Earlier in the summer, my sister and I began to prepare for the release of Prometheus. Even thought we knew it wasn’t supposed to be a true “prequel”, we decided to watch all four of the Alien movies before hand. We watched the first one night and the other three the next night. While we had seen all four before, we had never attempted a marathon of this caliber. Moreover, I have avoided watching the third and fourth films like the plague. Yet, armed with a bottle of wine, Erica and I pushed through and managed to sit through the whole series for better or worse. Because I like lists and ranking things based on a personal views, here is my list of the best films in the series from Worst to Best:
4. Alien 3: Okay, so this might seem obvious, but this movie is just awful. In fact, it was THIS film that made us open the bottle of wine. The second movie set the bar so high that the third had a lot to live up to. The film starts off by basically killing off everyone that survived the second film except for Ripley. Landing on a planet/penal colony full of dudes, everything seems to turn to chaos even before the little xenomorph starts hopping around. Alien was actually on board, starts to host and grow and kill and blah-blah-blah. The film fails on a lot of levels, but the biggest is how many themes seemed to be crammed into the film. Mostly, the film fails because of the old cliche: Too many cooks spoil the broth. The script went through many rewrites by many different people. Filming started without a finished script. The idea started in one place and went to a whole other. It is easily the most boring of the series as well. What they try and pass off as suspense just feels like time has slowed down. I know there is a recut version or something, but really…who cares? Also, shouldn’t we call the movie Alien to the Third?
3. Alien: Resurrection: So let me say one big thing about this film: it came out when I was in fifth grade and mildly scared me. I didn’t see it in the theaters, but rented it from Blockbuster. It wasn’t the alien that scared me or the creepy half breed. It was that horrible Ripley clone gasping in pain asking to be killed. It was creepy and unsettling, especially for a 11 year old. Re-watching it (especially a little tipsy) only reminded me how off putting that scene is. It also swings the other way of the third movie: it’s almost all action from the very first moment. The whole film just feels like pieces of a very odd puzzle. The Ripley character just isn’t the Ripley everyone knows and loves. This is, clunkily explained, because she has alien DNA in her. The only real saving grace of the film is Ron Perlman. Oh and Brad Dourif? Unintentionally hilarious. Maybe that was just the wine.
2. Alien: I had seen Spaceballs before I had seen the first movie of the series. So the amazing moment when the creature burst out of John Hurt’s chest, I giggled to myself waiting to see it sing and dance across the table. Outside of that, the movie was a somber and frightening experience. Watching it for the first time in years, I had forgotten what a unique look the film has. There is a clinical, sterile feeling that is woven throughout the film. What always gets to me when I watch the film is the feeling of claustrophobia. The ship looks quite large in establishing shots, but when the creature is hunting the crew down one by one, its feels like there is no where to hide. There is also something simply frightening by not really seeing the creature but in the shadows and never quite fully lit. It is that Hitchcock idea that what your audience imagines can be worse then anything you could show them. It’s a memorable movie, but is only my second favorite of the series.
1. Aliens: I fraking love this movie. From the moment it starts to the moment it ends I am glued to the screen. There is a lot more action then the first and a lot more characters. Not so many that you don’t get enough time to develop them, but just a perfect amount of secondary characters. Some of which steal the movie. Bill Paxon as Hudson is brilliant! I can’t count the times my friends and I have looked at each other during stressful situations and just said “Game over man! Game over!” While I appreciate the artistic ideas behind the first movie, I can’t help but be a sucker for a big budget sci-fi action flick. I think this film, while different from the first, has the spirt of the first still in it. Ripley is a strong character and driven to save Newt for many reasons (mostly due to finding out her own daughter had lived and died while she floated in space). Even with all the action, the dialogue is well written and well delivered. It is and always will be my favorite in the series. Oh and one of the best lines in the world comes from Ripley to the Queen.
So there it is. What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree?