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Alien Flashback Review: Aliens

Jun. 6, 2012by: Chris Bumbray
In the days leading up to the theatrical release of Ridley Scott's PROMETHEUS, we here at JoBlo.com have decided to take this opportunity to look back at the franchise it's associated with: The Alien Quadrilogy. Each day this week, we'll be looking back at one film in the series, with the exception of the ALIEN VS. PREDATOR films, which I think we agree all suck, and are not really canon. Today we examine possibly the greatest sequel of all-time: ALIENS.

This time its war

FuckinA. James Camerons ALIENS is my pick for the greatest sequel of all time. I know, I know- what about EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, TWO TOWERS, DARK KNIGHT, etc. Well, to me, they aint ALIENS, but- theyre also not straight sequels, as they are part of a trilogy. ALIEN was never envisioned as a saga, and lets not forget that back in the late-seventies/early eighties, Hollywood was not quite as sequel-crazy as it is today, so if James Cameron hadnt come along with a kick-ass idea for ALIENS, they might have left the franchise alone.

Luckily, Cameron, riding high of the success of THE TERMINATOR, came up with a fantastic idea for a follow-up, which was to take the energy he put into TERMINATOR, and mix it with ALIEN, coming up with an action extravaganza follow-up that, while wildly different from the original, is considered by many (myself included) to be better than the first film.

What makes it so great? How about EVERYTHING ! Smartly, Cameron brought Sigourney Weaver back as Ripley, picking up the action 57 years after the first movie. Ripleys been in hyper-sleep, and wakes up in a world thats completely foreign to her. Initially a brilliant employee of Weyland-Yutani, now shes hopelessly out of date- not to mention that the company doesnt believe her story of an alien wreaking havoc on her ship. The planet they landed on the the first film, LV-426 has since been colonized- but guess what? The company has just lost contact with the colonists, and now Ripley doesnt seem so crazy after-all.

Weaver plays her as a changed woman, and a subplot deleted in the theatrical version, but present on the superior directors cut, reveals that Ripley had a daughter who died of old-age while she was adrift in space. This brings a hint of melancholy to the character, and makes her maternal relationship with Newt even stronger. Her performance is good strong that she was actually nominated for an Oscar in 86.

Over the course of the film, Weavers Ripley evolves into a reluctant hero- but unlike the first film wheres shes only trying to survive, here- shes trying to save people, as her motherly love for Newt drives her along- to the extent that in the finale, once all the bad-ass colonial marines have been killed, Ripley has to face the Alien Queen alone.

To me, Weavers Ripley is one of the all-time best action heroes- ranking alongside James Bond, John McClane, and Indiana Jones. Unlike many female driven Hollywood action flicks, Ripleys femininity isnt used in a fetishistic way (like in say, the TOMB RAIDER or UNDERWORLD films), or downplayed. Instead, her heroism comes from that all-powerful maternal instinct. Shes incredible, and credit James Cameron, who has a knack for writing strong female characters, for giving us a heroine for the ages. And the final battle between Ripley and the queen. Chills. "Get away from her you BITCH!"

MUSIC: James Horner supplies one of my all-time favorite musical scores, kicking off a long collaboration with Cameron (leading to TITANIC, & AVATAR). His score holds up so well, cues from it are still being used in trailers twenty-six years later.

BEST DEATH: Nothing tops Jeanette Goldsteins Vasquez- taking herself out in a blaze of glory, when pinned down by aliens- alongside Lt. Gorman. You always were an asshole Gorman she says, before the two sacrifice themselves, and take a bunch of pesky xenomorphs with them.

MOST BADASS CHARACTER OTHER THAN RIPLEY: This is a close one- as I initially assumed Vasquez had this pinned down, before watching it again and giving the edge to Michael Biehns awesome Hicks- whos so cool, he even makes the name Dwayne seem badass. My favorite line of his is after all the ammo is confiscated, he pulls out his trusty shotgun and says, I like to keep this around for close encounters.

CHARACTER THAT LOSES THEIR SHIT: While Lt. Gorman loses it early, he snaps back in time to go out heroically with Vasquez, after handing over command to the infinitely more capable Hicks. But Bill Paxtons Hudson? Game over man, GAME OVER!!!

RECEPTION: ALIENS was actually less successful than ALIEN, grossing $77 million, but it was still a hit, and in the years since has turned into a cash cow for Fox. The reviews were also largely positive, even though some criticized the change of tone, calling it Rambo in space. Whatever.

Source: JoBlo.com

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-9
3:17PM on 06/06/2012
Watched it again a few days ago and, while I like it quite a bit, it doesn't work well as a sequel to Alien. A large number of the type of creature established in Alien would be impossible for a ragtag group of space marines to overcome. It's fun but doesn't feel true to it's predecessor. I much prefer Alien 3.
Watched it again a few days ago and, while I like it quite a bit, it doesn't work well as a sequel to Alien. A large number of the type of creature established in Alien would be impossible for a ragtag group of space marines to overcome. It's fun but doesn't feel true to it's predecessor. I much prefer Alien 3.
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+4
11:51AM on 06/06/2012

They mostly come at night... Mostly...

