In Which The Birth.Movies.Death. Staff Ranks The ALIEN Movies
Editor's Note: this post originally ran on Alien Day two years ago (time flies!), but we're republishing it to include Alien: Covenant. These rankings are final and are scientifically impossible to argue with, so don't even think about trying to do that.
As you may have already heard, today is Alien Day, one of the holiest holidays ever established by a major Hollywood studio. It's a day for celebration, for conspicuous consumption, and for bitterly arguing amongst ourselves as to which Alien movies are better than others (of course we could do this any day of the year, but on April 26th these arguments tend to carry a little more weight).
To that end, the Birth.Movies.Death. staff got together this morning and put forth their Alien franchise rankings, from Ridley Scott's Alien all the way up through Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant (note: neither Alien VS Predator movie was acknowledged, and we feel comfortable with that).
Here are the results.
6. Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Alien: Resurrection landed in sixth place on our list, narrowly edging out Prometheus for that somewhat-dubious honor. Known primarily for resurrecting Ellen Ripley many years after the events of Alien 3 (thanks, cloning!), Alien: Resurrection seems destined to remain the least-loved entry in the Alien franchise. It's not that Jeunet's film is bad, per se; it just feels less of-a-piece with the rest of the franchise.
At best, it's a "What If?"-style detour. At worst, there's a scene where Ripley plays basketball exceptionally well.
5. Prometheus (2013)
As always, the BMD staff remains divided on Prometheus. On the one hand, it's a beautiful, big-budget take on the Alien franchise's origins. On the other hand, it's fatally flawed in several notable ways (egregious exposition dumps, inconsistent characters, muddled bits of mythology). Prometheus has gained something of a following in the years since its release, but even its most vocal supporters will tell you it's more fascinating for its missteps than its successes.
Worth noting: Fassbender crushes it.
4. Alien: Covenant (2017)
Ridley Scott followed up Prometheus with Alien: Covenant, and the crowd remained divided. But BMD is largely a pro-Covenant household: Michael Fassbender moves to center stage as the anti-Ripley of this new (and as yet unfinished) new Alien trilogy, turning in dual performances that really don't get the credit they deserve. It also features the biggest set piece in the entire Alien franchise (David slaughtering a planetful of Engineers), a handful of gnarly kills, and - perhaps most crucially - brings Danny fucking McBride into the Alien universe.
Some of you don't respect Alien: Covenant, and that's fine, but your names have been noted and you will be called upon to answer for your sins eventually.
3. Alien 3 (1992)
David Fincher's first feature film is notorious for any number of reasons - the drama that unfolded behind-the-scenes during production, the parade of screenplays that almost made the final cut (including one variation that would've found Ripley joining forces with a bunch of space-monks to do battle against the Xenomorph on a small, wooden planet), the decision to kill off the series' lead character - but for us, Alien 3's real selling point is its jaw-droppingly ballsy opening: before the credits have even finished rolling, Fincher gleefully kills off fan-favorite characters Hicks and Newt.
If nothing else, you gotta respect Fincher's nerve.
2. Aliens (1986)
Seven years after the release of Alien, James Cameron delivered a nearly-perfect sequel. Y'know what? Scratch that: Aliens is a perfect sequel. It masterfully builds on the mythology established in Scott's 1979 original, it ramps up the spectacle (not only do we get multiple xenomorphs, but we also get an Alien Queen), it establishes fun new characters (even that dipshit Burke is a joy to watch), and it introduces us to Bishop, the franchise's only heroic android.
Quite simply, Aliens is the greatest action-horror blockbuster ever made.
1. Alien (1979)
Unsurprisingly, the Birth.Movies.Death. staff ended up giving the top spot to Ridley Scott's Alien, the film that started it all. It's a razor-sharp horror movie. It's a brilliantly claustrophobic sci-fi epic. It's an across-the-board showcase for a talented cast, a visionary director, and the iconic designs of the late, great HR Giger. If James Cameron's Aliens is the perfect sequel, Ridley Scott's Alien is the perfect original, a film that doesn't seem to have aged a day in the decades since its release. We love all the Alien movies for different reasons, but Scott's 1979 classic will always hold a special place in our hearts for kicking off the franchise. It's a masterpiece.
Alright, folks. We've had our say. How about you? How do you rank the Alien movies (go ahead and include the Alien VS Predator movies if you insist)? Let us know in the comments below!
(Note: header photo used with permission via Flickr)