The Alien Franchise – Film Series Review

Alien is a horror franchise that has gone on for years. It started off scary, horrific, and revolutionary but has declined in both quality, logic and scariness as time has gone on. With ‘Alien: Covenant’ coming out, will it stack up to some of the originals? Or will it fall into the same plot holes as some of the later sequels? Who knows?! But let’s look back on 40 years of alien horror.

Alien (1979)

The original. The best? Maybe. It’s slow, it’s scary, the characters are great. It’s pure horror, something which the sequels don’t really have. There’s almost 40 minutes of build up just until they even find the alien stuff. Then there’s the gruesome chestbursting scene, the hunt for the creature and the eventual deaths of most of the crew. It’s terrifying. And the design is great. H. R. Giger’s weirdly sexual designs look so creepy, so real that it really brings the film to life.

It also helps that the cast is really solid. John Hurt might not get much to do but he’s still good. Ian Holm is quiet and sadistic as an android Ash and Sigourney Weaver dazzles as unlikely hero Ripley. And let’s not forget the real star of the show: the alien. Only joking, Ridley Scott. His direction is on top form, letting shots linger for longer than they should and getting in close on the action. ‘Alien‘ really is a true masterpiece of horror. Real scary and real good.


Aliens (1986)

Bam! 7 years after the original and fresh off of ‘The Terminator’, James Cameron comes along to breathe a new life into the franchise. This one also starts as a bit of a slow burn, but soon doubles down on the action with space marines fighting for their lives against hordes of aliens and an alien queen. The horror is still there and the suspense is high up there with the stakes. The story is great, having Ripley revisit the alien planet years later after contact with a colony there is lost.

Weaver is, as always, great. She gets to show her loving side more in this one, taking a young girl under her wing. Their mother-daughter relationship is the emotional centre of the movie and having a child involved just makes everything scarier. All the marines and their different personalities shine, the ones you like, the ones you hate and the ones you laugh at. It’s a solid sequel to the original, even date I say it as good as? Possibly.


Alien 3 (1992)

David Fincher is now known as a great director, largely due to making good movies but also helped along by the fact that most people have forgotten he directed this tripe. Set on a male prison colony planet, the film tries to recapture the horror of a lone alien killing people like the first film, but it just doesn’t work. The film has a very interesting history and what it could have been may have turned out great (monks getting killed on the toilet on a wooden planet anyone?!), but instead it’s a mess of a movie.

Parts don’t make sense, and a director’s cut only confuses that. The characters aren’t all that likable. Yes, they are convicts, but still… Ripley is more annoying in this one too and don’t even get me started on the special effects! The alien looks like complete garbage. In the first film the ship was HUGE, and even though we never even explored the whole thing, you got the sense where things were and that is was all a part of a whole. This prison layout makes no sense, with lots of long hallways and weird vents and doors. It’s just confusing. It’s not a good film, at all.


Alien: Resurrection (1997)

So, Ripley is a clone, there’s another alien queen in captivity along with lots of aliens and there’s a whole host of really really stupid characters. There’s a lot more action and a lot less horror. There’s lots of attempts at humour, but none of them really work. The story is a mess, the acting is pretty suspect and most of all the characters are just really annoying. I will say that the special effects are pretty good. That’s the good part. The only real good part…

Making the aliens very intelligent is in itself an intelligent idea, but dumbing down literally ever other character makes it pretty pointless. I don’t like any of them. You actually want the aliens to kill them all. And then there’s the usual fake-out of an ending where you think they’re all dead and then suddenly there’s an alien on board… oh wait, not an alien. A half-alien-half-human hybrid? Brilliant. Sums up the movie really. It’s a hybrid of a lot of ideas, isn’t very pleasant and is also ugly. Oh, it also probably stinks too.


Prometheus (2012)

Ridley Scott is back baby! But for a prequel?! Do those ever turn out great? Do those ever add anything to the original film? Not always. And in this case, also not always… ‘Prometheus‘ is a convoluted mess of ideas, pushed forward by the stupidest characters you’ll ever meet and hidden behind some really amazing special effects. The actors are great. They even act great. but the decisions the characters make just reduce this film to almost nothing. I can’t even begin to go into them here but they’re all just so so stupid.

The promise of this prequel, and indeed most prequels, is to answer and explain some mysteries from the original. The mystery here was where the aliens came from and what happened to that ‘space jockey’ in the first ‘Alien‘. Is that answered? Nope. Not at all. ‘Prometheus‘ only serves to leave us asking more questions than ever before. We don’t know anything. And anything we did know is now in question. It’s still not a bad film.. There’s some good horror stuff in there and some great set pieces and effects. But it’s just disappointing more than anything.



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