Aliens (1986)

One of the greatest sequels ever made, Aliens pluralizes its original’s terror with a military testosterone-injection, epic sci-fi VFX & world-aggrandization by big Cameron imagination, & uber-raised stakes/ambition elevating the lore to mythical new blockbuster levels. 9.7/10.

Plot Synopsis: After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds of aliens that have invaded the colony.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

A Masterpiece Of Genre-Hybridization

Ridley Scott’s 1979 ‘Alien’ Changed The Game Of Science-Fiction With Space-Silent Screams & Childbirth Metaphysics; Now, 7 Years Later, There’s A Big Blockbuster Sequel

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

As the 1980’s hit, cinema saw an avalanche of new science-fiction & horror movies hit the market. The Thing, They Live, The Blob, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Predator, Re-Animator, Dune, Blade Runner, Back To The Future, The Shining, Poltergeist, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday The 13th, The Evil Dead, & more rocked audiences nationwide and worldwide. Amongst the best decades of both genres’ histories, many interpolized themes from each other (especially sci-fi) and owed huge props to their predecessors from the last decade that paved the way for them: amongst them films like Halloween, Star Wars, The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre – & Alien. A magnum opus of biological horror & sci-fi expedition with an Odysseic score, Promethean world-building, pitch-black omen tone, parenthood/sex metaphysical themes, groundbreaking genre blends, & the best movie monster ever created, Alien changed the game of films set beyond the stars – personifying humanity’s fears of the unknown lurking out in the vast primordial silence of space & where we came from in a dark, brilliant reimagination. Now, 7 years later, there’s a sequel; it’s the complete opposite flavor and perhaps even more subversive of the rules – and all the more effective a follow-up continuation of the series. One of the greatest sequels ever made, Aliens pluralizes its original’s terror with a military testosterone-injection, epic sci-fi aggrandization by Cameron imagination, & uber-raised stakes/ambition elevating the lore to exhilarating new levels.

The Establishment Of Big Sequels

The Empire Strikes Back, T2, & Aliens Proof-Of-Concepted The Radicalized New Idea; First In Epic World-Building, VFX, & Visuals

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

The film is bigger than its predecessor in every aspect, from its opening shot of a Ripley in hypersleep floating in deep space after having narrowly escaped death at the end of the first film, as her mini-pod is taken up by a massive galactic ship 1,000x its size – a shot that parallels the original’s scale being taken up by this epic aggrandization from the very beginning. Throughout the film, everything reverberates this more-is-more thematic motif – from the scale/stakes being tens to even hundreds of families at xenomorph-risk instead of a crew of six to extreme long-shots of its howling-wind, midnight-blue, lightning-fringed world-building visuals of a LV-426 terraformed and primatized back to early-Earth-like conditions to gigantic drums and brass hits in the colossal orchestral score to jaw-dropping VFX of holographic repulsors and that feels limitlessly-grandiose in big-budget blockbuster thrills – while still somehow feeling authentic to its original’s eerie tone, isolation, and atmospherics. The film looks better than most big blockbuster films today with ~30+ years of technological innovation copouts – a testament to brilliance of work-ethic and technical expertise impossible by-era. James Cameron is clearly the architect whose imagination, skill, and work ethic is to be thanked for this – a hungry filmmaker would would go on to become one of the greatest of the century and knows his science-fiction after releasing Terminator two years beforehand, both on display here in conjunction with James Horner’s score, the VFX team, and of course – Vanlint’s cinematography reinventing his own work from the original back again. The film has a vital legacy along with era counterparts like The Empire Strikes Back and T2: Judgment Day: proof-of-concepting larger-than-life sequels that epically raise the stakes, feel, and scale of the original – Aliens being one of the top examples [literally] pluralizing the amount of the horror as its original entry.

