Aliens (USA, 1986)

aliens_ver1_xlgDirected by: James Cameron. One glaring change in the franchise that took place in the transition from Ridley Scott to James Cameron was the exchange of a brilliant cast of mixed British and American character actors to a cast of forgettable Hollywood no-names, the most notable of which are Bill Paxton and Paul Reiser. Sigourney, as usual, is the glue that keeps this thing from being totally unremarkable movie garbage. The initial premise is something that I couldn’t quite get behind. The Company obviously doesn’t believe Ripley’s story, and they have to send a squad of troopers to get massacred in order to see this monster with their own eyes. Fair enough. Corrupt corporation, big bureaucracy, can’t see the inherent truth in the words of the hero, etc, etc, etc. But why the hell does Ripley go with them when she knows—and we know—that all of these guys are going to get killed just like last time? If one alien killed a whole crew of 7 or whatever, then it’s probably tremendous naivete to think that a squad of a dozen or so troops are going to put a dent into a whole planet full of these things. Why would she voluntarily join that death trap? To overcome her recurring nightmares? To confront her fears? She knows, and we know, that these characters only function to be killed by the monster, and that, without her, there’s no movie. Where the previous Alien balanced elements of monster movie horror with some kind of elegant, minimalist suspense quality, Aliens is a slasher movie in space, where the slasher is a giant alien instead of a psychopath with a knife. We watch for two hours as the aliens pick off the characters one by one, the only suspense being the vague uncertainty of which ones will be killed, and when, and how exactly it will happen. James Cameron was cunning and subtle enough to drop a little kid in the mix, to up the stakes a bit. Good job, Cammy. If only they had CGI and 3-D in the 80’s, that would really up the Wow factor on this thing. Unfortunately, Wow factor is the only thing his movie has going for it.

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3 responses to “Aliens (USA, 1986)

  1. Pingback: Taken 2 (France, 2012) | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: Panic Room (USA, 2002) | Offhand Reviews·

  3. Pingback: Alien: Covenant (USA/UK, 2017) | Offhand Reviews·

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