James Cameron’s “Aliens” is, in my humble opinion, the definitive Humans vs. Aliens movie. As far as I’m concern, every film that has come after “Aliens” are inferior clones. Even the animated “Final Fantasy”, for all of its cinematic breakthroughs, was nothing more than a rich man’s “Aliens.” It’s no surprise then that “Aliens” is the film by which I measure all Humans vs. Aliens movies.
What makes “Aliens” a classic is how it brilliantly lulls you into its world with a sense of security before assaulting your senses with a barrage of American firepower, acid-spewing aliens, and claustrophobic tension. In fact, the movie doesn’t even kick into high gear until well after the 50-minute mark, but as soon as that happens, the film never relents. The way the film manages to sustain its high-octane power, while never compromising on its quiet, personal moments, is just incredible.
“Aliens” is James Cameron’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 “Alien”, a cerebral experience that attempted to scare with atmosphere and paranoia. “Aliens,” on the other hand, is content to thrill with firepower. The film brings back Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the only survivor from the first film, who has been frozen in cryo sleep for the last half century or so. Awaken into a new world she is ill-prepared for, Ripley is informed that the alien planet where the alien creature that terrorized her commercial vessel (from the first film) came from has since been colonized by humans. Oh, and it just so happens that said colony has gone off the radar, and the colonists are believed…in trouble.
Ripley is asked to return to the alien planet as a guide to check up on the colonists. She is hesitant at first, but eventually agrees out of a need to resolve unfinished business (of the personal and alien-killing variety, natch). The bulk of the rescue crew consists of Marines, including the easygoing Hicks (Michael Biehn), the loudmouth Hudson (Bill Paxton), and the inexperienced commander, Gorman (William Hope). No sooner does the crew land on the planet that it becomes apparent things have gone terribly wrong. In fact the colonists are either all dead, fed on, or are being used as breeding apparatus by the aliens!
“Aliens” is the perfect title for this movie. Whereas part one was called “Alien”, properly denoting the single alien creature in that movie, “Aliens” is literally crawling with the alien creatures. They are everywhere — on the ceiling, along the walls, and in the shadows. Under Cameron’s direction, the aliens are frighteningly real, physical, and in your face. They move with the speed of snakes and kills with the ferocity of tigers, but what really makes them a formidable foe is their cunning. These bastards are smart, has mastered organization, and there are a lot of them.
Once the first mini-gun opens fire, “Aliens” shifts into action mode. At nearly two hours and 20 minutes, the movie lives up to the original film and, in my opinion, surpasses it. This is no cerebral experience, this is full-tilt action at its finest. Best of all, Cameron and his crew has the cast and the budget to pull off everything they wanted. Even more impressive is that this is only Cameron’s second movie, the first being “The Terminator”. (Cameron actually shot, edited, and released “The Terminator” and “Aliens” back-to-back. He was also the writer of 1986’s “First Blood,” the first “Rambo” movie. How’s that for a banner year?)
Besides making a star out of Sigourney Weaver as one of the first woman in cinematic history to kick ass and take names on an epic scale, the film features perhaps the finest and most memorable character to sci-fi fans everywhere. Bill Paxton (“Frailty”) is Hudson, the loudmouth who utters some of the most memorable lines in all of sci-fi, including but not limited to his mantra of, “Game over, man! Game over!” after the alien army has all but destroyed his unit.
“Aliens” is good stuff. No, let me rephrase that. “Aliens” is great stuff.
James Cameron (director) / James Cameron (screenplay)
CAST: Sigourney Weaver …. Ripley
Michael Biehn …. Hicks
Paul Reiser …. Burke
Lance Henriksen …. Bishop
Carrie Henn …. Newt
Bill Paxton …. Hudson