Testosterone, Corporatism, & Military

A New Group Of Characters Brought To Life By Diverse Performances – A Magnifying Glass To Original-Authentics: Sin & Gender

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

Paralleling this bigger leitmotif is the new group of characters and performances to bring them to life. Themes of masculinity are everpresent in Aliens – a testosterone-injection in crew and the male-dominated fields of corporatism and military used as a prism for tons of gender dynamic analysis and characterization. Wielding their phallic weapons like machine guns and RPG’s – there are also all the bells-and-whistles of new technological weaponry like tactical smart missiles, phase-plasma pulse rifles, motion-detection sentry guns, ionization cannons, etc. for an inferiority-complexed general to fanboy over all day long. These ‘advanced’ man-made weapons prove.. inconsequential against the natural kinds of the Xenomorphs – turning the rough-and-tough, big-talking frat-bro and douchey/pretentious starship-Marines of the crew into whiny children running home to mommy the second they enter the abyss of the alienic lair. This humorous reversal also makes a smart feminist point – when the only person with experience in this category/topic in Ripley is condescended outright-dismissed by the generals and corporals for her objectively-smart plans just because she’s a woman, until she decides to step up and take charge when the tough guys freeze-up after watching so many of their soldiers killed by these demon-creatures. The performances are fantastic across the board – from Michael Biehn’s Terminator-crossover Cpl. Hicks to Lance Henrickson’s duality-atmospheric but ultimately good-android Bishop to Bill Paxton’s hilarious coward Pvt. Hudson to Jennette Goldstein’s macho-feminine Pvt. Vazquez showing non-simple dichotomy gender types for one of the first times on-screen to Paul Reiser’s evil capitalist Burke, Ripley, & Newt – three I’ll address in specific fashion.

A Pluralization Of The Original’s Terror

From The Opening Nightmare Chestburster Tease To The Hive Of Xenomorphs & Limitless Kills, An Epic Canvas Of Scares

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

The biggest achievement of all these bigs is the dialed-up horror: and there is tons of it. From the opening nightmare sequence of Ripley dreaming she’s being chestbursted right after being told the unspeakable real horror of being suspended in animation/hypersleep for 57 years and outliving your daughter who married and died, the psychological fears are omnipresent with a darker edge than the slow-burn atmospheric build-up and powerful omens of the first one. There is even a twinge of insanity and doubt cast when a full, thorough investigation of the Nostromo is done – and not a single piece of evidence for the Xenomorph is found and a colonization of mankind on LV-426 has existed for 20+ years without report or problems; a billions-of-$ ship is blown up and all crew members missing and nothing but Ripley’s esoteric story to believe her, and the corporate fatcats in their smoky backroom revoke her license and credentials. When members of the colonization start to go missing and eventually go dead-silent from required transmissions, the corporate fatcats who didn’t believe Ripley recruit her to go back there by promising her life back – alone a sadistic game by the capitalists at Weylani that would be reverberated by Paul Reiser’s pure evil and unapologetic Burke, who’s later revealed to be the one who sent the colonists to check out the coordinates Ripley reported the ship at and thus sent 70+ families and children to their inevitable death, as well as locking Ripley and Newt in a room with two facehuggers and trying to seal the entire crew in the wing full of Xenomorphs – all for a profit and bioterrorism with no regard for human life. The penny-pinching cowardice of this ultimate villain is a more pronounced diatribe against the machine of capitalism and sin/greed of mankind – and it plays damn well as true horror Ripley aptly calls out as being worse than the Xenomorphs at least not doing that to each other for ‘a [profit] percentage’. Of course, the real terror is of course in the aliens that bear the film’s name – but before we get to that, we need to discuss the pure cinematic elegance juxtaposing it: Ripley & Newt.

A Poignant Character Arc

Beneath All Of The Blockbuster Thrills & Big-Budget Explosions, A Delicate Backbone Of Characterization & Parallels – Daughters

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

A breathtaking characterization arc that’s a masterclass of how to balance and breathe pure cinematic delicacy in screenwriting in sharp juxtaposition to all the epic blockbuster action, Aliens’ Ripley & Newt story is one for the textbooks. The inimitable horror of being in hypersleep for so long that you miss seeing your little girl grow up, become a woman, marry, and then die without children or ever knowing what happened to you out in space while you outlived her is unbearably dark of a fascinating position to put your main character in. Even with that massive a bomb dropped on her though, Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley is a hallmark of strong feminist firepower that carries this big, epic blockbuster better than many of her male counterparts at the movies. She doesn’t buckle at all and exudes badass aptitude and dynamism at every juncture, facing towering Xenomorphs face-to-face without even blinking, yet still being found a brilliant heart as a mother and matriarch of the series by her relationship with a parallel character: Newt. Rebecca (aka ‘Newt’) loses her family as the first ones impregnated by the facehuggers when Burke sends them out to investigate the coordinates of the derelict spacecraft Ripley reported as where the Xenomorphs emerged – a little girl likely in single-digit age being the sole survivor of a colony of hundreds of people, seeing her family, friends, and everyone she ever knew or loved ripped to shreds by Xenomorphs. Newt might even have a darker backstory than Ripley, and one especially traumatic as a child that finds solace in the motherly care and makeshift-guardianship of Ripley – and the two form a bond that will melt the hearts of audiences seeing two lost souls alone find each other as a new mother-and-daughter duo for the ages. The rich, delicate, masterful characterization of these two traumatized female characters reclaims the beauty of motherhood from its predecessor that found the masterpiece horror potential in it, and is a lost art of screenwriting in blockbusters today – especially ones that pack as much sour, acid-drenched, insecticidal horror and blockbuster action is Aliens does in Xenomorph expansion.

