Category Archives: Space

Planet of the Apes (1968) – 50th Anniversary

Fifty years ago today, Planet of the Apes was released in theaters. Filmgoers were presented with an alternate future where humans were no longer the dominant species. No longer the strongest. It took audiences by storm and produced four sequels, two television series, numerous graphic novel adaptations, and a remake. Not to mention the recently popular film saga. What is it about this simple sci-fi story that has resonated with our culture for 50 years?

I had never seen the original film until this year in preparation for this article. I have seen all of the new films and have enjoyed most of them but I was honestly surprised how relevant the original still is 50 years later. I believe it worked so well because it held up a mirror to our culture and allowed us to reflect on our actions and behaviors in the light of what really matters to us as a species.

The original 1968 movie mixes political and religious satire, suspense, and action and leads us to a finale with one of the best twists in all of film history. If you don’t know what that twist is then please stop right here and let me express to you that you have an amazing gift right now. Please don’t read any further. Go find a copy of the film (but beware of some of the DVD covers that can even spoil the ending!). There is a new 50th anniversary Blu-ray edition being released this week and you can get it for $8 over at Best Buy. It has the film plus a digital copy and all of the special features that you could want. Enjoy the camp and get swept away to a time when political powers were unstable, the future was uncertain, and the threat of nuclear war was on the public’s mind daily. Even sarcastically you can see how this film still speaks its humanist message loud and clear.

Continue reading Planet of the Apes (1968) – 50th Anniversary

Weekend Outlook – Pirates of the Baywatch: Guardians of the Covenant

Happy Memorial Day weekend everybody! So after you get done with your barbecue (which is really just burgers and hotdogs, or maybe brats if you’re fancy), then what are you going to do?

Maybe you’ll go shopping. I hear there are some good deals meant to lure you away from the simplicity of always paying less for things by shopping online. Perhaps you are thinking about visiting a theme park, but that’s expensive and you run the risk of dehydration. I guess you could watch any of the mediocre sporting events which will be on all weekend, you’ve got the Indy 500, the NBA conference finals, a whole bunch of baseball, or the carbonated poison water 600. But those all sound long, boring, and better watched in short clips on YouTube as a last resort of entertainment.

Why not hang out at the multiplex and catch up on those early Summer blockbusters that you have missed because you have been so busy catching up on your assignments from procrastination class or cramming for that test that you no longer remember because of sleep deprivation? It has been a relatively slow start to the summer movie season, but this long weekend should be the perfect time to catch that movie that has been calling you. We’ve got 3 sequels and an R-rated comedy TV adaptation to examine so buckle up!

If you haven’t already seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, you might be a Mennonite (Note to self: find Mennonite comedian and pitch the idea of stealing Jeff Foxworthy’s signature bit). It has only been out since Cinco de Mayo and it has already made close to 3 quarters of a billion dollars worldwide! Guardians is a ton of fun and it is fairly kid friendly, so as long as your kid can dress themselves and no longer needs a high chair, they should be up for this adventure.

The premise is simple. We rejoin our lovable gang of space anti-heroes a little while after the first film ends (If you haven’t first Guardians of the Galaxy, then you should probably buy it on iTunes and catch up with the rest of civilization). Star Lord has daddy issues that he needs to work out and they do it in hilarious fashion. This is has more laughs per minute than the first film with more of the same character driven drama and amazing 80’s soundtrack. (I’m serious about the soundtrack! I literally just Googled “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) by Looking Glass. It will be stuck in your head for the rest of the week, just be prepared.) I’ll be honest, if you haven’t seen this one, and maybe even if you have, it is your best bet. The rest are likely going to be hit or miss.

I just saw Alien: Covenant last night and it was very good, but it kind of felt like it was struggling with what kind of movie it wanted to be. But what should we expect from the 3rd film from Ridley Scott in this franchise which he helped reboot back in 2012 with the prequel Prometheus. Covenant rides the line between the heady philosophical ramblings of Prometheus and the crap your pants scariness of Alien.

