Sigourney Weaver Returns As Ripley To Fight Aliens & This Time It’s All Out War
We’re back with another Retro Review as part of our special Alien Franchise edition. Last week, we reviewed the film that started it all, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror classic Alien. Now it’s time to jump back into the year 1986, with the second film of the series, James Cameron’s Aliens.
Director James Cameron takes over the reins of the franchise and does what he does best make some of the greatest sequels of all time. Along with T2: Judgement Day, Aliens is one of the few films that many people debate is better than the original. Perhaps Avatar 2 will follow Cameron’s trend of amazing sequels…
The second film picks up right where the first film ends. Ellen Ripley lays asleep in her hypersleep chamber with fellow survivor Jones the cat. After 57 years she is finally rescued and woken up. While Ripley was sleeping it turns out the Weyland-Yutani Corporation had begun colonizing the moon, LV-426, where they found the derelict ship harboring thousands of Xenomorph eggs. It’s not long before her warnings to the company that the colony is doomed come to fruition. The colony goes dark and Ripley sets off with a team of Colonial Marines to rescue as many people they can.
While Alien is a great sci-fi horror film, Aliens is a great sci-fi action film. However, there are still plenty of frightening scenes of tension. If you thought one Xenomorph was dangerous and scary, just imagine hundreds, if not thousands of them.
Sigourney Weaver once again shines as the iconic hero Ripley. Her performance in this film even garnered her first-ever Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Weaver pulls every emotion possible from Ripley’s soul. Anguish over learning her daughter grew old while she slept and has passed away. Terror as she once again witnesses the birth of a Xenomorph from the chest of an innocent colonizer. It doesn’t take long for things to go South when the universe’s most optimal killing machine is on the loose.
However, when the going gets rough Ripley gets rougher. She digs down deep and once again leads the survivors competently and as efficiently as anyone can against the forces she faces. Finally, Ellen gets to relive being a mother by taking the young Newt under her wing. She may have never experienced her daughter growing older, but nothing will stop her from making sure her newly adopted daughter from perishing as well.
While Alien features a great cast, Ripley’s companions in Aliens are a lot more memorable. Cameron brings his regulars, the late Bill Paxton and Michael Biehn, two Marines with plenty of experience hunting bugs. Biehn is great as Corporal Hicks, who works well with Ripley. The two make a great team of Xenomorph killers. Paxton has easily some of the most quotable lines in sci-fi history from this film. “Game over, man! Game over!” Lance Henriksen as the android Bishop is phenomenal as well. The likable android eventually wins over Ripley despite her past experience with artificial intelligence.
One of the greater feats Cameron accomplishes in this sequel is adding to the already in-depth world building of Ridley Scott. You only get to experience one Xenomorph in Alien, but in Aliens a whole hive of them gives the mysterious creatures a few more interesting characteristics. Best of all, the Alien Queen gives this film a great climax and final showdown then its predecessor. Ripley in the forklift Power Loader exo-suit versus the Queen is one of the greatest action sequences in film history.
With more action and more Xenomorphs than the original, it’s easy to see why many people claim Aliens is the best film in the Alien franchise. However, I love both films equally for what they bring to their respective genres. Both films are easily in my Top 10 for Best Sci-Fi Movies of All-Time. One also makes that list in the horror genre, while the other is a top 10 action flick. I’ll let you guess which ones.