The Queen & Lore Expansion

Brilliant Exposition Further Defining The Perfect Biological Killing Species – An Insect-Based Ecosystem & Feminist Themes

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

The Queen has arrived. The matriarch of all this horror that’s easily the defining feature of this masterpiece is the lore expasion of the Xenomorph – even further defining why its the perfect biological killing organism on a community or ecological level. Taking inspiration from the natural world and msot efficient/organized evolutionary hierarchies at a biological Ph.D-level, Cameron and his team of researchers have somehow managed to one-up the perfection of creature design from the original’s singular level to perfection on the multiple level, by taking cues from the most omnipresent and evolutionarily/population-wise successful organism on our planet: insects. Beehives, moths, & ant colonies play base to this aggrandization in size and horror x1000 to become the generalized methodology for how the Xenomorphs operate: a Queen [bee] who lays eggs with new facehuggers and male workers/scavengers who go out and forcibly subdue them to bring back and cocoon the barely-live bodies as vehicles for the facehuggers out the queen’s eggs to latch onto and impregnate to birth more of them – a cycle that can decimate an entire colonization, ecosystem, or planet on an exponential, rapid scale. The brilliance of this design is even more astute given that it reverberates the feminist themes of the series, especially clear in the vaginal look of the headpiece she wears in a design-wise opposite of the male Xenomorphs’ phallic one and when the Queen faces down with Ripley – the two matriarchs of the series paralleling each other in the epic, big blockbuster destructopoirn finale that’s as good as any in blockbuster history. The series also redeems the only infinitesimal flaw in the original: the android malfunction, here being a completely different flavor by making him evolved into a good guy who saves the day – only to wrench our hearts even more when the dark hell-bent tone of the series sees him ripped [literally] apart by the Queen. Besides that, the rest of the big scares are fantastic as well – especially the facehugger trapped-room one that will make your skin-crawl and deliver ultimate jump-scares and the water Newt one from behind that’s since become an iconic shot in the series. Flaws in Aliens are again so minute that it’s almost ludicrous to take them seriously, but Paxton’s constant whines can get vexatious and overbelabour the point of the big strong marine-men becoming scared children and the end is not exactly scientifically-accurate opening up the jettison-hatch to space and creating a vacuum.. but who cares!


One Of The Greatest Sequels Ever Made

A Masterpiece Continuation Mixing Another Genre Perfectly Into The Sci-Fi/Horror Blend: Pure, Big Action ’80’s Blockbuster Epic

Photograph Courtesy Of: 20th Century Fox

Overall, Aliens is one of the greatest sequels ever made – it might even be the best one in competition with fellow masterpieces like The Empire Strikes Back, T2, & The Dark Knight. It redefines everything about its predecessor – from reclaiming the beauty of its motherhood themes to expanding the lore to insect-based Queen Bee ecological communities further defining the Xenomorphs as the perfect biological killing organisms and reverberating the series’ feminist themes in the epic finale pitting these two matriarchs of the series to epic scale that established with its few ’80’s counterparts the now-ubiquitous theme of big-budget and massive blockbusters we see today. Cameron has made a name for himself as one of the most talented and imaginative filmmakers on the market today, and skyrocketed the Alien franchise to new pop culture heights. One of the greatest sequels ever made, Aliens pluralizes its original’s terror with a military testosterone-injection, epic sci-fi aggrandization by Cameron imagination, & uber-raised stakes/ambition elevating the lore to exhilarating new levels.

Official CLC Score: 9.7/10