Ridley Scotts baby, the Alien franchise is now 38 years old, bursting from his che-… err his wonderfully imaginative mind and now with 6 films on and a lot of lore, death and mystery, I think it’s high time to rank the series according to how I view it anyway, here goes. Oh and P.S., I haven’t seen Alien: Resurrection, thankfully, as I hear it’s an abomination but if I had seen it by now, it’d probably be bottom of the list.
And no, Alien Vs Predator does not make this list either.
Alien (1977) – 9/10
The original film of the franchise, the progenitor of it all, the facehugger that birthed…. ok you get the idea, anyway Alien is both a staple in horror and sci-fi, being one of the best space horror films of all time with solid acting, an easy to follow plot, inventive use of mis-en-scene to contribute to tension and suspense and importantly, a use of simplicity for effective scares. What makes the film so great? That it doesn’t try so hard to be good or to make any real point, the xenomorph is just there and things happen, it’s as visceral as it gets and easily the best in the franchise, full of twists, gory moments and a memorable plot.
Aliens (1986) – 8.5/10
Aliens is a peculiar sequel, a sequel many think is better than the original in fact, taking things in a wildly different direction and effectively spawning the space marine sub-genre, with memorable acting, good action set pieces and great pacing, the ante is definitely upped and things are just as scary with multiple xenomorphs as opposed to one, which serves to make things even more tense at times in fact. This is how a sci-fi action film should play out imo and it serves as a great template for action for films even to this day.
Prometheus (2012) – 7.5/10
Probably the most divisive film in the franchise but one I actually quite enjoy, Prometheus is big scale, scope and its ideas, though following horror tropes, it asks questions over humanity and its existence, while still exploring the origins of the xenomorph, I like it because it was something entirely new to the franchise, from the engineers and their weapons, to brand new moons, the plot felt exciting and fresh and it also looked fantastic visually. And with a strong cast to boot, it’s just a pretty engaging ride with one of the better plots in the franchise with some interesting twists and turns, despite some silly horror stereotypes, they don’t detract too much from the film as a whole for me.
Alien: Covenant (2017) – 6/10
The most recent Alien film is pretty much Alien re-treaded, with Aliens thrown in for good measure, answering maybe 1 or 2 questions from Prometheus and leaving a whole bunch of others hanging, it just felt bit too generic for me, especially compared to the last film in the series, despite a decent cast and some tense moments, I couldn’t shake the feeling of having seen it all before, with nothing new or exciting present apart from a revelation that changes the tone of the film and does nothing more really. Covenant feels like a misstep, one that could have easily been better but went the generic sci-fi horror route, bringing nothing good to the series.
Alien 3 (1992) – 5/10
The 3rd film in the series is…. an odd one, going to interesting places as I think the writers were running out of places to put the xenomorph, it lacks the production values and quality of Alien and Aliens clearly and just feels a bit by the numbers, though Ripley returns, the acting is dire, the plot is predictable and it just looks really bad, with some of the worst CG I’ve ever seen, hell Aliens looks better.
And there it is, my ranking, a range of scores and an unfinished list with the next Alien film on the way, set to start filming next year and where that one falls in the list, who knows… but I can’t wait to find out.