James: I think it’s repetition. Once you become desensitised to the threat, it loses its potency. You have that with Alien, too. What Cameron did with Aliens that was genius was that he did something different. He made an incredible platoon movie. After that they were just trying to find ways to squeeze juice out of this concept. Alien 3 could have been many things, but the Alien 3 we ultimately got was an attempt to retread what Ridley Scott did with Alien. Alien Resurrection was… honestly, I don’t know what the fuck that was.
Chris: Does that speak to my point? That they needed a unifying producer, someone at the studio, to have a clear focus on a path?
James: That’s the thing. Don’t do an Alien sequel because you want to do an Alien sequel.
Do it because you have an incredibly compelling idea. Dan: Do you think you would have liked the Vincent Ward wooden-planet version of Alien 3?
James: Very much so. There’s elements of that still in Alien 3. Dan: I think one of the things that has gone wrong with the Alien strand is losing sight of the fact that it’s Ripley who’s the subject of these films, not the creatures. Once you take Ripley away, I don’t think it’s as interesting.
John: Alien and Aliens are clear visions of a handful of people. The Alien sequels, from three onwards, and to a lesser extent, the Predator sequels, you can feel the studio troubles on screen. You can see the clashes they had. Alien 3, David Fincher famously disowned it. It feels muddled. You get that with The Predator as well, the Shane Black movie. A lot of stuff happened on the journey to the screen that made it the slight mess that it became. Chris: Let’s go back to that moment when we saw Predator 2, and saw the Alien skull, and you thought, “Oh my God, one day there’s going to be a film in which there’s an Alien and a Predator and they’re going to fight and it’s going to be the most amazing thing ever,” and then Alien Vs Predator came out in 2004 and it absolutely wasn’t. Dan: I don’t hate that film. James: It’s just incredibly bland and middle of the road. It’s not particularly scary. It’s not particularly exciting.
Dan: The first fight between a Predator and an Alien is actually really good.
James: Is it, though?
Chris: It disappointed me, but Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem, the one that follows it, is a fetid turd of a movie. It has absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever. It has the Predalien, the fusion of an Alien and a Predator, and somehow manages to fuck that up.
John: My biggest issue is that those movies look and feel quite cheap. There’s no artistry to them.
Chris: There’s one great thing about Alien Vs Predator, which is the tagline: “Whoever wins, we lose” is pretty much perfect. But if you ask me, it needs someone to come in and reinvent the mythology. And that’s what happened when Ridley Scott came back on for Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Dan: I have no shame in saying this. I have ranked ‘AVP’ and The Predator higher than those movies.
John: You are totally insane. What are you talking about? Dan: They look great.
James: Prometheus is not an Alien film. It’s a bold, really interesting hard science-fiction film. It feels almost crowbarred into the Alien mythology.
Dan: For me it’s as insulting as The Phantom Menace, and Covenant is Attack Of The Clones. They both irritated me from beginning to end. John: There’s a lot to be said for both of them. Prometheus is a noble failure, to some extent. He just chucks everything into this blender, but it’s a glorious mess. I love the Engineers and the coldness of them. Chris: Let’s wrap this up, then. There’s no debate about which is better between Predator and Predator 2. But there is a huge debate about which is better: Alien or Aliens. I think you can tell a lot about the sort of person you are by which one you plump for.
John: This is like the ultimate question: Beatles or Stones? Chris: Beatles. It’s not even a question.
James: Who prefers the Stones?
John: I’ve flip-flopped on this more than a politician. But I think Alien is better. It’s more profound, more poetic, it’s more mysterious.
Chris: That’s the Shoreditch choice. “I’m the sort of person who prefers Alien, I’m more poetic, look at my beard.” No. Aliens has everything that
Alien has, and an extra layer of emotion that the first
Alien simply doesn’t have. John: Aliens doesn’t have a Space Jockey…
Chris: Right. Enough squabbling. Let’s vote!