2. Aliens (1986)
Adopting Ridley Scott’s 1979 horror hit for the 1980s was would-be action-movie extraordinaire James Cameron, who in his 1986 sequel embraced the themes of cinema at the time to focus the originally horror-inspired sci-fi movie on mechanical warfare and the army triumphing over all – Alien was now an action franchise.
Weaver’s Ripley awakens after some 57 years of being in stasis and is immediately tasked to go back to LV-426 (the planet from the original film) to prove her claims about the Xenomorph, as humans have begun to terraform and colonise the unfamiliar world. While there, she discovers that the Xenomorph have evolved, and tries to convince her fellow humans that they must all escape as soon as possible.
Aliens is, in many ways, the perfect sequel. It expands on the universe and the consequences of the first film, ensures the return of its main character while offering fresh and interesting new characters (especially Newt, who was accepted and loved by audiences worldwide), and amps up the stakes across the board. As with all great action movies of the time, Aliens also births one of the most quotable lines in movie history: “Get away from her you bitch!”
While not offering the same once-in-a-lifetime thrill of seeing the chest burst scene for the first time or the history-making moment of featuring a woman so prominently in a science fiction film, Aliens offers an abundance of quality in its own right and is now considered one of the best sequels ever made.
1. Alien (1979)
While it isn’t always the case that the original is the best, there can be no doubt that the best film from the Alien franchise is the first.
This is where we are introduced to the iconic Ripley, as well as H.R. Giger’s immaculately designed Xenomorph and the horrors of its environment. For fans, this is the birthplace of all beloved horror elements of the franchise, and the film many of its successors have been trying to replicate ever since.
Alien is a film that plays on our expectations of androids in cinema, surprising us at first with the reveal that Ash (Ian Holm) is indeed an android (rather than a human, as was assumed) and then offering one of cinema’s great technology-based betrayals of the human race.
Of course, Alien is a film that is filled with any number of iconic moments, such as the chest burst scene or Ripley realising the Xenomorph is on her escape shuttle, but what is most everlasting about this film is how suspense is created through lighting, set design, cinematography, editing and the alien’s very design.
If Aliens is a remarkable action film filled with all the calling cards of great movies, Alien is a creative endeavour intent on pursuing a deeper meaning in every aspect of its filmmaking, a remarkable and once in a lifetime moment in cinema.
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The Alien series truly is an iconic franchise that has stood the test of time, spanning from the late 70s to the present day and scaring audiences old and new alike. But which film do you think is the best in the franchise? Be sure to let us know in the comments, and while you’re here remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on more articles like this one.