Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley
Carrie Henn as Rebecca ‘Newt’ Jordan
Michael Biehn as Cpl. Dwayne Hicks
Lance Henriksen as Bishop
Paul Reiser as Burke
By: The Zombie Master
I go to the theater to watch Aliens expecting a sequel to one of the best horror films ever made. What I get is a sci-fi action film that leaves me vocally p.o.’ed. How could they do this to a classic? Had James Cameron not even watched the first film? It wasn’t until a few years later that I gave it another viewing and was looking at this film in a different light that I realized that it could just “barely” fit into the horror category.
Aliens finds Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) right where we left her at the end of Alien; floating in hypersleep after escaping the Nostromo. She is picked up by a salvage team that takes her to a hospital where she is awakened and we find out that it has been 57 years since the events from the first film. She discovers from Carter Burke (Paul Reiser) that a terra-forming colony has been sent to LV-426; the very planet where Ripley’s former crew members brought aboard an deadly creep that ended up taking out everyone on board.
The Company has lost contact with the colony and Ripley has been reluctantly called upon to accompany Burke and a band of marines to go and investigate. What they find is that the creatures have taken over and have turned the colony into an elaborate breeding ground. Like a colony of ants, the creatures have a group for working, one for fighting and one for breeding, all with one purpose in mind; to protect the queen at all costs thus insuring the success of the hive.
What follows is a typical war film with a protagonist, an antagonist, and a sniveling, back-stabbing creep that will do anything for the powers that be.
I find it difficult to give any credence to those movie goers that attempt to compare James Cameron’s film with Ridley Scott’s Alien. They are two different movies, but since Cameron’s film is a sequel I do think it is logical to critique Cameron’s take on Ridley’s work.
Where Cameron succeeds in this film is with the character development. Not only do we get more history on Ripley but Cameron does a good job with the introduction of Newt (Carrie Henn). He also succeeds in supplying tension and suspense though I do feel that Cameron could have done without some of the comic relief that did nothing other than break the tension up.
Where Cameron failed was in the overall feel of this sequel. The dark, oppressive, and claustrophobic sense that made the first film great did not convert well to an action/sci-fi/thriller. To appreciate this film for what it is, a good sci-fi/thriller, you must watch it as part of an anthology. All of the films in this series should be seen as different stories, by different authors with the same central characters. When viewed with this mentality, even the third installment doesn’t seem that bad.