Picking up where we left off, this list is the remaining five films which make up the Alien and Predator story before Prometheus came along.
WARNING: these reviews contain mild spoilers, but then again if you haven’t seen these films already you’ve really been missing out.
Ripley’s ship from the end of the first sequel crash-lands on prison planet Fiorina “Fury” 161 with some added cargo. After a little persuasion (mainly due to inmates being picked off one by one) the prison authorities agree that our friendly neighbourhood xenomorph is out on the prowl again. This time there are no guns. Of any kind. But they have other weapons at their disposal. Such as fire. That’s about it.
Dark and brooding this instalment was a drastic change from the gun-toting Aliens. A yet-unknown David Fincher stepped behind the camera on this ill-fated but much under-rated production. Inevitably it was panned on its release after Fincher’s gothic vision was stopped in its tracks by a studio who were clearly worried that it would alienate its core fans (the decision to set it on a wooden planet populated by monks never came true and it has never had a director’s cut). It didn’t help that many of the cast were British (look there’s that doctor from Casualty; and there’s Pete Postlethwaite), a maverick choice but one that perhaps an American studio would think could create distance in the US box office.
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Ripley is genetically re-spawned more than 200 years after her suicide at the end of Alien3 for military purposes. Her human-alien hybrid DNA and the monster itself make useful weapons. But the company soon realise they can’t contain the beast on a ship on course for home. The only thing that can save Earth is a reluctant Ripley, a bunch of space pirates led by Ron Perlman and Dominique Pinon and Winona Ryder before she decided shoplifting could be a new career path. Bizarrely there’s less of people getting picked off one by one in this instalment.
French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is helming here. That’s right, the man who would go on to make quirky romance fantasy Amelie and the brilliantly witty Micmacs made the fourth instalment of the saga and the final solo outing for the xenomorph. Sacre-bleu! Promising so much with sleek and stylish visuals, and strong premise, in the end H R Giger’s vision is turned into a damp squib of a creature that looks like an angry teddy bear crossed with a scaly grandmother.
Archaeologists and engineers have ended up in the crossfire of an ages-old blood sport where aliens are kept under Antarctica for coming-of-age Predators. Of course, the team are, yet again, picked off one by one except for one lone female with both brains and brawn. Does this sound at all familiar? This time there would have to be an unlikely alliance for any red-blooded human to get out alive.
The original inception for this instalment, which is a rescue package, came from a popular video game. Paul W S Anderson who has made his name on Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat was the man charged with taking over. It would seem a wise choice considering the source material. Unfortunately video game adaptations to screen never really work as this episode shows with no tension, poor dialogue and plot holes as big as the Antartic continent.
AvP: Aliens vs Predator Requiem
An alien-Predator hybrid has landed on earth and is wreaking havoc in a small US town while a Predator comes down to make sure we don’t find out for reasons beyond comprehension. Soon the two of them are battling it out and humans are getting in the way again and they are eventually they picked, though less one by one, more like a few here, a few there.
The final nail in the coffin for the franchise. Where AvP was poor, with characters that lacked depth and little to please fans who were wanting something new and interesting this was diabolical. A feeling of anger passed through fans who were shown yet more inane dialogue, vapid characters represented by hopeless acting and a film with a sense of tension as urgent as a Harrogate tea room.
A group of the world’s best killer find themselves in a seemingly-endless jungle and soon come across a bunch of alien creatures. Inevitably the arrival of vicious Predator-like creatures sparks a thought in our heroes’ minds that perhaps this isn’t Earth. All of our characters have individual traits showing that they are the best in their theatres of war. They soon begin to realise that they’re all there for someone else’s sport as they’re each picked off one by one by the hunting party.
Finally, a film worthy of the canon. It might not be as good as Aliens or Predator but at least it restores some pride in a character worn down by money-grabbing studios. Robert Rodriguez was behind this instalment and although there was good character development and half-decent dialogue the only thing that let it down again was the casting of Adrien Brody, a man might get an Oscar for playing a Polish piano player, but struggles to convince as an American mercenary.