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The Toughest Woman Around

January 23, 2010

     Upon the continued insistence of my father, I finally saw James Cameron’s Aliens, the sequel to the 1979 sci-fi horror film, Alien.  I never actually saw the original, but that seemed to be fine, so long as I understood the basics of its plot.  The only survivor from the first film, Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver), is found in an escape pod, along with her cat, after fifty-seven years of sleep in cryogenic stasis.  Her employers, the Weyland-Yutani Company, find her accounts of the alien, the xenomorph, to be very fishy (as there is no physical evidence remaining of it) and strip her of her flight license.  However, a representative of the company, Carter Burke, tells her about a colony on the planetoid upon which she fought the alien and offers her a chance to go there to investigate, as there has been no contact from the colony in a while.  She accepts reluctantly, wanting to use this opportunity to face her fears.  She, Burke, and a squad of marines arrive on the planetoid to find it devoid of human life, save one small girl, and eventually, crawling with xenomorphs.  She, the girl Newt, Burke, the android Bishop, and the marines are slowly picked off by the xenomorphs as they try to survive.  Burke tries to kill Ripley and Newt so he can bring a live xenomorph to the company, but he gets his come-uppance when he is killed by one of the xenomorphs.  Eventually, thanks to the efforts of Bishop, Ripley, Newt, Bishop, and Corporal Dwayne Hicks manage to escape the planet, and Ripley even kills the xenomorph queen.  The four of them, both Bishop and Hicks badly wounded, then enter cryogenic stasis as they head back home.

     So, having heard the cliffnotes of the original movie, I understood entirely what was going on.  And all in all, this was a rather exciting and satisfying action film.  I love strong female characters, and Ellen Ripley is basically the toughest one of all.  She has basically no military training, but she is a born survivor, capable of taking out many xenomorphs and staying alive and in better shape than almost anyone else.  Plus, the trauma from the events of the first movie, combined with her sympathetic and maternal desire to save Newt, make her a truly well-realized and interesting character.  To be honest, aside from Weaver (who was AMAZING), Paul Reiser (Burke), Michael Beihn (Hicks), and Lance Henrikson (Bishop), the acting in this movie isn’t that great.  Most of the marines totally overact, particularly Private William Hudson, played by Bill Paxton.  I want to throddle him both for being annoying and for acting badly.  But once the action picks up, you pay less attention to the bad acting and more to Ripley kicking ass and Burke being a traitorous bastard.  The filming is really very good, and you don’t feel dizzy watching the action scenes.  The soundtrack is… well, I don’t even remember it, so it wasn’t very good.  But the most important parts, Ripley and the action, are awesome.  The whole movie is timed very well, and the xenomorphs, especially the queen, are really interesting and frightening.  This may not be a movie that makes you think, but it’s a very fun time for an afternoon’s entertainment.

Story: 9.0      Cinematography: 9.2      Soundtrack: 5.2      Acting: 8.5      Overall: 9.0

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