In 1979, director Ridley Scott helmed a revolution in the sci-fi genre: “Alien”. With a few TV series and only one feature film on his résumé at the time, this revolutionary masterpiece had mixed reviews at the beginning, but ultimately became a landmark in horror and science fiction and one of the biggest franchises in film history.
With a woman as the lead character, Lieutenant Ellen Ripley, amazingly portrayed by Sigourney Weaver, defied the stereotype of the lead hero in an action, adventure, horror and science fiction franchise always being a male character.
Now, almost 40 years after the first movie of the franchise arrived at theaters and changed the sci-fi genre forever, “Alien: Covenant” arrives in 2017, taking place before the first Alien film and a few years after “Prometheus” in the chronology.
To commemorate such an important franchise in film history that is beloved by die-hard fans for decades and decades now, we ranked all six movies in the Alien franchise. Also, it’s never too late to remember that the two ‘Alien vs. Predator’ movies were deliberately left out of this list and that we have lots of spoilers below.
So, here are the six Alien movies ranked from worst to best:
6. Alien: Resurrection (1997), directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
After seeing three movies where Ripley destroyed basically every xenomorph that showed up in her path, do we really need to see this mother and son relationship between our favorite lieutenant and the new human-xenomorph hybrid? And what about that basketball court scene?
Often considered as the weakest Alien film, “Alien: Resurrection” is directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who you might remember for directing “Amélie” a few years later, and who had previously directed great films like “Delicatessen” (1991) and “The City of Lost Children” (1995), both in collaboration with writer and director Marc Caro.
Written by Joss Whedon (“The Avengers”, “Much Ado About Nothing”), the movie is full of dull moments and moves up a little slowly with lots of unnecessary gags. But the most strange part of the film is still Ripley’s awkward relationship with the Alien which she, for some reason, has an affection for.
With lots of weird camera movements and a few scenes and moments that should maybe not be in the script in the first place, “Alien: Resurrection” is number six in the ranking of the Alien franchise.
5. Alien: Covenant (2017), directed by Ridley Scott
The last installment in the Alien franchise follows a colony ship that is heading to a remote planet with more than 2,000 people on board to occupy this new place. Everything changes when they find a nearby paradise and decide to land there.
Working both as a prequel to the movie “Alien” from 1979 and a sequel to “Prometheus”, released in 2012, “Alien: Covenant” is, in tone, definitely a hybrid between those two films.
With debatable motivations of their characters and not solving many of the questions raised by its prequel “Prometheus”, “Alien: Covenant” seems to have no memorable moments at all. Despite the amazing special effects, photography, and landscapes, the movie fails to get meaningful relationships between its characters and fails to add personality to all of them.
Being R-rated might not have been the best choice for this movie because everything is based on exposure. Its visuals and violent scenes with more blood than ever before, its dialogues, its plot-twists… most of the aspects of this film are just mimicking things we have seen more than once before in this franchise.
Even though it does not move as slow as other movies in the Alien series, “Alien: Covenant” seems to be there just to tie “Prometheus” to the first Alien film but does not add anything significant to this universe.
4. Alien 3 (1992), directed by David Fincher
With a lot of controversy surrounding the production of this film, mostly with David Fincher’s problems with creative control, “Alien 3” is often considered the “moment when the Alien franchise stopped working,” although this is clearly debatable.
Being a famous director of music videos at the time, it is not hard to imagine that it sounded like a good opportunity for Fincher to get into the industry with such a big blockbuster franchise as Alien was at the time (and still is).
Following Ellen Ripley arriving in a maximum all-male security prison and eventually realizing she brought a deadly creature with her, “Alien 3” is the most slow-paced movie in the franchise because everything seems to take too much time to actually happen, and this has more to do with screenwriting than directing.
If you watch the Assembly Cut of the movie in comparison with the theatrical version, you might be able to see that “Alien 3” should not be as hated as it was – and as it is – nowadays. And let us remember that Fincher himself once said that nobody hates this movie more than he does.
Even with all of the projection time where the narrative does not seem to progress, the corridor scene by the end of the film shows lots of Fincher’s control of imagery that we would see in his following films and we can probably say that this third act of the movie makes it worth seeing (although still does not save the whole picture).