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Aliens (1986)

  Directed by: James Cameron
Written by: James Cameron, David Giler, Walter Hill
Starring: Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, Lance Henriksen, Sigourney Weaver
Links: Aliens on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on DVD, Buy on Video
Genre: Sci-Fi

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Aliens (1986) is also mentioned in andy-j's review of Alien³ (1992) and andy-j's review of AVP: Alien Vs. Predator (2004).

"I'm glad they didn't call it Alien 2" - a review by andy-j

Ellen Ripley, the only survivor from the carnage wreaked by an alien creature that got onboard her spaceship, remains in hypersleep for over 50 years while her escape pod drifts through space. When she is eventually picked up and revived, she is horrified to discover that people have been terraforming the planet where she originally encountered the alien creature. She is convinced that the humans on the distant planet will encounter the alien species. Her worst fears are realised when contact with the terraformers is lost, and Ripley, plagued by nightmares, agrees to accompany an elite squad of soldier to the planet to wipe the alien species out once and for all.

Aliens is written and directed by James Cameron, and it really is one of his best efforts. In typical Cameron style, he ramps everything up and goes totally in his own little direction, which actually contrasts very well against the suspense thriller of Alien (1979). Aliens gives us more of what we want - instead of a single alien, we have an entire planet of them, and additionally we find out some horrifying truths about the alien lifecycle. Unfortunately, though, there is a bit of a trade-off - although they are just as terrifying as before, the aliens seem a lot less invincible, less intelligent, and more instinctual. They shriek like animals. They're also less "sexy", if you can use that term — no longer is the alien a thing of terror and wonder, now it's just a very nasty creature that needs to be killed quickly.

Sigourney Weaver reprises her role as Ellen Ripley, and totally fleshes out her character. It has to be said that for a sci-fi/action movie, Ripley is very well-written and balanced three-dimensional character, and Weaver's very careful performance is spot-on. Hats off to both Mr Cameron and Ms Weaver here, for going above and beyond what is normal for this type of film. They understand that just because Ripley survived her first encounter with the alien, it doesn't make her some stupid action hero wonder woman. While we do see her intelligence, resourcefulness and determination, she is also very human, with weaknesses, prejudices and sensitivities.

The other characters are a lot less developed and rather stereotyped. They're basically a bunch of meathead soldiers who look down on Ripley. It makes them fairly unlikeable, but it is what is called for I suppose. This means though that they are not really missed, should one or two of them get killed. The shock of their death instead comes when you consider that these people are supposedly the best at what they do, so the ease with which the aliens kill them brings a sense of "they're finished". Ooh look, I started talking about one thing and ended up going off on a tangent, while managing to give stuff away! Some movie reviewer I am!

Aliens is a bit of a sell-out really - its gives us more more more and certain things that made Alien so great are lost. But at the same time, it couldn't have sold out in a better way. It is a totally different experience from that of its predecessor, and so doesn't fall into any of the usual holes that too-often ruin sequels. It is well-crafted in every aspect, true to the original, extremely exciting and very scary. Despite its watering down of the alien creature, it is an extremely good sequel and an excellent film.

andy-j gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 21 Apr 2004

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