Archive for September 17th, 2016

# 33. Aliens (1986)


by Adam Ferenz

July 18, 1986. 154 minutes (special edition)

Directed by James Cameron. Screenplay by James Cameron. Story by Cameron, David Giller and Walter Hill. Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Lance Henriksen, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Carrie Henn, Bill Paxton, William Hope, Jeanette Goldstein, Al Matthews, Ricco Ross.

Aliens is not just a sequel to Alien, that late 1970s opus by Ridley Scott. It is the rare sequel that manages to improve on the original in every conceivable way. Writer and director James Cameron, hot off the success of The Terminator, made the film that may still be his crowning achievement. Others will claim it is Titanic or Terminator 2: Judgment Day-and those are fine choices-but for my money, this is the one that will always work the best for me. Particularly in the special edition, the film just feels right, and complete, in ways that none of his other works do. So, what makes it work as well as it does?

Beyond the acid spitting, chest bursting, face hugging, parasitical,  transmogrifying horror from beyond known space? Aside from the full throttle action sequences, the top notch music and editing, the moody and highly effective cinematography and the extraordinary sound design? Beyond all that?

This is a sequel in which the events of the first film are never forgotten. Each horrific event of the original film, every terror endured by Ripley and her crew, is etched on Sigourney Weaver’s face, in a towering performance that rightly earned her a Best Actress nomination. This is a performance which feels completely earned. It is both physical and psychological. You have a woman that has been stripped down because of losing everything-including the daughter she left behind, who died an old woman just a couple years before, Ripley having been in cryogenic suspension for 57 years, her daughter assuming her mother lost and dead-and who sees Rebecca, or Newt, the little girl she discovers on the colony she and the marines arrive at, as representing a second chance in life. (more…)

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