James Cameron made his second masterpiece with this, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s classic space horror show. Cameron, a director who will always ensure he gets exactly what he wants, extremely talented and ingenious, brought the series in a new direction, keeping much of the tension of the original, but upping the excitement and action.
After Ripley went into hyper-sleep at the end of Alien, hoping that someone would find her floating through space and pick her up, she travelled for over 50 years before being picked up by ‘The Company’. She wakes up and tries to come to terms with all that has happened since she was asleep-her daughter grew up and died, ‘The Company’ has become more interested in the alien she claims to have encountered, and the planet where she found the alien has become a mining colony. During interrogation she tells the suits what happened to her, and expressed the need for someone to investigate the ‘alien’ planet. They charge her with the destruction of her previous ship. However, when they receive a distress call from the planet, a group of marines is ordered to investigate. Burke, a company Rep persuades Ripley to come along as she is the only one to have encountered an alien, and because her recurring nightmares are stopping her from living her life. We are introduced to each marine, all tough, hardened fighters, seemingly well-equipped for any danger.
Aliens must surely rank as one of the most exciting movies ever made. At well over 2 hours it is a testament to Cameron, the script-writers and the cast that the pace of the film never slows. Every time the characters think they may have a chance, something happens to make them think otherwise. Everything is giving the most acute detail, from the marines’ garb, to the miniature sets and craft designs. The score is militaristic, keeping with the charge and feel of the movie, and the action is very strong and brilliantly edited. The aliens themselves are still terrifying, and The Queen is awesome. The famous power-loader fight scene is excellent, just one of the many highlights. The planet itself is grim and dark, the perfect place for the creatures to be, and the darkness and tight corridors of the colony add to the tension, atmosphere and claustrophobia.
There is a wide range of characters here, each distinct much like the first film. Even if we do not get to see them for very long, we are given a strong impression of their backgrounds because of their own personal dress and dialogue. Every performance is worthy of mention too, and Weaver’s performance was definitely worthy of the Oscar. Ripley progresses here, becoming one of the strongest female characters in movie history, learning and adapting with the Marines, but retaining her maternal instincts and disgust for the company. In fact, the fight and chase involving the Queen, Ripley and Newt is almost like custody battle, a fight to see who is the best mother. Burke begins seeming friendly, but of course his interest is in bringing back a specimen. Bishop is a brilliant inclusion remembering Ripley’s last encounter with a Droid. Hicks, played by Biehn is an excellent character, strong marine but not an emotionless, stupid grunt. Paxton steals many scenes as Hudson, spitting out some of the film’s best dialogue, at times tough and terrified. Henn as Newt is a revelation in her first performance, dealing with the script and content perfectly. Vasquez must go down as one of the best cult action characters, equally as strong as any of the men, even if she has a short fuse. Goldstein is very good in the role. Apone as the ‘Sarg’ is also good, and Gorman begins as a fool but redeems himself later. The rest of the cast are all good, even if most are only their to be killed. With such a good cast, Aliens becomes even better.
This film cannot be praised enough. Although there are those who feel it is inferior to the first because it has more action and supposedly weaker characterisation, it has to be said that the two films are different entities, the first a horror, the second a sci-fi action. Like The Terminator, Cameron puts in many effective scares so that it transcends the genre, becoming something more. Cameron says he wants to return to Sci-Fi. Please make one as good as this.
This Double discer has everything an Alien fan would want and the presentation is perfect. Essential.
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