Director: James Cameron
Ripley (Weaver) is awakened from her cryo-sleep 57 years after surviving her first alien encounter. The company eventually coaxes her to return to the alien planet LV-426 but this time she’s assisting a group of badass Marines carrying mucho firepower. Will the Marines get their asses kicked? Five words: Game over, man! Game over!
Which is better ALIEN or ALIENS? In my opinion, that question should not even be asked. They are polar opposites. Where ALIEN was claustrophobic, atmospheric and subtle...this sequel takes a totally different route going the action/packed, multi-alien carnage and "in your face" way. Granted, ALIENS doesn’t capture the artistry that ALIEN had going for it, but it doesn’t really attempt to either. It’s a whole different 69! Bottom line: both films are excellent in their own right and shouldn’t be compared.
ALIENS has the same ingredients than its predecessor but we basically get them all in extra high dosage. We get our alien eggs, some facehuggers, some chest bursters and plenty of alien creatures. All the bases are covered but with lots more rum in the coke!
You want ACTION? Check out the group of marines spreading heavy fire on a swarm of aliens with some rocking slow motion, an involving score in the background and catchy gun noises. Right here, beeyatch! What about DRAMA? You want some of that, too? Well, the mother/daughter-like relationship between Newt and Ripley will satisfy that craving. Actually, the director’s cut amplifies this because we are told that Ripley had a daughter who passed away while she was in cryo-sleep. And what about HUMOR? You want to chuckle a bit also? Well, I got one word for you: Hudson (Paxton)! He’s the only comic relief in the film and he cracked my pointy ass up! My fav line was, "What do you mean they cut the power? How can they cut the power, man? They’re animals!!!" Hudson had me in stitches.
The good actors also make this movie even stronger. Most of the characters could have easily come across as one-dimensional nothings in this film, but the casting is so strong that all actors involved bring something “special” to their respective parts. I mean, I’ll always remember the brash Vasquez (Goldstein) or the silent Hicks (Biehn) or even the knife-happy Bishop (Henriksen). For some odd reason, I warmed up to the characters a lot in this film and that upped the stakes of the movie for me. I just didn’t want anybody to die! And when some of them did die...it hurt, baby!
I can’t help but admire this sequel for not only going in a totally different direction than the first, but also for taking its elements a step further. The alien mythology for example is largely expanded here. Gone is the lone phallic-like nuisance of the first. Now say "hello" to an intelligent insect-like community with alien soldiers, alien guards and of course, an alien Queen (freaking impressive). I also appreciated the theme of “birth” and “species survival” being stretched here to the theme of motherhood. Ripley protecting/loving Newt and the alien Queen watching over her eggs like a hawk; it gave the movie that extra layer and made way for the battle of the mommies.
There’s just one small thing that bothered me about this flick and that was its last plot point leading up to the big catfight. It’s basically a rehash of the original’s ending and although I bought it the first time around, I had lots of trouble buying it in this sequel. Without giving too much away, can someone please tell me how that huge “Queen” got in the thing (I’m trying to be vague) while it was flying? Yet alone fit IN the thing unnoticed! I didn’t buy it. Fortunately, the exciting bitch battle that followed made me forget all that. I just laid back and put my money on Ripley.
Rare are sequels that actually try to be different. This one succeeds and then some. ALIENS is just one of those movies that you just can’t forget. I’ve had scenes from that movie stuck in my head for years (Your jaw will drop when you see the walls come alive with slithering aliens. Or how about that scene where the alien is running through the air vent? Fucking priceless). I’ve also had lines from the movie pop out of my mouth over the years (Have you ever been mistaken for a man? No, have you?). Even the damn noise that the motion censors made, stuck with me! Kool noise! ALIENS is just fucking awesome. LET'S ROCK!!!
Lots of alien guts flying around, some acid burns and the highlight being a character getting torn in half while spitting out milk (guess who). In the special effects department, the film looks amazing! The space sequences are beautiful, the creatures realistic (those stuntmen in suits know how to move yall!) and the model work is on the ball (is it me or did LV-426 remind you of the futuristic landscape in Terminator?).
