Aliens (1986)

Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, Paul Reiser
The planet from 'Alien' has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough?
While Alien was a marvel of slow-building, atmospheric tension, Aliens packs a much more visceral punch, and features a typically strong performance from Sigourney Weaver.
  • 20th Century Fox Film Corporat Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 18 Jul 1986 Released:
  • 01 Jun 1999 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • James Cameron, David Giler Writer:
  • James Cameron Director:
  • N/A Website:

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Excellent sequel--matches the brilliance of the first film10/10
Series note: It is strongly advised that you watch this film only after seeing Alien (1979). This is a direct continuation of that story.

57 years after the events of the first film, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is found and awakened from hyper sleep to discover that a terraforming colony has been set up on LV-426, the planet wherein she and her fellow crew of the mining cargo spaceship Nostromo first encountered the titular aliens. When Earth-based communications loses contact with LV-426, a band of marines are sent to investigate, taking Ripley and a representative from the company that financed the colony, Carter Burke (Paul Reiser) along for the ride.

For the difficult job of following up Ridley Scott's excellent Alien, director James Cameron decided to go a completely different route--to make a fast moving, slightly tongue-in-cheek, boisterous action extravaganza. Remarkably, he was able to do that while still maintaining a stylistic and literary continuity that melds Aliens seamlessly with the first film.

Ripley is much more fully developed in this film, although unfortunately, some of the most significant scenes were deleted from the theatrical release (if at all possible, watch the 2-hour and 37-minute director's cut instead). Cameron fashioned Aliens into a grand arc where Ripley's actions at the end of the film have much more meaning as she's not only fighting monsters, but also fighting to retain a semblance of something she lost due to her 57-year hyper sleep. As in the first film, she is still the most intelligent, courageous and resourceful member of the crew, but she has much more colorful company.

The marines accompanying Ripley back to LV-426 may be too cartoonish for some tastes (as for viewers of that opinion, most of the action and the film overall is likely to be too cartoonish), but for anyone more agreeable to that kind of caricatured exaggeration, it's a joy to watch. I'm a big fan of both Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen, and both turn in wonderfully over-the-top performances, at their diametrically opposed ends of the emotional spectrum--Paxton as the spastic surfer/redneck and Henriksen as the intense, moody sage, with a surprising reality and an even more surprising conscience to go along with it. We also get a cigar-chomping Sergeant, a crazy, butch Private, and a complex, pensive Corporal as main characters, and a mysterious, bright young girl (played in a terrific performance by Carrie Henn). Much of the center section of the film hinges on the interrelationships of these characters, despite the action trappings going on around them.

Cameron carries over the crypt/labyrinth motif of the first film, and adds a metaphorical descent into the bowels of hell in the climax. The action throughout is suspenseful. Aliens contains one of my favorite "cat fights" in any film. It's also worth noting the influence this film may have had on Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers (1997)--although admittedly, we could say that Cameron was influenced a bit by the Robert A. Heinlein book, as well. Throughout all of the varied action sequences, as well as the important early scenes of colonists on LV-426, Cameron is able to clearly convey the logistics of very complex sets, so that viewers remain on the edges of their seats.

Part of what makes the monsters so effective is that we're not told too much about them. We only get glimpses into their physiology's, their behavioral patterns and their intelligence. Cameron gives us just enough to become wrapped up in the film, but not so much that we become overly familiar with the aliens, or start to question the logic behind the film. He also smartly carries over some devices from the first film that were abandoned to an extent, such as the acidic blood of the aliens, and he supplies answers to the few questions that the first film raised, such as why the blood doesn't corrode instruments and objects when a dead alien is examined.

Aliens is yet another example of a sequel that is just as good as an original film in a series. Just make sure you watch both in order, and try to watch the director's cuts.
Gets better every time I see it10/10
I am just going to add my voice to the chorus of praise for this movie. It is as near to being perfect as any I have ever seen. I will not say that it is much better than Alien - which is just about near to being perfect also. But I do love all the characters in this movie. I have rarely seen a movie where all the characters were so well developed. Even most serious dramas seldom develops each character so completely. None of these characters are stereotypes even Paul Reiser as Burke, although the slimy company/government man villain is a prerequisite in disaster type movies. I would almost say that my favorite is Michael Beihn as Hicks, just because I like his work & consider him to be underrated. But I also like Lance Henriksen as Bishop, William Hope as Lt. Gorman, Bill Paxton as Hudson, and of course, Jenette Goldstein as Vasquez. I liked all of these characters. I cared about their lives & deaths. The final scene for Gorman & Vasquez still chokes me up after seeing it many times.

I am not ignoring Sigourney Weaver or Carrie Henn. Ripley is the template for the modern action heroine. In the 24 years since Alien, few have been able to measure up to Sigourney Weaver's Ripley. Even in Alien 3 & 4, Ripley was still powerful, despite the 3ed rate quality of the movies. As for Carrie Henn as Newt, she was the emotional heart of Aliens. Cameron's ability to develop well rounded characters does not detract from his ability to create great action scenes or to scare the audience out of a several years of growth.
This ain't a film.10/10

THE sci-fi movie. It's nearly perfect in every way: storyline, characters, menacing threat, suspense, action, direction, music, emotion, etc... It's always been a favorite of mine and still is. To me this is not just a film, it is an experience. The adrenaline pumps like in no other film and rarely have we had the chance to see a heroine as compelling as Sigourney Weaver. She can kick anyone's ass and still keep a heart and soul. (Why she didn't win the Oscar back in 1986 is beyond me.) When the action starts, you're in for the ride of your life. Truly a milestone in movie making. Now if they could only release it on DVD...
Outstanding blend of sci-fi, action, and humour.5/10

I rate Aliens a perfect 10. This second installment in the Alien series evolves the original movie's horror/sci-fi genre into action-adventure/sci-fi, setting a standard which has not yet been matched. I like this movie because it paints a picture of the future which is realistic enough to suck you in during the beginning of the film and then quickly introduces you to interesting characters who you become concerned with; some you love and others you hate.....but none of them bore you. By the time the action starts it's possible to forget you're watching a movie (at least the first couple of times). The plot is filled with tension that is occasionally broken by some of the most memorable one-liners in history (especially by Private Hudson). The special effects are remarkable, considering the fact that they were accomplished the "old fashioned way" prior to digital manipulation. I can report that I now own the Director's Cut and rate this version a 10 also. The extra footage will be extremely interesting to fans of the 1986 release. Either version gives you great characters, suspense, action, firepower, sarcasm, and wit. Aliens is an outstanding show!
"I knew you'd come..."10/10

ALIENS really does have it all. Perfect direction. Beautiful cinematography. Intense characters. Big guns. Action. Heroism. Courage. Battles. Friendship. Bravery. It is certainly the BEST sequel ever made in movie history, and one of the GREATEST MOVIES EVER MADE.

At its core is Lt. Ellen Ripley (played by the badass Sigourney Weaver), a warrant officer, and tough as nails. Her character is one of the greatest heroines of all time. Sigourney really does pull it off. No one else could have done it like her. Ripley's maternal connection with the young girl Newt is amazing to watch...but the ultimate scene is her final battle with the galaxy's most deadly creature - set to a pulsing military score (James Horner delivers in a big way!). Quite possibly my favorite fight scene of all time.

There's not really much else to say - just go watch the movie on DVD, and you will not be let down. You're in for a wild ride!!!