Director James Cameron does well with action films
starring tough, strong-willed female leads. "Aliens",
the long-delayed sequel to 1979's "Alien", was worth the
wait since it was an ideal project for Cameron's strengths,
and likely would have been a lesser film if directed by
"Aliens" picks up 57 years after the first film left off.
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has been in living in suspended
animation in a spaceship sleeping chamber, until rescued by
a salvage team. No one really believes her story about the
murderous alien with acid for blood, until contact is
lost with a colony on the same planet that Ripley had
battled the alien.
Ripley is sent as an advisor on a rescue mission to the
planet, along with android Bishop (Lance Henriksen), creepy
'company man' Paul Reiser, and a crew of wisecracking,
gung-ho Marines. They soon encounter the colony's only
survivor, a little girl nicknamed Newt (Carrie Henn).
Of course, they find the aliens as well, which are
disgusting, frightening and ubiquitous.
As in the first film, Weaver is most impressive as
Ripley, whose character should be out of her element,
but always proves to be tougher (and smarter) than those
around her. Even when Ripley's actions are wildly risk-taking
(especially when rescuing Newt at film's end) her actions
seems credible. Credit is due first to Weaver, then to
Cameron, and then to the special effects department for
making those nasty aliens look so convincing.
In addition to the tense and frequent action scenes,
"Aliens" is interesting for its psychological aspects.
Ripley, who is a loner by nature, not only conquers the
aliens, but builds for herself a substitute family.
Newt becomes her daughter, Michael Biehn her husband, and
Bishop her father. As in "Alien", there is a sabotaging
character (Reiser). My favorite supporting character,
though, is the whiner (Bill Paxton), who provides the sole
comic relief. Henn acts very well for a little kid.
"Aliens" was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including
Best Actress (Weaver). Its only Oscar was for Best
Visual Effects, but perhaps it should have won for the
great sets (Peter Lamont, Crispian Sallis) as well.
Copyright © 1996 Brian Koller