Alien: From the Best to the Worst
Ever since Ridley Scott first introduced us to the horrors of deep space in 1979, the Alien franchise has blossomed into one of the most famous creature film series of all time. With such directors like James Cameron and David Fincher adding their own visions to the series, it's no wonder the franchise has been such a success.
In the following article, I will rank the films starting with the best and ending with the worst.
The film that started it all takes top spot on my list. Most of the time, the originals are the best and this case is no exception. Under Ridley Scott's impressive direction, Alien became one of the best sci-fi horror films of all time. It was slow-paced, but not to the point that it was dragging along. It was actually a perfect pace, slowly building up the tension until the final climax hits, and then there's still some scares left after that. I give the film a 4 out of 4.
Prometheus follows an expedition team that follows clues across the universe to discover the origins of mankind. Instead, they find the origins to something much more deadly.
Now, I realize this isn't a popular opinion but I felt that Prometheus had some rather remarkable storytelling that both answers questions and raises others. The suspense and horror was built up very well throughout, the CGI was spectacular, and the acting was very convincing. Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace were the standout performances, even beating out Charlize Theron and Idris Elba. I give the film a 3.5 out of 4.
James Cameron's direct sequel to Ridley Scott's masterpiece finds Ripley guiding a team back to the planet she nearly died trying to escape only to have to help fight the aliens once again. Cameron delivers an action-packed thrill fest that takes what Scott did with the first and multiplies it by 3. What hindered the film though was the fact that after a point it became all action and no thrills or story. I did enjoy the acting and characters. Each person carried their part and made you feel like you were right there with them trying to figure out what to do next. I give Aliens a 3.5 out of 4.
#4: Alien: Covenant
Ridley Scott's newest addition to the Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant, had a ton of potential but was seriously lacking in several places. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this film. I almost even loved it. But the way his previous installment Prometheus ended, it seemed like we would be getting some rather interesting answers. We do, just not the ones we thought we would.
The film opens with a prologue which shows the first moments of David's "life" after Weyland finished creating him. In the prologue, Weyland expresses his discontent with merely accepting that humanity happened by chance and that he someday hoped he and David would gain the answers he so desperately wanted. Even this scene goes right along with Prometheus in the spirit of wanting to know more. Covenant, however, takes a complete 180 after that. It seems that this new group of films is David's story, and David doesn't seem to care where humanity came from because he believes that humanity must be eradicated. He's kind of like Ultron in that sense, only Ultron actually had fair reason to want to destroy all life. David's reason is simply that he hated his creator.
Anyway, the film progresses to the introduction of the ship Covenant which is on a colonizing mission. A random solar energy burst damages the ship, causing the captain and several colonists to lose their lives. Now, this is one scene that puzzles me. Why cast a huge name star (James Franco) to play the captain when you're just going to kill off the captain in the first ten minutes of the film? It sincerely puzzles me. Moving on, while the crew begins repairs on the ship, they intercept a transmission from Elizabeth Shaw (see Prometheus if you don't know who that is) and decide to pursue the transmission's signal. They hope to find a good enough settlement on this planet, but find David instead, who has sinister plans of his own.
I did love the fact that we finally get to see the very first Xenomorph. I also loved seeing Michael Fassbender in dual roles, one evil and one pure. The tension and level of horror was outstanding and the acting was top-notch. Danny McBride impressed me above all others because he's not usually in this type of film. Usually he's in comedic or slapstick films, but seeing him in a dark and almost depressing state actually gives me hope for his Halloween reboot coming next year.
What I didn't like is that they pulled a cop out and did next to nothing with Shaw. It was a huge injustice to her character, especially considering all that she went through and survived throughout Prometheus. Also, I hated that they undid everything that they set up in Prometheus. It almost begs the question, 'What was the point?'
In conclusion, I would say if you love the Alien series then you'll probably like this. It's a good addition to the series, but definitely not remarkable like Alien, Aliens, and Prometheus. I have a great respect for Ridley Scott so I am hoping there's a director's cut out there somewhere that combats all the problems with the theatrical cut. I am still looking forward to the next installment, which I hope comes sooner rather than later. I give Alien: Covenant a 3 out of 4.
#5: AVP: Alien vs Predator
Alien vs Predator isn't canon in the Alien series. It disregards pretty much everything in the main timeline and makes its own fun little story. Still, even though it isn't canon in the Alien universe, I still like to think of it as an alternate timeline side film.
Alien vs Predator (or AvP for short) takes place in the year 2004 when Mr. Weyland of Weyland Industries has discovered some kind of pyramid beneath the icy surface of Antarctica. He gathers a team together to get down there and investigate, but what they discover is that they are not alone in the universe.
I enjoyed AvP. Sure the acting isn't exactly Oscar worthy but it's a fun film that combines two of the best monsters in horror history and pits them against each other. As the tagline for the film states: "Whoever wins, we lose." I give AvP a 3 out of 4.
#6: Alien: Resurrection
Alien: Resurrection had the right idea. It tried to show how a greedy corporation would do whatever it took to get what they wanted, which of course led to an outbreak of aliens. The thing that was remarkably absurd was that they were able to clone Ripley and the Alien queen from just a drop of blood. I could see Ripley being recreated but the Alien fetus too? The aliens had never been studied before by anyone in the universe...aside from David who, by now, is probably long gone. So how did the company "resurrect" an alien queen whose DNA and biology was a mystery? Fortunately, we had the brilliant antics from Ron Perlman to keep us entertained. For all of its faults, it wasn't too bad and doesn't get enough credit, really. I give Alien: Resurrection a 2.5 out of 4.
#7: Alien 3
Alien 3 continues Ripley's story of horror and terror. This time, she crash-lands on a maximum security prison. Pretty soon, strange things start happening and Ripley figures out that she must have unknowingly brought an alien with her. Now, she and the inmates have to find a way to work together in order to kill the alien before it kills everyone else.
At this point, Alien had become predictable. The first was fresh and horrifying. The second was remarkable storytelling and packed one powerful punch. Fincher's Alien 3 was just a rehash of the others and it wasn't even up to the same quality. The film replaced smart storytelling with dull, mind numbing action. There were a few thrills along the way but ultimately, Alien 3 was nothing more than average. Also, did you really have to kill off Newt, Fincher? Did you? I give the film a 2 out of 4.
Worst: Alien vs Predator: Requiem
In Alien vs Predator: Requiem, the Predator ship from AvP crash lands on earth, forcing the Predators to track and kill the Xenomorphs. Sounds like a pretty cool premise. The one thing wrong with it, and it's a big thing, is the no-holds-barred violence against children. If there's one thing I hate more than anything in this already screwed up world, it's children getting hurt. It was completely unnecessary and did absolutely nothing for the plot. I suppose the director wanted to show how ruthless the aliens were but you can do that without targeting children specifically. I suppose that's why AvP3 never happened, which really stinks considering this film ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. I give AvP:R a 1 out of 4.
What's your favorite Alien film?
According to Ridley Scott, there are four more Alien films in development, at least one of them being a prequel that will complete David's story. What the other three will be about will certainly be interesting to find out and I for one am looking forward to them all.
© 2017 Alec Zander