If Guardians was safe for kids that can ride a roller coaster then this one is only safe if you can drive a car (manual transmissions only, none of that wussy automatic garbage). I’m serious, there is blood everywhere in this, aliens bursting out of all kinds of cavities and orifices, not to mention the synthetic on synthetic porn that almost happens. I could hear the Fassboners rising in the theater. If you’re a fan of Ridley Scott and the franchise you won’t be disappointed, but it’s not his best work. I’m seriously hoping that Blade Runner 2049 is better.

I’ll be quite honest, the only thing that get’s me excited about Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Longest movie name since Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood) is the inclusion of Javier Bardem as the baddie. If you’ve seen Skyfall or No Country for Old Men you know that he can be extremely creepy and intimidating, and that’s before he’s been all zombified. Even though it looks creepy, this is Disney we are talking about and I’m sure if your emo kids are into pirates then they would be okay going to this one too.

I know that this is a total cash grab on Disney’s part. They want to revive the franchise that has brought in $3.7 billion since 2003. I get it, but even Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley were smart enough to get out after three films and here Johnny Depp is riding into his fifth. He is simply the worst pirate that I’ve ever heard of, but I have heard of him so I’ll be checking this one out on Saturday, so stay tuned for my thoughts.

Finally, we have the R-rated 90’s TV adaptation that literally no one has ever been clamoring for. Baywatch hits theaters this weekend and I can only hope that they at least got Hasselhoff for a cameo, I mean he’s in Guardians so it’s not like he wasn’t available for filming. If they missed out on the Hoff, at least they have the ghost of Pam Anderson’s boobs, a.k.a. Alexandra Daddario. It looks like they are trying to go down the comedy parody road with this one and that would be great. But they have had me worried in a couple of trailers that they might try and take this straight, and if it takes itself too seriously it will be garbage.

The critical consensus is already that it is garbage (18% on Rotten Tomatoes), but I’m hoping that this could at least be as good as Central Intelligence. I’ve never been much of a fan of Zac Ephron, but I’m willing to give him a shot. This one is for adults only, the red band trailers have been bad enough that I had to watch them after my kids went to bed. I’ll be seeing this one next Wednesday so you’ll have to wait a little bit longer for my full review.

The most important thing is for you to enjoy this weekend and remember those brave men and women who died so we can eat lots of expensive buttery popcorn and be entertained by the beautiful monkeys we pay to entertain us. Have a great weekend!



Weekend Outlook: Star Trek Beyond

What does this weekend look like for new releases? Two more sequels crash upon theaters this weekend and while they may not be total busts, both are probably going to fall short of the previous installments in their respective series. Star Trek Beyond and Ice Age: Collision Course represent the 21st and 22nd wide release sequels this year. Only four of them (Finding DoryCaptain America: Civil War, The Purge: Election Year and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) have been able to outperform their franchise predecessor at the box office. Also opening this weekend is the new PG-13 thriller Lights Out from producer James Wan.

Star Trek Beyond

The third film in the rebooted franchise. It makes me nervous that there is no J.J. Abrams. Instead, it is being helmed by Justin Lin (Fast & Furious) although he wasn’t even the original choice. The original reboot of the series in 2009 was great and it enabled us to explore this world with a new reimagined cast. Because they had a blank slate to work with, I was a bit disappointed that Into Darkness was essentially a remake of Wrath of Khan. It was an acceptable remake, but I’m hoping we don’t see whales in Beyond. Regardless, I think it will easily end up on the top of the charts this weekend after Secret Life of Pets snuck past Ghostbusters to lead the box office for a second week in a row.

Ice Age: Collision Course

This weekend’s second sequel is likely going to fall short of second place in the weekend as it goes head to head with an original property in The Secret Life of Pets. I don’t like to hate on films, but this Ice Age series needs to go extinct. Interestingly, no Ice Age film has ever opened below $41 million. But this is the fifth in the series, sequels have not fared well so far this year, and we have had a very strong season of animation which I don’t think will help. I think it will be very close, but Pets will freeze Ice Age in 3rd place this weekend.

