The Motherly Showdown - 'Aliens' Review
Seven years after the original movie, with insanely high expectations, James Cameron took Ridley Scott's spot as director and changed the straightforward horror tone with frenzied, explosive action. The result is one of the best sequels of all time, one that respected the legacy of the original while exploring new territories and making its own name.
After spending decades drifting through space in stasis, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is finally rescued by her employers, the Weyland-Yutani Company. She discovers that 57 years have passed and her daughter, who was a child the last time she saw her, has died from old age and natural causes.
Weyland-Yutani discards Ripley's story. The main reason is that the moon LV-426, where the Nostromo found the alien eggs, is now home to a terraforming colony that hasn't reported anything unusual.
Of course, when things eventually go wrong and the company loses contact with the colony, Ripley is asked to accompany a Colony Marine Unit as a consultant. Without friends or any family ties and with her desire to exterminate the xenomorphs as her only motivation, Ripley accepts.
From the very beginning, it's evident that after half a century the world has learned nothing from its mistakes. The Weyland-Yutani Company is perhaps even more calculating and greedy than before. The face of the company is Carter J. Burke (Paul Reiser), who is not only responsible for sending dozens of colonists to the specific spot Ripley warned them not to go, with the specific intention of finding extraterrestrial life and profit from that discovery, but at critical moments he irrationally attacks the lives of the humans who are protecting him because of the fear that his lucrative plan will be exposed.
When we see the Marines for the first time, they are cocky meatheads whose relationship to weapons is practically erotic. Mainly inspired by the Vietnam War, James Cameron devotes much of his energy to showing the contrast of the imperialistic arrogance of a technologically superior force with the fear of the reality shock of a hostile environment and an unknown, underrated enemy.
Another interesting shift is the way Cameron manages technophobia. Following the dark experience of previous android Ash, this time the story presents Bishop (Lance Henriksen), an android with no hidden agenda that doesn't hide its nature.
Although Ripley initially is hostile towards the synthetic character, in the end Bishop demonstrates its worth, sacrificing its integrity on several occasions in order to protect humans.
The development of Ripley as the beacon of feminine light in the historical fiction follows a progressive and logical route. Ripley continues to raise her voice and take strong actions against the condescending patriarchal oppressors that surround her. But Cameron focuses on the maternal instinct angle as the guide for her main character.
Ripley deals with the loss of her biological daughter, by taking under her wing a little girl called Newt (Carrie Henn), the only survivor of the colony. Cameron goes even further, presenting to the mythology the figure of the Alien Queen, a giant version of the average xenomorph that fiercely protects her eggs.
The result is an engaging "final boss" confrontation between two species, with their maternal protective instincts as the main fuel.
Bigger, louder and faster, Aliens takes to its heart the plural in its name, delivering the highest quality point of the saga.
What's Your Rating For Aliens (1986)?
Release Year: 1986
Director(s): James Cameron
Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Carrie Henn , a.o.
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