Aliens [Director’s Cut](1986): Breakdown by Kain424
A team of tough-as-nails Space Marines head to a colony that’s been wiped out due to space aliens. Awesome ensues.
Alien was a landmark in film, successfully combining science fiction ideas with horror and monster movie conventions, it still holds up today as a masterpiece. So how does one follow that act? They turn it into an Action movie.
Fresh off the success of The Terminator, James Cameron quickly became a hot commodity. He wrote the screenplay for Rambo: First Blood Part II and the sequel to Alien. Soon enough, Cameron was put in the director’s chair, and damn it did he deliver.
Aliens brings together a group of bad-asses and thrusts them into a situation where all their awesome expertise means next to nothing. With our protagonist, Ellen Ripley, we go from being completely comfortable and safe in the company of the marines, to being outmatched, claustrophobic and frightened in the same company. The aliens this time around aren’t the monster looming in the shadows, but the screeching hordes outside the door. Cameron uses the safety in numbers principle against itself, showing that a lone little girl is probably more safe than the company of men armed to the teeth.
The movie is beautifully shot, and the action is as suspenseful as it is fast-paced. Cameron makes full use of James Horner’s score to up the ante, making every moment interesting. The aliens themselves are almost never seen, even while getting slain. Somehow, Cameron makes it all work. Many people consider this to be the greatest sequel ever made, and it’s certainly worthy of such acumen, having little to no faults.
While the first film was metaphorically about a giant black space-cock chasing the vulnerable around tiny corridors, Aliens chooses to go a different route. This one is less about dicks and more about chicks. Chicks and families. Any person or character without the best interests of the group in mind is immediately killed or punished in some way. Ripley’s recently found out that during her hypersleep, her daughter has aged and died. Now she not only has a chance at gaining a new daughter, but also a possible candidate for a husband. And the focus from the aliens has shifted from cocks to cunts, as now the characters are being dragged away and held against their will while a vagina with lobster legs forces itself onto their faces. Now the vaginas impregnate them! It’s a scary thought.
With more attitude than the toughest juvenile detention center our characters are fortunately all “absolutely bad-ass.” Toting giant guns that extend from their crotches, representing the mighty force of Earth’s metaphorical dick. The power of oppression boiling from within to be unleashed on threat of alien femininity and the potential pussification of the universe. The battle of which these two opposing forces rage is surely one for the record books, as win or lose, these men, women and alien’s trials make for one truly kick ass ride and one of the greatest action films ever made.
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
“I’m ready, man, check it out. I am the ultimate bad-ass! State of the bad-ass art! You do not want to fuck with me! Check it out! Hey Ripley, don’t worry. Me and my squad of ultimate badasses will protect you! Check it out! Independently targeting particle beam phalanx. Whoa! Fry half a city with this puppy. We got tactical smart missiles, phase-plasma pulse rifles, RPGs, we got sonic electronic ball breakers! We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks…”
Sigourney Weaver is Ellen Ripley
Weaver pulls a Linda Hamilton from Terminator 2: Judgement Day and returns as an utter bad-ass woman. She is steely, determined, and forthright. All this while still managing to allow her character some vulnerability, Weaver makes Ripley all the more human and realistic. She is a character we can all relate to and feel for, having been fucked over by her employers after surviving the first film, she is now just trying to move on with her life, but the fear and empathy she has for those getting into a situation, like she’s endured, overcome her.
Michael Biehn is Corporal Dwayne Hicks
Hicks is similar to Biehn’s character of Kyle Reese from The Terminator, but perhaps a bit more hard-edged and mature. He’s a man on his own but remains in a group. His quiet cool sensibilities stand out among the aggressive sort with which he belongs and keep his mind in check during tense situations. Hicks is a quick thinker who seemingly always has a back-up plan. Also, he fucking SLEEPS through the scariest shit-your-pants drop-ship atmosphere entry sequence ever performed.
Lance Henrickson is Bishop
The Space Marines’ science officer and friendly android. Less a character than a statement on our dependence on technology, he is the essence of robotic reassurance. Plus, he can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.
Jenette Goldstein is Private Vasquez
Vasquez is THE tough-ass female member of the marines. She has more balls than most of the men, and may or may not have feelings for Pvt. Drake. On second thought, no way. She’s a total dyke. I mean, has to be, right? Yeah.
Bill Paxton is Private Hudson
He is the loud-mouth of the group. A tendency toward joking around and a slightly disobedient behavior-streak makes him a bit of a hardcase as well. An emotional roller-coaster, his level of badassitude seems prevalent on the intensity of whatever potential freak-out hill he is climbing.
[THE BODY COUNT: 170]
The entire colony of Hadley’s Hope dies off, save for one person. After that, there are 13 deaths onscreen and a shit ton of aliens killed. We get explosions, fire, gunshot, exposure to acid blood, and even death from being clawed apart. Of course, there are also the obligatory chestbursting sequences. It’s as gruesome as it is fun.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
Burke. Who doesn’t hate this guy? Played to smarmy perfection by Paul Reiser, he is a bureaucratic, backstabbing sleazeball. After betraying our main characters for the last time, he finally gets the xenomorph kiss of death he so justly deserves.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Despite the story following a group of marines, there isn’t very much gayness to proceedings outside the wake-up scene where they all climb out of their sleep pods dressed only in their undergarments. A short-haired Sigourney Weaver and Jenette Goldstein as Vasquez may cause you to have conflicted sexual feelings, but that about wraps it up.
This is an 80s Action flick that dares to hint at a love story. Oh well. That’s Cameron for ya.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
One thing Aliens lacks in is sexist stereotypes. Taking place well in the future, this only makes sense. Still, it’s worth mentioning all the strong female roles in the movie. From Vasquez to Ripley to Newt, we have chicks who seem at times to be even tougher than their male counterparts. Something could be said for having the lead antagonist a female, but she’s actually in charge of the show. And how many times are chicks the primary villains anyhow? Chalk this one up in the remarkably progressive 80s Action film category.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
I’m gonna cheat a bit here, as the film’s epic moment also contains a one-liner.
All seems lost, as the Queen Alien has boarded the Sulaco, Ripley off hiding somewhere, Newt being chased about, Bishop having been torn in half, and Hicks out of commission. Suddenly Ripley appears in the power loader, a mechanized guardian angel. She takes a few steps forward, stares down the monster going after her surrogate daughter and sneers…
“Get away from her, you BITCH!”
Great though that is, as I said before, I’m cheating. My favorite line is from Hicks. After being issued an order to turn in their bullets, with their guns now useless, Michael Biehn pulls out an old-fashioned (this film takes place in the future, remember) pump-action shotgun. In a film titled Aliens, the line he says next is almost breaking-the-fourth-wall-clever. It’s certainly cool.
“I like to keep this handy—for close encounters.[CLACK-CLACK!]”
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Corporations are soulless and evil and all that’s important in life is family.
[THE CHECKLIST: 16 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel [Alien 3]
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[ ] Vigilante Justice
“Game Over, Man. Game Over.”
Aliens (1986) © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment