event movie culminating in 1991’s Terminator 2. The 1987 Predator had almost stalled when the film makers realized that their predator looked like a kick boxer in a giant prawn costume because that’s exactly what Jean Claude Van Damme was doing who was further annoyed that his face would not be seen in the costume. It was salvaged by Stan Winston’s creature workshop and its now iconic monster with mandibles idea that had been suggested by James Cameron. Arnie would play the leader of a team of Special ops and though he had left the world of bodybuilding contests behind him he was still ripped and looked ideally suited to face off to the 7’2’’ Kevin Peter Hall who would don the Predator suit. Shot in a stiflingly hot jungle this would be director John McTiernan’s second film and a tough director he was ideally suited to a film that dripped testosterone with a bunch of macho actors that included screenwriter Shane Black who had been employed so as he would be on set for script rewrites. With a relatively low budget of only $15m the film would end up earning $98m and so a, albeit sporadic, franchise was born.
Watch director John McTiernan talks about the making of Predator …..