|Directed by:||James Cameron|
|Written by:||James Cameron|
|Cast:||Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Bill Paxton, Lance Henricksen|
James Cameron is the master of sci-fi action film. He’s thrilled us with the Terminator movies, and he proved that he could make you care for a bunch of pasty underwater divers in The Abyss, but he provided his magnum opus with Aliens.
If you want the ultimate in mood and suspense with a slow pace and well-developed characters, go be impressed with Alien. Aliens is exactly what Alien isn’t. It takes its’ time setting up the scenario, but once the shit hits the fan, it hardly let’s up until the end credits roll. A masterful score by James Horner helps build the suspense, amazing set and creature design thanks to Cameron and Stan Winston still managed to be faithful enough to Giger’s original concept, but with a few upgrades here and there. If this movie was released today, it would still stand strong in visual effects and storytelling. Not many movies stand the test of time so easily.
James Cameron was fresh off his screenplay from Rambo: First Blood Part II when he dove into the sequel of Alien. Writing Rambo had a lot to do with Ripley’s pseudo-Vietnam Post Traumatic Syndrome subplot, the fear of going back, and the use of Marines going to LV-426 to try and kick some ass.
Ripley is tough-as-nails while still capable of having moments of weakness, and she shows her strong maternal instincts when she’s with Newt. Very few actresses can juggle so many emotional switches without it coming off as contrived and unconvincing. When they first land on LV-426, she's a nervous wreck, but is eventually forced to take action to save the Marines, then herself, and eventually Newt.
Watching her take control of the situation one step at a time, eventually becoming the glue that keeps the team together is some great stuff. Sigourney Weaver got a well-deserved Oscar nomination in this SCIENCE-FICTION action movie. How many actresses or ACTORS have been nominated for their performance in a Science-Fiction movie? That says a lot.
Speaking of Marines, you’ve never met a cooler group of Soldiers onscreen before. I gaurantee it.
Each one has his/her traits that makes them stand out. I could mention Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton and Carrie Henn for making their show-stopping performances and unforgettable dialogue, but that would make everyone else seem less important. Every single actor is perfectly cast. There is not one weak link in the entire chain, which is virtually unheard of. Plus, it feels like they’ve been together for a long time!
Who can forget Hicks and his silent intelligence juxtaposed with Hudson’s smart-ass remarks, Sergeant Apone’s testosterone-driven asshole-in-charge with a hidden heart of gold, or Drake and Vasquez having a quiet but obvious love for each other (notice that during the preparation for going on their combat drop Drake is asking Vasquez for advice, and he says “OK baby.” Plus, they’re always making subtle eye contact); Lance Henriksen is just plain spooky as Bishop - you don’t know if you can trust him or not; Paul Reiser is the smarmy representative of The Company who we all love to hate; Gorman is a new Lt., an outsider that isn’t fully confident in his rookie skills - the list of memorable characters goes on and on!
What raises the bar even higher on this sequel is that it follows up on the original story, and elevates everything the first one had to offer to a whole new level. I can’t think of a better scenario to make a sequel to, and at first you might think “why the HELL would Ripley wanna go back to the damned planet after all she went through? Fuck that!” But once you see how the events unfold, it’s hard to argue her decision.
You may think all this sounds like 'butter', but there's some bread, milk and cookies to go with this wonderful dish. James Cameron stayed faithful to the original story, and added a whole new level of alien lore in the way that they strategize, how they reproduce, etc. With Alien, there is one creature hunting its' prey alone. With Aliens -as the title suggests - there are several of them. A hive of aliens. This left a lot of room for Cameron to come up with new ideas as to how aliens act as a unit.
With a slew of great additions to an original story that Cameron himself did not create, while throwing in all sorts of allusions from the first one while still allowing the audience who hasn’t seen Alien understand to what’s happening, you end up with one hell of a movie cocktail, my friend!
If you haven’t seen Alien and/or Aliens, now would be a good time to go to your local video store and pick up both as a double feature. You won’t be disappointed!
I’ve seen Aliens well over 500 times, and no other flick has even come close to that many viewings. I’ve worn out two VHS tapes, and owned 6 copies at one time or another. The amazing thing is that I still am captivated each time I watch it.
The Director’s Cut is actually better than the theatrical cut, which is quite an accomplishment, considering how amazing of a movie it is in theatrical form.
- The budget of Aliens was around $20 million.
- Carrie Henn (Newt) has never appeared in any other movie, and is now a school teacher.
- In the Director’s Cut, Carrie’s brother Christopher plays Newt’s brother in the movie (when their parents find the crashed ship on LV-426)
- A scene involving Ripley finding Burke slimed up and coccooned was filmed, but is not included in the Director’s Cut or any video release. It was originally included in the first airing on ABC in the late 1980’s, which was the Director’s Cut with this additional scene. He asks Ripley for help, and she gives him a grenade and tells him to help himself.
- Bishop is the name of the android in Aliens. In The Abyss there’s a character named Monk. In Strange Days (James Cameron wrote it) there’s a character named Jericho. Coincidence?