‘Aliens’ (1986) by James Cameron

Director: James Cameron

Cinematographer: Adrian Biddle

Writers: James Cameron, David Giler, Walter Hill

Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Bienh, Bill Paxton, Paul Rieser 

Rating: 77

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Aliens is a follow up to Ridley Scott’s Alien, featuring Lt. Ripley (Siguroney Weaver) back with her cat to fight the alien scum again. For whatever reason, losing an entire crew the first time wasn’t good enough, we needed to send Ripley in again to lose a crew and kick some ass a second time. I guess it’s more about the friends we meet along the way?

  • The plot of Aliens is certainly better than the original. The world has more depth, but the focus shifting to the worldbuilding took the focus off some of the character writing, and we’re left with rehashed characters. It was all a little too eerily similar, and that leads me to my biggest problem of the film

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  • In only a few instances, does James Cameron’s Aliens separate itself from the original. The amount of similarities between the two films is a little suspect. From the character archetypes to Weaver’s performance, and the ways in which it creates suspense cut a little too close to the metaphorical edge.
  • However, the screenplay is much richer in detail, allowing for greater exploration of this universe. The film loses it’s focus when it narrows it’s view to the character because unlike Alien, Aliens doesn’t lend itself to the emotional attachment and character development due to the focus on the universe.
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  • The look of the film is spectacular. All of the spaceships, stations, heavy-machinery, and of course, the Aliens themselves, looked totally believable. Even the queen, who had this gigantic body was able to look real moving around that giant torso.
  • The cast was a lot of fun, but I can’t say any of their performances enhanced my viewing experience.
  • Bill Paxton made for some hearty laughs, but his character was mostly good for one-liners and that’s it. Same goes for a majority of the crew. In all honesty, I couldn’t get attached to any of them. They all end up being used as Alien bait by the end of the film.
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  • Cameron certainly carried his vision of this film to the best of his abilities, but it’s too much a re-hash of Scott’s film to separate itself in my mind. All the visuals look too familiar, and the type of characters match up.
  • In essence, Aliens is a great standalone film, but working as a sequel doesn’t work because it essentially mirrored the first one. Cameron can direct, but his lack of creativity showed.

Lt. Ripley Badass

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Ripley, played by Weaver, is a complete badass. Her performance carries a story that drags, and rarely changes or surprises. She carries the entire film with her brashness, bravery, and willingness to try and survive. It’s a certain level of hardheadedness that her character is known for and that’s why Weaver deserves the credit for her performance. All the emotion of the film is flown through her and she’s the emotional center of the story.

It’s not the most acting-heavy script, with the onus on the special effects and visuals. While I think the visuals were great for their time, the lack of progress in the story held up another strong Weaver performance. I loved her in a more vulnerable role, not having to always play rough. She knows when to turn it on and she plays that beautifully.

Verdict

It’s worth a watch, but it’s hard for me to say this is anything more than a rehash of the Ridley Scott version. It has more emphasis on visuals while losing the heart of the characters that made the first one so compelling. Knowing what the creatures are capable of also took away the thrill of discovery. it was well executed but doesn’t share the same qualities as Alien.

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