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When Ripley and her dormant cat are woken from their sleep,
She learns that decades have elapsed while she was counting sheep.
The Company through Burke assures her everything is fine;
The hostile sphere she visited shows no unfriendly sign.
Though she insists an alien originated there,
Burke tells her that a colony was founded with no scare.
 
But when contact is lost with it, Burke wants to check it out,
Convincing Ripley to advise, despite initial doubt.
She meets some swaggering marines, all eager for offense,
And android Bishop, whom she hates from past experience.
The colony is empty, though there clearly was a fight,
And only Newt, a shaken girl, survived the violent fright.
 
Their search for captured colonists in dark and sticky halls
Soon threatens their survival as the creatures climb the walls.
Their numbers are diminished, and when they attempt to leave,
Their landing ship is totaled; it’s game over, they believe.
Retreating to the building where they hole up to prepare,
They learn that Burke had other plans he did not want to share.
 
He tries to salvage his whole plan and traps Ripley and Newt
With two facehuggers in a room with nothing they can shoot.
The two are rescued just in time for everything they feared,
Which thins the herd to only three when Newt is commandeered.
The complex is about to blow, but Ripley follows Newt,
Retrieving her and ticking off the alien queen to boot.
 
Though Bishop swoops in just in time to clear them of the blast,
The queen appears on board the ship to menace to the last.
Within a power loader, Ripley fights the ugly face
Until she blows the giant nightmare into outer space.
The few survivors settle down for travel stasis then,
And Ripley’s free of aliens…until she wakes again.
_________________
 

How convenient that a sci-fi horror should fall on Halloween! Just as James Cameron turned his unnerving The Terminator into a slam-bang actioner, he traded the ominous chills of Ridley Scott’s Alien for all-out combat (and added an s) for its sequel.  In doing so, he created one of the best of all three genres: action, horror, and science fiction. Aliens has reckless gun fights, punk Marines, and giant explosions, coupled with claustrophobic interiors, spidery stalkers, and a terrifying addition to the lineup of giant movie monsters. All of it combines to keep hearts racing in every scene (and perhaps a little the following night as well).

In films like this, most of the characters are mere afterthoughts meant to be exterminated, but Cameron succeeds in creating memorable individuals amid all the hysteria. Bill Paxton’s panicky Hudson, Paul Reiser’s weasely Burke, Jenette Goldstein’s brawny Vasquez, and Michael Biehn’s level-headed Hicks feel like real characters amid all the action, even though they lack the mundane setup of the first film’s victims. Lance Henriksen’s Bishop tows the line between creepy and reliable, thankfully offering the opposite of the original’s Ash. Above all, Sigourney Weaver continues her compelling role of Ripley and gets an opportunity to display motherly tenacity as she bonds with the traumatized Newt. Her fierce performance even gained her an unforeseen Oscar nomination.

For still being a fairly new director at the time, James Cameron brilliantly recaptures the mood of the original while intensifying it in some ways. How do you enhance a creature feature? Answer: by turning one monstrosity into hundreds. What’s more affecting for an audience than a cat in danger? Answer: a child in danger. Although it’s much more fast-paced than the original, there’s still plenty of nightmare fodder, particularly some now iconic scenes, like the aliens crawling through the ceiling or one rising up behind Newt.

Aliens also stands in my memory as the first film in which I heard the F-word. That could have been cause for me to dislike it, but ignoring the profanity, the chest-bursting, and the character being torn in half, the movie’s thrilling entertainment value makes up for these negative aspects and leaves the first film in the dust. My VC also loves the film, even though she had to check under her bed after first viewing it. This was the Alien franchise’s high point (don’t bother with the other sequels) and a high point in multiple genres.

Best line: (Hudson) “That’s it, man. Game over, man! Game over!”

 
Rank: 54 out of 60
 

© 2014 S. G. Liput

236 Followers and Counting

 

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