Director: James Cameron
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton.
Plot: The only survivor of the Nostromo, Ripley is discovered in deep sleep half a century later by a salvage ship. When she is taken back to Earth, she learns that a human colony was founded on the same planet where the aliens were first found.
Genre: Action / Sci-Fi / Horror
Awards: Won 2 Oscars - Best Visual Effects, Sound Editing. Nom. for 5 Oscars - Best Lead Actress, Film Editing, Art Direction, Original Score, Sound Mixing.
Rating: M18 for monster violence, and for language.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.”
One of the best sequels of all time, Aliens is still one of James Cameron's most relentless pictures to date. Picking up from Ridley Scott's groundbreaking 'haunted house in space' Alien (1979), Cameron exceeded all expectations, crafting a sci-fi action horror movie that has no peers.
Only his second major film after the cult favorite The Terminator (1984), Aliens confirmed Cameron's status as one of the most gifted storytellers of our time. He would go on to direct The Abyss (1989), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009).
The screenplay is completely conceived by Cameron. Fast-forwarding to more than half a century after Alien, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the sole survivor wakes up from hypersleep only to find out that the planet from which the 'Alien' creature originated from is now colonized by humans.
When news filters in that everyone has gone missing, Ripley's worst fears are realized. She unwillingly embarks on a search-and-rescue mission with a team of trained combat specialists, knowing with experience that the enemy is virtually undefeatable.
The characters are well-developed, especially the supporting cast led by Bill Paxton and Michael Biehn. All of them take on a different personality but none of them fails to connect with viewers, making us root for them even though the odds of survival are stacked highly against them.
Ripley is arguably the most iconic female action hero in history. Weaver earns an Oscar nomination here for her astounding portrayal of Ripley; she toils and sweats buckets in Aliens, often scurrying away from the creatures in the nick of time. Along the way, she meets Newt (Carrie Henn), a young girl survivor, whom Ripley treats as her daughter.
The Ripley-Newt factor is the reason Aliens work at a far greater emotional level than Alien, and why the final sequence is so apt - a potent mix of action spectacle and human drama.
The extraordinary 'Alien' effects created by Stan Winston can be more clearly observed in Aliens. They look every bit as menacing and chilling as the lone ranger in Alien. While Ridley Scott's film redefined sci-fi horror, James Cameron's Aliens is fundamentally a sci-fi action thriller.
The horror elements are still intact, but they are overwhelmed by the sheer thrill of the action sequences which bore the hallmarks of a quality filmmaker. The pacing is breakneck, leaving viewers with no time to catch a full breath. Running at more than 150 minutes, it's an ordeal to sit through.
But it's the kind of ordeal that we want to put ourselves through. Till today, Aliens still holds up well and is easily one of the most entertaining and exciting movies of the 1980s.
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