Ranking The Alien Movies From Worst To Best
Asked to rank the Alien movies, almost anyone would come up with the same top two, but after that, it gets a little complicated. While some of these entries seem worlds apart—and almost impossible to compare—here is one person’s ranking of the franchise’s highs and lows. Some of these movies were viewed many years apart, but time can’t dull one inescapable fact about the Alien movies: they always leave a lasting impression.
7. [tie] Alien vs. Predator / Alien vs. Predator: Requiem
Let’s face it, there’s no shortage of seriously flawed Alien movies. With that in mind, it’s hard to even take the time to watch these vaguely unauthorized outcasts. With few real ties to the rest of the franchise, the AVPs are disposable cash grabs that arguably have no place on a list like this.
6. Alien 3
From the moment Se7en established David Fincher as a heavyweight auteur, Alien 3 defenders started coming out of the woodwork, insisting that the director’s big screen debut is an overlooked triumph. When a new cut arrived in 2003, some went even further, picking it as the best movie in the franchise. But even Fincher wants nothing to do with this exceedingly grim, unpalatable dud, insisting that his preferences were disregarded every step of the way. Even if you appreciate the flagrant movie nods (Evil Dead POVs, THX 1138 hair cuts) and occasionally artful photography, this is a heartless, mean-spirited movie. Hell, they even killed Newt—with no fanfare whatsoever.
Easily the most sprawling and ambitious film in the Alien franchise, Prometheus stuffs every frame with striking action and/or imagery—and still manages to be consistently unappealing. That said, it does feature a surgery sequence that is arguably one of the franchise’s most outrageous and shocking highlights.
4. Alien: Resurrection
Arriving five years after Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection was instantly greeted with skepticism by those still scarred by its predecessor. Thanks to the efforts of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (who followed this with the exhaustively cheerful Amélie) and screenwriter Joss Whedon, this entry replaced Alien 3’s miserabilism with a more playful approach. This is generally a good thing, but it occasionally spills over into clumsy, B-movie territory.
3. Alien: Covenant
Alien: Covenant comes closer to the original two Alien films than any of the intervening misfires. While the five films above are plagued by tonal confusion, unsympathetic characters, and stories that are almost impossible to care about, Alien: Covenant goes back to basics, delivering an engrossing—if relatively straightforward—Alien movie that definitely gets the job done. (Check out our full review here.)
What’s better, Alien or Aliens? Fans have been arguing about this question for decades. While there’s no definitively correct answer, here’s a compromise: Aliens is the superior action movie, while Alien is the superior horror movie. Ridley Scott’s visual skills are far beyond James Cameron’s, but the latter manages to go even further with many of the first film’s strengths, creating a sense of terrifying drama that transcends the original’s slasher film rigidity.
By modern standards, Alien is an undeniably slow-paced, uncomplicated film, but this makes for one of the most dread-inducing experiences in movie history. In the hands of any other director, this could have been just another horror movie, but Ridley Scott boards the Nostromo with world-class technique, an inspired design team, and a truly stellar cast, delivering a film that has been endlessly imitated, but never duplicated.