15 Reasons Why Even The Worst 'Alien' Movie Is Still Better Than Most Movies

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Vote up the reasons why the Alien franchise succeeds even when it fails.

Almost all movie franchises have bad installments. Star Wars has the prequels… and arguably sequel trilogy. Batman has Batman and Robin. Friday the 13th has… several. 

But despite having eight feature films under its belt and counting, the Alien franchise hasn't produced any films that are truly terrible. There are a few weak entries, sure, but comparatively these are all decent films at worst. At the very least, every single film has some kind of redeeming quality. Even the naked cash grabs do a decent enough job.

Despite the odds, the franchise spawned by the quintessential space survival horror film Alien has survived. While none of the subsequent films have lived up to the lofty standards set by Alien and the immediate sequel Aliens, they are all decent films in their own right. While some of the films did plenty to enrage fans, it is hard to find any film franchise which hasn't.

This list demonstrates all the reasons that even the worst Alien movies are better than most films. Yes, even Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.

**Warning: Spoilers Ahead**

Photo: Alien 3 / 20th Century Fox

  • 1
    36 VOTES

    The 'Assembly Cut' Of Alien 3 Is Actually Mad Decent

    The 'Assembly Cut' Of Alien 3 Is Actually Mad Decent
    Photo: Alien 3 Special Edition / 20th Century Fox

    Yes, the theatrical cut was a bit of a hack job, but all things considered, the “assembly cut” (AKA special edition) was actually an okay movie. When the audience gets to see more or less what director David Fincher's vision was supposed to look like, a few things become clear.

    First, the film was supposed to be an allegory for the book of Revelation. Repeated references to “the dragon” that were cut from the theatrical version track with Revelation 12 and the overt references to the apocalypse from the prison cult. Ripley is effectively carrying the Antichrist in her chest, and the way the cut portrays her self-sacrificing death (sans gratuitous chest burst) is a bit more like Christ.

    Beyond this, the film is about redemption and facing death. That is what makes the allegory effective: everyone must face the “end times” of their own life. Some of the prisoners face it proudly, others… not so much. The film begins by Ripley grieving the deaths of those close to her and ends with her acceptance of her own fate. It is pretty dark and depressing, but all-in-all, that's not a bad way to end a trilogy.

    With the entire third act left on the cutting room floor, as well as most of the scenes involving the false prophet stand-in Golic (Paul McGann) a lot of this vision unfortunately did not come across in the theatrical cut. In all, the assembly cut gives a lot more character development, particularly to the side characters. The Alien 3 Special Edition is definitely worth a watch, if just to see what Alien 3 could have been.

    36 votes
  • 2
    27 VOTES

    Each Of The First Four (Ripley's Arc) Show A Different Aspect Of Her

    Each Of The First Four (Ripley's Arc) Show A Different Aspect Of Her
    Photo: Alien / 20th Century Fox

    It is a testament to the complexity of Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley that her various personality traits unfold over a four part film series (not to mention side installments in her complete timeline). It is precisely what makes her character convincingly human. Real people are not made up of a single personality but a complex persona, with different traits coming to the forefront depending upon the situation. The first four Alien films provide such different situations, despite the common theme of a Xenomorph trying to kill everyone.

    Alien shows the audience a jaded space trucker, cynical but still moral. As her survival instinct is activated, we watch her rise to her potential. Then in Aliens we get to see her motherly instincts at work in her drive to protect Newt. In Alien 3 her vulnerability is revealed, and we get to see her as a lover, and a deeply human person, but in the end as a savior willing to sacrifice herself to save millions of people she has never met. Finally, and admittedly a bit campy, we see her humorous side in Alien: Resurrection as a sassy genetically modified clone with a deeply unsettling mother daughter thing going on with the mutant Xenomorph.

    What is particularly impressive is how Ripley's character in all of this remains, despite her butt kicking ability, feminine. Ripley is a fighter, a mother, a lover, and a savior all wrapped up into one person. That is why we love her.

    27 votes
  • 3
    26 VOTES

    Each Entry Is Unique Despite Fans Just Wanting More Aliens

    Each Entry Is Unique Despite Fans Just Wanting More Aliens
    Photo: Alien / 20th Century Fox

    One thing that the Alien franchise is not guilty of is cringe-worthy fan service. Rather than repackaging the same film over and over again in the vein of Friday the 13th, each entry in the Alien franchise is practically a different genre of film. This diversity of style is impressive, and part of what makes the franchise so good.

