A Summary and Review of Aliens

A Summary and Review of Aliens

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  1. When James Cameron was brought in to direct the sequel to 1979’s "Alien," it was clear things would be different. The budget was considerably higher on the 1986 installment and the result was a film that was far superior to its predecessor. Sure, some of the claustrophobic terror presented in the first film was lost with the bigger production, but there was plenty to make up for that.

    The Return of Ripley

    Sigourney Weaver returned as Ripley, but since she was the only character alive after the first movie, she’s the only repeat performer. The movie picks up as Ripley’s escape pod is found. She has been sleeping in suspended animation for over fifty years.

    During Ripley’s extended slumber, the planet where her ship encountered the alien has been colonized. Since no one has found any alien eggs, people are slow to believe Ripley’s story. That is, of course, until contact is lost with the colony. Ripley becomes an advisor to a team of space marines heading up the rescue mission.

    Intriguing Cast of Characters

    Perhaps the biggest surprise in terms of casting is Paul Reiser as company executive Carter Burke, who is the one human bad guy in the film. Bill Paxton plays Private Hudson, who starts off cool and (as they say in the marine lingo of the film) frosty, but turns to panic when things turn bad. He provides some much needed comic relief. Without his character the film would probably be too tense and dark.

    Other notable appearances include Micheal Biehn as Corporal Dwayne Hicks and Lance Henricksen as Bishop. Carrie Henn gives live to the character of Rebecca "Newt" Jorden. Newt is a young child who has been hiding ever since the colony was over run. Having a child present makes the danger seem that much more intense. It doesn’t hurt that Henn portrays her as a charming, if very traumatized, young girl.

    From Confidence to Terror

    As the marines arrive on the rescue mission, they are shown as confident professionals. It would be easy to see a group of modern marines in the role. Really, one of the underlying points of realism in the whole film is how there are only technological shifts from modern day, but otherwise the characterizations are basically contemporary.

    The first encounter with the aliens (the first film had only one, while this one features many) turns disastrous and it’s obvious that these marines under-estimated the threat. It becomes the job of Ripley and Hicks to pull what’s left of the team together and keep everyone alive. They get a lot of help from Bishop and Newt, but after the initial shock, everyone eventually pulls together.

    The result is a real thrill ride. There are moments of terror, moments of action and some humor interspersed. Perhaps one of the aspects that makes this film work best is that all the characters (with the exception of Burke) are fairly complex and likeable. You really don’t want to see any of them die. Of course, given the type of film, many of them do.

    Aliens certainly ramped up the scale and intensity of the first movie. There are likely people who miss the low budget claustrophobic texture of that first installment. "Aliens" proves itself to be far superior in every way, though.

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