Usually with any trilogy or in this case quadrilogy each film stands on its own terms. Those terms can be based on any element in cinema but in most cases it’s usually the genre. From Ridley Scott’s 1979 Sci-Fi Horror Alien to the fourth final instalment in the Alien franchise Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 1997 Sci-Fi Alien Resurrection. But with the Alien franchise each film has a specific role in the quadrilogy. Everyone has its own opinion from personal preference from the 1979 Alien being more horror based to the James Cameron 1986 release Aliens being more action based. What I love about each Alien film is how it takes the Sci-Fi mise en scène and places it into different genres. Making each Alien film unique on the perspective what you like to watch most. Each Alien stands alone through genre if we take out the Sci-Fi. The 1979 Alien is horror, 1986 Aliens is action, and 1992 Alien 3 is survival and the 1997 Alien Resurrection being a combination of horror and action.
What made the 79 Alien such a success and most preferred is not only one of the most terrifying films for its time it’s one of the only horror and Sci-Fi films that takes it into a different realm from any other horror or Sci-Fi. In all honestly till this day I’ve never seen any other Sci-Fi and horror film that can even match up to Ridley’s Alien. Even today there is no film that can even compare to Alien apart from maybe the third instalment of the franchise but even then Alien 3 personally stands on the survival element rather than the horror. Being stuck inside commercial towing spaceship the “Nostromo” with a crew of seven in deep space is the perfect setting for any horror film. Knowing that in space no one can help you and “In Space No One Can Hear You Scream”
James Cameron 86 Aliens is usually the first or second choice of the franchise. Usually the reason is being that the first Alien only had one Alien. But for the purpose of horror there can only be one villain or in this case one “Xenomorph”. But now you can’t have an action film with only one xenomorph especially when there are colonial marines. Watching Aliens is almost as if you’re watching Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 “Full Metal Jacket” but instead of the marines landing in Vietnam fighting the Viet Cong their landing on the planet LV-426 trying to fight their way out and back on the warship “Sulaco”. It’s a fantastic war film genre set in the Sci-fi world.
David Fincher’s gritty and dramatically obscure look into Alien 3 to me personally is one of my favourite of the franchise. Personally Alien 3 stands out as one of the most beautifully shot and visually stylized Alien franchise as of any other future Fincher films like; 1995 Seven, 1997 The Game and 1999 Fight Club. Fincher always visually sets the character of his films with a dark and stylish thriller sensation with a film noir and neo noir ambience. The plot is a fantastic setting with Ripley crash landing on a prison refinery planet with a population of just less than thirty most of them being violent criminals with a history of rape and murder. So not only Ripley has to discover if there is a xenomorph on the planet but she also has to keep her guard up against the convicts. The constant feeling of fear and that there are no weapons on the planet adds more to the atmosphere of danger. This is a fantastic ingredient for any survival film. The sole purpose of a survival film is that the protagonist and other characters have to survive with bare the minimum.
The last and fourth Alien is personally the weakest of the franchise however it is the only standing Alien film that every shot and every scene is cinematically and exquisitely shot. It created such a fantastic Sci-Fi atmosphere that only the first 79 Alien had accomplished. Watching and re-watching it is a stylized perception it truly does have elements to tech-noir. Having the visual an atmosphere for neo noir and noir Alien Resurrection really does remind of a darker and more thrilling version of Blade Runner with a monstrous creation of the first ever tech noir film Frankenstein.