Aliens (1986)

Aliens (1986)

Director: James Cameron
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn

Ripley is recovered 57 years after the Nostromo incident and is called in to assist in a rescue mission when contact is lost with the colony founded on LV-426, the very planet her crew first encountered the alien menace.

Some people may want to compare Aliens to its illustrious predecessor. Don't. They're different classes of films. Where Alien is sci-fi horror of the highest caliber, Aliens is sci-fi action with some horror elements. Both films are amazing and among the best examples of their respective sub-genres and sci-fi as a whole.

James Cameron was coming off his success with The Terminator and helped further cement his credentials as an action film director with this movie. Some people may argue that the threat the xenomorph represents was lessened by bringing in troops with their shoot-bangs, but much like Predator which came out the following year, the advantages of a modern military force are stripped away and our protagonists have to rely on their mettle to overcome. The threat is escalated to match the ability to meet that threat (and fortunately we don't descend into a a war of escalation with increasingly diminishing returns, though the further sequels and spin-offs have their own share of issues I'll deal with in their own entries). On this note, let's move on to the characters.

I said in my review of Alien that I really liked the whole "space truckers" thing, so you might think I wouldn't be so happy with having a military crew this time around. You'd be wrong. I love the Colonial Marines. They're a great bunch of characters, very colorful. (Apparently too well-liked for Cameron's taste given how the analogous RDA security forces are portrayed in Avatar. Screw that movie.) I'd pretty well go down the entire cast list singing individual praises. I'll give particular note to Michael Biehn as Hicks, Bill Paxton as the infinitely quotable Hudson, Jenette Goldstein as Vasquez, Al Matthews as Apone, and Lance Henriksen as Bishop. And that's just the Marines. Sigourney Weaver of course delivers a superb performance as Ripley, whose character gets nicely expanded in this entry. I'll also give nods to Paul Reiser as slimy company man Burke and Carrie Henn as lone survivor Newt.

I praised the effects of Alien and I'll do the same here. This is some of the best you'll see. As for the score, where Jerry Goldsmith played up the suspense in the first film, James Horner pumps up the action here. Good stuff.

Like Alien, this film belongs in a place of honor in your collection. So long as you accept it for what it is and not expect something in the exact same vein as Alien, you're bound to love it. As a side note, when deciding between the theatrical and director's cut, I tend to prefer the director's cut as it provides more information about the situation and characters, but the omission of that information in the theatrical cut does create a little more suspense. Take that into consideration when you make your choice.

Treasure It