Aliens (1986)

February 22, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What worked?

G.I Joes with parental advisory patches are dropped into what was initially a horror film, taking on the big bad wolves,  and making an extremely satisfying action-horror crossover. James Cameron has directed two of the best, if not the best, sequels of all time with Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. In all honesty, I like both Alien films equally, but in different ways. For this particular film, I loved the marriage of action and horror, and the ways that Cameron expanded on the plot, and allowed Ripley to bloom even more.

A startlingly 57 years after the first encounter, Ripley is awakened from her prolonged hibernation to aid gun-toting marines, looking to wipe out an area infested with the aggressive aliens. Cameron doesn’t quite utilize the slow burn technique that worked so well in the first film, but chances are if you’re watching Aliens then you’ve watched Alien, and it makes sense to pick up the pace the second time around.

Ripley is still as a beautiful rose with blood-thirsty thorns, but this time she is surrounded with more commendable characters. Particularly, Michael Biehn as Hicks, the battle-tested natural leader of the marine squad that even gives Ripley some weapons training, and Bill Paxton as the marine that loves cracking jokes, yet, crumbles when the acidic shit hits the fan. Also on board is  Carrie Henn as Newt, the young girl that has been hiding in the alien-infested area where her family was killed.

This time around Ripley not only has to deal with aliens, but the aftermath of being in hibernation for so long. There are moving scenes in the director’s cut, such as Burke informing Ripley of her daughter’s death, that add more depth to Ripley and provide more plot details. Although the theatrical version moves more fluidly, I prefer the director’s cut because of the added depth.

The title delivers as promised, as there are a vast amount of slimy aliens lurking around, including a Queen alien. Cameron definitely delivers on the action end, but it’s action with a purpose, moving the plot along. The threat of the aliens this time is their strength in numbers, as well as the fact that we are still unaware of their full capabilities. Ripley is also now a mother torn from her only child, yet she connects with Newt, a child the she protects like a mother would.

Again, like in the first film, the sequel suggests the evil of man that is unmatched by the aliens, since they are just simply surviving. This time around its Burke who is the poster-boy for the evil corporation. “You don’t see them fucking each other over for a god damn percentage!” Ripley barks at Burke. This layer is just a cherry on top for an already well-executed sequel. Everything ticks to the right rhythm and we have another entertaining film that stands the test of time.

Potential Drawbacks:

Simply because this film and its predecessor have been inspirations for many a science fiction flicks, it may feel like you’ve seen this film before if you’re watching it for the first time in 2011. Just remember this: the Alien films are always emulated but never duplicated. See how it’s done the right way.

Film Recommendations:

The Fifth Element

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