Monday, June 6, 2016

Aliens Review

In 1986, James Cameron followed up Ridley Scott's 1979 masterpiece Alien with a sci-fi classic of his own. Aliens. So today, as part of my six-part review of the Alien franchise, I'll be reviewing Aliens. If you haven't seen my Alien review, go read that one first. And note that this review may contain spoilers, but I'll try to keep them to a minimum. So if you're okay with that, click to see my thoughts on what may or may not be one of my favorite films of all time.

When Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is finally found after 57 years, she awakens from hypersleep to find that no one will believe her about the events on the Nostromo. The planet the Alien was found on is now inhabited by colonists, and when they lose contact with the planet, Colonial Marines are sent to investigate. And they bring Ripley, still suffering from PTSD from her last alien encounter, along as a 'consultant.' But when their fears are confirmed, they realize it's not just one Alien, it's an infestation.

That premise is one of the best things about this movie. It takes the first film and puts it on a much bigger scale. It's also a very different beast altogether. Where Alien was a slow building horror film, Aliens is is a pulse pounding, sci-fi action film. And it moves at a pretty fast pace throughout. Remember those moments when I felt Alien was just a little boring? None of those here. Every single second is riveting.

We also see James Cameron in top form here. The action scenes are exhilarating and tense, and the
special effects still hold up beautifully. The whole film simply looks amazing, and Cameron did a wonderful job keeping the Alien aesthetic established by Scott all while adding his own flavor to it. And, honestly, I think it's one of the best looking films ever made. Even still to this day.

Just like the last one, the script for Aliens is incredible. Every bit of dialogue goes to further the story and develop the fascinating characters. It's also infinitely quotable and quite funny. It's another example of dialogue you just can't get enough of.

Also just like the previous installment, this film has plenty of great characters. And the chemistry between them is fantastic. There are quite a few more than in Alien, so I can't pretend that a few of them aren't somewhat disposable, but it really is amazing how attached you grow to them in a fairly short amount of time. And when people do start dying, it hits you pretty hard.

Ripley returns, of course, and unlike Alien, this is completely her story. It goes from a hopeless horror story to a hopeful story about survival. And it's about her survival. She also goes to improve as a character, and has a very defined arc. Going from being terrified from her experience to finally facing her fears. She definitely solidifies herself as one of the best film heroines of all time here.

There are also several new characters here. Notably Corporal Hicks, (Michael Beihn) and the last survivor on the station, the little girl Newt (Carrie Henn). Hicks is a great character, as we see him grow into a leader and take on the role quite well. Newt becomes a bit of a daughter for Ripley, and seeing their relationship develop is really the heart of the film. It's also really cool to see this little girl know more about how to survive than the trained Marines.

The other especially notable character is the android Bishop. Who I just love in this movie. I can't exactly say why. Maybe it's Lance Henriksen's performance, or maybe it's how sinister he looks despite being such a lovable character, but he's just awesome in the movie. A real pleasure to watch.

I also have to mention two of my personal favorite characters in the movie, Hudson (Bill Paxton), and Vasquez (Jennette Goldstein). They're a ton of fun to watch, and the banter between them is fantastic. Just thought that was worth mentioning.

And like Alien before it, Aliens boasts many great performances. Weaver seems to have improved in her role, and everyone in the film gives it their all. Carrie Henn does reasonably well, considering her age. But I still think a few of her lines sort of fall flat. Everyone else, though, gives incredible and authentic performances.

This paragraph will contain a spoiler, so skip it if you're avoiding that sort of thing. But just like last time, we get a fourth act, and a final fight between Ripley and the Alien. The Alien queen, actually. All the pulse pounding action before this leads to this, and it's absolutely incredible. One of my favorite movie scenes of all time. I mean, she actually fights the Alien. It's amazing, and very satisfying.

I'm not even going to try and pretend like this isn't one of my favorite films of all time. It's pretty much perfect, and with a fantastic script, perfect direction, authentic performances, and visuals that stand the test of time, it's just as good today as it was in 1986. Aliens is not only a sci-fi classic, it's one of the very best sci-fi films ever made.

Final Score: 5/5

This is where the Alien story ends for me. Far as I'm concerned, the next two films might as well be fan fiction. Really expensive fan fiction, though, so I'm going to review them. I'm gonna level with you guys. It's not a lot of fun to review a film I really love. Only so many synonyms for 'good.' So the next two reviews should be... interesting. Stay tuned for that, and I'll see you next time right here at

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