Lights Out

The final wide release is one that I won’t be watching unless it is a matinee showing. I’m not a huge fan of horror films but anything with James Wan’s name attached seems to have a leg up on the competition. Lights Out looks scary and with a budget of less than $5 million, I think it is safe to say that Lights Out will be in the green after one weekend in theaters. It won’t be enough to compete with Ghostbusters in its second weekend, but I think a respectable $15 million showing is very likely since it is doing well critically and there is no other genre competition right now.

How do you think these movies are going to do? My predictions are below. I’d love to hear what you are watching this weekend, even if you are just binge watching  Stranger Things on Netflix.

  • Star Trek Beyond – $60 Million
  • The Secret Life of Pets – $27 Million
  • Ice Age: Collision Course – $26 Million
  • Ghostbusters – $24 Million
  • Lights Out – $15 Million

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Review

With Independence Day: Resurgence, Roland Emmerich is giving Michael Bay a run for his money and solidifying his status as the Director you call if you are looking for global catastrophe.

I try to watch a movie for what it is. This is not an artful indie flick with snappy dialogue. This 20 year old cluttered sequel to the 1996 smash Independence Day is a summer popcorn movie. That usually means destruction in between bursts of vapid or humorous dialogue, Resurgence delivers according to those expectations. But for some reason, Emmerich feels the need to continually remind us that this is an Independence Day sequel instead of just making an Independence Day sequel. It seems like we can’t go more than 5 minutes without some visual or auditory clue that we are watching the child of his most accomplished work.

Continue reading Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Review

Alien: Covenant – David 8 is Back in One Piece

The fan anticipation for Alien: Covenant, the sequel to Prometheus, has been growing as we inch closer and closer to the events of the original Alien film that was released in 1979. The Ridley Scott-helmed project has been generating a ton of buzz since production and subsequent filming began. NOTE: if you haven’t seen Prometheus, Alien, and Aliens then there may be spoilers ahead.


The first batch of set pictures went online late last month, revealing a dark and dystopian future as well as some particularly creepy ashy beings. Now, an official behind-the-scenes photo from the set of Alien: Covenant teases the return of a Prometheus character.

The Alien Anthology Twitter account posted the photo that reveals a repaired and whole David 8, the synthetic that was brought to life in Prometheus by Michael Fassbender. Take a look at the image after the jump.

Continue reading Alien: Covenant – David 8 is Back in One Piece

Saldana and Quinto Talk Star Trek Beyond

After 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness was criticized for leaning too heavily on fan service and references to previous Trek films, this summer’s Star Trek Beyond is shaping up to be something different. This time around, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise are in the midst of their five year journey through space, where they encounter a new adversary in Krall (Idris Elba). This villain could potentially be the most menacing threat Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his friends have faced yet, seeing that Krall vehemently opposes the ideals of the Federation and everything it stands for.

Not only does this sound like a refreshing change-of-pace after two largely Earth bound stories, the setup also allows director Justin Lin to place the characters in situations we haven’t seen them in yet. Crashing and trying to survive on an alien planet is tough in it of itself, but being out in space for so long is sure to take a mental toll as well. According to stars Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana, who play Spock and Uhura, respectively, the Enterprise crew is going to be pushed in ways unlike anything else before.

Speaking with EW, Saldana offered her thoughts on the state of the crew collectively and how the adversity they find themselves in poses a tremendous challenge:

“We’re tired, we need time off, we’ve been working non-stop, and it’s become like a machine where you kind of forget about yourself, but you need to go back home and nurture yourself and rest. Life has a different journey for us, and instead of us having to go out and aid another population, another planet that has been the target of violence, we are the target, so this is very different. We are tested at the craziest level and not just our lives are tested, but our characters and our relationships are tested.”

It will be interesting to see how the relationships evolve over the course of Beyond. Based on the trailers, it seems as if once the Enterprise crashes, the characters are scattered across the planet and end up working in pairs to get back together. For instance, Spock is working with Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), while Scotty (Simon Pegg) finds a new ally in the alien Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). Quinto told EW that the characters spend time with “unusual compatriots,” which will most likely lead to fascinating dynamics and interactions. Fans know that Spock and Bones are opposites, but they find a new appreciation for each other as they persevere through the obstacles. The Enterprise crew already had great chemistry, but those friendships will possibly be stronger after Beyond.

