Rewatched Jun 07, 2012
Mr. DuLac’s review:
We're all gonna die man.
There's always been debate if Aliens is better then the original. Some people even get mad if you disagree with them. I think that's actually a sign of how good this sequel actually is. The divide in opinion is actually because they didn't try to remake the original, but went out and did something different. If James Cameron would have tried to recreate the original movie with a plot of an alien taking out a crew on a spaceship it would have reduced this to no more then any number of cheap horror sequels we've been getting for the last 40 or so years. While the original was more of a traditional horror movie bordering on psychological thriller, this one is more of an action horror movie. That's why I have a hard time saying one is better then the other and I honestly don't see why I would have to.
What I do think is that the original is a masterpiece, and this film is one of the best sequels ever made. The set up at the beginning of the story is truly some great writing. They took the simple fact that the last time we saw Sigourney Weaver's character, she was in a cryotube and used that as an amazing plot device. This let them play with the timeline between the two films and it doesn't contradict anything while keeping the character of Ripley the same age. In a sense the film picks up exactly where the first left off as far as Ripley is concerned, all the while still being able to change the total landscape of the original planet in the first film. This is truly great pulp science fiction writing.
It would have been so easy just to write a story that another ship finds the same beacon as the first film then just rinse and repeat. Instead the film is all geared up to what is essentially a small war. After the first alien is seen it no longer bothers with slowly building up tension, and why should it? We've been there before and it was perfectly done. Instead you get thrown into the middle of a war zone with creatures that will kill you with certainty if you are within arms length of them. I think it has just as much tension as the original, it's just a different kind of tension built up in a different way.
James Cameron also manages to pay great respect and homage to the original film while making this his own. No easy task. The entire look of the film is filled with Cameron staples that you would go on to recognize in his later films right up to Avatar. All the futuristic tech looks like it actually works, and it looks used.
Like any great sequel the returning character from the first film actually evolves. Ripley went through hell and is haunted by it. Weaver pulls this off so well that she was nominated for an Oscar. Not something that happens all that often for action/horror/sci-fi films. While most of the other characters are a bit one dimensional, they are still sharply distinctive and serve the movie well. One exception to that though is Lance Henriksen's performance as the android Bishop. Needless to say the android Ash in the original film is a very memorable character, and Henriksen manages to make Bishop just as memorable if not more so. Again, similar but very different.
I didn't bother mentioning all the memorable moments and images in the film because you already know them. How many films and TV shows have spoofed the "Get away from her, you bitch!" scene? How many films and video games have been influenced by the Colonial Marines? I could go on and on. One of the greatest sequels of all time... period.
That's it man, game over man, game over!