In 1979, one of the greatest sci-fi/horror films of all times was released in theaters. The producers wanted to do a follow-up almost as soon as the first one was in theaters, before they even knew how big of a hit the first film was, but the studio was hesitant to give the green light. However, after the success of The Terminator, the studio assigned James Cameron to direct a sequel. What he wound up creating has been considered one of the greatest films of all time. But feel free to judge for yourself while I watch today’s movie, Aliens.
The plot: After drifting in space for 57 years, Ellen Ripley is picked up and brought back to Earth. Once on Earth, Ripley is debriefed by her employers, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, who are skeptical of Ripley’s claim that an alien species attacked the crew of the Nostromo and inform her that the planet, LV-426, is considered safe and that a colony has been established there. When communications with the colony have been lost, Weyland- Yutani representative Carter Burke and Colonial Marine Lt. Gorman ask Ripley to accompany them on a mission to the colony of Hadley’s Hope. Ripley refuses at first but after being plagued by recurring nightmares, she agrees. During the voyage onboard the U.S.S. Sulaco to Hadley’s Hope, Ripley is introduced to the marines in the unit as well as the andriod Bishop, who Ripley is initially hostile towards due to her experience with Ash, the android assigned to the Nostromo. Using a dropship to reach the surface, Ripley and the marines find the colony deserted except for a traumatized little girl named “Newt” who was hiding in the ventilation ducts. They also discover makeshift barricades and signs of a struggle as well as two live facehuggers in containment tanks in the Med-Lab. Using the colony’s computers, the marines locate the colonists beneath the atmosphere processing station so Gorman leads his unit in after them. When the marines get there, they find the colonists cocooned and being used as live incubators for alien offspring. When an alien hatches from one of the colonists, the marines kill it which causes the rest of the aliens to begin attacking the marines. After several members of the unit are killed, Ripley drives the marine’s APV through the building to rescue the surviving marines. Cpl. Dwayne Hicks orders the dropship to pick the survivors up but an alien manages to get onboard the ship and kill the pilots, causing the ship to crash and forcing Ripley and the marines to barricade themselves inside the colony. Bishop informs the group that the nuclear power plant was damaged during the fighting and is goign to explode. He offers to crawl through the ventilation system to get outside where he will be able to remotely guide the remaining dropship to the surface to pick them up. While he is doing this, Ripley and Newt fall asleep in the Med-Lab only to find themselves locked in and the facehuggers set loose. Ripley triggers the fire alarm to alert the marines, who rescue the girls and kill the facehuggers. Ripley accuses Burke of releasing the facehuggers, but before she can do anything, the aliens attack the colony. Burke and all of the marines, except for Hicks, are killed and Newt winds up being captured. Bishop manages to get the ship to the surface and Ripley gets an injured Hicks on board before grabbing some weapons and heading off to rescue Newt. She manages to save Newt before she can be implanted with an embryo but the two find themselves face to face with the alien queen. When Ripley threatens destroying the eggs, the queen calls off the alien swarm and allows them to escape, but Ripley destroys the eggs anyways. The queen chases after them but Ripley and Newt manage to make it to the ship before the colony is consumed by the exploding power plant. Back on the Sulaco, Ripley’s relief is short-lived as Bishop is attacked by the alien queen, who had stowed away on the dropship’s landing gear. The queen goes after Newt but Ripley uses and exosuit to battle the queen and drop it through an airlock. Ripley places Hick’s, Bishop, Newt, and herself into hypersleep so they can make the voyage back to Earth.
Aliens received an abundance of high praise from the critics, earning a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many critics felt that the movie was one of the rare sequels to surpass the original. They had high praise for the story, action, and effects and especially praised Sigourney Weaver’s role as the heroine. Many film polls rank this as one of the greatest film sequels of all time and Aliens always makes it towards the top of any sci-fi movie poll. The movie earned over $180 million worldwide and was the highest grossing movie of the Alien franchise until 2012’s Prometheus.
I am not going to say that it is 100% better than the original because I feel there is one difference between the two. Yes, they are both a prime example of sci-fi/horror. But where Alien had a lot more of the element of suspense to help keep the story going, Aliens relied more on the action. Still, this is a phenomenal movie to watch. Sigourney Weaver did a great job reprising her role of Ripley and I thought that Michael Biehn (Hicks), Paul Reiser (Burke) Lance Henrickson (Bishop) were great as well. Bill Paxton also had one of the more memorable sound bytes to come out of this movie. The story was very well written and definitely felt like the continuation of the original movie that it was intended to be. The special effects were fantastic and definitely deserved the Oscar that they won, especially considering how much effort it took to film the scenes involving the alien queen. A fantastic movie that is definitely worth watching at least once.
Rating: 5 out of 5