Culture

The 'Alien' Film Franchise Movies, Ranked

We’re about to re-learn a valuable lesson. “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

“Alien: Covenant,” the sixth film in the “Alien” franchise, just released a look at the film’s prologue, along with a full cast portrait.

The May 19th release is a sequel to 2012’s “Prometheus,” itself a prequel to the “Alien” film series.

It begs the question: which “Alien” film is the best, and worst, so far? We don’t know where “Covenant” will fall in the space saga, but we can say for certain how the previous films line up.

5. Alien: Resurrection

The fourth film essentially shut the franchise down for a spell. Clearly, the saga needed to take a knee. Yet chapter 4 offers some guilty pleasures, including a new, and oddly improved, Ripley, thanks to some cloning magic.

What began as a deadly serious franchise found its sense of humor. Add genre stars like Ron Perlman (and forget about a miscast Winona Ryder) and you have an “Alien” feature that’s both dumbed down and rather engaging.

Joss Whedon wrote the script, although he later trashed virtually everything about the film including the casting choices and how his words were interpreted.

4. Prometheus

Had this prequel maintained the quality of its first half it would slip in nicely in the no. 3 slot here. Instead, the movie crumbles just as it should be gaining momentum.

Scott revisits the franchise he began back in 1979, and he brings a terrific cast with him. The standout is obvious—Michael Fassbender’s fascinating android, who returns in the upcoming “Covenant.”

Kudos to the creative team for crafting a sequel that attempts to connect only modestly to the original franchise. Unfortunately, the results hardly flatter the film or the franchise’s legacy.

3. Alien 3

The second film in the franchise upped the number of aliens chasing our heroes. That left the third film in a storytelling pickle. So the third installment ratchets down the creatures, focusing its time on the sequel’s colorful prisoners.

That’s wonderful…. on paper. But young director David Fincher can’t make the rogues gallery of supporting players worth our empathy. The film also lacks the wholesale scares found in the first two chapters.

Call it a noble effort, but not much more.

2. Aliens

You can mock director James Cameron for plenty these days. How long he takes between projects. His grandiose statements. His eco-hypocrisy. But darned if he didn’t deliver, big league, with this 1986 sequel.

It’s more of an action film than the original, a thematic detour that fits beautifully within the franchise’s structure.

The casting proved perfect, too. Paul Reiser playing way against type as the oily businessman. Bill Paxton crying, “Game over, man!” steals scenes outright. And, of course, Weaver proving her Ripley character deserved a place in Hollywood lore.

1. Alien

Perfect films are a rarity in Hollywood. You can name them on one hand: “Jaws,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Citizen Kane” … and “Alien.” The 1979 space epic that launched the franchise hasn’t aged a minute. A few of the effects may be crude by modern standards, but everything else is pitch perfect.

We defy you to point to a more terrifying monster than the title creature. That’s hardly the only reason “Alien” still matters today.

Consider the sense of claustrophobia aboard the spacecraft. The uneasy bond between the crew members. And the ending, pitting Sigourney Weaver’s Lt. Ripley against the Alien.

It’s still the standard against which all space thrillers must be measured. And very, very few come close.

Note: “Alien vs Predator” and its sequel, “Alien vs Predator: Requiem,” don’t truly belong on this list. Had they been included, they would come in sixth and seventh place, respectively.