Directed by James Cameron


From a time when quality sequels were probably even rarer than they are now, Aliens is a mind-blowing second instalment to the 1979 Alien.

After surviving the events of the first movie, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) returns to civilisation after being in stasis for 57 years. During her debrief with her employers, Weyland-Yutani Corporation, Ripley explains why she had to destroy her ship but finds that nobody believes her story as there is no record of the alien species she describes. The planet on which her crew picked up its alien stowaway has since become a human terraforming colony called Hadley’s Hope. When contact with the colony mysteriously ceases, a group of marines is sent on a mission to the planet. Despite suffering from PTSD, Ripley decides to join the group as a means to gain some closure. When the group arrives on the planet, they find that the colonists have become incubators for the alien species that Ripley once encountered. After a marine kills one of the alien’s offspring, the group find itself under attack.

Old sci-fi films are often subject to criticism due to the visual effects and the fact that they pre-date CGI. However, Aliens benefits from this by featuring scenes that play to our fears of extreme claustrophobia, bodily parasites and (if you’re watching the director’s cut) parental bereavement — fears that audiences will always remain scared of. Additionally, the film benefits a great deal from its protagonist. Much like Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, Ellen Ripley manages to be vulnerable and terrified while also being a formidable badass. Unlike The Hunger Games, however, the film never calls attention to the fact that its hero is a woman — treating it like a normal thing rather than a novelty.

With an exceptional performance from leading actor, Sigourney Weaver, and James Cameron’s successful method of slow-building suspense coupled with some all-out action, Aliens is a film that hasn’t aged a bit since 1986.

This article first appeared in Issue 17, 2015.
Posted 1:59pm Sunday 26th July 2015 by Alex Campbell-Hunt.