Ripley must return to LV-426 with a team of colonial
marines to rescue colonists and wipe out the alien menace.
Written and Directed by James Cameron
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn,
Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, William Hope,
Jenette Goldstein, Mark Rolston, Al Matthews
Sequel to 1979's Alien
Oscar Wins - Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects
Oscar Nominations - Best Actress (Sigourney Weaver),
Best Art Direction, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing,
Best Original Score (James Horner)
Recently, I watched Galaxy of Terror and learned that James Cameron worked as 2nd Unit Director as well as Production Design for the Roger Corman produced picture. The parallels between the two are obvious in the best ways. While you can never capture the impact of Ridley Scott’s Alien, Cameron delivered a genre mash-up of sci-fi, horror, and action that shows you what a great sequel can be.
Picking up with Ripley (Weaver) after the events of the first film, we learn she has been adrift for almost 60 years when she and Jonesy are picked up by a deep space salvage team by chance. That team is owned by none other than Weyland-Yutani and they have some questions for Ripley about her experience on LV-426 (that number has also been used as the official Alien day, 4/26, to celebrate the franchise and its impact on pop culture) and what happened to her and the crew. They don’t believe her story about the alien and how the crew were slaughtered because they found no trace of it, “Yeah because I blew the goddamn thing out of the airlock.” This is unacceptable and she is stripped of her status as a pilot. She also learns that her daughter has also died in the time she was drifting through space. The revelation crushes her and the connection she had to her former life is gone. The bureaucrat, Burke (Reiser), tells her that her expertise is needed as the company has sent between 60-70 families to terra-form LV-426 and they’ve lost contact. Reluctantly, Ripley agrees and with a squad of overconfident Space Marines (special shout out to the late, great Bill Paxton as Hudson who has the memorable line of “Game over, man. Game over!” when confronting the shit hitting the fan), returns once again to a nightmare she cannot seem to wake from. What Cameron really does well is showing how quickly the macho Marines are taken apart by the xenomorphs and their utter failure to keep it together. In a different version, these guys (and gals) would’ve eliminated the threat with sweaty biceps and tons of bullets. Instead, Ripley has to overcome her fear and assume the role of hero in the ultimate battle of badass females as she takes on an egg-laying Queen Xenomorph!
We don’t always get a sequel that comes close to or even tops the original but that is definitely not the case with Aliens. Cameron’s vision and the cast expand on the original and succeed because the first movie is left on its own. Cameron takes the character of Ripley and the xenomorph menace and plugs them into a different genre altogether. This film and its predecessor are the perfect one-two punch and a great way to celebrate a franchise that has been with us for almost 45 years.
Aliens is what happens when you take the mind-bending horror and suspenseful sense of isolation from the first film and combine it with balls to the wall sci-fi action. The result is the best film in the Alien franchise and one of the most memorable sci-fi films ever made. This time, there's hundreds of these monsters that have wiped out the colonists on the planet from the first film, and only Ripley and a team of space marines can destroy them for good. With a killer ensemble and an unforgettable army of remorseless Xenomorph creatures, it's easy to see why Aliens has become a favorite among fans.
The film opens with Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) being rescued by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation after drifting through space in hypersleep for 57 years. In that time, LV-426 has been colonized and nobody believes her wild stories about an alien monster that killed her entire crew. But when the colonists vanish overnight, Ripley has to return to that planet and fight the monsters once again. Sigourney Weaver gives it her all in this film, building on the heroic and strong character we grew to root for in Alien, earning herself an Oscar nom in the process. Joining her are Michael Biehn as the charismatic Corporal Hicks, Paul Reiser as the nefarious businessman Carter Burke, Bill Paxton as the relatable and scared s**tless Private Hudson, and Lance Henriksen as the charming and decent synthetic android Bishop. Overall, the performances are flawless and help make things believable once everything goes to hell.
Aliens features so many iconic moments, from the facehuggers in the locked room to the battle with the Alien Queen. James Cameron took Ridley Scott's masterpiece and perfected it, creating a film that cements itself in three different cult genres. The Alien franchise will never top itself, though it's tried four different times. It's the practical effects, the smart script, the attention to detail, and so much more that round out Aliens as the essential 80's sci-fi flick.