Sigourney Weaver (Ripley) is better here than in the first film. She’s focused and very credible (especially in her scenes with Carrie Henn). Michael Biehn (Hicks) is the shite. The guy can just stand there and you know what he’s thinking about. Charisma up the wazoo! Carrie Henn (Newt) is very believable as the scared little girl and brought a few smiles to my face (affirmative). Jennette Goldstein (Vasquez) is all pumped up and ready to go! She perfectly balances the toughness and the obvious affection she has towards her fellow Marines. Bill Paxton (Hudson) gets all of the best lines and brings much-needed laughs to the film. I loved him!
Paul Reiser (Burke) is a facial tick thespian here and for his slimeball part it works like Britney Spears on my face. Lance Henriksen (Bishop) gets to play nice guy and Arrow appreciated that. It's always kool to see an actor do something different. William Hope (Gorman) expresses the insecurities and fear of his character perfectly; good stuff! Mark Rolston (Drake) looks way badass and his chemistry with Goldstein is so "on". Go boy! SPECIAL PROPS TO: Al Matthews (Sergeant Apone) for playing one of the koolest Sergeants to ever grace the screen. He balances badass with nice guy like a champ! Usually Sergeants in movies are always total a-holes. Kool cigar too.
T & A
The ladies get a lot of shirtless Marine boyz early on and we get Sigourney Weaver in grey underwear and Jenette Goldstein showing off her biceps (impressive).
Cameron delivers what is probably his best film. I loved the fade in/fade out of Ripley’s face and the planet in the beginning. I went nuts for the slow motion during the action scenes. I dug the fact that he kept the aliens in the shadows and how he managed to make all of the chaos understandable to the eye. He also makes great use of sound with the heart beat noise, the motion sensor bleep and the memorable gunfire noises. The lighting is dead on (loved the red tint), the pace is relentless and the tension is there. I was grabbing on my couch pretty tightly. Cameron you should have slapped an alien in the Titanic…now that would’ve been something!
James Horner’s score goes with the flow of the movie. At first, it sounds like the score from the original; subtle and mysterious. Then, he slaps a military drum roll in there as the Marines gear up and then he goes apeshit with one of the best action scores that I have ever heard. I was bouncing in my chair!
I actually saw ALIENS twice when it first came out in the theatres. It was the shite then and it is the “super duper dope shit” now. ALIENS is the real thing. I strongly suggest you check out the director’s cut if you haven’t seen it. It gives you more background on the colony before the alien attack, some Newt in her pre-dirt makeover phase, Hudson's funny monologue, more depth to Ripley and other countless goodies. I can’t see myself watching the theatrical version ever again. But "Director's Cut" or not, ALIENS is one of the more enjoyable, involving and memorable flicks that I have ever seen…period. Stop your grinning and drop your linen!
SCENE THAT DIDN’T MAKE IT IN THE DIRECTOR'S CUT: When Ripley is searching for Newt, she finds Burke who has been restrained and impregnated. Burke begs Ripley to shoot him, instead she hands him a grenade (this scene did not appear in the director's cut, but was filmed). Problem with this scene was that Burke couldn't have had a chestburster inside of him, because the impregnation was only one hour before, so he should've had a facehugger on his face instead.
A draft of the script had Gorman paralyzed by a stinger on the tail of an alien instead of being clobbered by falling equipment on the head.
In an early draft of the script, Bishop claims to have been made by "CyberDyne". That’s the same company name that Cameron used in The Terminator films.
In the director’s cut, we see a picture of Ripley' daughter. That’s actually Sigourney Weaver's mother.
The line "…she thought they said illegal aliens and signed up..." by Hudson (Paxton) to Vasquez (Goldstein) has an inside joke to it. Jenette Goldstein (Vasquez) went to the ALIENS audition thinking that the film was about illegal immigrants. She arrived with long hair and mucho makeup. Every other actor there was wearing military-like clothing.
Al Matthews who plays Sergeant Apone in this film, is in real life the first black Marine to be promoted to the rank of sergeant in the field during service in Vietnam. YOU GO, BOY!
Carrie Henn (Newt) had no acting experience when she did this film and never acted again. She is now studying to be a teacher.
Sigourney Weaver was nominated for her performance in ALIENS.
ALIENS won the Oscars for: Best Sound Effects editing and Best Visual Effects.