The best franchise in the history of film! All of the films are good and all feel completely different from each other. Keep making them, Ridley. Here is a ranking of the supporting performances in the series.
6. Alien: Resurrection
Maybe one more pass at the script to tighten some things up, and we would have a real winner here. Regardless, it’s still just a fun goofy movie and continues the most important part of Alien movies. They are all very different from each other. This one goes down easy and is never boring.
When I first watched this film on the heels of being blown away by Alien and enjoying Aliens a great deal, I was deeply underwhelmed by David Fincher’s first feature. Time has been kind to my opinion of the film though largely due to the first hour and the obvious strong characterization of Ripley. The first hour is just absolutely beautiful in a totally new and unique way for the Alien films, as we just got to spend time with Sigourney Weaver and Charles Dance flirting and spending time together. This was great. I demand a romantic comedy starring them in 2022. The film gets less interesting after the (effectively) shocking death of Dance’s character halfway through, as the rest of the ensemble struggled to make an impression despite the makings of a strong setup for them.
While in many respects, this film is in of the least interesting of the series two things carry the day to make it extremely successful. First of all, as is essential for all Alien films, it feels quite unique compared to what came before it. James Cameron has wildly different sensibilities compared to Ridley Scott, and he managed to do a truly extraordinary job of being true to himself but also building on what Ridley had started off. Secondly, the work of Sigourney Weaver here is just out of this world. A world class performance and characterization of one of cinema’s best protagonists ever.
What a crazy film in so many ways! In the grand Aliens tradition, the film feels wholly unique especially in comparison to the most recent one in the series. While not everything in the film is a homerun and there are very few impactful characterizations/performances, the film is carried on the backs some incredibly strong sequences and the prequel’s center, Michael Fassbender’s work as the android(s). The real winner of a sequence was when the shit first fell apart on the new planet they landed on, and the mad dash to survive. Beautifully shot, horrifying music, and total insane manic carnage. Ridley at his best in some ways. The ending moment with the Walter/David reveal was also just one of the most quietly horrifying moments in the entire series. Well done.
The biggest sins of this film is that it tries to do too much, is serving too many masters, and is too ambitious in general. These are not necessarily fatal flaws though and instead are just reasons why A LOT of things are happening and the film is never boring. It is not wholly successful at any of the things it is going for, but it’s just a fun space film so that’s a good thing. Fassbender’s android character was also fairly inspired in a great way, and Guy Pearce’s CGI old man was fairly inspired in a hilarious way. The supporting cast is filled with actors that find a way of standing out, and the pace is just relentless at the expense of coherence. It somehow works though.
Comparing the original film to all the subsequent ones is almost unfair. Alien is not simply the best Alien film but one of the very best movies of all time. As detailed above, each film does at least something very well (and it is almost always something very different from the other films). The original though is both masterful in creating genuine horror and also being a beautiful story about human beings trying to survive under the crushing weight the world they exist in.