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Worst to First: Ranking the Alien movies

In a crowded summer movie season, Ridley Scott’s latest entry in the Alien prequel series has gotten squeezed out at the box office despite decent reviews.  What does that mean for the future of the Alien franchise?  It’s hard to say at this point, but it seems like as good a time as any to rank the Alien movies from worst to first.

Note: I am not counting the Aliens Vs Predator movies. Those are an inferior, not to mention completely awful, adjunct to the series so it’s best to ignore them. I will be focusing on the four movies in the original Alien series released between 1979 and 1997 and the two (so far) prequels.

Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing elements of the plots of these movies so if you haven’t seen them and plan to, I’d advise holding off on reading the article until you have seen them.

6: Alien 3 (1992)

Box Office: 55,473,545

Rotten Tomatoes Ranking: 46%

Director: David Fincher

Summary: The third entry in the series takes place not long after the events of Aliens on prison planet Fiorina 161, a prison planet. Here Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) finds herself facing her famous foe yet again. Only this time, there’s a connection that may have far greater implications for her.

The Good: The cinematography is very good., This was David Fincher’s debut feature film after several years of music videos and commercials and he shows that he is a technically gifted filmmaker. The story does try to be ambitious in its use of the alien as an AIDS metaphor.

The Bad: The main problem with the third entry in the series is that it completely negates the ending of Aliens!! Killing off Newt and Hicks just won’t do.

In addition to that problem, the movie has a hastily thrown together feel. From what I’ve heard, they never had a completely locked script for it. Hence, the haphazard feel. Fincher reportedly battled with studio executives over this. He was once quoted as saying:

They look at these movies like a franchise. There are people, who shall remain nameless, that I was bumping into as I was trying to put this thing together who were putting the experience into a really interesting kind of perspective. They were saying ‘Look, you could have somebody piss against the wall for two hours and call it Alien 3 and it’s going to do $30 million worth of business, you can’t keep people away. They’re going to go the first night to see what it is.

Verdict: It is for these reasons that Alien 3 ranks at the bottom of the Alien pyramid. I know a few people who swear by it. But I tend to agree with Fincher who disowned the film because he was so disappointed in the final result. Luckily, he rebounded from that and managed to gain true creative control and go on to make masterpieces like Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac and The Social Network. But did the Alien series recover? Read on.

Next: Alien Resurrection

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Posted on June 16, 2017, in Worst to First and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. This is so weird… I just realized that, in spite of the fact that I (wrongfully?) consider myself an Alien fan, I can’t honestly vote in this ranking! It just dawned on me that it’s been about 12(!!) years since I’ve seen the original trilogy, and I only watched them once. Resurrection gave me nightmares for months, and Prometheus nearly did the opposite by putting me to sleep out of sheer boredom. However, I think I understand my “problem” with this franchise now: I do consider myself a fan because the concept of Alien is so incredibly cool and original. On the other hand, I can’t handle horror. At all. Which is probably why I only watched all these movies once. It’s also the reason I haven’t seen Covenant yet, and I’m not sure I ever will, because as I understand it, it’s scary as hell. Also, as I mentioned, I was less than intruiged by Prometheus, and the prospect of another movie out of the same pipeline doesn’t really pique my interest.
    However, as I remember it, I think the first two movies are really great, and I even think I rather liked Alien 3. But that’s just a feeling, and I don’t entirely trust the memories of my then-19 year old self. So I’m not going to vote, but I’m interested in seeing the results according to the other readers. 😊

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    • The first two movies are very great and also very different. I find it nearly impossible to pick one over the other. My preference depends largely on what kind of movie I am in the mood for. I will give the original Alien the slight edge for kicking off the whole franchise and influencing countless other movies. But if I am in the mood for a sci-fi action movie, Aliens is unbeatable. You can’t go wrong with either one of them. All the subsequent follow-ups are skippable. The less said about AVP the better.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeffthewildman

        That’s why I’ve kept my Alien collection limited to Alien and Aliens. I contemplated getting the Alien Quadrilogy box set. But then I thought why would I want to spend $40 on a set of 4 movies, of which there are only two I would watch on a regular basis. So I bought those 2 and stopped there (came across them on sale at Best Buy along with 3 and Resurrection. $5.00 each).

        Thought about including AVP. Then I realized it would mean likely rewatching the first and watching the second (which I blissfully passed on). Plus, since they weren’t connected to the series itself other than the same aliens, it was easier to write them off as what they are. If I had included them, they both would’ve been at the bottom of the pile. I probably would’ve tossed a coin to determine the order.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not going to vote because I pretty much half-assed it when viewing the other films in the series except for “Alien” and “Aliens”.

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  2. “One can build a comprehensive collection by buying both and forgetting everything else”: Yeah, that’s sounds good to me.

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