DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is not a sequel.
Sure, it uses the same character and the same monsters and places it in the same universe.
But it is not a sequel. It's more like the loud mouthed second cousin who tells the wildest stories which are fun, but after a while makes you want to tattoo 'less is more' on his forehead.
Cameron does this type of film like no other. It's big, it's brass and it's ballsy. And for two thirds of the ride I'm having a grand ol' time. To compare this to the film that preceeded it is pointless as this is a comletely different approach, heck it's an entirely different genre.
The set up is fantastic. The team we are introduced to, from slimey coorporate exec to testosterone fuelled marine, they're all stereotypical fun, which is all we need in a film like this. Cameron paces the first 90 minutes or so superbly. He first gives the well-informed viewer the opportunity to gleefully watch the group slowly discover what we already know, they're in deep shit. He then hurtles some legendary and beautifully directed action sequences our way that have rightfully gained an iconic status. Cameron is in his element here and the film excels because of his vision and skill.
I have problems with the final act though. In my opinion this film doesn't need to run for a 137 minutes. Cameron makes the classic mistake of overreaching his grasp and stretching the final sequence out so long it makes it lose the impact it should have had. Mind, it is still very well made, but it is unnecessarily long and made me long for the pacing in the beginning.
Despite this flaw it still is a superb action/science fiction film that set a benchmark for many, many films that followed. And if I look at the franchise, all the parts that followed are sequels to this film.
For me, the first one is still in a league of its own.