Thursday, August 6, 2015

Alien Anthology Movie Review: Ranking the Alien Movies

If you knew me growing up, you could confirm the fact that I was utterly and completely terrified of the thought of aliens taking over the Earth. This all began during a movie theater viewing of a recently released Space Jam (yes, I saw that movie in theaters. I'm old). Before the movie began, there was a certain preview for a certain weird, parody-filled Tim Burton movie called Mars Attacks. For some odd reason, the images and sounds from that one preview stuck with me for over 10 years and I was convinced that if alien kind were ever to visit the Earth, it would be these horribly-CGIed monsters from Burton's movie. This was terrifying because these "martians" were obviously hostile, lacking in mercy, and even shot a dog during the movie. The thought of these aliens destroyed me for years upon years. There were full summers where I was convinced that I was the only one who could prevent the world's inevitable destruction and that everyone around me was merely blind to the oncoming horror of our extermination (do you think I'm exaggerating? 11 year old me was very . I eventually got over these fears and was able to live like a normal human being.

Why am I babbling about my weird youngster fear of aliens? Well, mainly because this fear kept me away from a lot of movies that I otherwise would've enjoyed if I hadn't been deathly afraid of little green men. Since my triumph over this fear, I have been able to enjoy movies such as Signs, War of the Worlds, and Marvin the Martian. I've watched many of these without any lasting emotional or mental trauma. While I have yet to be able to watch Mars Attacks! again, I did recently undertake the task of watching the Alien anthology, directed by Ridley Scott. What follows are my thoughts and feelings regarding this epic and AMAZING franchise. Before I begin, allow me to just leave a gif here of the martians from Mars Attacks! I want you all to join me in my DREAD.

Seriously, though. Isn't that above gif just terrifying? That's what nightmares are made of.

Anyway, if you haven't heard of the Alien movies...well, you've probably been living under a rock or you're Amish. EVERYONE'S heard of Alien. It's one of the most successful franchises of all-time and was the movie franchise that put both Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver on the map. The first one (Alien) came out in 1979, with Aliens (1986), Alien 3 in 1992 (or cubed or whatever) and Alien:Resurrection (1997) all following and adding to the franchise. Ridley Scott also helmed and directed a prequel (the first addition to the franchise without Sigourney Weaver) in 2012 called Prometheus.

I decided to watch all these movies back to back to back on a Sunday and other days. So technically they weren't all back to back...and I didn't watch Prometheus until a few weeks later. Whatever, I'm not a liar so don't start with me. Let's just say...I thoroughly enjoyed these movies (except for one) and may have found a new movie obsession. If you're unaware of the premise of these movies, it's pretty simply. Essentially there's a character named Ripley (Weaver) who in each movie somehow gets stuck on a small spaceship, planet, or something with bloodthristy aliens (called xenomorphs) who like to eat humans and use them as hosts to give birth to more aliens. The movies are gory, the action is top-notch, and the mythology is absolutely riveting (watch Prometheus for more on the mythology). I won't get into too many details about the specific plot points of each movie, in order to avoid spoilers for those that haven't seen it. But let's just say that each movie consists of people gradually getting picked off one by one...with these aliens completely dominating the entire time.

Here's how I would rank the movies (in order of best to worst):

Best Alien Movie- Aliens

My girlfriend can confirm how much I enjoyed this addition to the franchise. We had just finished Alien and went straight into watching this one. From the moment the movie started to the end, I was on the edge of my seat. I may go as far as to say that I enjoyed this movie MORE than I enjoyed either Jurassic Park or Jurassic World.

If you know me, you'd know how blasphemous that is for me to say. This sequel absolutely enthralled me. There were points in the movie where I was legitmately giggling like a little kid. I adored it.
The plot is pretty much the same as Alien, but with a bigger budget, better acting, and better effects. Instead of just one alien this time, there are numerous. Add in Bill Paxton as an idiot, and Sigourney Weaver straight kicking the queen alien's ass, and you got yourself a good time. Pop in this movie, turn off the lights (don't eat while watching...ugh), and go on a fun ride.


Alien, the first in the franchise, wasn't nearly as riveting as Aliens. Sure, it introduced us to these aliens, the characters, and the overall theme but it still suffered from feeling like a low-budget, monster movie. Regardless, Ridley Scott made the most of what he had at that time. It's hard to believe this movie came out in 1979. It still holds up today.

The overall feeling of dread and claustrophobia is nauseating. You truly feel for these characters that are stuck in a tin box (spaceship), running from something they don't fully understand. Add in that nasty facehugger and I was cringing throughout. This movie gets bonus points for casting old Bilbo as an android (Ian Holm) and Tom Skerritt even makes an appearance (one of my favorite, more underrated actors).


While this movie doesn't technically count in the original anthology, it was still the only other one besides Alien and Aliens that was actually directed by the great Ridley Scott. It's a prequel and has much less "alien" in it, but it still tells the story of where these aliens evolved from, and gives us a cool story about where humans came from as well. It's all a load of bullcrap, but it's still fun to watch.

Essentially, we learn how the USS Prometheus got stuck on LV-223 (did I mention that's the name of the planet where the aliens come from). While it has no Sigourney Weaver to hold it down, it DOES have some great performances from Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron (Hail FURIOSA!!), and the great and magical Idris Elba. I love Idris Elba. He may be one of my favorite actors of all-time. It will be a travesty if they don't make him the next James Bond. I mean look at the guy,

This movie was almost in fourth place, but it gets bonus points for having both Idris Elba and one of the grossest scenes I've ever seen in film with a lady giving birth/sorta cutting out an octopus from her womb.

Alien: Resurrection

This movie, while slightly entertaining, suffered from poor direction and a weird, weird storyline. They essentially took everything that was awesome about Ripley's character and turned it on it's head. I also wished more people died in the film.

Honestly, this movie just had a weird plot and felt like a bad 90s action movie, complete with weird music, goofy acting, and laughably bad CGI. In reality, it had TOO MUCH CGI. Regardless of those weaknesses, there were some good moments. I enjoyed the scientific touch and really enjoyed Winona Ryder's character. She was one of the best additions to the franchise since Sigourney Weaver herself. That's saying a lot. I enjoyed her storyline a lot and the chemistry she developed with Weaver's character.

Alien 3 (cubed)

I think I made it through about half this movie before Reddit and good conversation distracted me. THIS MOVIE IS HORRIBLE. It may honestly be one of the most boring, snoozefest movies that I have EVER seen.

Not only was the plotline just weird, but they completely screwed up the awesome ending of Aliens and made it a completely irrelevant movie. Everything that Ripley fought for in that movie was rendered moot because of Aliens 3. I can't say anything good about this movie. Not only was I unable to follow the plot, but I didn't understand the dialogue, and EVERYONE WAS BALD. Legitimately. Every character was bald. This made it nearly impossible to figure out what was going on. This movie also lost a lot of points with me for having a dog die. That's a big no-go for me.

The sad part is that this movie is directed by David Fincher, he of Se7en, Gone Girl, and Zodiac fame. Who knows what wrong with this movie.

If you haven't seen these movies already, you need to. Keep in mind, they definitely aren't for the faint of heart or easily squeamish. But they are definitely modern-day horror classics and a good testament to the amazingness of Ridley Scott as a director, complete with a fantastic alpha-female character (which is quite lacking in cinema nowadays). The franchise, as a whole, is a great addition to any movie/blu-ray collection.

I shall now end with another Mars Attacks! gif and then go cry myself to sleep for even attempting to face my martian fear. Ugh, these things are the worst.

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