Aliens (1986)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox Collector's Edition)
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Overall Rating 86%
Overall Rating
Ranked #164
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Connections: Alien

When Ripley's lifepod is found by a salvage crew over 50 years later, she finds that terra-formers are on the very planet they found the alien species. When the company sends a family of colonists out to investigate her story, all contact is lost with the planet and colonists. They enlist Ripley and the colonial marines to return and search for answers. --TMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: September 2, 2006
Let's take a trip back to 1984 to kick off this review. Just five years ago, Alien tore up the box office and instantly became the favorite film of millions of people worldwide. Now, there's rumblings of a sequel being made, and who's going to be in the director's chair? James Cameron, a guy best known for his work on Piranha 2 (remember, we're back in 1984 sporting our mullets and Van Halen t-shirts, with Terminator being but a glimmer on the horizon). I would bet my bottom dollar that there were plenty of movie geeks who would have immediately turned on their computers in order to rant and rave about this soon-to-be travesty in the Alien universe had there been some marvelous invention that would have allowed this to happen. However, sometimes things just work out in Hollywood, and this sequel is one of those things; I can't say that it's better or worse than the original, but it's certainly on the same level.

Our feature film picks up some fifty-seven years after the events in Alien, when a space-traveling salvage team comes across the floating escape pod that holds the lone survivor of the first alien encounter. Indeed, that lone survivor is none other than Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), and she's hauled in for questioning about the destruction of the multi-billion dollar ship. Nobody buys her story about aliens and face-huggers, so she is stripped of her space-flight license and sent on her way. Things change when Ripley finds out from one of her prosecutors, a fellow named Carter Burke (Paul Reiser), that his corporation has sent colonies of families to inhabit and populate the very same planet that those alien eggs were found on... and for some reason, they haven't sent out any sort of communication in quite some time. Now, Burke wants Ripley to go along with a team of highly-trained and heavily-armed military grunts in order to advise and assist them on the off-chance that her alien story turns out to be legit. It doesn't take long for us to realize that, indeed, the first movie wasn't one big hallucination and that everyone living on this planet has been killed. Everyone, that is, except for one little girl going by the nickname of Newt (Carrie Henn) who has managed to survive by hiding in the ventilation systems. It also doesn't take us long to find out that these grunts - Sgt. Apone (Al Matthews), Cpl. Dwayne Hicks (Michael Biehn), Bishop (Lance Henriksen), Pvt. Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein), and half a dozen others - are extremely outnumbered by the hundreds of aliens who now call this planet home.

So then, why did I say that I couldn't tell you whether this was better or worse than the original? Quite simply, it's because the two films, while sharing the same elements and characters, are two radically different pieces of work. On the one hand, you have Alien, a film that delivered the goods by building tense atmospheres and using the audience's fear of the unknown, and really, it fit into the horror genre better than the sci-fi. This sequel, on the other hand, focuses more on non-stop action and heavier sci-fi elements. In todays market, a film like this simply wouldn't do anything for yours truly; there's only so many clichéd car chases and explosions that you can watch before getting burnt out on them, and really, every action-oriented film feels like the same thing with different actors. However, under the supervision of a man who would go on to become one of the biggest names in Hollywood, this film is turned into pure gold.

For the purpose of this review, I watched the director's cut found in the Alien Quadrilogy box-set. This cut of the film runs about twenty minutes longer than the theatrical cut, and in my opinion, those twenty minutes add a lot to the story. There's nothing particularly important or groundbreaking added into this cut of the film, but the added character development and that extra bit of integrating the audience into the movie definitely helps. Speaking of which, that's another thing that I particularly enjoyed about this one: after it picks up, you really feel as though you're seeing the movie through the eyes of the heroes and not as a casual movie-goer. There are very few "cut-scene, and now we're twenty minutes later into the story" moments to be found throughout the running time, and as a result, it feels as though you're experiencing every minute of this adventure through the eyes of Ripley.

As I mentioned in that review, Sigourney Weaver was excellent in Alien and really made that movie. She certainly didn't slouch when she reprised the role, and once again, her presence makes the movie all the better thanks to her perfect portrayal of this caring-yet-badass woman. This time around though, Weaver is surrounded by people who are almost as good as she is. Watch for some great line-delivery by Al Matthews (a legit sergeant during the Vietnam War), some excellent interaction between Weaver and Michael Biehn, and of course, let's not forget the incomparable Lance Henriksen - a guy who even managed to somewhat save the abysmal Hellraiser: Hellworld. The only character that I didn't enjoy in the movie was Jenette Goldstein, and that was because I felt she was trying way too hard to play the badass female alongside Weaver. As a result, she came off as being phony and downright laughable, but considering the number of characters running around in this movie, one negative hardly ruins the entertainment value.

This film is no better than Alien (how could it be - I gave that one a rare 10/10), but it certainly isn't worse. Your favorite of the two will entirely depend on what you're looking for in a movie, but both of them are flawless in their own little way. 10/10.
Vash #1: Vash - added September 2, 2006 at 6:41pm
you didnt mention Bill Paxton! GAME OVER MAN!
Chad #2: Chad - added September 2, 2006 at 9:53pm
I was half-tempted to dedicate a paragraph to all the soundbites and scenes that were ripped from this movie for various games. Personally, I never realized that the chick piloting the ship supplied a good chunk of dialogue that was ripped for Starcraft.
Edd #3: Edd - added September 3, 2006 at 5:30pm
This movie has influenced so many games and shit.
The Laptop Gun from Perfect Dark was based off the automated gun they use in Aliens. Just a great all around movie with TONS of action.
If/when you review Alien 3, mention that before it came out, the trailers had the aliens going to Earth.
Tristan #4: Tristan - added April 10, 2007 at 1:21am
Edd, you're just so full of facts. I think this one was almost outdid the original. It wasn't as good in terms of story, but it had that little extra "sequel magic" 9/10
Dametria #5: Dametria - added June 12, 2007 at 2:04am
God I LOVED this movie. I remember my big brother waking me up at 2am when I was 8 to watch this with him in the living room. I loved every minute of it then and I watched it again just a few weeks ago and its just as amazing as it ever was. I liked it even better than the original, I just wished they had STOPPED with this one. Ripley is my hero....
Bliss From A Dead Embrace #6: Bliss From A Dead Embrace - added January 30, 2009 at 2:09am
This movie kicks alot of ass. I was kinda dissapointed how similar the ending was to the original though. How many times is an alien gonna just sneak on board without detection? And the fucking enormous queen to top it off... A bit of a let down there but the rest of the movie kicked ass. 8/10
Greg Follender #7: Greg Follender - added November 17, 2009 at 11:21pm
A GREAT action flick... but it doesn't hold a candle to the original masterpiece.

Everything great about this movie is present in some form within the original source material... not to knock this film at all, I love it... but it's not nearly as groundbreaking as the first film. If anything, it really introduced the whole "action movie" aspect to the series... a factor that promptly killed the franchise afterwards.

Easily an action classic... but not quite a 10 in my book.
The first film still gives me chills... while this one makes me laugh at the one-liners contained within;)
Great Sci-Fi action fun!
The first time i saw it... I'd have given it a 9. Nowadays, some of the cheese factor hasn't aged as well as the action bits... 8/10.

Lucid Dreams #8: Lucid Dreams - added May 10, 2010 at 2:11am
Too bad the rest didn't live up to this one and the last. 10/10
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