Photo: Twentieth Century Fox
Even today, the
franchise is one of the most popular Alien science fiction series in film, though the movies have crossed genres from horror to action to thriller and back again. The franchise has given Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and David Fincher some of their earliest feature-length projects and storied careers. Alien is an unforgettable franchise, in large part due to Giger’s idiosyncratic design and four impressive performances by Sigourney Weaver as its perennial protagonist, Ellen Ripley. Here are all six of the Alien films (so far) ranked from worst to best.
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6. 'Alien: Covenant' (2017)
You would be hard-pressed to find someone who thought the latest entry to the
Alien franchise was also the greatest. It continues the story begun by Prometheus—a surprise prequel to the four preceding Alien films—which seeks to tell the story of how the titular xenomorphs came to be. If you do not find that to be a particularly compelling setup, you are not alone. Alien: Covenant has little to offer viewers beyond director Ridley Scott playing around in the world of Alien for a third time.
5. 'Prometheus' (2012)
Like its successor,
Alien: Covenant, Prometheus occupies a strange space (no pun intended) in the Alien franchise. Without Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley, it lacks the focus of previous films. What it does offer, however, is Scott returning to the Alien franchise after 33 years. This time he comes armed with an arsenal of digital filmmaking tools that had been yet unseen in the Alien films, which had tapered off after 1997.
4. 'Alien: Resurrection' (1997)
Jean-Pierre Jeunet is better known for his films
Amelie and Delicatessen than he is for Alien: Resurrection. Perhaps rightfully so, perhaps not. One thing is for sure: it is a truly wild ride. It may not be the best the franchise has to offer, though it certainly has its champions. Its cast is composed of Weaver—returning as a clone of Ripley—as well as Winona Ryder and Ron Perlman. Joss Whedon's dialogue is as trying as it always is, yet Alien: Resurrection kind of works anyway.
3. 'Aliens' (1986)
Aliens may not have been James Cameron's breakout film— The Terminator hit the silver screen two years prior—but it certainly helped make him a household name. Taking Scott's groundbreaking science fiction/horror and turning it into an action movie about loss and motherhood is no small feat. In Aliens, Cameron plays around with themes he would later flesh out further in his own franchise in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
2. 'Alien3' (1992)
David Fincher, director of
Fight Club, Zodiac, The Social Network and more, despises his feature directorial debut Alien3. His experience on the film was plagued by creative issues and what he saw as the studio sticking their nose where it didn't belong. He eventually left the project and the studio reworked the film without him. Audiences had mixed responses when it hit theaters in 1992, but in 2003, a re-cut of the film was made for a special edition box set of the the four movies so far. It is widely considered to be a huge step up from the theatrical film.
1. 'Alien' (1979)
Simply put, nothing in the world of
Alien tops Scott's original film. It was one of the first films to capitalize on a new excitement for grimy and lived-in space-age locales brought on by George Lucas's Star Wars two years prior. The production design is endlessly impressive—especially considering the relatively meager budget—and H.R. Giger's xenomorph designs are as haunting and idiosyncratic as ever, even today. The gradual picking off of the ship's crew one-by-one has a pitch-perfect pace. Indeed, it deserves praise in both of the genres it works within.