Aliens (1986) Review

(In honor of the highly anticipated Alien: Covenant releasing on May 19th, I have been marathoning the Alien films to get ready. I’ve already watched Alien and since Kyle reviewed that already and I mentioned that it is one of my favorite films of all time, there’s no since in me writing a review. It’s an A+ masterpiece of horror and I couldn’t recommend it enough. So now that I’ve watched Aliens, James Cameron’s sequel to the 1979 classic, I am going to start reviewing from here. I’ll of course be skipping Alien: Resurrection because well, I’ve never bothered watching it and from everything I’ve seen, I will continue to not bother. So, without further ado, Here’s Aliens.)

 

 

Aliens picks up 57 years after the events of its predecessor with Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) being rescued from her stasis and is met with skeptical eyes as she claims it was an alien lifeform that destroyed her ship, the USCSS Nostromo. It is here she learns that, LV-426, the moon where the crew of the Nostromo discovered the derelict spacecraft that housed the eggs containing face huggers, has since been colonized . When contact is lost with the colonists, Ripley is convinced to go alongside marines and investigate. When they arrive, all hell breaks loose as the Xenomorphs are in bunches this time around and looking to kill.

This was my second time seeing Aliens. It actually took me forever to finally see the sequel which wasn’t until last year. The only version of the film I’ve seen was the Special Edition. James Cameron has stated that this is the version he prefers and as knowing what has been added back into this, I can see why. It’s a much more fleshed out version then the theatrical. I have to admit that while I enjoyed it and thought it was fantastic, I for some reason didn’t find myself to love it like I really thought I would. So, when I rewatched it this time, that changed big time. This movie is absolutely spectacular. Everything about this movie meshes and works so well that I was trying to pick out a flaw and my goodness, I just couldn’t.

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This movie does something that most sequels don’t. It completely switches the genre of the film. As Alien was a tense and heart-pounding horror, this film picks up a few weapons along the way.  Okay, make that a lot of weapons. This film is a non-stop action thrill ride. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t bring the scares because it sure does. The scene with Ripley and Newt trapped in the room with the face hugger is absolutely terrifying.

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Speaking of the characters, every single one here is gold. Newt (Carrie Henn), a young girl that Ripley and the crew find on LV-426, could of been an annoying drag. Instead, she is cool and sweet and even has her own set of clever one-liners. Burke (Paul Reiser, AKA Andrew Neiman’s dad in Whiplash) has this aura to him that you question what his true intentions are for investigating this colony. Bishop (Lance Henriksen) also has this character arc as Ripley is highly skeptical the moment she figures out he’s an android. The Marines are all pure macho madness here. My personal favorites being Hicks (Michael Biehn), who has fantastic chemistry with Ripley and has a leader quality to him, and Hudson (Bill Paxton). Why did we have to lose Bill Paxton? I mean seriously! He is so cool, funny, charismatic and everything he says is an instant quote. GAME OVER, MAN. GAME OVER! Oh, yeah and then there’s Ripley who is the most badass heroine in film history. Everything she does in this movie is so cool and at the end, she really becomes the badass we know and love with a particular pretty famous quote.

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The action is something that truly makes this film what it is. The first hour is strictly the set-up but it is still really investing. But, once the crew discover what has happened on this moon, the film just explodes and doesn’t let up until the final shot. The effects are still wonderful looking today and I couldn’t find a shot that really made me go “oooh that doesn’t look really good anymore”. It’s of course due to wonderful set design and practical effects that really add a sense of realism. The creature design is also spectacular as the puppet work could come off super cheesy but instead makes me squirm with each movement, whether it be a face hugger flying through the air or a Xenomorph sliding through a vent, it just looks so stunning.

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Aliens is what a sequel should be. It doesn’t try to recreate the original but instead takes elements from the original and tries to make it it’s own thing. It absolutely succeeds in that attempt. Sigourney Weaver gives a fantastic, Oscar nominated performance. The rest of the crew follows her suit and hold their own. The action is intense, the scares are heart pounding and the effects are breathtaking. Originally, I floated between an A- and an A when I first saw this but while I still prefer the first film’s slow tension and horror elements, this film is still one of the greatest action films ever made and I love it.

Grade: A+

 

Stay tuned for my next Alien review, Alien 3, a film that I haven’t previously seen and am pretty excited to view for the first time. As I’ve heard so many different reactions to it, I’m very excited to finally form my own opinion about it!


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