Film of the Week: Aliens (1986)


James Cameron directs Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton in the sequel to the sci-fi horror classic, that amps the stakes up to all out war. 

A perfect movie. An hour of toying tension, followed by 90 minutes of relentless hardware heavy action set pieces, of a believable scale and intensity that has never really been matched. The character work is sublime so that even the 20th billed one liners seem imbued with personality. And you don’t need a university education to see it is as much an open critique on capitalism as it is a celebration of motherhood, not just some dumb future squib and pyrotechnics show. Weaver is amazing as the survivor who literally grenades her demons and goes back into the fray. And with truly iconic turns from Biehn, Paxton (“Hey, maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal!”), Lance Henrikson, Paul Reiser, Jenette Goldstein AND Carrie Henn you are never a shot away from a great bit dialogue or some background scene stealing. As for the Alien itself, the relentless drone onslaughts are terrifying, the suggestion that THEY are constantly strategically outfoxing the marines is eye-opening… and then… then we meet the Queen. Have the already high stakes of a movie ever been raised quite so boldly? And at a point when most blockbusters are powering down and tying off while you reach for your coat. Jim Cameron loves excess. Cinematic excellence, for sustained big budget thrills Aliens is pretty much incomparable.


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