Ranking every ‘Alien’ and ‘Predator’ film from worst to best
Sci-fi horror fan? Now is your time! Below you can find Film Daily’s definitive ranking of the Alien and Predator films. If you don’t agree with the ordering, come at us!
11. Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)
Scraping the bottom of the acid-filled barrel is the awful attempt to let people with no filmmaking experience herald a big budget crossover film. The cinematography is so dark in places, you might as well watch be watching it with your eyes closed, though you may choose to anyway as even the bits you can make out are hard to stomach.
The film as a whole is aggressively mean-spirited, featuring victims who generally pose no threat being brutally slaughtered. The kills throughout are so over the top with CGI blood that they come off as more ridiculous than they do horrifying. The story is also a bare-bones plot of B-movie beats as you watch the released aliens pick off characters we care little about through choppily edited sequences that are a lot more boring than they should be.
While the Pred-Alien is a ton of fun and the effects for it are great, the titular monsters are pushed into the background of their own movie and treated as just another set piece. When they do eventually duke it out, it’s shot so terribly you’d swear they did so deliberately. There are fleeting moments of fun found in Requiem, but on the whole it’s a waste of 90 minutes that can be easily skipped.
10. Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Joss Whedon (The Avengers) actually wrote Resurrection and it shows. The tone is a complete 180 from any of the other films, being an OTT romp of quirky characters who spill one-liners and bombastic, illogical action scenes. Despite a killer cast and a respected team behind it, Resurrection fell flat upon release and sent the franchise into hiding for years.
It feels bizarrely out of place and the infamously troubled production essentially forced people to dredge a story from out of nowhere to try and make it work. It’s all a little too loose and chaotic for it to work and there are so many moving parts and storylines that drop in and out that it comes across confused.
It doesn’t help that the film is riddled with dated CGI, typical 90s wide-angle lens led film work, and some dodgy acting as everyone chows down on scenery as though it was an all you can eat buffet. However, there is an undeniable charm to Resurrection and a lot of fun is had seeing all the crazy decisions that were made.
The film on its own is enjoyable enough and has more than a few memorable moments, but it has twice as many strange, unexplainable ones (how did Christie die from a teen-foot fall into water?) and sticks out like a sore thumb in a franchise that was so gritty due to the deranged tone that oozes from every image associated with it.
9. AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)
After the success of Freddy vs. Jason a year before, everyone was clamouring for Alien and Predator to square off on the big screen, especially after the hit video game and comic book series did them so much justice. Then it was released and the typical response was “meh”.
Featuring some wicked effects work, slick cinematography, and a story that was probably the most inventive way you could have gotten these two together, Alien vs. Predator was initially let down by four characters: PG-13. Not to say the characters weren’t cardboard cutouts merely there to add a few more bodies to the buffet and the narrative was as dull as a pair of safety scissors, but horror gore hounds expected their pound of flesh.
Two icons of the horror genre with some of the juiciest kills on the market were now going to be held back on the bloodshed in favor of appealing to a wider audience. There is still some fantastic alien insides splattered across the screen to satisfy your inner animalistic urges, but there is a definite de-clawing of the villains that takes away some of the fun.
When the two finally square off, it’s every bit as awesome as it should be. The Predators strength and gadgets compliment the Xenomorphs speed and natural deterrents. However, we only get one proper face-off before returning to the boring human characters and we never get another species throw down again.
The second half brings some more unique elements as it is drenched in silence and allows the last human and Predator to work off one another during some nice character work told through body language, but this is just a diamond in the rough. AVP is a great looking and at times fun movie, but it is a case of style over substance with little to add.
8. Alien 3 (1992)
This ranking is based on the far superior assembly cut. After the first two Alien films were instantaneous masterpieces, Alien 3 had an impossible task living up to their legacy. To be fair, it was given a good shot, with David Fincher (Mindhunter) a seemingly perfect director to wrap up the series.
But the notoriously horrendous production ruined any chance it had at being a classic. Kudos to the creative team for actually presenting a finished project that is still by all accounts a good film, but what fans received was one of the ballsiest moves in movie history.
The film fearlessly kills off three of the most beloved main characters from Aliens immediately and then proceeds to gruellingly torture Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) for the rest of its runtime. Watching Alien 3 is like watching a two and a half hour depiction of depression – the whole thing is just so bleak and miserable that it makes you want to stop watching.
Not to say it’s terrible and on its own it’s a fascinating and slow building terror with well written characters, fantastic acting, and a tense final act. It’s also shot terrifically, with only the choice to blue-screen the Alien into scenes via puppet ruining the imagery on show. Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) is suitably likeable as a doctor with a dark past and Charles S. Dutton‘s (Legion) turn as Dillon – a murderer and rapist who found faith – is one of the most compelling characters.
