One of the best sci-fi horror thriller films of all time, one of the best sequels in cinema history and in my all time Top 10, James Cameron’s ALIENS is a fantastic thrill ride of a movie. Thirty years later, it’s just as incredible!
As the film opens, Ripley’s escape craft from the Nostromo is drifting in space, where a salvage crew finds her, wakes her our of many years of sleep and throws her right back into action.
In the many years Ripley was sleeping, many families and workers have colonized the remote desolate planet where her crew found the Alien in the original film.
They’ve just gone silent after discovering the same ship that was Kane’s downfall in the original film.
Writer/Director James Cameron sends Ripley back with an entire squad of marines, a massive ship full of weapons and the best technology available. But will that matter when they face off against hordes of the acid dripping, double jawed, huge creatures with a driving desire to plant their eggs in our chests? Doubtful, but so much fun.
Cameron cleverly sets up second act battles with first act intelligence. He creates a terrific band of marines with unique personalities, from the badass Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) to the sniveling, but hilarious coward Hudson (Bill Paxton), first time Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope) to the classic, cigar chewing Apone (Al Matthews). 80’s stalwart Michael Biehn is terrific as Corporal Hicks, who never fails to rise to the occasion in this all out war.
Throw in a corporate tool with ulterior motives, Burke (well played against type by Paul Reiser) and another android names Bishop (Lance Henricksen) that Ripley is terrified to trust and you’ve got a terrific cast of characters.
When the marines discover a little girl nicknamed Newt (Carrie Henn) in the madness of the civilian compound, she becomes the driving force for Ripley to survive and protect against an unrelenting alien force.
As Ripley, Sigourney Weaver is a home run. Believable, a kick-ass action hero and a born leader, Ripley is one of the best screen heroines of all time and this is, by far, the best film the character’s been featured in to date.
Once Cameron sets up the basics very quickly, the film never stops, literally slowing down only long enough for us to breathe between suspenseful alien encounters.
Cameron’s genius is blending a classic war movie with science fiction and action to create something we hadn’t seen before in 1984. Ridley Scott’s original “Alien” in 1979 is terrific, but ALIENS is that rare sequel that I would argue is even better, taking the ponderous, slow style of Ridley (which I love) and infusing it with massive amounts of adrenaline and conflict.
Classic moments abound.
Classic one-liners fill the movie.
“Why don’t you put her in charge!”
“ They mostly come at night….mostly….”
“ Game over, man! Game over!”
“Hey, maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked pal!”
and of course the best, ‘Get away from her, you bitch!” That inspired huge applause when I originally saw this in the theatre and still gets us all riled up in that climactic moment.
What a great movie. Great story telling, fantastic sets and creature work, excellent sound, superb visual effects, one of James Horner’s best music scores and James Cameron at his absolute best, ALIENS is an all time classic of any genre and in my all-time top 10.
Thrilled to read in 2016, as ALIENS celebrates its 30 year anniversary, that Sigourney Weaver and Director Neill Blomkamp are creating a new film “Alien Covenant” that is a direct sequel to this one, ignoring the hugely diminishing returns of 1992’s Alien 3 and 1997’s Alien: Resurrection. Weaver and Biehn will both be returning. Can I buy tickets yet? (2022 Update: so far this concept has NOT made its way to the screen, but an FX Series has been announced, Aliens live on!)
Until then, ALIENS stands as the best film in the series and one of the best films ever. It gets an A+.