Mar 5, 2010

[Movies] Aliens (1986)

Aliens (1986)In recent times, sequels tend to be almost synonymous with failures. We know that Hollywood forces franchises to continue in order to rake in more revenue with minimal creative energy expenditure, even when it no longer makes sense to the plot. And thus we now greet sequels with a certain degree of skepticism and doubt - and you can't blame people for reacting that way.

But it wasn't always like that. And yes, I also acknowledge that there are still some pretty wicked sequels out there.

The best most people expect from a sequel is that it'll be as good as the first movie and that's about it. It's very rare that movies consistently reach that level of potential, what more getting all the way to being truly successful - I mean better than the original movie.

For me, this will always be one of those movies that helped define that kind of a sequel for me.

Aliens is the 1986 sequel to the original science fiction / suspense movie - Alien. Just adding that little "S" instead of a number "2" or "II" was enough to define this movie as the next step in this stellar franchise.

In the movie, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the only survivor of the Nostromo in the first movie, is finally awoken from hypersleep after her vessel is found. It's been 57 years since the events of the first movie and yet her original company still exists and they refuse to believe her story about the lethal xenomorph. Thus she is stripped of her license and pretty much ridiculed by her former employees.

Ripley learns how to use a pulse rifle from Co...Image via Wikipedia

In time she is approached by Carter Burke (Paul Reiser) from her company Weyland-Yutani and Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope) of the Colonial Marines. The planet where her crew had picked up the alien lifeform was now home to a terraforming colony - a colony that was no longer reporting in. Given Ripley's account, they feared the worst and were now sending in a strike team to establish what had happened. They wanted Ripley to sign on as a consultant despite her trauma over the original incident and eventually she agreed, if only to face the monster that was fated to terrorize her dreams for the rest of her life.

And thus the story of this movie becomes a lot more than what was originally presented in the first movie. Instead of a group of poorly armed, untrained space truckers fighting one of these aliens, you get the best that humanity has to offer in the form of the Colonial Marines against a greater quantity of these alien killing machines. So yeah, it feels like it was blatantly designed to draw in fan viewers.

But the movie was also graced with a pretty good plot - an actual meaty story that you can really sink your teeth into. The movie does a lot in terms of providing you with more information about the society at large that is now learning of the Xenomorphs. You get to learn more about the aliens as a species as well and how they behave in their native groups - and in very large numbers. This was really a movie that took the franchise to a completely different level and helped trigger its translation into books, video games, toys and a whole lot more just based on this one movie.

And the cast was pretty stellar as well and even if they seemed very caricature in dialog or behavior, it all came together and simply worked for this movie's concept. You have your typical tomboy tough chick Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) or salty drill sergeant Apone (Al Matthews). You have the spunky female pilot Ferro (Colette Hiller) and the cool-headed Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn). Oh, and don't forget the creepy cybernetic man Bishop (Lance Henriksen) and miraculous child survivor Newt (Carrie Henn). The cast was campy and silly but totally great together and the chemistry just worked.

Aliens remains to be one of my favorite science fiction thrillers of all time. Sure, there's a lot of action and at times it drags a bit but the overall experience was just amazing. It deserves a full 5 power loaders out of a possible 5.

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