copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

I need to get a little personal here to properly explain the situation.

Aliens, has long been one of my favorite movies, and ever since I was a kid, it held preference over its predecessor, Alien. I recognized that the first film was an high quality product, but it was scary and there were not nearly enough explosions. Its sequel, on the other hand, contained much of the aesthetic and story of the first film but was encased in a much more palatable (for a kid at least) action movie skin. However, as an adult, having watched the two movies back to back I see that both movies are showing some unfortunate seams, but those seams are bigger on the 2nd film.

The tension in the first film was palpable right from the beginning. Aliens feels much more relaxed. In part, this is because the said Aliens are much more vulnerable this time around, but there are other reasons that are sadly a symptom of a reduction in quality. For example, the first film had creepy sound effects mixed in with the space music that made the exploration really tense. Aliens does not have that, or at least very little.

Right at the beginning, something bad happens but then the character just wakes up and it turns out to be a dream. You know, if I saw some movie do that trick for the first time I would have called it a smart trick, but since so many thrillers started doing the waking up from a bad dream trick, it has become a hated cliché.

The writing is of mixed quality. Most of the lines uttered by the marines in the first half of the film are bad. I understand that the creators were trying to make the marines out as macho grunts but what they ended up with are exaggerated gestures and cheesy meaningless lines made out of messed up army lingo, like when "fire in the hole" is meant literally. The thing is, even the dumb dialogue contributes to the overall atmosphere and some of the lines have become iconic quotes.

The characters are fun and memorable. Little bits, some of them silly, can be great. A guy wakes up from hibernation and his first action is to put a cigar in his mouth.

Sigourney Weaver is back of course as the strong female lead. She is strong but vulnerable, which is a popular hero type because a character like that is relatable. Paul Reiser is really good. His character is realistic and the way it is revealed over the course of the film feels natural. A little adorable girl Newt is played by Carrie Henn. Newt is cute kid but the quality of her acting varies. Either way she does not talk a lot. Aliens is one of Bill Paxton's most famous movie's. He overacts a bit, but remains very entertaining. Nobody in this film is bad.

The music is not as tense and integrated with the film as in the first film but nonetheless the film does have really iconic action music formed around the core of army snare drums and metallic percussion.

The design of the humans world has been improved over the first film. The colony buildings and the various machines look really cool. It highly recommended that you watch directors' cut to not miss out on any of that. Yes, small CRT screens look outdated by their size and static just adds to the creepy atmosphere. The Aliens look quite good. Their movements are a little clunky, but on the upside no CGI was used to put the on screen and film cuts are done professionally to make aliens as realistic as possible. This helps the movie to age well.

There are still visual issues though. There are a number of scenes where mock up models are superimposed onto a different background, possibly using green-screen, and it does not look that good. There is an outline visible around the objects and it simply looks odd. Strangely enough, the first film did not have this problem nearly as much as it did not try to add so many effects with moving vehicles.

Aliens has some of the most quoted memorable lines but also a whole lot of weak ones. The music is pretty cool. The action is good too but there is not as much tension. Despite the flaws, the atmosphere and the characters are so good that Aliens can rightfully be called one of the best action movies of all times as well as one of the best sci-fi movies.