It’s rare for a sequel to build off the success of the original but still be its own film, expand the universe of the franchise, and keep the core values that made the original so great. Aliens achieves all of those feats.
The film is directed by James Cameron and was released in 1986. The film picks up 57 years after the original. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has been drifting in space in hyper sleep all that time after being the lone survivor of the Nostromo. She is recused and is eventually debriefed by her employing company, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, about her destroying the ship. They are skeptical when she tells them the story of the creature that killed her crew and made her destroy the ship.
The planet that the Nostromo landed on is now home to the terraforming colony Hadleys Hope. Contact is eventually lost with the colony and company representative Carter Burke (Paul Reiser) and Colonial Marine Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope) ask Ripley to join them and a Colonial Marine unit to investigate the problem. She initially refuses but changes her mind due to repeated nightmares about the alien.
On the planet, they encounter the horde of Xenomorphs that have made their home there and the massive Xenomorph queen who lays the eggs of the creatures.
This film is a fantastic thrill ride.
Just like how the original is a pillar for the horror genre, the second installment is the same for the action genre. The action sequences between the Marines and the Xenomorphs are some of the most iconic in film. The Gung-ho Marines are more than ready to kick some alien ass, but quickly realize that the enormous native opposition proves far more formidable than they expected. This aspect of the film works perfectly as a metaphor for the conflict in Vietnam.
Weaver is amazing once again in the starring role and changed the way women could be played in the action film genre.
She is shown to be the smartest and toughest character in the film, while still having motherly compassion. She develops a mother and daughter relationship with a little girl named Newt (Carrie Henn), who is the only human survivor from the colony. Their relationship is touching and the heart of the film. Weaver received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role which was monumental for an action sci-fi film. The film received seven total Oscar nominations and won for Best Sound Editing and Visual Effects. The film keeps some of the horror quality from the original while also building its own legacy with upbeat action.
The acting isn’t as great as the original, but is still solid.
Henn is great as Newt and Bill Paxton steals the scenes he is in as a marine named Hudson who is panicking through most of the film. Michael Biehn is good as Corporal Dwayne Hicks as is Lance Henriksen as Bishop, an android that plays a critical role in the film. Motherhood is the main theme of the film and features one of the most iconic movie showdowns ever between the two mother figures: Ripley and the Xenomorph queen. Aliens is one of the greatest sequels of all-time and pairs perfectly with the original Alien.
Written by: James Howey