Friday, 30 July 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 316

30 - Aliens - 5 stars
A fantastic sequel that succeeds because it doesn't simply replicate the original but takes it in a different and exciting direction. What it does do in terms of sequels is obey the rule of more, more, more. We get more Aliens, more potential victims, more guns, more action.
Whilst the original was a haunted house horror movie within a sci-fi genre, Cameron takes Giger's iconic Xenomorph and transplants it into an action/war movie as a squad of marines accompany Ripley to investigate the planet where a colony near the alien ship has gone silent.
The marines go in gung-ho, full of cockiness and macho posturing, but it soon gives way to terror as they realise they are completely ill-equipped to deal with the alien threat.
Most of the grunts are expendable, indeed over two-thirds of the squad are killed during the initial fight, but a few manage to develop their characters - Jeanette Goldstein's tough Vasquez, Michael Biehn's quiet second in command Hicks, and Bill Paxton's cowardly Hudson.
I will always have time for Bill Paxton in a film thanks to this movie. Hudson is by far and away the best character in the film. He gets a good character arc - starts off all cocky, reveals himself to be a total coward before redeeming himself and going out in a blaze of glory.
Before you tell me that the last sentence was a spoiler, Hudson seals his own fate by talking about how he only had four more weeks of service left - one of the surefire statements in a war film that guarantees they won't see the end credits, same as just getting married or having a newborn child you've never seen.
Hudson also gets all the best lines and injects some much needed humour into the film.
"Game over, man. Game Over"
Yet this is Sigourney Weaver's movie all the way. Like Cameron would do with Linda Hamilton in the Terminator sequel, he turns Weaver into a fully fledged action hero. In the first film, she was acting out of instinct in an attempt to survive against an unknown enemy. This time around she goes in all guns blazing, even if some of it is blatantly signposted from the beginning. Oh look, Ripley can use a power loader, wonder if that plot point will come in handy later on in the film? Yes, she uses it to fight the Alien queen (a nice development of the Alien geneology by Cameron).
She also gets a nice subplot involving Newt and the chance to be a mother again (only really developed if you watched the directors cut). Her reward was a rare Oscar nomination for a performance in a science fiction film.
If there is one silly thing that you could laugh at and criticise the film for it is during the scenes in the Weyland Yutani corporate offices where they all wear the collars of their suit jackets up, like this would be the style in the future. No, it just looks stupid!
Days remaining - 49 Films remaining - 49

1 comment:

  1. Never mind Hudson sealing his fate by talking about how he only had four more weeks of service left; he sealed his fate by being played by Bill Paxton! He's surely one of the most killed main characters in movie history. Aliens, Predator 2 (being killed is my speciality!), U571, The Terminator (heart pulled out!), Weird Science (turned into a green alien!). Surely there are more.