Face-Off: Sarah Connor vs. Ellen Ripley

TERMINATOR: GENISYS hits theaters this week, with Emilia Clarke stepping into the boots of the iconic Sarah Connor. Previously, her Game of Thrones costar Lena Headey tackled the character in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-2009), but we have to go back another 25 years to see where it all started. Linda Hamilton originated the role in THE TERMINATOR and solidified the character's place in history in TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY. She's not the first badass heroine in cinema history, though, so this week it's the OG Sarah Connor against Ellen Ripley of ALIEN and ALIENS fame (we're keeping it at the first two movies to level the playing field). I wouldn't want to get on either of their bad sides, but let's see which one comes out ahead.
Linda Hamilton: The very 80's-ness of THE TERMINATOR certainly doesn't help, but Hamilton hams is up a bit in the first film. Her ability to do a 180 with her performance in T2 is impressive to say the least, but there's still an element of over-the-top acting at times. That said, a weaker actress may not have made her way to the second film and would not have made this such a memorable character.
Sigourney Weaver: I wish I could be even handed and say something negative about the almighty Sigourney's portrayal of Ripley, but I really can't. Ripley is a much less volatile character, so there's something to be said for how much more is asked of Hamilton, but Weaver is just perfection here. It's no coincidence that there have been three Sarah Connors but only one Ripley.
In the first film alone, Sarah Connor transforms from an innocent waitress to a force to be reckoned with. By the second film, though, she is an absolute warrior- kicking ass, taking names, and doing whatever it takes to save her son and the future of the human race.
From the get go, Ripley is a fighter. She is not trained to fight, but she takes command, knows how to get things done, and faces fear head on. By the second film, she's gained some confidence and know-how and is more willing to go toe to toe with the baddies, but it's not nearly the 0 to 60 metamorphosis we see from Sarah Connor.
Sarah Connor crushes a T-800 in a hydraulic press, escapes a mental institution using a paper clip, a mop handle, and a syringe, and uses her wit and skills with a firearm to keep the T-1000 at bay. The only drawback here is that she almost always succeeds with the help of Kyle Reese or the good T-800. That doesn't make her less of a badass, it just keeps her from have as much opportunity to shine on her own.
Ellen Ripley destroys a commercial spacecraft, only to discover the dreaded xenomorph is not on board. With the help of a grappling hook, she forces it into space, finally giving it one more blast for good measure. Upon waking from cryosleep, she agrees to go BACK to LV-426, saves a little girl named Newt (noobody calls her Rebecca), knocks some sense into the Colonial Marines, shoots the shit out of some aliens, burns a few hatching facehugger babies alive just to piss off their mother, dons an exosuit cargo loader, and bitchslaps the queen into space. Yeah.
"You're terminated, f*cker."

"Good Morning, Dr. Silberman. How's the knee?"

"On August 29th, 1997, it's gonna feel pretty f*cking real to you too. Anybody not wearing 2 million sunblock is gonna have a real bad day. Get it?"

"Should I tell you about your father? That's a tough one. Will it change your decision to send him here... knowing? But if you don't send Kyle, you could never be. God, you can go crazy thinking about all this... I suppose I'll tell you... I owe him that. And maybe it'll be enough if you know that in the few hours we had together we loved a lifetime's worth."

"The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope. Because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too."
"Get away from her, you bitch!"

"Micro changes in air density, my ass."

"You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them f*cking each other over for a goddamn percentage."

"Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?"

"I'm happy to disappoint you."

"Bishop, you did okay."

"We'll go step by step and cut off every bulkhead and every vent until we have it cornered. And then we'll blow it the f*ck out into space! Is that acceptable to you?"
James Cameron (THE TERMINATOR) delivers a solid first film that feels a bit slow and dated by today's standards.

James Cameron (TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY) takes the franchise to the next level with the sequel, which is still one of the most celebrated action films around. The effects alone set new standards in the world of VFX and, while far from flawless, still look largely believable.
Ridley Scott (ALIEN) masterfully turns a monster in the house movie into a masterpiece and a classic. Despite coming out five years before THE TERMINATOR, this one feels more timeless than dated.

James Cameron (ALIENS) does what he did for the TERMINATOR series and takes this one up a notch or three. Where ALIEN was a psychological thriller built on tension, ALIENS keeps the spirit of its predecessor but adds a thick layer of very satisfying action.
PRO: Sarah Connor has spawned her own television show and is an absolute staple in the TERMINATOR universe. Much as John Connor is a very important absent character in the first film, Sarah Connor plays a pivotal role in the films which don't feature her.

CON: Behind every great man is a great mother. Sarah Connor is absolutely instrumental in sculpting her son into the leader he is, but it's John Connor who leads the rebellion against the machines, not Sarah. As a result, John tends to be the primary focus of most TERMINATOR stories.
PRO: Ellen Ripley IS the ALIEN franchise. Aside from a couple predatory spin-offs we won't mention, Ripley has been the one and only protagonist. The upcoming fifth installment to the series is no exception.

CON: Ripley isn't quite the household name Sarah Connor is. Hear me out. H.R. Giger's creature is the biggest star of the ALIEN franchise, and Sigourney Weaver is instantly recognizable as the series' heroine, but the actual character of Ripley comes third. Where Sarah Connor has found her place in history as a character, Ripley is still only Sigourney Weaver, so how long a shadow the character casts remains to be seen.
Ellen Ripley
Game over, man! This one was close, and I love me some Sarah Connor, but Ripley is Ripley. Again, just by the nature of the storytelling, Sarah Connor is constantly being protected or helped by others, while Ripley repeatedly ends up as the sole survivor (cats and strange little girls aside). It's inevitable that we will see another actress take on the role of Ellen Ripley in our lifetime, and it'll be interesting to revisit this rivalry down the line, but for now, Sigourney Weaver with a flamethrower mows down the competition.

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at [email protected].



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