Well, it’s April 26th, which means its Alien Day again. Which I guess is now a yearly thing. Yay for corporate-mandated late-stage capitalistic holidays!
All snarkiness aside, the Alien franchise is an interesting beast. Despite a string of generally agreed upon mediocre movies, the Xenomorph persists in popular culture, almost 40 years after the initial release. Hell, yet another entry, Alien: Covenant, is set to release in just a few weeks. The franchise has certainly experienced its ups and downs, and we’re going to break them down for you today.
Here are each of the films in the Alien franchise, ranked from worst to best:
6. Aliens vs. Predator/ Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
Not much to say here. These two films are equals in their terribleness. They’re garbage films, with little to none redeeming qualities. Cash-ins on the franchise coupled with canon breaking story details, we’re all better off pretending these films don’t exist.
What was meant to be Ridley Scott’s glorious return to the franchise he birthed, Prometheus turns out to be too ambitious for its own good. Smartly separating itself from the mainline franchise, Prometheus concerns itself with the Space Jockey alien race seen briefly in the original Alien. Prometheus asks plenty of intriguing questions involving the origins of the iconic Xenomorph but ultimately fails to offer any satisfying conclusions. With a script that falters more often than it succeeds and characters that make more boneheaded decisions than I did in high school, Prometheus fails to live up the legacy of Scott’s original work. Hey, at least it’s pretty to look at.
4. Alien: Resurrection
Alien: Resurrection is certainly the weirdest of the bunch. Set centuries after Alien 3, Resurrection sees the return of Ripley through the use of cloning. A different Ripley brings a remarkably different tone, due to a script penned by Avengers’ Joss Whedon and direction from Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The film is far lighter than previous entries and certainly has its charms. Resurrection isn’t a bad film necessarily, it just barely fits in with the rest of the franchise. An interesting and entertaining diversion for sure, but not befitting of the Alien name. Although it did gives a Catwoman a run for its money in the “best basketball scene” competition.
3. Alien 3
David Fincher’s Alien 3 is certainly the most divisive film in the franchise. After getting to know and love Hicks, Bishop, and Newt in Aliens, Alien 3 unceremoniously kills them off, off-screen. Alien 3 is notably darker than any other film in the franchise. Taking more inspiration from the slower paced Alien rather than the action focused Aliens, Alien 3 makes the Xenomorph horrifying again, giving us our first variant with the Dog-alien. The film takes a great number of risks, including killing Ripley, though not all of them pay off. Still, you’ve got to give the film credit for being as ballsy as it is.
This is the part of the list which always splits the Alien fanbase. Many consider the original Alien to be the pinnacle of the franchise, viewing Aliens as a good but lesser sequel. Me? I’m in the opposite camp. Nevertheless, Alien is a god damn masterpiece. Possibly one of the most influential science-fiction horror films of all time, Alien still remains relevant, almost 4 decades later. Tense, horrifying, and surprising, Alien serves as a masterclass in its respective genre. Plus, the film gave us what maybe be the best horror monster in all of cinema history. Alien will forever remain a classic.
James Cameron’s Aliens aligns itself with The Empire Strikes Back as being one of the most perfect movie sequels ever made. Instead of simply aping off the formula of the original film, Aliens evolves its genre, switching from horror-thriller to horror-action. The film greatly expands on the lore set by the original film and creates the now iconic concept of the space marine. With its pitch-perfect pacing, cast of lovable and memorable characters, and expansion on the Alien mythology, Aliens narrowly edges out Alien as the best in the franchise.
Alright, there you have it! My ranking for the Alien franchise. What about you? Prefer Alien to Aliens? Are you one of the weirdos who has a different Alien film in the top 2? Sound off in the comments below.
Happy Alien Day! Here’s to hoping that Alien: Covenant lives up to the legacy of the first two films.