With Alien: Covenant on the horizon, we take a look back at the Alien franchise as a whole. Which means, we make unnecessary and often unfair comparisons between films with vastly different creative teams at the helm.
There are eight films that feature the H.R. Giger xenomorph alien, and we are going to rank them all. Yes, including Alien: Covenant.
8. Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
Words cannot express how terrible AvP:R is. Oh wait, they totally can! Aliens fighting a Predator on Earth. Sounds fine, if not a departure. But if you’re departing from formula, that is ballsy and different! Right?
Not here. This film is a walking slasher cliche with the beloved title characters shoe-horned into the film. On top of this, the film is neither suspenseful nor scary. It is impossible to see. It has no heart to it. It is completely expendable.
7. Alien vs. Predator
So these two films are not the same as the other Alien films. They are fan service schlock. And, for that, AvP works just fine. But it is not a good Alien film. For the amount of fandom behind the mashup of these two characters, the film is entirely unmemorable.
6. Alien: Resurrection
So…Alien: Resurrection. I can’t truly defend this one. But I can certainly try. It is a well-directed film…if the film wasn’t an Alien film. It is visually dynamic and full of gory action…if only the action was built up to with adequate character development and suspense.
Alien: Resurrection is a problem child. It is a tonally-confused, haphazard mess where Ripley is a sexually charged half-Alien clone. Yep. That was made.
Prometheus is often disparaged by fans for not really being an Alien movie. It is also beloved by some fans for expanding on the universe in a bold way. For me, I’m fine with the lack of xenomorph (that it comes out at the very end is a great ending, in my opinion). I’m fine with the expansion of universe (the concepts are quite interesting, at times).
This said, the film is much slower than other films in the franchise and features characters that I do not particularly care for. The winks and nods are fun to parse out, but the film as a whole lacks what the best of the franchise provides.
4. Alien 3
David Fincher’s Alien 3, both in its theatrical and director’s cut, is a problematic film. The theatrical cut seems like a narrative mess with a bunch of characters put in just so they can be thrown in the face of the xenomorph. The director’s cut expands on character and theme in positive ways, but it comes off overlong and poorly paced as a result.
Either way, the film suffers from having to follow two magnificent films.
3. Alien: Covenant
The new Alien: Covenant is a solid horror-action film. It has the spirit of Aliens with a narrative that cherry-picks from Alien and Prometheus. It is a fun, bloody mess that can be absorbed as mindless entertainment. But it also meanders around a theme that seems out of place in the franchise.
For a full review of the new Alien film, click here.
Aliens performed a complete tonal overhaul of the original film. And it did so surprisingly well. In a world where sequels are often doomed to be rehashes with no substance in and of themselves, Aliens is a rare exception. And it is a helluva lot of fun.
Ridley Scott’s original vision, Alien, is the cream of the crop. The Aliens–Alien debate has legs, but nothing can beat the original. It is a perfect sci-fi-horror film. The suspense is perfect. The cast and character work is impressive. The restraint is entirely effective, and this is what is lacking in the James Cameron sequel.
Alien is, quite simply, fantastic. Read a full review of the classic film here.
As always, thanks for reading!
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)