Arguably, Spock will be going through the most in this third film. In his interview, Quinto addressed Spock’s inner turmoil as he’s torn between his “Starfleet obligations and Vulcan roots”:

“[He is] in this existential moment in his life and at a crossroads between his obligation to his Starfleet and his Vulcan roots. His planet was destroyed and they’re rebuilding, and he’s trying to figure out where his energy is best directed to help other people. He comes into a new awareness of his own mortality for a number of reasons, and there’s a lot of stuff that he’s trying to figure out in this film. By the end, I think he realizes the best path for himself moving forward.”


The second trailer for Beyond hinted at an intriguing character arc for Kirk, but Spock will have plenty of rich material of his own. Throughout the rebooted series, the character has always been trying to balance the two sides of his life. This includes his ongoing romance with Uhura. Quinto mentioned that Spock is wondering if he should be with a Vulcan, and Uhura “recognizes” his doubts. The two “want each other to be happy, to be fulfilled, to serve their purpose, and to realize their potential.” The actor obviously wouldn’t elaborate further, but Spock and Uhura could be going through some serious changes as they look to discover the best path for them to follow.

With Lin at the helm, Beyond was always going to have exciting action set pieces, but these comments from Quinto and Saldana indicate that there will be a lot of substance to compliment the style. The movie promises to be a deconstruction of the classic sci-fi property and convey the best of the Original Series, so there are a variety of angles for the filmmakers to explore. As Paramount plans a Star Trek 4, they could very well have a winner that will reinvigorate enthusiasm audiences have for Star Trek.

Star Trek Beyond hits U.S. theaters July 22, 2016.

Source: EW

Alien (1979)

Ebert – Great Movies Review – 2003

Ebert – 30th Anniversary Review – 2009

Alien1In Alien we follow a seven man crew en-route to earth on board the huge space freighter “Nostromo”. The crew is in cryosleep, but the on board computer interrupts the journey when a foreign radio signal is picked up. It originates from an uninhabited planet and the crew lands to investigate. There they make contact with an alien life-form…

What makes Alien so great is the constant feel of uneasiness. Right from the beginning you have a feeling that something is wrong. The crew is not particularly friendly towards each other, and you truly feel all the in-group tension. The ship itself is a huge worn out industrial-style maze of halls and corridors, and it feels more like a prison than a place to live. It is as if not only the alien but also the ship itself is against the humans. The alien itself is the scariest monster in history because it is a ruthless, soul-less parasite completely devoid of any human or civilized traits. alien3The design of the monster is a stroke of genius. Sure it has a humanoid form, but it has no facial traits or anything else which could give away emotions or intentions. Its actions reveals no weaknesses nor civilized intelligence. The alien is more or less the opposite of everything human and civilized, plus the creature is more well-adapted to the inhumane interior of the ship than the humans who build it. To sum up, you then have a setting where the humans are caught in a web of in-group tensions, an inhospitable ship and the perfect killer which thrives in the ships intestines. You almost get the feel that the humans are the ones who are alienated to each other and to their own ship.

Ridley Scott tells the story with a perfectly synchronized blend of visuals and sounds. The actors do a superb job, portraying their characters in a subtle but very realistic way. The seven man crew is not a bunch of Hollywood heroes. They are ordinary people with strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. In this way they all seem so fragile when confronted with the enemy.

alien6As mentioned the ship is very claustrophobic and Ridley Scott adds to the eeriness by using camera movement, lights and shadows in an effective way. The living quarters are bright and should be comfortable to the crew, but there is something sterile about it all. The rest of the ship is basically a huge basement. The music by Jerry Goldsmith underlines the eeriness so well, and the movie wouldn’t have worked without his score. Combined with the sounds of the ship it all adds to the uneasiness.

alien4This is not a story about heroic people who boldly teams up against evil. It’s a story about ordinary people facing true fear, which is the fear without a face. The fear we can’t understand and can’t negotiate with, because its only goal is to survive on the expense of us. It’s a story where some people bravely fight back whilst others are destroyed by the terror. It’s a story where people are killed in a completely random way. There is no higher-order justice behind who gets to live and who dies. All seven characters are just part of a race where the fittest – not necessarily the most righteous – will prevail, and all seven characters start the race on an equal footing. None of them are true heroes, and none of them are true villains.

