April 24, 2021 — A sequel is rarely better than the original, but Aliens is one of those few exceptions – which is saying a lot considering how great Alien is. The sequel is perfect in every way and transcends the idea of genre, as one of those films that everyone has seen even if they are not fans of horror.
A Continuation of the Story
Aliens has some of the most iconic dialogue in pop culture history delivered by legends in the movie industry. Still, the movie is 35 years old, so it must have some faults exposed by the passage of time, right? It had to be hard to follow in the footsteps of Ridley Scott, who directed the original, but the studio chose a young writer/director who had only a few years before delighted the world with his film The Terminator. When James Cameron was hired to do the sequel to Alien, there was no way that anyone knew the kind of talent they were bringing to the production.
“One of the most amazing things about Aliens is that it was released in 1986, and the practical special effects are flawless to this day. Nothing in this film, however, from the explosions to the alien puppets and even the outer space scenery, looks like it could be improved by giving it the contemporary, digital VFX treatment.”
Aliens start fifty-seven years after the first film, but for Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), no time has passed at all – the events of the first film are still fresh in her mind. When her superiors don’t believe her story about a killer alien decimating her crew, they strip her of her pilot privileges and stick her in a warehouse. It isn’t until the terraformers of the planet where they initially encountered the first Xenomorph go radio silent that they start to believe Ripley’s story. The slimy Burke (Paul Reiser) talks her into joining a team of marines to go back to the planet and find out why the inhabitants of the planet are not communicating. This time it isn’t just one Xenomorph, there is an army of them and even the marines, and their guns are no match for the Alien onslaught. It comes down to Ripley’s brain and a little mechanical help to ultimately get off the planet alive and end the Xenomorph terror.
No Aliens to Acting
The movie was already destined for greatness with Cameron at the helm, but he was given quite a few tools to work. As previously mentioned, Sigourney Weaver reprised her role as the main character, and Paul Reiser joined the cast. The film also features a host of character actors, Cameron favorite Michael Biehn as Corporal Hicks, horror legend Lance Henrikson as the synthetic human Bishop, and the late, great Bill Paxton as the loud-mouthed Private Hudson. The standout wild card of the film was Carrie Henn who played Newt, a young girl Ripley finds hiding. It was Henn’s only film credit up until 2020, but the onscreen chemistry between her and Weaver is undeniable.
Pop Culture Phenom
There is no denying that Aliens was, and still is, a pop culture phenomenon. The movie continued the legacy of the iconic Xenomorph creature that has been used all over pop culture, including a very copyright infringing look-alike in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television series. What Aliens introduced to the franchise was iconic dialogue like Hudson’s exclamation of, “Game over man, game over,” or Ripley’s short but assertive, “Get away from her, you bitch!” These lines still echo today not only in our living rooms but mentioned in other works.
No Need to Update the Effects
One of the most amazing things about Aliens is that it was released in 1986, and the special effects are flawless to this day. I have been critical of Cameron’s effects in the past as the robots from the original Terminator film are painfully apparent stop motion. Nothing in this film, however, from the explosions to the alien puppets and even the outer space scenery, looks like it could be improved by giving it the contemporary, digital VFX treatment. When practical effects are done right, they are better than computer-rendered scenes every time, and this film is one of the best testaments to that.
OUT OF 10
THE GOOD STUFF
- Legendary acting and directing.
- An iconic sequel that surpassed the original.
- Pop-culture phenomenon that has stood the test of time and influenced the film industry from the day Aliens premiered.
- They do not make movies like this anymore.
Is Perfect a Fair Word?
There is literally nothing wrong with this movie, and if anyone were to tell you differently, you should not be friends with that person. From the perfect continuation of Ridley Scott’s Alien to unapparelled casting and the genius of James Cameron that created both the visual and auditory aspects that made this film so fantastic. It is hard not to say that this is a perfect film in every way.