Aliens: The Strangely Broken Sci-Fi Horror Franchise




  Aliens: The Strangely Broken Sci-Fi/Horror Franchise


 In all sci-fi/horror entertainment, no franchise is more worthy of the title “greatest” Aliens. The struggle against a parasitic lifeform, hindered by continual corporate/personal greed, is truly a landmark achievement in storytelling, showcasing heroes like Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley that triumph despite the odds, fate, and those who’d willingly destroy existence in their lust for power. It’s these elements that made Alien, a film that brought suspense to unheard of levels, and Aliens, a flawless sequel that took a great concept and made it even better, a duology that redefined the genre in a manner that’s affected movie/TV/games to this day.

            However, from then on, the franchise found itself targeted by a horrible Hollywood trend: milking a cash cow. A pair of sequels, another of spin-offs, and still another of prequels took what should’ve been a short and sweet pairing of movies and ruined them. Clumsy research and inconsistent storylines gutted the franchise, making further progress highly doubtful…absent a complete revamp, that is. To understand this, let’s go through the inconsistencies I mentioned, although these are just those I’ve picked up on; if I miss any, please forgive me. Warning: major spoilers are coming for who haven’t seen the franchise, and I apologize, but they’re necessary to understand my point…and that’s speaking as a fan who’s watched every title in the series.

            First off, Alien 3. In this film, Ripley is supposedly impregnated by an egg found on a landing strut of the dropship that plucked her and the other survivors off LV-426 at the end of Aliens…but where did it come from? The Alien Queen wasn’t carrying one with her when she emerged on the Sulaco; she couldn’t have brought one anyway, since those in her chamber were fire-bombed by Ripley, as was her egg sac, the latter of which she’d detached from to chase her. Furthermore, regarding the sac, if she needed it to gestate eggs, then she couldn’t have laid it. No egg is visible on the strut throughout the final battle scene, ruling out the potential for it being picked up when the ship was knocked into a debris pile before flying away, and there wasn’t any on the platform when the crash occurred, either. Another possibility, some might argue, is the evil android from prequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant might’ve put it aboard to signal his old bosses at Weyland-Yutani, but that doesn’t work either. Again, where did the egg come from? In Alien: Resurrection, United Systems Military clones Ripley back to life to resurrect the species, implying one thing: the crashed alien ship where the eggs were first found in Alien was destroyed by the LV-426 colony explosion. Therefore, no other eggs existed to plant. It also explains why the corporate team headed to Fury after the fire signal on the Sulaco instead of directly to LV-426 and the ship—it was their last chance to get the creature.

            Another pair of quick points: the face-hugger which impregnated Ripley and her gestation. In literally every other film in the franchise, the former dies after infecting one host, without fail, so how did this one somehow infect two: Ripley and a dog? As for the latter element, again in literally every other film in the franchise, once an infected person awakes from the coma the face-hugger puts them in, the embryo emerges within minutes. How come Ripley’s took so long?

            Now we get into the heart of the matter: the prequels and the Alien v. Predator crossover. These seem good on their face, but the sheer level of inconsistencies here are breathtaking. First off, the latter films hint that the Predators have had access to the Aliens for probably millennia, given the hieroglyphs in the Antarctic temple from the first film in that spin-off, and the resulting use of captured Predator tech (from both that film and its sequel) leads to the merger of Bishop Weyland’s company with the Yutani Corporation—the pairing that later becomes the franchise’s primary villains. But this doesn’t match the events of the prequels, which hint that a mysterious alien race, far in the future, based on unexplained hatred of humanity, created a bioweapon to use against us. This concoction is later used by said evil android, courtesy of genetic research to create the franchise’s title creatures…years after using their own weapon to wipe them out. Thus, how could the Alien v. Predator timeline even exist? The prequels only mucked things up further from there. If everyone in the mysterious race that created the bioweapon was wiped out far in the future, like Covenant hinted, how did one of them supposedly escape with an entire ship full of eggs and crash land on LV-426 so long ago its body was “fossilized”, as Alien related? Fossilization takes millions of years FYI, making the original timeline untenable. Moreover, if they hated us so much, why did the pilot of the ship send out a signal that warned others to stay away versus tried to learn victims in?

            In conclusion, the franchise set a new bar for its genre, but should’ve stopped any sequels as of Aliens, and any attempt at a prequel should’ve featured far better research on the part of the writers. This is something I felt compelled to write as someone whose loved this series since first watching the second film long ago, especially when the storyline deserves far better than it got than this level of dilution. Hopefully, this can serve as a lesson to others looking to up the ante on a classic: it’s better to take the time to get it right rather than wing it and hope something works.

Andrew Nickerson


Andrew Nickerson is originally from Massachusetts, and is a lifelong reader. He has a BA in History (English minor) from UMASS Lowell and JD from Mass. School of Law. He's self-published a novella on Amazon, and printed 1 article apiece on Polygon, Anime Herald, and Pipeline Artists, 3 more on Ariel Chart, 2 articles and 2 short stories on Academy of Heart and Mind, a short story in Evening Street Review's 2022 Winter Edition, an article in the August 2023 edition of "Alice Says Go F*** Yourself" online magazine, another article in NewMyths' September issue, a short story in Bindweed's Winter 2023 issue, and recently printed another article in Encephalon Literary Magazine's Spring 2024 edition. 

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