Oddly, this is my favourite movie of a franchise which was started off by photographs of HR Giger's macabre paintings in Omni Magazine.
The first three movies are each pretty much the same. It all began with a company prospecter-ship being alerted to a distress signal on some extra-terrestrial asteroid, I think it was. The story was penned by Dan O'brien, whose greatest gift to us was the tongue-in-cheek Return Of The Living Dead after his split with George Romero. The Alien was the 'space jockey' but the focus was on a creature whose reproductive system depended on foreign hosts. John Hurt was this larger-than-life virus' first victim then, in Alien 2, it was a colony of miners, then, in Alien 3 (read cubed), it was an entire penal colony on some prison planet.. and we thought we'd finally seen the end of it along with Sigourney Weaver!
.. And, film-maker Ridley Scott complained they had taken the story in the wrong direction (he liked the first two)...
Then.. something creative happened and Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) penned the story. Entering a new idea and bringing back Ms. Weaver from the dead -- something I'd think Dan O'brien would have been proud of. Then, along with a slightly international cast, bringing in young hottie, Winona Ryder! With some intriguing plot twists.
1997, and cloning, evil scientists along with the evil corporate empire.. one has to wonder how a United World States would exist. Why would a one-world government need black ops?
Still they manage to create a new 'super-woman' Ripley (Sigourney's character) who is actually part virus (or Alien, if you disagree with me -- the 'space jockey' having seemingly long been forgotten).
And, then (as if you haven't had enough 'Thens') it gets weirder, as the black ops research vessel automatically begins its journey back to earth with fresh, human-hungry virus!
This wasn't an 'Oh! I get it!' on first viewing movie for me. In fact, it took many viewings to really appreciate it. Perfect reason for buying the video in my book.