Yesterday I watched both Aliens vs Predator and the original Predator (on BlueRay - I have now bought it 4 times!). Obviously I prefer the latter, for I am not mental. There are many things the latter (or former, in terms of setting and release date) does better. For a start the ensemble cast are tough. Properly tough human opponents for the Predator. Not wussy scientists, archaeologists or extreme sports professionals (okay, so that's understating her expertise, but fuck it, she's a climber, not an explorer). Admittedly these are also soldiers who don't aim their weapons (admittedly Blain doesn't need to, that mini-gun is just pure destruction). But I guess they're just that hard that aiming isn't necessary. There is also Arnie. This is pure Arnie. I think it helps that, despite his overall bulk, he's slimmer than he normally was. This makes him seem a bit more human, somehow. What's also good is that in order to achieve victory he has to cheat. One on one he's fucked, so he has to go all MacGyver.
It also features an envinronment that makes spotting the Predator far more interesting - as demonstrated by the numerous shots of foliage that leave you trying to spot the tell-tale prism effect of the Predator's camo. Contrast that with the dark hallways of the pyramid in AvP, where the only decent moments are the "is that a statue, or...?" ones. Doesn't quite work as well.
Then there's the reveal. In AvP there isn't one. You see the Predator's masks fairly early on, plus their deployment to the ice. I mean, I know we know what a Predator looks like, but surely the beauty of both the original Predator films is not seeing that much. You know it's the Predator, but they keep the glimpses brief, simple. Weapons, the prism effect, it should all be brief. AvP doesn't bother with any of that, and although the selling point of AvP is naturally the Alien vs Predator bit, it throwing everything out there straight out is just not in tune with either franchise (I'm not counting Resurrection as part of the Alien franchise, obviously, as apart from having Gary Dourdan and Dominique Pinon in it the rest is shit, especially goopy-baby).
Finally, there's the Predators. The Aliens are good. They're unique, as seems to be the way with the franchise, being a mix of the original design and the Aliens design, and the use of CG allows them to be far more flexible than their rubber-suit counterparts. The Predators, by contrast, have lost something. They've lost their reality. Rather than the lithe hunter they're broad monstrous things, unable to hold their arms at their sides as they're beefed up that much. Apparently it was to make them more heroic, but why? They just don't look comfortable fighting, not like Kevin Peter Hall did in both Predator films. His was a true hunter, built for stamina. Having them pumped up like a wrestler just doesn't work. It does appear that they realised this, as Requiem is supposed to feature a slimmer Predator, although that film does also have the Predalien in it, which is right up there with goopy-baby as concepts go. I've still not seen the film, and am actually wary of it.
So, it appears the secret of Predator is the setting, the lead, the ensemble, the pacing and the Predator. I guess that's why Predator 2 works, and I may have to watch that tonight.