Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn
ALIENS (1986). Director: James Cameron. Extended edition/director's cut.

After the climax of Alien, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has drifted in space for 57 years. (In a scene omitted from the theatrical version, we learn Ripley had a daughter who grew up and died while she was away, which intensifies her feelings for the little girl, Newt, that she meets later on.) The powers-that-be, including corporate employee, the slimy Burke (Paul Reiser), first "disbelieve" Ripley, but then they learn that a colony that was established on LV-426, from whence Ripley escaped, is no longer in communication with earth. Stripped of her rank, Ripley is promised a promotion if she returns with Burke, android Bishop (Lance Henriksen), and a contingent of marines to LV-426 to see what's up. Naturally they find a whole host of alien monstrosities, along with the sole survivor, Newt (Carrie Henn), and a monstrous mother queen who is laying more eggs on a regular basis. Unlike the first film and in spite of its sci fi/horror trappings, Aliens is more of a war movie/action film than anything else, but on that level it is extremely exciting, although, as in the first movie, there are too many long scenes of Ripley running and running through smoky corridors. One especially good and scary scene has Ripley and the child discovering that a face-hugger (the creature that wraps itself around your face and deposits a parasite) has gotten into their quarters and they're locked inside with it. The acting from Weaver [Tadpole], Reiser [One Night at McCool's], Henricksen [AVP] and Henn is excellent -- I rarely like Weaver in anything but the Alien movies -- and there are also noteworthy performances from Michael Biehn as Corporal Hicks, William Hope as his commanding officer, Lt. Gorman, and especially Bill Paxton as the overtly cocky but understandably terrified Private Hudson, with some nice work from Jenette Goldstein as the tough, Hispanic Private Vasquez. This vision of the future is already dated, and the movie has several illogical moments, but it is very, very entertaining. Followed by Alien 3.

Verdict: Like quite a few people, the aliens have acid for blood. ***.


angelman66 said...

Great movie - one of the few sequels that is even better than the (also very good) original. The ones that followed were just OK, but this is one of the best of the horror-in-space genre.

William said...

I agree with you. And it didn't hurt that Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton were in the cast. Paxton wound up starring in "Big Love' on TV, and while Biehn is less high-profile these days, he's steadily working. I may complain about Weaver in other films, but it's hard to imagine anyone else as Ellen Ripley.