Every One of Ridley Scott's Sci-Fi Movies Ranked From Worst to Best – Screen Rant

From Alien to Prometheus – and from Ripley to Rick Deckard – here are all of Ridley Scott’s beloved science-fiction films ranked from worst to best.
Ridley Scott is arguably the master of science-fiction filmmaking, but how do his sci-fi films rank from worst to best? From the moment the Xenomorph burst through John Hurt’s chest in AlienScott made his stamp on the genre. Between that film and Blade Runner alone, he set the template for nearly every offering in the genre that would come after.
Scott followed in the footsteps of George Lucas to craft sci-fi worlds that felt lived-in and real. The creaky workplace of Alien and the rain-drenched Los Angeles of Blade Runner may be futuristic worlds, but they feel as textured as our own. However, where Lucas mounted zippy space operas with clearly defined heroes and villains, Scott saw space as more dark and foreboding. His sci-fi offerings are morally grey, often cynical works, filled with terror and dread as much as they are filled with humanity.
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For a master of the genre, Ridley has only helmed five sci-fi films, yet their impact on cinema is unparalleled. From Alien to Prometheus, here are his sci-fi films ranked from worst to best.
After the genre-defining mic drop of Alien, Ridley Scott left the burgeoning franchise to other auteur filmmakers like James Cameron and David Fincher. His return to the world of Xenomorphs in 2012 with Prometheus was greeted with a divisive response, its chilly, cerebral world-building approach not what fans were expecting from Scott’s reunion with the series. Thus, Alien: Covenant was saddled with the pressure of both continuing the story Prometheus began, and course-correcting to what it seemed fans wanted. The result is a disappointing mish-mash of a film – its slow, expository moments clashing wildly with the usual sequences of monstrous aliens bursting out of bodies and chasing an intrepid crew through dark hallways. It’s fun to see Ridley back in his horror roots, albeit this time with CGI, but the end result feels mostly like an uninspired retread of the original two films. The moments where the film rises above its rote feeling all belong to Michael Fassbender, who is utterly captivating in one of the best two-character performances ever captured on film. It’s worth a watch just for him, but the rest largely sees Ridley returning to his old playground with not much new to say.
When it was announced Ridley Scott would finally be returning at the helm of an Alien prequel, excitement was high. It’s impossible to know just what the expectation was, but it was decidedly not the film he wound up making. Viewers expecting an action-packed thriller were instead greeted by moody meditations on humanity and free will, and those just wanting another look at the franchise’s iconic Xenomorph had to wait until the final act to sneak a peek. Taken on its own terms, however, Prometheus is a singular work of sci-fi filmmaking, gorgeously shot and brimming with mythological ambition. Particularly in a marketplace where prequels and sequels to iconic films traffic in rote, nostalgic throwbacks, Prometheus stands out for attempting to explore a story separate but related to the original Alien: a mythos revolving around beings called Engineers who may have created the human race. It doesn’t always work; even at two hours, it all can become plodding, and it’s impossible to escape how stupidly many of the characters behave, particularly in such a hostile environment. However, this is a unique film by one of the masters of sci-fi, one which also introduces Michael Fassbender’s android David, simply put one of the most underrated characters of the genre.
The punchline of The Martian has become the bizarre fact that it won the Golden Globe for Best Picture in the Comedy category, but it’s not as unusual a win as people make it out to be. Aside from dealing with the potentially grim story of the survival and rescue of an astronaut abandoned on Mars for a year and change, The Martian actually is an incredibly fun movie, particularly for Ridley. A director known for his pessimistic works in the sci-fi genre, where “in space, no one can hear you scream,” wouldn’t necessarily be the first choice for a feel-good movie about the triumph of the human spirit, but it turns out he’s just the man for the job. The film’s “sciencing the sh*it out of it” spirit could come off as cloying, but Scott’s sure-footed direction keeps things clipping along, and he’s blessed with one of the most effortlessly charming performances from one of the most effortlessly charming actors, Matt Damon. Based on a bestselling novel by Andy Weir and buoyed by an all-star cast featuring Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Mackenzie Davis, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, and Donald Glover, The Martian may not be a comedy, but it’s a compelling crowdpleaser nonetheless.
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It’s hard to imagine a more influential film on the sci-fi genre. Blade Runner‘s Japanese-inspired design of 2019 Los Angeles, with its wasteland aesthetic belching fire to the sky, seems to have become the blueprint for every futuristic film city to follow. Its noir sensibility, which treats the fantastical subject of robots and replicants with realism, gave the previously-chintzy genre the permission to be, above all things, serious-minded. No matter which version (though the Final Cut is recommended), Blade Runner is Scott’s most haunting, rich, and existential work. Panned at the time, now considered to be a masterpiece, it’s the standard-bearer for the philosophy that sometimes the most fantastical is ultimately the most human, and that moral grey has a place even in science fiction. Harrison Ford’s Rick Decker, the ostensible hero, is a killer; Rutger Hauer’s villain a simple man trying to keep his species alive. Their conflict clashes with the iconic backdrop and haunting score to create a mood that is palpable, and a film that will continue to be one of the best the genre has to offer for a long time to come.
The ways in which Alien changed the game are as legion as the hordes of Xenomorphs and sequels that the film inspired. It took a genre known for its sleek, sterile design and made it look real, lived-in, and run-down, a workplace setting that just happened to be in space. It set the mold of the kickass final girl, embodied in an extraordinary performance by Sigourney Weaver. It took the idea of movie creatures, hitherto seen as goofy or clunky, and found a way of shooting them that made them capable of eliciting pure terror. H.R. Giger’s design of the Xenomorph isn’t just iconic, it remains one of the most frightening creatures ever to appear onscreen. Alien was only Scott’s second film, yet it’s overflowing with the wit, the tension, the suspense, and the humanity that would come to define his best work. Mashing up the genres of office drama and home-invasion thriller, he crafted a film that remains to this day one of cinema’s most terrifying. As far as sci-fi filmmaking goes, Ridley Scott is the master of the genre, and Alien is the greatest proof of that to date.
Next: Alien’s Original Script Almost Ruined Xenomorphs By Making Them Smart
Kyle Wilson is a writer for Screen Rant. Originally from Pennsylvania, he graduated Carnegie Mellon University in 2014 and since then has been based in Brooklyn, NY. He is a big fan of Paddington and Joe Pesci’s performance in “The Irishman.”