A new addition to the Alien franchise is almost upon us, as director Ridley Scott prepares to release the much anticipated Alien: Covenant on May 19. And while expectations are always high for a new installment in the fictional universe that Sir Ridley Scott (yup, he’s really a knight) started back in 1979, those expectations have not always been met. While many of the Alien sequels and spin-offs have been amazing, just as many have been over-hyped and extremely disappointing. Yet the almost 40-year-old franchise continues and us fans hold our breathe for each new sequel, hoping that it will revitalize the series and recall the thrills we all felt with the first two Alien movies. As we wait for Alien: Covenant (and the eventual Alien: Awakening, date TBA), we thought we would rank all of the Alien movies from worst to first, including the two Alien vs. Predator films. Say what you want, but AvP is part of the legacy here too.
7. Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)
This is hands down the worst movie featuring everyone’s favorite xenomorph. The 2007 effort Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is nothing more than a cheap attempt to cash in on the popularity of both the Alien and Predator brands. Featuring a cast of largely unknown actors, this movie is about a hybrid Alien/Predator called a “Predalien” that runs amok in rural Colorado. It’s up to a local sheriff and band of Predators to try to stop the hybrid face-hugger before it kills too many people. With a lame story, bad acting, and cheap special effects, this film was savaged by critics and disowned by fans. It currently has a 12 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Surprisingly though, this movie, which was released on Christmas Day, turned out to be a box office hit. It grossed nearly $130 million at the global box office and debuted at number one in Blu-ray and DVD sales. A bad movie, but it performed well enough financially to keep the franchise alive.
6. Alien vs. Predator (2004)
Not as bad as its aforementioned sequel, but still stinky enough to land in the second worst spot on this list is 2004’s Alien vs. Predator. Based on a series of comic books with the same name, this movie follows a group of archaeologists assembled by billionaire Charles Weyland (actor Lance Henriksen, who actually played Bishop in Aliens) for an expedition near the Antarctic to investigate a mysterious heat signal. The group discovers a pyramid below the surface of a whaling station, and ancient Hieroglyphics reveal that the pyramid is a hunting ground for young Predators who kill Aliens as a rite of passage. The humans are caught in the middle of a battle between the two species and attempt to prevent the Aliens from reaching the surface. Big, fun, and dumb, this movie is long on action and light on plot. Kudos to the writers for shoehorning in a cameo appearance by Henriksen and tying the film to the infamous Weyland Corporation. But it isn’t enough to justify this wasted effort — AvP currently has a 21 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, it grossed nearly $200 million at the box office.
5. Alien 3 (1992)
Alien 3 has the DNA of a great movie. All the potential can be seen clearly up there on the screen. Yet it doesn’t hold together quite well enough. Meant to conclude the original Alien trilogy, the film sees original series star Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) crash land on a planet that is a penal colony for rapists and murderers. With her head shaved bald to avoid lice, Ripley soon discovers that a xenomorph was stowed away on her ship and is now stalking the members of the prison. She must band together with the inmates to try and stop it. With an added plot twist that requires Ripley to make the supreme sacrifice, Alien 3 looks great and has a strong story. But the movie never satisfies in terms of thrills or chills. The first feature film of director David Fincher, this movie was plagued from the beginning by an overbearing studio that rushed production to meet a summer release date. Fans also felt that they never got to big questions answered, namely where are the xenomorphs from and what is their purpose?
4. Prometheus (2012)
Meant to launch a new trilogy in the Alien franchise, Prometheus suffered from some brilliant though frustrating marketing. Many readers may recall that Prometheus was advertised using a series of short film vignettes that were brilliant teasers for the movie – one featuring the android David was truly great. However, these videos were followed by a series of interviews where Ridley Scott flat out denied that Prometheus was an Alien prequel (or sequel) or that it was even tied to the Alien franchise. He made vague comments about the movie taking place in the “Alien universe,” but insisted that it was its own standalone film. Fans were then frustrated to eventually find that Prometheus was indeed an Alien prequel and tied firmly to the entire franchise. Why did Scott deny ever deny it? As for the movie itself, it looks great and has a strong cast, but fails to advance the story in any meaningful way. At the conclusion of Prometheus, we are left with more questions than answers. Sure, there is at least one more installment coming, but a good movie should be able to have a strong conclusion while still setting up a sequel.
3. Alien: Resurrection (1997)
This movie gets high marks for trying hard and being a really fun film. While the plot is a little weak and the giant baby xenomorph at the end is just plain creepy, this movie contains some really cool scenes and some of the most iconic images in the entire Alien film series. The scene where the band of smugglers and Ripley are being pursued by aliens underwater is alone worth the price of admission. Plus, the cast that includes genre actors such as Michael Wincott, Ron Pearlman, Brad Dourif, and Winona Ryder is really strong. As with other movies on this list, the ending still leaves the audience hanging, but not necessarily in a good way. But the journey to get to the ending is still pretty good. French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet tries to have a lot of fun with Alien: Resurrection and largely succeeds. The futuristic cloning idea that is used to resurrect Ellen Ripley is a little far-fetched, but if you can suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the movie for what it is, it has much to be admired.
2. Alien (1979)
The movie that started it all and is today considered a sci-fi classic. Alien, released in 1979 with the marketing tagline “In space, no one can hear you scream,” set a new benchmark in science fiction movies and advanced the genre a quantum leap forward. Director Ridley Scott created a scary, thrilling, and emotionally engaging story with his movie about the doomed crew aboard the commercial mining starship Nostromo, who are awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an nearby planet. Featuring an outstanding cast that includes not only Sigrouney Weaver, but also actors John Hurt, Ian Holm, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, and Yaphet Kotto, Alien left critics and audiences speechless. The scene where the alien bursts through John Hurt’s chest sent many people running for the movie theater exits. Copied countless times since it was first released, Alien is a true classic.
1. Aliens (1986)
How often does a sequel eclipse the original film? Not too often, in our opinion. Yet that’s exactly what happened with 1986’s Aliens. Director James Cameron ramped everything up with this movie that is bigger, badder, and better than the 1979 original. In this sequel, Ellen Ripley joins a group of Colonial Marines and heads back to the planet where her mining crew first encountered the xenomorph. With more aliens, more action, and superior special effects, Aliens succeeds in moving the story of the franchise forward without sacrificing any of the characters or action along the way. Like the original, this movie also has a great cast and several memorable scenes. Genre actors such as Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, and Lance Henriksen have rarely been better. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including a Best Actress nod for Sigourney Weaver, Aliens is one of the best sci-fi movies, and best sequels, ever made. And it’s the best movie in the Alien franchise to date, and will be almost impossible to top.