Oh, practical effects. Where did you go?
Aliens, directed by James Cameron, starts where Alien left off. 57 years later. Ellen Ripley, played again by Sigourney Weaver, is found after being in stasis. She learns that the planet where the first Alien occurred has become a colony planet, known as Hadley’s Hope. When Hadley’s Hope loses contact with the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, Ripley is forced to go back to the dreaded planet with the colonial marines to discover what happened.
Out of the blue, the tone of the movie is noticeably different than the first one. Gone is the more quieter horror feel; and replacing it is a more ‘actiony’ vibe. Now, that is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the film. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Sigourney Weaver returns and I have to say, after a 7-year absence from the Alien franchise, she didn’t miss a step. She is still the Ripley we know, love, and admire. However, that is not to mean that the rest of the cast is bad. The colonial marines, whom in current movies may just be reduced to the usual bland and soulless drones-in-a-meatbag, actually have personality. From the tomboy Vasquez to the synthetic Bishop, you actually think they can be real people. The breakout star, though is the little girl Newt. I won’t say much about her, as it will spoil the story, so just hear this: she puts McCaulay Culkin to shame.
Now, back to my quip on practical effects. Say what you want about James Cameron, you have to admit, he puts dedication into the effects; Titanic might be a smushy love story, but the part when the ship starts to sink it’s truly breath-taking. And you can see that he had that dedication early on in his career. Yes, some of the blue screen shots are very visible, but for 1986, the effects are spectacular. Special mention goes to the creature effects department; the Xenomorph never looked better.
All in all, Aliens is to Alien what Judgement Day is to The Terminator. Both are in the same franchise, and both have a mostly same cast, and which is the better, the original or the sequel, is still up for debate. I personally like Alien more, as it is more of a horror movie and what I feel the Xenomorphs belong in, but that is not to say that Aliens is a bad film. The cast is memorable, the soundtrack thrilling, and the aliens do have a more prominent appearance in this film. If you don’t mind the quieter Alien being changed to be more action packed, give it a shot.