Aliens (1986, James Cameron) Movie Review
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn
57 years after the events of Alien, a crew manages to salvage Ellen Ripley’s lifepod. She finds out that terra-formers are on the very planet they found the alien species. To investigate her story, the company sends a family of colonists to the alien planet. In a matter of time, there is a sudden loss of contact between the planet and the colonist; thus, the company enlists Ripley and a couple of colonial marines to see what paranormal occurrences have been happening on the planet.
What made the first film terrific is the gut-wrenching tension that made me sweat and clench my hands throughout the entire duration period. This was all caused by Xenomorph, which I consider, at least in the first film, a horrifying creature. He barely made an appearance, the entire film just focused on the nuanced characterization of the Nostromo’s crew, suspense filling every corner as they find out what and why there is a mysterious presence in the first place.
In Aliens, Xenomorph appears, but has about a hundred times more of itself (as aptly named by the title). This isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s less effective on the horror level. Aliens plays more like a video game with blankly buff Marine avatars and escalating missions whose goal is to wipe out the entire alien species. Instead of a brilliant portrait of nightmarish tension as shown in the predecessor, this one feels more like a pulverized action film, think John Wick but with aliens.
There is no doubt that the action sequences are bad, some of it being quite intense during the last hour, but as a whole, this film doubles down on everything great about the first one. I did like the occasional badass scenes with Ripley, but most of the atmosphere from the first movie is gone. The tension and the suspense are thrown aside in favor of big explosions and nonstop violence. It also does not help that most of the marine soldiers who end up with Ripley are really unlikable, so I spent most of the film rooting for Ripley and wishing everyone else to be killed already. The most memorable sequence would be a certain scene involving a decapitation of body parts in the end.
Other than that, Aliens butchered most of what was great about the franchise. Less tension and atmosphere in exchange for CGI and action scenes. When the first one felt like a perfect marriage between horror and sci-fi, this one became a simple action flick that felt far too long and dragging. Sigourney Weaver is excellent at portraying Ripley, but nonetheless carries the film the best she can under the limited circumstances she has.