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James Cameron, Walter Hill
Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Paul Reiser, Jenette Goldstein, William Hope, Al Matthews, Mark Rolston, Ricco Ross, Carrie Henn, Colette Hiller
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Favorite Movie Quote: "You know, I don't know which species is worse; you don't see them f*cking each other over for a goddamn percentage."
It's hard to know how good a movie like Aliens really is. There's not really anything original, the story is rather straight forward, and there are even a few requisite horror-movie contrivances. Yet somehow, Aliens takes all these things and does them as well as is humanly possible.
Aliens is a comeback for the lone survivor - Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) - of the Nostromo, a commercial, star-hopping space-freighter that was set for self-destruct some 57 years prior to the events we see unfold. Ripley's been in cryo-sleep, and, oh yeah, she's the one that blew up the Nostromo in the effort to geek our acid-for-blood antagonist. Not only is she a little pissed about the company's use of her and her crew as bait to grab the Alien in the first place, but now the company wants to stick her with the bill. Ripley is far more distressed when she learns that the planet where her crew encountered the Alien is now settled by terraforming colonists who, of course, have no idea about the Alien... yet.
Aliens, like its predecessor, plays with the issue (taken to an extreme, though believable degree) of corporate corruption, manifested in the form of slick-suit Burke (Paul Reiser, pre-Mad About You) willing to sacrifice anyone - other than himself, of course - for the betterment of the company and himself. Other than this, Aliens is more or less a battle of attrition with a timer - get off the planet before the facility goes boom while trying to fight off seemingly countless beasts.
The strength of Aliens is clearly Weaver, who was honored with an (appropriate) Academy Award nomination for her work on the film. Weaver's Aliens iteration of Ripley (Ripley is not nearly as interesting or well-written in Alien 3 or Alien Ressurection) is the perfect blend necessary for female toughness to be taken seriously. Ripley's toughness is her will and clear-thinking; she is realistically afraid and vulnerable, but ignores it in the face of saving the lives of those around her, for whom she always seems to care for more than herself.
Aliens also has some of the more visceral action sequences that any sci-fi, war, action, or horror movie can hope for with our Colonial Marines Hicks (Michael Biehn), Vasquez (Jenette Goldstien), and everybody's fav, the quotable Hudson (Bill Paxton) and their highly-cool, near-future weaponry.
Director Jim Cameron doesn't blow us away with originality in Aliens, only the excecution of what always seems to be, when in lesser hands, stale ideas. Aliens is still the torchbearer of the action/horror genre and likely will be for many years to come.
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