¨We'd better get back, 'cause it'll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night¨
Many people consider Aliens to be better or at least at the same level as its predecessor, Alien, but I found it an inferior film in many ways. In my opinion Alien is a perfect film, while Aliens despite being very entertaining is not nearly as scary and has its flaws. This sequel was directed by James Cameron and his trademarks are all over this film. Ridley Scott had managed to direct a small psychological science fiction horror flick, while Cameron made a much larger film, with many aliens, more characters, and a lot more action. This is more of a blockbuster movie than anything else. I`ve always been a fan of much quieter films that focus on psychological scares than big budget action movies so that may be one of the reasons why I liked Alien much more than Aliens. There is no doubt about Cameron`s ability to direct these big budget movies and he always delivers spectacular visual effects, but story wise his films are sometimes lacking in quality. The characters are many times one dimensional and that is exactly the case in Aliens. The only character I really liked in this film and that has depth is Sigourney Weaver`s Ripley. Unlike in Alien where the main character seemed to be the alien despite not showing up much on screen; in Aliens we have plenty of screen time for the aliens, but I never felt like they were a main character. It`s as if so much overexposure to them made me care less about the aliens and more about Ripley. So in conclusion Alien was the creature`s movie, while Aliens is Weaver`s film. She has a very strong role and her presence is what has made this film so successful. She carries the film and in a way makes us forget about the rest of the one dimensional characters.
The story continues right where the original left off with Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in the Nostromo shuttle in hypersleep along with her cat. She is awaken by a salvage team that has found her vessel drifting through space. Burke (Paul Reiser), who works for the same company that the original crew members worked for, informs Ripley that she has been asleep for 57 years. The company briefs Ripley as to what happened with the ship and the rest of the members, and don’t believe her story. They say that if her story were true then the colony of over 60 families that has been living on the planet where she claims to have seen the derailed ship would have encountered the aliens by now. The colony has been there for over twenty years without experiencing difficulties, and Ripley is discharged as a space pilot. Some time later, when the company loses contact with the colony, Burke asks Ripley to come along with them as a consultant. The company sends a military team to find out what has happened to the colonists and Ripley is offered to come along with them reinstating her if she does so. This is just an excuse for Cameron to get the crew in the same planet as the aliens and have much more action. Ripley decides to travel with the team which consists of Lt. Gorman (William Hope), the android Bishop (Lance Henriksen), Cpl. Hicks (Michael Biehn), Pvt. Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein), Pvt. Hudson (Bill Paxton), Cpl. Ferro (Colette Hiller), among many other soldiers who are heavily armed and qualified. Once they reach the planet they find no sign of any colonists, except for a ten year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn) who has managed to survive and tells them that monsters have killed the rest, and that they will come for them as well.
This film marked a breakthrough in action films, but isn’t really as scary as the original movie. The suspense and psychological horror is replaced with action packed shootouts and explosions. There are many more characters and a lot more aliens so there are a lot of things happening. This is what makes Aliens more entertaining for some people. Cameron had recently come from directing The Terminator so he was already making a name for himself and was able to work with a good budget. He is among the best when it comes to visuals and special effects and many of the visuals in this movie still look great today. Aliens won two Oscars for this reason. I`m not a huge fan of Cameron`s work, although I have to admit Terminator 2 is one of the best action movies ever and definitely my favorite James Cameron film. The screenplay was also written by Cameron along with the help of screenwriters David Giler and Walter Hill, and I had small issues with it, although the spectacular action sequences saved it. This is Sigourney Weaver`s film and she truly broke out as an A-list actress with this movie. She shines as a true female action hero who`s strong and emotional at the same time. Aliens is a good film, just not as perfect as Alien.