All the Alien Movies, And Our Rating For Each

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We rank the main entries in the Alien franchise. Do they all hold up today?

For almost 40 years, the Alien franchise has given us chilling scares, relentless action, intriguing mystery, and a massively deep universe of impressive backstory. We rate the main films in this beloved sci-fi franchise from its birth in the late 70s to the most recent release this year in 2017.

6. Alien (1979)

Alien - HD Trailer | Ridley Scott 1979 Classic 

As the commercial towing vessel, the Nostromo, makes its way back to earth, an unknown transmission leads them to planet LV-426, where they investigate its origin. As one crew member gets attacked by a Facehugger Alien and is brought on board against quarantine orders, the entire ship, now off the planet and headed back home, becomes tasty prey once the Xenomorph hatches from the crewmember’s body and is now loose on the ship. They must kill it before it kills them.

Most original films in popular franchises seem to be held to, at the worst, mediocrity. People like originals because they are new, and normally not convoluted. But Alien earns that title of being a great original not from just being first in line, but because it’s so good that it earns the distinction of being sci-fi/horror classic and ahead of its time.

1979 was quite a while ago, but one thing aging has done nicely for Alien is the abundance of mystery surrounding the monster. As we’ll progressively see through the next three Alien films, the amount of visual mystery surrounding the alien continually declines as we get closer to the present. Set design and pacing are great, and at times it feels like we shouldn’t even be there on the ship, almost documentarian. Although there’s hardly character development, (we barely know anything about them the entire film), the story plotting is so insanely good, we neither seem to notice, or if we do, care.

Sci-fi/Horror really doesn’t get any better than this.

Rating: 10/10

5. Aliens (1986)

Aliens HD Trailer (1986)

Set nearly sixty years after the events of the first film, Ripley is persuaded to revisit the planet LV-426 with a military squad after contact with the first human colony on the planet, “Hadley’s Hope,” is lost. Action ensues. Almost everybody dies. The survivors escape and win. Yay! (for now?)

James Cameron takes over the helm this time for one of the most badass sci-fi/action movies of all time. It’s much more action-oriented than its predecessor, but still manages to be pretty frightening. We get to see much more of Ridley’s personality in this one and there is actually character development here, as opposed to the original, where there wasn’t much, if any. And although all the military bro-talk gets near excruciating at times, in 1986 it wasn’t clichéd yet.

This movie feels like a James Cameron movie in the best way. It’s a Hollywood blockbuster with action and heart. I would like a re-release with all the bro-talk removed though, please. Thanks.

Rating: 9/10

4. Alien 3 (1992)

ALIEN 3 Official Trailer (1992) 

During hyper-sleep on Ripley’s way back to earth, there’s an electrical fire aboard the ship, and she gets ejected in an escape pod, crash landing right next to an all men’s maximum security backwater prison run by the evil corporation Weyland-Yutani. No! (for now?). There happened to be an alien hiding in the escape pod and now it begins to ravage the prisoners one by one (and there’s a lot of deaths). Apparently this time, the Queen Alien is inside of Ripley, leading her to eventually jump into a lake full of molten led, killing herself along with the Alien inside of her.

This movie is quite disappointing considering how good the previous two films were. Although feeling like a B-movie at times, including some unbearably bad dialogue, the stylistic cinematography and action are actually quite a delight. At the end of the day, the story isn’t awful, but the film as a whole feels even more disfigured than any of the prison inmates’ dead bodies.

Rating: 6/10

3. Alien: Resurrection (1997)

Alien: Resurrection - Official® Trailer [HD]

I thought the wrap-up of Alien 3 was perfect. Everything was wrapped up in a cute little ball. But then they had to untangle that little piece of perfection, because monies. Two-hundred years after Ripley sacrificed herself in Alien 3, they’ve scooped up her blood samples and have been making clones from her DNA mixed with the alien DNA to create something probably not going to be used for the good of mankind. The scientists figure they have everything under control, but these little Xenomorph buggers are smart enough to escape and terrorize the ship, and just like another day at the office, Ripley is able to kill them off and escape back to earth.

Although pretty exciting and fast-paced, it feels so much closer to just another mediocre action movie than anything “Alien.” Again, like Alien 3, I don’t think think the script was bad (Joss Whedon wrote the script and he’s very vocal about his hatred towards the final product), it was still somehow churned into something very one-dimensional and with hardly any scares to boot. My favorite part is simply the alternate ending where we see Ripley and Call stare onward at Paris in ruins, as the earth has essentially been demolished.

Although visually very well put together, if I were to recommend this movie, I’d say just turn off the sound, turn on the subtitles, and clean your apartment. When your wrist gets sore from vacuuming, maybe stare at the TV for a few minutes and then get back to your Dyson.

Rating: 6/10

2. Prometheus (2012)

Prometheus | Official US Trailer | 20th Century FOX

Set thirty years before the original Alien, Peter Weyland funds a scientific expedition to the moon LV-223, where he, along with scientists Shaw and Holloway, aim to find what they call “the Engineers,” believed to be humanity’s creators. After they arrive, they find one of the engineers still alive in a foreign spacecraft, as well as the information that their ship’s course is set for earth and its intention is to destroy it. Why? We’re left to find out.

As the engineer attempts to fly its ship off the moon and towards Earth, Captain Janek sacrifices himself by flying the Prometheus into the engineer’s ship, crashing it back down onto the surface. Shaw then defeats the engineer and takes off in its spacecraft, presumably to the Engineer’s homeland.

Prometheus is the brainiest and most thought-provoking film in the bunch, with a few creeps and some solid action to hold over even those who might have been left a bit perplexed at the end (I personally was). It’s a movie that needs re-watching to say the least. Although not the return to classic Alien and Aliens form that fans wanted, I found it a very refreshing treat, especially after the last two entries.

Rating: 7/10

1. Alien: Covenant (2017)

Alien: Covenant | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX

Ten years after Shaw left LV-233, the Weyland-Yutani ship, the USCSS Covenant, is en route to Origae-6 to find another habitable planet for humanization, when it flies through a neutrino blast, killing most of the colonists on board and their captain. After repairing the ship, the remaining crew members receive an unknown transmission, and are required under their work contract to follow the signal to a nearby planet, seemingly even more hospitable to human life than Origae-6 was thought to be. Turns out it isn’t. There are aliens and they kill almost everybody.

The crew finds the android David on the planet, with Shaw having landed there (after Prometheus) and dying. The transmission ruse turned out all along to be just a pit-stop to pick up some more alien swag for Weyland-Yutani. As the final survivors, Daniels, Tennessee and Walter (their non-evil android), escape the planet and begin hyper-sleep, Daniels realizes that David impersonated Walter to get on board the ship, and he puts her into hyper-sleep, before she can stop him. David manning the ship now, it’s back on its way to Origae-6.

While being just as intelligent as its predecessor, Prometheus, Alien: Covenant gives us more gore and more action then Prometheus and it’s fun as hell. The gore is done right. It’s not cringe worthy, it’s just plain frightening. The film’s main problem, however, is that its complexity just comes off as confusing in its first visit, but after multiple views, I enjoy this movie more than I did the first time. Covenant is definitely worth many viewings, and although it’s not too hard to predict the twist at the end, I’m a sucker for a good twist and this was one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Rating: 7/10

Although the proposed Neill Blomkamp's Alien 5 has been put on definite hiatus, Ridley Scott has stated he has much more in store for the Xenomorphic universe and we can't wait.

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Although his home planet has long since been destroyed, Austin has still managed to game his way through this life on earth with help from med-packs, double-XP scrolls, and Japanese cuisine.
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