    The original film is the quintessential survival horror film in space. Aliens, on the other hand, is more of a sci-fi/action hybrid. Alien 3 is a more serious film about grief and mortality, and involves much more allegory. Alien: Resurrection is a campy horror film set in space, and the Alien Vs. Offender films are effectively Kaiju films. Both Prometheus and Covenant try to be more classic science fiction epics.

    Not only are the tones of the films all different, their aesthetic is also. The way each film is shot varies, from the claustrophobic feeling of Alien to the campy, off-kilter camera work of Alien: Resurrection.

    With all this diversity of style, its surprising that more of them aren't terrible. At the same time, it is what has prevented the series from getting too stale and repetitive over the years.

    26 votes
  • 4
    26 VOTES

    As Far As Bad Sequels Go, Even 'Alien 3' Is Palatable

    As Far As Bad Sequels Go, Even 'Alien 3' Is Palatable
    Photo: Alien 3 / 20th Century Fox

    Okay, yes, the beginning of the movie was a huge bummer that wiped out everything accomplished in Aliens. Granted, some of the editorial decisions in the film left much to be desired. Even with these flaws, however, Alien 3 is actually pretty complex and engaging for a “bad” sequel, particularly when you consider all the problems going on behind the scenes.

    Take the characters. Beyond Ripley being strong as ever, we get a pretty compelling and surprisingly complex set of characters. Charles S. Dutton's portrayal of Leanord Dillon, the convict turned preacher, was particularly excellent. Charles Dance's Dr. Johnathan Clemens made for an interesting male lead alongside Segourney Weaver. Even the supporting cast of Xenomorph victims were relatable. Making the audience care about and sympathize with a bunch of murderers and worse was an impressive feat. Its unfortunate that so many of the character building moments were edited out of the theatrical cut, or the reception of the film might have been very different.

    As much as it sucked to see everything accomplished in Aliens undone, Alien 3 also did a pretty good job at exploring the concept of grief. Particularly, it examined the difficulty of grieving in a survival situation which demands attention. Bleak? Sure, but still a decent film.

    26 votes
  • 5
    13 VOTES

    The Weyland-Yutani Corporation Ties The Films Together Just As Much As The Xenomorphs

    The Weyland-Yutani Corporation Ties The Films Together Just As Much As The Xenomorphs
    Photo: Aliens / 20th Century Fox

    As the films unfold, it becomes clear that the true villain of the Alien franchise isn't the titular character, but rather the evil little corporation that could: Weyland-Yutani. While the Xenomorphs themselves are, at worst, chaotic neutral killing machines bent solely on survival and propagation, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation persists in a vain effort to harness an uncontrollable bio-weapon long after any sensible board of directors would have written the whole idea off as a loss.

    Ultimately, the Alien films are about bioethics. This remains true from the secret mission in the original Alien, to the chamber of cloning abominations in Alien: Resurrection, to David's experiments and parallel chamber of abominations in Alien: Covenant. These films convey over and over the idea that corporate greed (or perhaps just blind elitist pride) is enough to doom our entire species. 

    The corporation that seems to run space itself and has its fingers in just about everything is, not surprisingly, run by unbelievably sick people. In Prometheus, audiences are given their first look at the actual people on top of the pyramid… and yeah, both Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) and his daughter Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) are pretty messed up individuals. The company, that's the real villain here.

    13 votes
  • 6
    20 VOTES

    'Alien: Resurrection' Was For Fun

    'Alien: Resurrection' Was For Fun
    Photo: Alien: Resurrection / 20th Century Fox

    From the very beginning, Alien: Resurrection makes it clear that it is deliberately campy and not to be taken seriously. The cheesy zoom shots, the comedically incompetent military, and the bad one-liners all let the audience know from the start that what they are watching is tongue-in-cheek. That's also what it so jarring about this film. The first three were very serious, so the audience might not expect a hyper-gory camp film in the spirit of Evil Dead 2.

    Viewed through this lens, the film isn't half bad. Merging with Xenomorph DNA apparently makes Ripley really good at basketball. Winona Ryder gets to play a bleeding heart robot, Call, ironically set as the voice of humanity. Ron Perlman's hyper-macho portrayal of Johner may not be the hero we need, but he is the one we deserve. An honorable mention also has to go to Brad Dourif for his hilariously campy portrayal of Dr. Jonathan Gediman, the weirdo scientist who is way too into the Xenomorphs. All things considered, the room of abominations does put the ethics of cloning into sharp relief. Besides, it was the '90s.

    20 votes