“Aliens” (1986) Film Review
Written by Jambareeqi
Posted 9th June 2017
“Aliens” is a direct sequel to Ridley Scott’s “Alien”, which has Ripley awaking from a 57 year long hypersleep, and facing a different timeline. At first, Ripley just tries to get on with her life, but her frequent nightmares about the Xenomorphs become too much, and she agrees to join forces with a military team to fight them.
You see, a human colony located on the Xenomorph’s planet, has been taken over by the Alien menace, and it’s up to our heroes to defeat them. While exploring the colony, the team also meet a little girl called Newt, who has been surviving on her own since her family’s death.
The most notable difference between “Aliens” and it’s predecessor, is it’s shift from chilling horror to action thriller. This change of genre is very natural though, as the first film did include an action driven finale, and Ripley showed potential as a badass heroine. You could easily stitch “Alien” and Aliens” together without creating a jarring jump.
The reason for this sequel’s more high octane direction, is down to the fact that Ridley Scott had been replaced by James Cameron; director of the “Terminator” films. Cameron’s distinct direction style helps the franchise make the mature transition into a refreshingly different genre, while retaining what made the first film great. Cameron is renowned for utilising special effects to enhance the action, is fantastic at creating strong independent women, and generating tense atmosphere. If anyone was ideal to take the reigns from Scott, it was Mr. Cameron.
“Aliens” is a very military focused film, addressing how a team of highly trained soldiers would handle the Xenomorph threat. These trigger happy comrades enter the aliens’ domain with nonchalant confidence, only to end up realising that they underestimated this menace; which really helps to overwhelm the level of danger the Xenomorphs pose.
However, it’s the fact that there’s more than just one Alien this time, which plays a big part in raising the stakes, and upping the game. The first film already showed how relentless and violently cruel this alien race can be, so imagine a over a hundred of them coming after our heroes.
While “Aliens” is very action orientated compared to the original, it’s not a series of mindless explosions, and exhaustively over the top peril. “Aliens” is fully capable of being just effectively atmospheric and slow paced as the first film. The movie is more than confident to build up tension, give us quiet moments, and create a feeling of despair before guns start blazing. Without these nuanced moments, the action would lack the substance required to add chills to the conflicts between the humans and Xenomorphs.
Ripley once again proves why she’s awesome; she maintains an affectionate humanity amid all the violent chaos, but also shows that she can adapt to dangerous situations. Even though she’s haunted by the memories of the Xenomorphs, she’s willing to face her fears, and seek to wipe them out for humanity’s safety. It’s her compassion for others that makes her so strong, because her desire to protect the vulnerable pumps her up for action.
Influenced by her experiences in the first film, there’s also a sense of brooding tension regarding Ripley’s relationship with the other characters. Even we as an audience feel nervous, as the first film established that some characters can’t be trusted, and Ripley’s new comrades could include someone corrupt. It doesn’t help that some of these new characters share eerie similarities with her crew in the first film.
The inclusion of the child character called Newt could have spelt disaster, as underage action hero sidekicks are renowned for being annoyingly bratty and useless. Luckily, Newt serves as an inspiring mascot for these soldiers, often shows more bravery than the adults, is willing to take on the aliens herself, and uses her knowledge of the colonist building to help everyone. Sure, she can scream and panic, but that’s because she’s still a kid at the end of the day.
When Ripley meets Newt, her maternal instincts kick in, and she ends up being an amazing surrogate parent for the sweet little girl. She looks out for her, helps her feel safe, and tries her best to make her feel at home despite the circumstances. The fact that Ripley’s hypersleep caused her to miss her biological daughter’s life, really adds some heartbreaking sentiment to why she latches herself to Newt like a mother. This is why Ripley stands out as an action heroine, she can kick some ass but isn’t afraid to show her humanity to the audience.
To conclude, “Aliens” is a brilliant follow up to it’s predecessor! An Adrenalin pumping romp that blends frenzied action with human drama. You don’t need to see “Alien” to enjoy “Aliens”, but watching it does add an extra layer to the film experience.