Definitely the greatest sequel of all time. It is amazing how well it holds up. I would say that the creature design, suits and puppetry employed by Stan Winston look far more believable than the CGI that would be employed today. Builds on the original in interesting ways with the evolution of Ripley's character, the bond she develops with Newt and the introduction of the mother alien. My favorite film of all time. The fact that Alien 3 shit all over the ending still pisses me off.
Definitely the greatest sequel of all time. It is amazing how well it holds up. I would say that the creature design, suits and puppetry employed by Stan Winston look far more believable than the CGI that would be employed today. Builds on the original in interesting ways with the evolution of Ripley's character, the bond she develops with Newt and the introduction of the mother alien. My favorite film of all time. The fact that Alien 3 shit all over the ending still pisses me off.
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11:43AM on 06/06/2012
Perfect sequel is perfect!
Perfect sequel is perfect!
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+5
10:44AM on 06/06/2012
Goddamn this is one bad-ass movie!
Goddamn this is one bad-ass movie!
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10:12AM on 06/06/2012
The Director's Cut of Aliens is my single favorite film of all time...(I also love Alien as well)

I think the one thing missing from the review is how all the visual effects are pre- CGI and still very effective. I haven't watched it for awhile, I think its about time again :-)
The Director's Cut of Aliens is my single favorite film of all time...(I also love Alien as well)

I think the one thing missing from the review is how all the visual effects are pre- CGI and still very effective. I haven't watched it for awhile, I think its about time again :-)
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+9
8:58AM on 06/06/2012
It used to be my favorite of the series for a long time. Then, whether I like Alien or Aliens more depended on my mood, but now I've got to give the edge to the original. The tension, the horror and the visuals are all better, plus the incredible original design. Aliens though is a great action sci-fi, with the addition of the cool concept of Colonial Marines. It is also so influential that today it feels a little generic, especially in the previously established Alien world. If I had to sum it
It used to be my favorite of the series for a long time. Then, whether I like Alien or Aliens more depended on my mood, but now I've got to give the edge to the original. The tension, the horror and the visuals are all better, plus the incredible original design. Aliens though is a great action sci-fi, with the addition of the cool concept of Colonial Marines. It is also so influential that today it feels a little generic, especially in the previously established Alien world. If I had to sum it up, I'd say Aliens is more badass, but Alien is more cerebral, which to me is more important.
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8:31AM on 06/06/2012
Alien > Aliens. Why? 2 words... Yaphet Kotto
Alien > Aliens. Why? 2 words... Yaphet Kotto
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8:09AM on 06/06/2012
I also enjoy this one more than the first. Its balls to the wall action with enough suspense and horror thrown in to scare the hell outta you at the same time. This and T2 are Cameron's best work.
I also enjoy this one more than the first. Its balls to the wall action with enough suspense and horror thrown in to scare the hell outta you at the same time. This and T2 are Cameron's best work.
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8:03AM on 06/06/2012

This is actually my least favorite of the first 4

Which I never understood myself. I'm James Cameron fan and a sci fi fan. I've watched it four times, one of them even on the big screen. Each time I think, I'll get it this time! But I just don't. I really like the film until the moment the aliens appear and somehow I always tap out after that. I also don't like most of the characters. All of them besides Ripley(and perhaps Michael Biehn) are pretty one dimensional to me, Paul Reiser especially. I also hate the little girl(hate children in
Which I never understood myself. I'm James Cameron fan and a sci fi fan. I've watched it four times, one of them even on the big screen. Each time I think, I'll get it this time! But I just don't. I really like the film until the moment the aliens appear and somehow I always tap out after that. I also don't like most of the characters. All of them besides Ripley(and perhaps Michael Biehn) are pretty one dimensional to me, Paul Reiser especially. I also hate the little girl(hate children in these sort of films anyway). But like I said I know this is my problem. I just wished I loved it as much as most people seem to!
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7:52AM on 06/06/2012
This still remains my mecca in sci-fi action horror. There will never be a better film for that genre in my opinion.

I also think this one has a slight edge over the first because it still had the intense atmosphere and I actually think it's scarier than the first. Then when you add in Ripley turning bad-ass hero and the mother of all villains being the Queen, you just can't beat this.
This still remains my mecca in sci-fi action horror. There will never be a better film for that genre in my opinion.

I also think this one has a slight edge over the first because it still had the intense atmosphere and I actually think it's scarier than the first. Then when you add in Ripley turning bad-ass hero and the mother of all villains being the Queen, you just can't beat this.
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+11
2:12AM on 06/06/2012
While the first one was an exercise in deliberate tension and atmosphere, this was one was just a pure adrenaline ride. When Ripley appears with that power loader... man... I still get chills!
While the first one was an exercise in deliberate tension and atmosphere, this was one was just a pure adrenaline ride. When Ripley appears with that power loader... man... I still get chills!
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1:58AM on 06/06/2012
I have to agree with this being better than the first. Maybe wrong choice of words considering the first is a masterpiece too. This is my favorite. Aliens edges out the original by having more developed characters, and a brilliantly realized character arc for Ripley. I cared for her, Newt, and Hicks far more than I cared for any character in Alien. Especially in the Aliens director's cut which adds so much more depth to these characters. Cameron's best script next to Strange Days.
I have to agree with this being better than the first. Maybe wrong choice of words considering the first is a masterpiece too. This is my favorite. Aliens edges out the original by having more developed characters, and a brilliantly realized character arc for Ripley. I cared for her, Newt, and Hicks far more than I cared for any character in Alien. Especially in the Aliens director's cut which adds so much more depth to these characters. Cameron's best script next to Strange Days.
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