When Aliens hit theaters in 1986, it's predecessor, Ridley Scott's Alien, was already a science-fiction classic, and it's director, James Cameron, was a relative unknown in Hollywood. Coming on the heels of his surprise hit, The Terminator, Cameron blew the doors off what anyone was expecting to see in a sequel to Alien. Aliens was a huge, ambitious sci-fi action spectacular that traded quiet horror for slam bang pyrotechnics. It was a rousing success in 1986, but looking back at it today reveals some cracks. As per usual for a James Cameron film, Aliens is a rock solid story with some totally badass moments, but unlike Cameron's later work, it never quite captures the exquisite craftsmanship and event movie feel of The Abyss through Avatar.57 years after the destruction of the Nostromo, Ellen Ripley is discovered by a deep salvage team and recruited to join a team of Colonial Marines on a mission to a colonized moon that has been overrun by a horde of xenomorphs. It's a genius story premise by Cameron, taking the seeds planted in Alien, and growing them, naturally, into something bigger and better. This is what sequels always strive for, and rarely achieve. Aliens is a completely different kind of film from Alien, but it extends organically from it. It's also better than Alien. More exciting, more fun, and with a more potent emotional core.Sigourney Weaver is far and away the standout of the cast, which is otherwise comprised of the old Cameron standbys, hard-core chicks (Janette Goldstein as Vasquez), military grunts (Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton), and greedy corporate men (Paul Reiser). Weaver is fantastic as a woman traumatized by the events of Alien, who finds purpose in the protection of a stranded young girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). Her Ripley is one hell of a character. Fearful yet warm, determined but motherly, and in the end, a complete badass. Her Oscar nomination was unquestionably deserved.For a film famous for its action, with the greatest action director of all time at the helm and a story perfectly designed for rip-roaring thrills, it's almost a disappointment that Aliens is merely very good when it comes to the action set-pieces. The big alien ambush at the center of the movie is exciting, the facehugger attack is tense, and the marines' last stand against the xenomorph warriors is a great example of controlled mayhem. These scenes, however, don't have quite the polish I expect from Cameron action. It isn't until the last thirty minutes or so of the film, when Ripley begins her battle with the Alien Queen, that Aliens' action takes off. That final chunk of sustained action is the first taste the world got of just how special a director James Cameron could be. When Ripley steps out of the elevator, a giant gun in hand, the movie surges into overdrive. The Alien Queen is a brilliant concept in and of herself, and Cameron's direction of the entire sequence is superb. He saves his best for last, and introduces himself as a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood.It may sound blasphemous to some, but I think Aliens is crying out for a George Lucas-style special edition. Don't get me wrong, the alien effects by Stan Winston are great. The warrior xenomorphs are frighteningly designed and mostly free in their movements. The Alien Queen is one of the great large scale puppets in film history, an iconic creature. The effects work. But they aren't perfect. There is a crudeness to many of the effects. The miniatures sometimes look like toys, the xenomorphs sometimes move stiffly, and there are often visible wires and other mechanisms. It hampers what Cameron can do with the action. I think a conservative use of CGI would enhance the film, and liberate it from the constraints of the era and the film's small budget. Aliens was so ambitious, it deserved a bigger budget and more polished effects.The movie, as is, still rocks. The story is simply a stroke of genius, and the action is bolstered by a powerhouse performance by Sigourney Weaver. Aliens represents the transitional period of James Cameron's career, from enterprising low-budget fare to monumental event movies. There are moments of greatness in Aliens, even if the general unvarnished quality sticks like a pebble in its shoe. The structure of the film and its "in-your-face" attitude carry the day, but even so, I find myself imagining how breathtaking the movie might have been if Cameron made it with the resources available to him in the 1990s or 2000s. Despite my few nagging hangups with Aliens, the movie deserves its status as an action classic. Watching it with modern eyes, I can't call it a masterpiece, but I can call it a damn good time at the movies. Aliens is not a state-of-the-art thrill ride, but even a bumpy, slightly dated roller coaster is worth riding.84/100
Aliens > Alien
I don't wanna make Alien sound bad, it's one of the best movies I've ever seen. EVER. And it just gets better on rewatching. Alien was directed by Ridley Scott, one of my favorite directors. Aliens was written and directed my James Cameron, also one of my favorite directors. Both are suspenseful beyond your imagination. While Alien is a little better than Aliens in regards to story and originality, these are just some of the reasons Aliens is superior to Alien:
1) It introduces my favorite Alien character, Rebecca "Newt" Jorden. It's the only Alien movie she appears in and she has a LOT of screentime in Aliens. Carrie Henn was an amazing casting choice for her character. She gives one of the best, if not the best child performance I've ever seen in a movie (and yes, I've seen The Shining and I know that Danny Lloyd is amazing in it. You can feel her emotions through every ounce of her facial expressions, voice and actions. It's so so sad that she didn't pursue an acting career.
2) They got Ripley even better than in Alien. I love how James Cameron always puts very strong women in his movies and she is such a badass in Aliens.
3) Alien doesn't have a twist like Alien does. The twist that there's a xenomorph queen is awesome. I thought that xenomorphs are the coolest-looking creatures in all of science fiction, but this thing looks even better!
4) Alien has a great finale, but the finale of Aliens is the absolute best and I couldn't take my eyes away both times I saw it.
5) Aliens contains my favorite line from the entire saga: "Get away from her, you bitch!"
6) Despite not having something like a big theme, the score of Aliens is even better than the score of Alien.Aliens is the best movie of all time in my opinion.
And now that I've seen both the theatrical version and the director's cut I can say that the theatrical version is better. I like the director's cut's addition that Ripley has a daughter who died while she was in hypersleep, but I like that Rebecca's first scene is not in the theatrical version. It slows the movie down a little bit.
After a brilliant ,claustrophobic and atmospheric first film , Mr. Cameron takes the Alien franchise into the realm of what would become the fail safe formula of success for action movies . He does this a full decade or even two before it becomes the norm for every action film for decades after its 1986 release. For any other franchise this would be good. But after a Sci-Fi/Horror classic original, the second film is horribly dated and predictable. Cameron removes all the horror out of the film and replaces it with an all out assault on the viewers senses. He even changes Rippleys character from a sensitive but strong survivor female lead to an alpha female , who can do no wrong, including out boxing a natural predator while controlling a bulky and clumsy metal machine body crane. The first film appeals to all demographics while the second is an unapologetic attempt to appease the testosterone filled 20 year old audience. Everything plays second fiddle to the action including the cinematography, set design, acting and even the Alien, hince the need for multiple Aliens. It is simply TOO EPIC ,with too much action and having too much ego.