The Alien Franchise Ranked

The Alien franchise ranked

The Alien Franchise Ranked

When Ridley Scott’s Alien came out in 1979, it was honestly as groundbreaking for claustrophobic thrillers as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was for science fiction as a whole. The film is practically perfect — it’s tight, it’s suspenseful, it’s expertly crafted, and it’s finely tuned. Sigourney Weaver knocks it out of the park, as does the rest of the cast, and Scott went down as one of the strongest voices in genre filmmaking the world had seen so far.

One has to wonder if he knew he’d still be making Alien movies nearly 40 years later. He didn’t return to the franchise until 2012—five other directors took on five other Alien sequels and spinoffs — and he hasn’t made an Alien movie that compares to the original, but it’s still fun to see him try. In November of 2015, Scott alluded to three sequels to Prometheus. We’ve gotten one so far, so we’ve ranked every Alien film from best to worst while we wait for the next two.

Alien

The Alien franchise ranked

There’s no denying it: The first Alien movie is by far the best. Many believe James Cameron’s sequel is the superior installment, but there’s really no contest. Alien has everything that makes this franchise worthwhile — close encounters, tight quarters, dirty and bloody set pieces, and great practical effects. The Xenomorph stays shrouded in shadows like an extraterrestrial Jaws, the characters are complex and interesting — you actually care about what happens, which isn’t always the case in some of the later Alien films.

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Aliens

The Alien franchise ranked

One of the most solid sequels in film history and considered by many to be the best Alien movie yet, James Cameron’s Aliens is great despite being the opposite of what made Alien great. Aliens is large in scale and big on action, but it works incredibly well as a sequel to a movie that prides itself on small-scale thrills.

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Alien3

The Alien franchise ranked

While you might be surprised to see this film so high on the list, it’s important to note we’re judging the film based on David Fincher’s largely superior Director’s Cut. The theatrical version of the movie is all kinds of messy, but Fincher is able to amend the film’s problems in his own cut of the film. It’s much better and absolutely one of the best installments of the franchise.

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Alien Resurrection

The Alien franchise ranked

Even at its worst, this original run of the Alien franchise can’t be beaten by any of its prequels or spinoffs. Alien Resurrection is the low point of the Sigourney Weaver-led Alien movies, but that’s still a heck of a lot better than anything we’ve seen in Ridley Scott’s recent Alien prequels or any of the 2000s spinoffs.

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Alien: Covenant

The Alien franchise ranked

The most recent Alien prequel-sequel sees Scott at the helm once more, seemingly trying to undo some of the mistakes of its predecessor while also trying to bend over backward connect itself to the first Alien movie. Despite its complicated mythology, Covenant proves to be pretty fun — largely due to the fact that it’s a return to form. The movie stays small-scale for a while, which is good, but eventually sacrifices that for some big action near the end.

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Prometheus

The Alien franchise ranked

Prometheus was met with mostly positive reviews upon its release, but hindsight allows us to see that this movie really isn’t very good at all. Michael Fassbender is great, of course, but there isn’t much else that works in Ridley Scott’s first Alien movie since 1979. It’s a shame, too, because he’s the one responsible for the greatest installment so far.

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AVP: Alien vs. Predator

The Alien franchise ranked

The Alien franchise is (mostly) great. The Predator franchise is (mostly) great. So why does the mashup between the two feel so bland? There’s no reason for this movie to be a dud, but it totally is. Its PG-13 rating makes for bland action and dialogue, its direction from Paul W.S. Anderson is exhausting and confounding — it’s all such a disappointment.

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Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

The Alien franchise ranked

Because the first Alien vs. Predator movie was a failure, you’d think producers would pay special attention to the problems raised by critics and audiences and try and improve them in the sequel. Nope. This movie is more of the same things that made AVP bad, yet this film is somehow even worse. Don’t even bother with this one — it’s not even bad in a fun way.

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