WARNING: SPOLIERS ABOUND!my favorite sequel ever made as well as my second favorite movie of all time: James Cameron's Aliens.
Aliens is one of those movies that when I first saw it; it made me wanna make movies. It remains one of those films that changed my life. While, I like and deeply respect Ridley Scott's terrifying Alien, this movie blew that film away. I always felt, that this is one of those very rare sequels, that manage to top their classic first film. It's a superior movie in every way. One, that never fails to leave me with my jaw dropped, no matter how many time I seen it.
And, I seen it many, many times. One of the few movies (the only other two are Scarface and Hellraiser) I've owned in every format imaginable: VHS, LD, DVD, and now blu-ray (given to me as a gift for my birthday, May 29th). I watched it on blu-ray last night, and man, it looks and sounds amazing, better than ever! I've preferred the director's cut, since I first saw it on LD ages ago. It's the only way I watch, the movie. It's a longer and, I think better cut. It makes a great film, even better.
Once the action starts it rarely lets up. It moves at a breathtaking pace with some of the most exhilarating action scenes ever caught on film. That said, it never though forgets it's horror connection, and remains quite scary. Much of that fear revolves around Ripley finding and becoming surrogate mother to Newt (Carrie Henn), a little orphan, whose parents were wiped out by the alien creatures. We don't want anything to happen to this little girl. Weaver's performance as the tough, but badass motherly figure shines here. It's this heart of the movie that takes it well beyond the brainless action film it could have been.
Also, adding to the heart of the film is the relationship between Ripley and Cpl. Hicks. It never feels forced and works perfectly. Rounding out the cast is the amazing Lance Henrikson as the good hearted android, Bishop, Bill Paxtons' wonderfully quotable Hudson ("Game over, man! Game over!"), Janet Goldstein's tough chica Pvt. Vasquez, and Paul Rieser's sleazy and despicable Carter Burke. Burke is truly one of horror's biggest assholes. Ever!
This is one of my major reasons why I despise Alien 3 sooo much. To kill Bishop and Hicks is bad enough, but to kill Newt is a sin. You just destroyed the heart of the second film. It shits on everything this movie accomplished. That that sequel is stupid and uninvolving surely doesn't help either. Thank God, director David Fincher went to better things!
Back to Aliens. There is also the pounding and driving score by James Horner. The music gives the movie the perfect mix of military, horror, and the grandiose. The music played during the movie's most exhilarating scenes remain one of my favorites ever.
The FX work by Stan Winston is jaw-dropping. The creatures look amazing. And the Queen, she's a sight to behold. Big, scary, and nasty. The movie doesn't flinch on gore either, surpassing the splatter of the first film. Blood is splattered, people get blasted with acid blood, a chestbuster rips out of a victim, and aliens explode on camera. But, it's Bishop's implaing/ bisection that is the coupe-de-grade of the movie. It is one of the most spectacular in the history of cinema.
Heavily influenced by the Vietnam War (something clearly important to Cameron as he wrote Rambo: First Blood part II), Aliens is THE perfect mix of sci-fi, horror, and action. It is a movie that I will always hold near and dear to my heart. Even when I feel shitty, I pop this one in and it makes me feel better, exhilarated and ready to kick some ass. Cameron was one of my movie making heroes. Along with Terminator 2, as well as Terminator and even Piranha 2: The Spawning, I looked up to his style. Now, not so much. Oh, well. But, regardless this film, called by my hero and late-great horror critic Chas. Balun, "as perhaps the greatest monster movie ever made", is fucking god on film. All hail Aliens and remember: "Get away from her, you bitch!"