3. Prometheus (2012), directed by Ridley Scott
Despite the fact that “Prometheus” has lots of narrative problems – especially in the dialogue section – this is by far the most underrated movie in the Alien franchise.
Being in the Alien universe without lots of xenomorphs chasing people might have upset the audience, but “Prometheus” has lots of traces of the first Alien film – and let’s be clear, we’re not comparing them in terms of praise and quality. Leaving lots of questions open to the audience (as “Alien” did), it seems to be an issue nowadays to make the audience think for themselves, principally in the blockbuster era.
With lots of issues in the writing – but still thousands of miles away from it being “poorly written” as some people stated at the time – “Prometheus” is a great looking film and a good contribution to the Alien universe as it is tied directly to its first chapter in many themes and approaches.
Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender deliver great performances in this film that is closer to that beloved 1979 chapter of this series than people like to acknowledge.
Even with only a few big action sequences, “Prometheus” is probably going to gain recognition as a better movie as time passes by when audiences recognize that not every good blockbuster film has to deliver all the information in a silver plate. This is why “Prometheus” gets the third place on the rank.
2. Aliens (1986), directed by James Cameron
When James Cameron helmed the second chapter of the Alien franchise, he transformed the very suspenseful story and universe that was released seven years earlier into a top-notch action film. What can be worse than one xenomorph? Lots of them. And their mother as a terrifying bonus.
With amazing sequences, great practical effects, an awesome setup, and a terrific performance by Sigourney Weaver that brought about her first Oscar nomination (and let’s remember that it was for a sci-fi performance, something unprecedented in the Academy’s history), “Aliens” is not only one of the greatest movies in this franchise, it is one of the greatest action films ever made.
Having more destructive power than ever, the team travels to a distant planet to perform a rescue mission and Ripley once again has to face the xenomorphs. Written by James Cameron, all of the characters in this movie, from the android Bishop to the lead character Ripley, have great interactions between them and traces that make them relatable, something not very common in the newest chapters of the franchise.
Weaver delivers an amazing performance with this character who discovers her daughter has passed without their encounter that she promised decades before, and finds this daughter figure in a little girl on that faraway planet. This mother and daughter relationship is one of the most touching moments of the film.
“Aliens” has lots of memorable action sequences, great writing, and a thrilling ending with an amazing robot versus mother-alien battle that left audiences on the edge of their seat cheering for Ripley. That is why “Aliens” gets the number two spot on this list.
1. Alien (1979), directed by Ridley Scott
When “Alien” first arrived in theaters in 1979, it received mixed reviews. Time Out even said that the tricks played by the movie could not disguise its imaginative poverty. But still, time was able to redeem the masterpiece that “Alien” is.
With the groundbreaking choice of a female protagonist, something sadly still not very common in the sci-fi and horror genre in all kinds of mediums, “Alien” introduced the world to one of it’s greatest heroines: Lieutenant Ellen Ripley, a woman who lost everyone in her crew to a terrible monster and defeated it by herself.
Leaving a lot to the imagination of the audience, with superb practical effects and production design and direction that is nearly perfect, “Alien” is a landmark in blockbuster history. A story about the time of the pitching says this movie was sold by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett as “Jaws in space.” This is such an amazing thing because they took two of the most acclaimed movies at the time, “Star Wars” and “Jaws”, to sell something entirely new. And thankfully they did.
There is a saying that nothing is more terrifying than our imagination and “Alien” plays exactly with it. Nothing is as explosive as it could be, leaving the audience thrilled by connecting the dots that this claustrophobic narrative leaves us scene after scene.
By hearing its music composed by Jerry Goldsmith and the amazing sound design with all its complex noises and nuances, “Alien” builds suspense making the most with all the tools only cinema provides us.
Revolutionizing the sci-fi genre forever while perfectly building up horror and suspense puts the first installment of this franchise on the top of this list.
Author bio: Vítor Guima is a filmmaker, writer and musician from São Paulo, Brazil. Every day he watches a movie, reads a few pages from a book, listens to an album and freaks out with the feeling of not having enough time to see everything. You can follow him on Instagram on @ovitorguima.