Ridley Scott brought the fear in 1979 with the original Alien. James Cameron brought the kick-ass action in 1986 with the sequel, Aliens.
Movie: Aliens (1986)
Plot: After floating in space for 50 years, Lt. Ripley is rescued by a salvage crew and brought back to civilization. Unfortunately, the planet where John Hurt was assaulted by a face-hugger has since been populated, and Ripley has to go back with a pile of space marines to rescue whoever is left.
Killer: Xenomorphs and percentage points
Critique: If you are an 80’s child like I am, chances are that you saw Aliens before Alien. It’s not our fault. Aliens just happened to be in the cable tv movie circuit because it had everything that a commercially sound sci-fi action film needed: awesome-looking monsters, and a ton of them; space marines; gun-fire; flame-throwers; explosions; Bill Paxton. It doesn’t mean it was a better film than Alien, or worse because it catered to a wider audience. It was just different.
The greatest thing about Aliens was how epic it was as a sequel. This wasn’t your normal, “Let’s throw a Xenomorph into a different setting and see what happens.” It continues the story without seeming forced. What happened to that spaceship full of eggs in the first film? Well, we’re going to find out.
But Aliens is not without its odd setbacks, mostly near at the climax when the film is just trying to get to its amazing ending with Ripley fighting off the alien queen in a loader-suit after it had ripped Bishop in half. The most glaring situation is when Ripley is trying to grab Newt after she had fallen through a slow-moving turbine. Ripley grabs ahold of the sleeve of Newt’s jacket, who then seems to purposefully twist of it so that she could fall and be captured by the Xenomorphs to give Ripley a reason to load up on guns and enter the Xenomorph nest to save her.
Scene of Awesomeness: Bishop getting ripped in half by the alien queen has to be the most awesome scene in the film. Besides the obvious synthetic gore, the kill comes out of nowhere (even though it follows the original’s formula) as the film basically tells you, “Oh, you want a happy ending? Not so fast…”
Scene of Ridiculousness: I crack up every time Bishop’s top half skims across the floor when Ripley opens up the airlock. It’s just one of those scenes where I know I shouldn’t laugh, but I do.
Body Count: 167
Approximately 156 colonists vaguely wiped out by Xenomorph infestation
6 vague death by Xenomorphs
1 burnt to death (probably)
1 burnt by Xenomorph blood
2 by kamikazi explosion
1 (almost death) by being ripped in half by the alien queen (Bishop was synthetic. They don’t die easy.) (Awesomely Overkill Award)
Actors/Actresses of Note: Once again, the Alien franchise has a “who’s who” cast that includes Sigourney Weaver (again), Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen fresh off their work in The Terminator, Paul Reiser (!?), and Bill Paxton.
Quote: “That’s it, man. Game over, man. Game over!” – Private Hudson