Director: James Cameron
Written by: James Cameron
Weapon of Choice: Power Loader
Based upon: Original
Other movies in this series:
Back in good old 1987, I tried to get my mother to rent Ruthless People for me and my friends. It had just come out on tape and looked pretty good. The lady at the video store talked her out of it, though (claiming it was way too dirty for our young, impressionable minds), but suggested another New Release she felt was less inappropriate. I had never seen Alien, or even heard of its sequel (not sure where I had been the previous summer), but I was willing to try Aliens based on her description. I was not disappointed.
It surprised me, fascinated me, and entertained me like few films had. I watched it twice through, made a grainy copy, and went to work trying to get everyone I knew to see it (I still remember trying to describe the scene where Bishop pukes up about ten gallons of android blood to my friends and the look of grossed-out wonder on their faces). Right out of the box, I was a James Cameron fan.
Still am. This is one of my all-time favourite movies, and easily one of the most influential in my life. I even wrote my Senior thesis on this bad-boy, albeit badly. So, it's hard to know what to say about it in a brief overview like this.
Aliens takes place 57 years after the original film. Lt. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)'s shuttlecraft is found drifting in space and she is awakened from her hypersleep. There is no trace of the alien, and it seems no one believes her story back on Earth. In the decades since, a colony has been established on LV-426, the planet from Alien, and when Earth loses contact with it, a group of Marines are dispatched to investigate. Ripley, humiliated and haunted, is enlisted to accompany them as an advisor, but of course, none of them are prepared for the horrors they will face.
This is a fantastic film, from beginning to end. I place this in the select camp of Sequels That Surpassed The Originals, but am still able to appreciate Alien's many qualities. James Cameron is the only director I know who can get away with making a three hour Action picture (whoops, Action-Horror, sorry), and I just love his blue lights (not really utilized in Aliens much, but still there). The story, designs, and dialogue ("We're on a freight elevator to Hell, goin' down!") are just great. Sigourney Weaver's performance as Ripley is layered and brilliant (she got an Oscar nomination for that one). Paul Reiser is so slimey and dishonest as Carter Burke that tyranist and other people I know still despise him. Bill Paxton as Hudson ("Game over, man! Game over!") steals every scene and is the character most like me in this film (which probably says a little too much about me, but ah well). Bishop (Lance Henriksen again), Vasquez ("I only have to know one thing: where...they...are."), Hicks (Michael Biehn again), Newt ("They mostly come out at night. Mostly."), there's a place in my heart for all of these guys.
The film's atmosphere is nice, the special effects haven't become at all dated, and the big mama alien, the Queen is incredible (courtesy of the brilliant Stan Winston)! The ending of this film is the most satisfying of the series, as long as I block out what happens in Alien³, which I can usually do with no problem.
There are some film fans out there who don't love Aliens as much as I do, citing its long running time, its lack of the original's stark, claustrophobic menace, and the fact that it wasn't directed by Ridley Scott, but none of those things bother me in the slightest. There's not nearly enough I can say about this film and how much I love it . . . so I won't try anymore. Thanks, video store lady, and thanks, Mom.
Best Scare: I'd have to say it's just the sound of the motion-trackers beeping as the creatures are getting closer and closer.
I'd Recommend It To: ALL. I love this movie. And I'll go ten rounds over it.
Note: The 1991 Special Edition has become readily available, and while it's interesting and even more rewarding, it won't make any fans out of non-fans. It's simply a prolonged experience of the regular film.
The tyranist's thoughts
It is sometimes hard to talk about a movie as well-known and well-received as this one. But I must try. Alien has always been my favourite in the series, but I still hold this one in very high regard. It is kind of like trying to pick the best Bond film for me. You really can't do it that easily, and the one that you do pick is only marginally holding that spot over the others.
You will most often find this and the other films in the series in the science fiction section of your video store and with good reason. The series is a well-respected and loved series in the science fiction community. On top of that, everyone knows that Science Fiction sells better than Horror. Still, underneath it all, this is as much a horror film as it is a science fiction film. Even Rish admits that. I know a lot of people who were up late still not able to sleep after the first time they saw this. If that isn't horror then I don't know what is.
I'm not going to waste your time explaining the plot or the characters to you. Chances are that if you were going to see this movie you have and if you haven't, I don't want to spoil a second for you. Know that this movie is wonderful and has made many people happy for many years. It has become the bug movie by which all others are judged. Even the first one is held up to this one. Often you will hear it argued that this movie is superior to the first one and it is hard to argue back. Still, my heart will always lie with the first.
Total Skulls: 15
|Rips off earlier film|
|Horror film showing on TV/in theater in movie|
|Future celebrity appears||Paul Reiser|
|Former celebrity appears|
|Girl unnecessarily gets naked|
|Death associated with sex|
|Unfulfilled promise of nudity|
|Characters forget about threat|
|Power is cut|
|Phone lines are cut|
|Someone investigates a strange noise|
|Someone runs up stairs instead of going out front door|
|Camera is the killer|
|Victims cower in front of a window/door|
|Victim locks self in with killer|
|Victim running from killer inexplicably falls|
|Toilet stall scene|
|Car stalls or won't start|
|Cat jumps out|
|Stupid discovery of corpse|
|No one believes only witness|
|Crazy, drunk, old man knows the truth|
|Music detracts from scene|
|Death in first five minutes|
|x years before/later|
|Dark and stormy night|
|Killer doesn't stay dead|
|Killer wears a mask|
|Killer is in closet|
|Killer is in car with victim|
|Villain is more sympathetic than heroes|
|Blood hits camera|
|Poor death effect|
|No one dies at all|
|Little kid lamely survives|
|Dog/Pet miraculously survives|
|"It was all a dream" ending|
|Unbelievably happy ending|
|Unbelievably crappy ending|
|What the hell?|