The Alien Xenomorph is among the most iconic movie monsters in film history. The incredible art of H.R. Giger, combined with the visionary talents of Ridley Scott, came together to create a masterpiece of cinema and a franchise that endures to this day.
I’ve watched every Alien movie numerous times and I own each film on Blu-ray. Recently I re-watched all six, from the original 1979 Alien to the most recent Alien: Covenant. I already chronicled and rated every movie individually, so now it’s time to rank the Alien franchise from worst to best!
* This ranking does not include the Alien vs. Predator movies(I’ll probably do a separate list that adds them at a later date). Also, this post is spoiler free, so if you haven’t seen these movies your safe to proceed.
6th Place: Alien Resurrection
In my opinion, Alien Resurrection is the worst film in the franchise. Is it terrible? Not really. There’s actually a few very interesting aspects to this movie. Some of the gore and creature effects are well done(although often more funny than scary). Sigourney Weaver gives a good performance and a few of the supporting actors shine in their roles.
Unfortunately, the flaws outweigh the strengths, which makes this a difficult film to recommend.
The most glaring issue is that this movie has a problem establishing it’s tone. Is it a comedy? Horror movie? Both?! The writing by Joss Whedon, who’s scripts I typically enjoy, doesn’t mesh well with an Alien movie. At times the dialogue was even juvenile and eye-roll inducing. In addition, most of the characters are one-dimensional and lack any depth. I never felt connected to them(or their backstory) and as a result, while the events of the movie began to unfold, I wasn’t invested in the journey.
All these factors culminate to create a movie that feels out of place within the franchise and is sub-par compared to the rest of the Alien films.
My Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
5th Place: Alien Covenant
Alien Covenant was a competently crafted but ultimately disappointing movie. After the mixed reception of Prometheus Ridley Scott returned to the Director’s chair, abandoning his original concept in favor of a Prometheus/Alien hybrid.
Unfortunately, this resulted in a film that feels tonally inconsistent. It has the high-concept God and creation themes from Prometheus mixed with more traditional Alien action/horror elements.
This approach fell flat, mainly because the action was lacking in tension and the Xenomorph scenes felt like afterthoughts.
In addition, the characters were dull and not nearly as interesting as the crews in Alien, Aliens or Prometheus. Although David and Walter(Michael Fassbender) is an exception to this. His incredible performance, along with the stunning visuals, are the highlights of the film.
Overall this is a fairly weak entry into the franchise but still worth watching for the gorgeous scenery, excellent score and a few stand-out action sequences.
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
4th Place: Alien 3
Alien 3 was a disappoint for many fans when it opened to theaters in 1992. It abandoned the action of James Cameron’s Aliens for a more somber approach. A controversial beginning scene divided audiences and steered the franchise in a new direction. The movie is dark, gritty and deals with themes of religion and isolation.
While the movie does have some flaws(mostly sub-par creature effects, pacing inconsistency issues), I’ve always appreciated this film. To this day it’s one of the sequels that I enjoy watching the most.
Famously this production was plagued with studio interference and Director David Fincher wasn’t able to fully realize his vision as a result. Multiple attempts at a screenplay, poor marketing and “too many cooks in the kitchen” all impacted the creation of Alien 3.
Fortunately we still got a movie with strong performances from the cast(Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance), a beautiful orchestral score and an interesting location with Fiorina “Fury” 161.
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
3rd Place: Prometheus
Prometheus is a visually stunning film. Ridley Scott is a master at creating a believable, fully-realized world for his characters to inhabit. The intricate sets, breathtaking scenery and detailed costumes all work together to create a Science Fiction film that has weight.
Upon release Prometheus received a mixed reception do to the concepts in the movie being vague and open-ended. Themes of religion, evolution and creation of man, while interesting, didn’t resonate with some movie-goers. Many left the theater with unanswered questions and to this day the movie is divisive.
As a fan of the Alien universe I found myself enthralled with Prometheus. It’s a movie that benefits from multiple watching’s, each time gathering more details to fill in the gaps. While not a perfect film, it does enrich the Alien lore and serves as an excellent entry into this movie franchise.
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
2nd Place: Aliens
James Cameron took the suspense and horror of Alien and injected a healthy dose of Action to create an icon of 1980’s cinema. Aliens is a joy to watch and easily makes my top 10 list of favorite(and most watched) films of all time.
So, why does this movie work so well? The action sequences are fast paced and engaging. Sigourney Weaver gives a phenomenal(Oscar nominated) performance. The sets, model work and creature effects are all world-class. Most importantly, the characters are interesting and they interact with each-other in a way the feels natural.
The result is one of the best Science Fiction/Action films ever to grace the big screen and a VERY close runner-up to the next film on this list.
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
1st Place: Alien
The original 1979 Alien by Ridley Scott takes the top spot. Admittedly it was a tough choice between this and Aliens but the superb directing and originality gave this film the edge.
Over 40 years later and this movie is still as enjoyable to watch as ever. It’s responsible for introducing the world to one of the most terrifying movie monsters ever created, the Xenomorph. This creature design by H.R. Giger was realized so effectively by Scott and crew that an icon was created.
Much like with Steven Spielberg’s movie Jaws, Ridley Scott understood that tension could be built by the unknown. Sparing use of the Alien creature created a sense of dread. The incredible set design and cinematography only enhance this feeling, resulting in a genuinely scary movie.
This is close to a perfect film and fully deserves the top spot. If you haven’t seen the original Alien stop what your doing and give it a watch.
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
That wraps up my ranking of the Alien movies from worst to best. I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to leave your rankings in the comments section below!