The ending is also the perfect way to have ended the franchise. Ripley sacrificing herself to destroy the last Xenomorph and preventing the Weyland-Yutani Corporation from weaponizing it is a satisfying end to her journey – it’s just a shame the rest of the film had to be so damn morbid.
7. Predators (2010)
Predators was the grand return of a solo Predator film after he had taken a backseat for twenty straight years, with only the two crossover Alien films allowing him to stay in the public eye. It garnered hype for returning to its jungle roots, emphasizing tense thrilling action and the promise of multiple predators hunting down our cast instead of the usual solo hunter. What audiences got was a safe, if unmemorable, effort.
The film definitely starts out well, literally dropping us on a planet with our main hero, played by Adrien Brody (The Pianist), and slowly unravelling the mystery of where he is and why he’s there. The rest of the cast is a group of stereotypes that serve their purpose of adding to the body count and allowing the actors to ham it up with some fun performances, especially Walton Goggins’s (Justified) turn as a psychopathic death row inmate.
However, the more into the film we get, the less impressive it gets. The action is serviceable, the kills are shockingly bloodless and rather tame beyond the climax, and it adds nothing particularly interesting to the lore.
The new technology obsessed uber-predators are suitably menacing but have a disappointing amount of screen time (the tracker predator alone gets barely over forty seconds on screen). Still, for all its faults, Predators is fast-paced fun with a good initial premise, just one that you’ll probably forget an hour after you finish watching it.
6. Predator 2 (1990)
Predator 2 is a lot better than people give it credit for. It might not be as well paced and suffers from the loss of Arnold Schwarzenegger (True Lies) and his 36-inch pythons, but it is still an exciting and fun ride with improved visual effects and some nice bloody brawls to keep action fans happy.
A lot more intelligent than its predecessor, Predator 2 takes the fight to the city and with foes who can actually fight back on their turf. There is a bounty of terrific set pieces to keep your interest too, such as the slaughterhouse fight or the intense subway showdown where we gain more insight into the predator’s “hunt” ideology.
The final act is a great showdown in which the roles between predator and prey get reversed and we are granted a deeper look into the predator’s world. Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon) is always terrific in cop roles and he effortlessly guides us through the story, but it does make you miss the giant meathead personalities the original contained.
Here we’re confined to government suits and policemen, with the criminals such as voodoo doctor King Willie offering the only quirky, memorable performance.
Predator 2 is mostly seen as inferior as it had nothing the original contained, but that’s also what strengthens it – it’s not just a retread of the same themes. It tosses what we had seen before on its head and runs with it. Unfortunately, it is about ten times less interesting and surprisingly dull beyond the flashes of dark fun it has. It’s a cold and ugly film, but worth your time for its scenes of inventiveness and some sweet, bloody action.
5. Prometheus (2012)
What Prometheus lacks in plot, it more than makes up for in sheer spectacle and grandeur. It’s one of the most beautiful sci-fi films ever shot and some scenes literally take your breath away.
The creature design was also back to a high standard, featuring more disturbing scenes that play into cultured male and female sexuality the way Alien does best. Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class) also steals the show as the both likeable and creepy at once android, David.
While the original Alien left the subplot of the engineer’s ship unanswered and allowed fans to theorize and debate, the main plot of an alien stalking the ship was still intact and satisfying.
Where Damon Lindelof (Star Trek) failed was that he made the main storyline mysterious and unexplained, which only served to confuse and frustrate viewers. The initial intriguing premise becomes mind-bogglingly incoherent and never gives us any answers we are looking for beyond David’s vague insights.
What’s more irritating is that the film’s alternate scenes released show how good the film could have been, featuring takes that revealed more to the audience and also made the characters seem less like morons who never passed a day of astronaut school.
Prometheus has some serious flaws that hold it back from being the masterpiece it was built up to be, but its pros more than outweigh its cons. With unbelievable visuals, intriguing themes, and horrifying sequences, Prometheus gives you (almost) everything you could want.
4. Alien: Covenant (2017)
The first two thirds of Alien: Covenant are brilliant. The heart-pounding pacing, tense tone, and build in terror are pretty much pitch perfect – then it all goes horribly wrong in the third act. Not that it’s irredeemably bad; it’s just that in comparison to the first two, it leaves a sour taste from what started off so promising.
Returning the franchise to its blood-soaked roots, we finally get what Prometheus was billed to be and discover the origin of our lovable Xenomorphs. It mostly delivers, with the new Neomorphs making one hell of a stylish entrance and dishing out some of the most brutal kills the franchise has seen. When the Xenomorphs do show up, it’s kind of a let down as we see them in daylight, moving around freely and shown in some shockingly poor CGI.
Covenant continues Fassbender’s excellent portrayal of megalomaniac Android David and his quest for the perfect organism. The dynamic between him and the android Walter – also played by Fassbender – is one of the most thought-provoking and unique parts of the film. David’s descent into madness and the tragic end for Shaw is both brilliantly horrifying and frustrating as it mostly occurs off screen.
