With Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Paul Reiser, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, William Hope, Jenette Goldstein
Directed by James Cameron
Reviewed by JB

Sexiest woman in space!     Seven years after Ridley Scott's near-perfect horror - science fiction classic ALIEN, James Cameron, fresh off the amazing action film THE TERMINATOR, continues the story of survivor Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in ALIENS. Whereas ALIEN is really a horror movie, ALIENS is an action film.  In fact, in mood and pace, it resembles THE TERMINATOR more than it does Scott's original ALIEN.  This is the film that made Sigourney Weaver into an unforgettable science fiction icon.

     Although Cameron should be commended for his hour-long exposition that remains entertaining and enlightening despite its length, there is otherwise little subtlety in ALIENS.  Like THE TERMINATOR, ALIENS is, at heart, a loud, in your face, slam-bang action film filled with explosions and massive military fire power. Both films, released in the space of three years, are perhaps more responsible than any others for changing the action genre, some would say for the worse.  Certainly, when people complain about explosions and violence taking the place of actual story and characters, we can look back to both these films and see them as a turning point.  However, both these Cameron films remain incredibly popular not just because of the overload of physical mayhem but because of their stories and characters.  In ALIENS, we not only have Ripley recast as a gun-toting action hero, we've got Paul Reiser (great casting!) as the sleazy corporate worm trying to make big bucks by bringing back a live alien.  Reiser, a funny stand up comedian who would go on to star in the excellent sitcom Mad About You, is the fish out of water, surrounded by a gaggle of gung-ho military "bug hunters" and one pissed-off action heroine.  Bill Hudson gets most of the great catch-phrases of the film as the bug hunter who constantly loses his composure as he quickly realizes there is no way to stop the aliens from killing whoever the hell they want to kill.  Carrie Henn is adorable and vulnerable as a young girl who managed to survive on a planet of aliens for several months by herself and who is treated as Ripley as a substitute daughter for the one she lost.

     The story itself is a good one.  57 years after the events of ALIEN, Ripley is discovered still floating around in space (she's been in hypersleep) and is rescued.  She learns that in the time she has been gone, the planet on which her original crew first found the alien eggs has been colonized by humans.  In one of those unlikely coincidences that you just have to swallow, it is only a short time after Ripley is revived that the human colony is suddenly attacked by the Aliens, requiring a rescue operation to which Ripley is a consultant.

     This is Sigourney Weaver's film through and through, and will probably be the performance for which she will always be remembered.  She takes charge, she thinks of things no one else does, she sacrifices her own safety again and again to save others and she kicks ass from frame one to frame last.  It may not be the cleverest line of dialog ever, but "Get away from her, you bitch!" can still cause fist pumps and wild cheers from audiences every time this film plays anywhere.  Weaver and/or Ripley, is, without a doubt, the sexiest woman in space. 4½

Science Fiction   The Secret Vortex


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