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A Look Back At The Alien Series

Alien: Covenant, 20th Century Fox

The six movies in the Alien Series were released in a collectors set not long ago. New (really cool) title cards, director info and more were included in the set. All of that is for film fans though, the real question is, how do the movies hold up?

The good news is the original Alien still works as an amazing horror film The atmosphere, the dread, and even the jump-scares still work like the day it was released. The Alien creature is gorgeous and a real testament to the practical effects of the day. It turns out a well filmed puppet or man in an Alien suit is incredibly effective when filmed properly. The creatures are incredibly well thought out and the autopsy of the facehugger is still pretty gross. The acting is on point and believable. The only thing that took me out of this movie at all was the green digits on the computer screens. It’s a little detail I know, but it’s hard to “be in the future” when you’re looking at technology from the past.

At it’s heart, Alien is just a haunted house movie with a different kind of boogie man. I would give this one Five Alien Eggs

The second movie “Aliens” has a few more problems than you remember. In its time it was seen as an actual upgrade and superior movie, but in retrospect it reaches a little too far. The movie itself jumps from horror movie to action move, complete with outsized stereotypical characters (butch Hispanic possibly lesbian woman, and big bravado guy who turns into the whiniest character in history). Not only is the acting over the top, director James Cameron used some effects that weren’t quite ready for prime time. Some of the acting was done in front of filmed screens and the lack of depth is so obvious that it just looks awful. Even worse, is the sound effects mixing. The guns use pretty much the same awfully recorded gunshot sound through the movie (pew! pew!) and the explosions sound far off and tinny, like they were recorded for a 1950’s war movie.

This movie is a fun ride, but viewing it now reveals it not to be superior, but suffering from sequel-itis, where attempts to go bigger and better fail to a small degree. Four Alien Eggs for this one.

Alien3 has a lot more going for it than you remember. First off, this is the movie that was able to be made with mostly modern day special effects. There are now dated computers or bad effects to throw you out of the story. Still, it’s easy to see why people don’t care for it that much. Simply put, they were coming off of “Aliens” which had hoards of creatures being shot up, to basically one “Dog Alien” hunting the residents of a penal colony. Let’s also not forget that the movie started on such a tragic, bummer note, and ended on another tragic, bummer note. The only problem with this movie from a visual standpoint is that some of the physics of the dog alien running are a little off (it doesn’t look like natural motion, even for an alien).

I’m actually going to give this movie Three Alien Eggs. It’s a better movie than you remember.

Alien Resurrection is a mess. I’ve never been one to take the rules of one movie and apply them to another, but this movie can’t decide what the rules are. Do we root for humans who sell innocent people for slaughter? Why does the Alien first have eggs then a live birth (it’s explained but still doesn’t make sense)? Why is Ripley writhing in a pit of Aliens? Why will a facehugger attack Ripley but an Alien won’t? Why does the acid burn sometimes and not others? Why end the movie on a post apocalyptic earth? Who sent robot Winona Ryder? Let’s also mention that the acting is once again over the top and horrendous with 90’s action movie stereotypes and tropes. The only plus side to this film is that, once again, special effects had started reaching a level where at least the movie has a cool look, even if it makes no sense. Let me also state that this movie had one of the worst opening scenes for a movie that I’ve ever seen, and casting a comic actor who mugged his way through his scenes didn’t help either.

I give this movie Two Alien Eggs. It’s looks better than a B movie, but has less logic than most D movies.

Prometheus is the next movie in the Alien series, but it’s mostly not an Alien movie at all. It seems what little there is to do with the aliens in the original movie are are actually kind of shoehorned it. It’s really about the “Space Jockey’s” people who were referenced in the Alien movies. I have to to say I’m a huge fan of this movie, it’s really quite beautiful. The movie is a bit more sci-fi than horror, but it truly has some horrifying moments. He ending does appear to be a little “tacked on” to make it fit in with the Alien series, but it’s still very well done.

I give this movie three Alien eggs and a face grabber. I believe if there were no Alien movies, and this movie came out, people would call it genius.

Alien Covenant wraps up the Alien series. Here the worlds of Prometheus and Alien truly merge. There are a lot of ideas in this film and some work while others don’t. It is again mostly sci-fi with some horror touches. It again, might have been scene as a better film if it didn’t have the original three Alien films to live up to. There are a lot of “why did he do that?” and other questions, but that’s kind of where the greatness lies; this is a movie that you have to digest for weeks or maybe even months after. It’s not as good as Prometheus but maybe a little more fulfilling for Alien fans.

I gave this movie three Alien eggs, one partially cracked. It’s at least as good as Alien 3.

So there you have it. A look back at all six Alien films. My recommendation is make sure you revisit the first movie. Skip number 4 at all costs, the real Ripley’s fate is decided in 3, so 4 is unnecessary in the series. The rest are for somewhat hardcore sci-fi fans.

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