Covenant has the group of likeable characters dumped into terror that the Alien franchise is known for mashed with the philosophical debates and character study of Prometheus. It ends up being unable to completely satisfy fans of both, but is nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be.
Covenant is an absolutely gorgeous film with plenty of memorable moments and it’s just good to see the Xenomorph back on the big screen. Its cliffhanger ending is also chilling, leaving us excited for the next instalment.
3. Predator (1987)
Predator is not a film of substance – it’s a film of testosterone-fuelled action scenes and memorable moments with a dynamite monster. Featuring an opening where Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers (Rocky) greet one another by slapping their hands together and having the camera linger on their baby-oil soaked biceps, you know exactly what type of machismo-driven adventure you’re in for.
It might surprise you that it takes over 30 minutes before the titular villain actually impacts the movie. Sure, we find some juicy skinned corpses and little hints of its inclusion, but the film actually takes its time building to the reveal of one of the best alien designs in film. When it does, the movie becomes a different beast as our hulking team of muscles become the prey and are hunted down one-by-one by a figure they can’t even see.
The action still holds up immensely well, as do a lot of the effects, with the first bombardment of the insurgent camp being a prime slice of fun 80s cheese with endless explosions sending men on trampolines through the air, massive guns that need no reloading, and some legendary one-liners.
Predator is extremely impressive even by today’s standards, and all without a single shot of CGI. The climax too is so chestpoundingly manly and over the top, you can’t help but crack a smile while feeling your facial hair instantly sprout two inches longer.
Predator received poor reviews upon release but now is rightly regarded as one of the greatest action films of all time. It knows what to do and how to do it. The action is spectacular, the predator an intimidating foe, and it’s loaded with so many memorable moments that make it must-see viewing.
2. Aliens (1986)
James Cameron (Avatar) knows how to do sequels, and after Alien there was really only one way you could go with the franchise: more aliens. There is a lot of debate over which film is best – the first or second – but both are entirely different cinematic classics with their own pros and cons.
While the first was a deliberately paced, minimalist horror film, Aliens ramps everything up to eleven and becomes a sci-fi action masterpiece. It also allows Ripley to shine once more as a strong female hero, choosing to face her fears and head into one of the most thrilling adventures in the genre.
It still has the horror tropes, distinct tone, and disturbing aspects of the original film, but fleshes everything out with more likeable and quotable characters, big set piece moments, and expansion on the lore of the Xenomorph. The company that operated in the background and told Ash to keep the alien alive comes front and center and Lance Henriksen‘s superb android Bishop also plays with audience expectations.
What they lack in complexity, the cast makes up for in character with a slew of hilarious quotes, genuine emotional moments courtesy of Newt whom Ripley takes in (after discovering her own daughter is dead), and sheer charisma as they all work off one another brilliantly. The Xenomorphs are still as terrifying as ever, but after the first built up how hard it was to kill these things, it’s a bit disappointing so many get offed so easily here.
Aliens looks as amazing today as it did back in 1986 when it blew people’s minds with outstanding effects work, the gigantic climax featuring the alien queen, and the gauntlet of memorable scenes that are frightening, intense, heartbreaking, and funny. Aliens should not be missed by anyone.
1. Alien (1979)
Alien isn’t just the best movie in the franchise – it’s one of the best movies of all time. From the beautiful, meticulously designed cinematography, unique truckers in space setting, and pitch-perfect atmosphere, it’s a film that spawned a million copycats in both the sci-fi and horror genres.
The cast is superb, with Sigourney Weaver‘s revolutionary depiction of a female hero standing out due to her character’s intelligence and the fact she’s able to adapt on the fly rather than just being the last girl who hadn’t been caught by the killer yet.
Ian Holm (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) too as the demented android Ash is quietly unsettling as his admiration of the creatures killing the crew is laid out. The titular alien too is simply one of the greatest movie monsters ever put to film – a multi-stage killing machine that you can’t even harm.
Alien taps into the carnal horror of being stuck in an enclosed space with a beast and nowhere to run as well as tapping into deep-rooted sexual horror. This is brought to life through the nightmarish Freudian designs of H.R. Giger who produced biomechanical imagery of unnatural creation.
Alien is a film of two halves, the first a tense mystery where not everything is answered, allowing you to admire its beauty and ride along with the crew on their journey. The second is your standard slasher flick that is elevated through its clever use of constantly changing is own ruleset, evolving the nature of the beast, and plunging the characters further into impossible odds.
Ridley Scott (Gladiator) and her company use every single trick at their disposal to make this suspenseful funhouse of terror as effective as possible and from the very first frame, it ramps up and never stops till the credits roll.