Aliens, this is not only a sequel, but also an equal!
Ok maybe I got a little ahead of myself then. Aliens is the sequel of masterpiece Alien by Ridley Scott. Upon hearing on the idea, Cameron just stole this from Ridley, I was not too impressed, and I found this out shortly after watching Avatar as well. It turns out Cameron can make a movie, he's made a few great movies, but there's no denying his ability to 'sell' a movie no matter how bad it is. Aliens is a large exception to the common rule of sequels being a horrible excuse to make money, many say that this is better than Alien, which I do not agree with, but I can accept that they are close. Although Aliens has many differences from Alien, such as a larger scale and A LOT more action, the similarities is what makes Aliens such a great sequel. Cameron's eye for detail is the most impressive aspect of Aliens, it does not throw-out all of Ridley's ideas and start fresh, and instead it handles the plot and alien species with great care. Although Alien creates such iconic scenes and an alien species, Aliens admirably and respectfully builds onto the story and legend. Aliens asserts itself not only as one of the best sequels, but a fantastic movie by its own rights.
The plot well as I said it is dealt with such care. It starts directly where we left in Alien, well kind of; it is 57 years later, but it is still Ripley in the cryogenics machine. Shortly after hearing the news of her long 'hyper sleep', she finds out she out-lived her daughter. Ripley tells the board of whatever about her encounter, they stick their heads in the sand and talk about how she destroyed company property, no sign of the Alien apparently. Anyway they lose contact with a colony, which has been settled on the planet for about twenty years, Ripley think it's the aliens again, and a military group convince her to go and check it out. Therefore, Ripley goes as a consultant with a small military group and the lawyer/science guy, which asked her to come in the first place. So off they go to this planet, with the military guys/girls (which look like guys) just laughing at whatever Ripley says. Then they get to the small colony, its empty, they find a little girl, the only survivor. She likes to be called Newt, child actor alert! Then they find out where the aliens are hiding, they get their asses kicked, and the remaining soldiers get a reality check as it turns out Ripley was telling the truth. Now with the limited resources they have, they must try to survive and find a way off the planet.
The plot, is nothing drastically experimental, it reads as you're above the average action/science fiction, yet the substance levels in here make Aliens one of the best actions ever. Of course, I watched the director's cut, and the story is well developed, and most importantly grows on Alien, opposed to remaking the idea completely. Yet we are given a more entertaining and less scary perspective of the story. For example, one alien for Alien, in Aliens there is probably a couple hundred of them, but it still does not go ridiculous like Alien vs. Predator.
The acting is surprisingly good. The common rule of action is you trade acting for large explosions, but both acting and action are so organic in Aliens, it has a natural relationship, which is what makes Aliens such a success. Unlike Alien, we have a main character, which is of course Ripley. So in turn, Sigourney does a much more effective performance, that does not mean that it is better, it just means she is given a lot more material to work with, which does not make that a better aspect. Cameron probably pushes the heroine idea a little too much, which Alien did not do. With that said, this would probably be one of the best female performances ever, rarely do women really step outside the boundary, which men do often. I'm not trying to be sexist, but women tend to just be the support cast, yet Katy Bates and Sigourney Weaver are both prime examples of strong performance with some risk taken. I really do not think there is a another female actor who could have pulled off this role as well as Weaver. She gets loud, dirty and highly unattractive at many stages to do this role, which very few women are willing to do.
The support cast are not as perfect as in Alien. They have distinguished characters and they are well developed for an action, well for any genre really. Unfortunately, Cameron shows one of his many weaknesses by having some cliché characters, but that is to comparison with Alien, compared to the average action, every character is like a Donnie Darko. The support is well set up, and although they are not exactly new, for a support cast they are fantastic. The acting itself is generally good the child actor is awful. She is responsible for one of the most frustrating plot turns as well. Like in Alien where Ripley risks her life to save a cat, Ripley does the same for this little girl Newt. That really frustrates me; it makes me want to smash the projector when Cameron uses one of the most tedious and oldest tricks in the book. If it were I, I would just leave; I am not risking my life for some little girl who cannot act. The military are great for their characters. A few such as Hicks have emotional effectiveness as well, but even the manly girl is tolerable in the most feministic cliché ever made. These days it's as if they have to slap a steroid fuelled girl into the battlefield, because war is for men and women the feminist union will tell you.
The monster himself James Cameron, the responsible for that desecration of a film Avatar turns out to be a good director, well used to be anyway. It turns out he can make the best sequels around, Terminator 2 being his other success. Yet even in his masterpieces, they are always an action, which is one of the lowest forms of filming, and he always as a commercialised presence in his films. He never escapes cliché story and characters; Avatar was just him suppressing it for too long, and it all just bursting out into one of the worst movies ever. It is kind of sad actually, because he directed Aliens beautifully. Aliens is well edited, entertaining and has a style, which is a stamp-proof of a great film. Cameron never rushes the film, when most films reach a climax; they often get bored and just rush everything. Cameron of the other hand carefully builds suspense and never rushes the story. The violence is also well controlled and not just mindless. Although the ending gets some, well not exactly plot holes, but plot stupidity?
Aliens has taken out almost universal positive reception. Like Alien, it is seen as a masterpiece. Easily one of the best sequels ever, there is not a lot wrong with Aliens. It is just Cameron getting a little too cliché at times and protracting the plot too much near the end. Let us not forget the whole, risking everything to save someone who is probably dead, that was just as frustrating as it can get. Yet in saying all this, we must remember it is an action, and it is really amazing just how well an action can be. It is the lack of style, which most actions fail. Cameron was lucky because he already had something to work with; he just respectively built on the story.
Overall, I am not one to say this is better than the original, although it is more entertaining and reaches more of a modern audience. Aliens manages to continue the story with great care and diligence, while still adding a different aspect to the story. By adding action/science fiction/horror in one, we get a truly entertaining ride, with the substance to back it all up, although it does get slightly cliché and protracted.