alien5All the above makes Alien so great as a horror movie. The terror isn’t just the Alien itself, it’s the entire atmosphere which gets so effectively under your skin, that you just can’t shrug it off after the end credits like you can with so many other Hollywood horror movies. The title “Alien” doesn’t just refer to the monster, it is the theme of the movie and it is the feeling you have during and after the movie.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

The familiar scrolling yellow text setting the scene as the grand John Williams score blares to alert all that things just got real. Yes, Star Wars is back, and I for one am very excited about where this series is going in the next 30 years. This is the first Star Wars movie we have seen in 10 years, and the first real one in 32 years. I’m sorry but the prequels were just not good. I’m not sure if it was Hayden Christensen’s awful acting, the invention of midichlorians to science away the force, or Jar Jar Binks’ zany comedy relief, but the three prequels need to be lost to the annals of time and maybe we can let J.J. Abrams have a shot at recreating them. With The Force Awakens, he manages to perfectly blend the old and the new and makes a powerful and dramatic next step in the epic saga.

swfa1The movie features a blend of new characters as well as actors reprising their roles from the original movies as we join them 30 years since the destruction of the Death Star and the fall of the Empire. We are treated to Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew as Han Solo and Chewbacca, Carrie Fisher as Princess turned General Leia Organa, and Mark Hamill even makes a brief albeit epic appearance as the nearly mythical Luke Skywalker. There are plenty of other visuals and references that caused the theaters to erupt with fanboys (and girls) gushing their praise. However, some have said that this film was too close to the originals and it should be called more of a reboot than a sequel. I disagree.

swfa3.pngI see the presence of the original characters as a way to pass the baton on to a new generation as we step into new adventures. John Boyega as Finn, Daisy Ridley as Rey, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, and Oscar Isaac as Poe bring a delightful on-screen chemistry reminiscent of the original trilogy but setting a course for a new direction. The new characters are at home in the Star Wars universe, nothing feels forced, and they welcomingly provide a lighthearted and fitting next generation of heroes. Both the old and new cast work beautifully together, and the result is a film jam-packed with classic banter, references to previous movies and suspenseful action.

While the aforementioned prequel trilogy received criticism for its excessive use of CGI among other things, The Force Awakens returned to its roots, using models and miniatures whenever possible. John Williams provides yet another great soundtrack, however upon my first watching I did not hear another song that would compare to Duel of the Fates. But there were beautiful call backs in tone and melody to the original series especially the Imperial March. Ultimately, the music did what it is designed to do enhance both the action-packed battle and chase sequences and touching personal scenes. Also, I don’t think there were any lulls in the movie, meaning that if you do go and see it in the theater, make sure you go to the bathroom first and don’t drink too much because there are no good opportunities to leave for 5 minutes.


swfa2I will not spoil anything here, though if you have waited as long as I did to watch the film you will need to watch out for sneaky spoilers already creeping their way into pop-culture. My recent favorite being Adam Driver reprising his role on Saturday Night Live as Kylo Ren becomes Undercover Boss.

The movie is very good and provides a great introduction to the next trilogy. There are several shocking reveals throughout, and the conclusion leaves many questions unanswered while pointing to more movies to come. However, would you expect anything else from the guy who brought us Lost. All in all, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a wonderful addition to this saga and I can’t wait for my kids to get hooked on this new series.


In Memorium: Alan Rickman (1946-2016)

I don’t really feel like blathering on about Alan Rickman’s acting achievements. I feel like all of you know how amazing he was, and he will live forever in his many, varied roles. Please take a few moments to look through the pictures below. Think about your favorite of his roles. Leave a comment to tell me how you remember him best.

You can tell by the banner image that my favorite of his roles is actually in Kevin Smith’s Dogma. He appropriately plays the Metatron, the voice of God. I love that deep, gravelly voice. That is why I posted this from Family Guy:

Rest in Peace Alan. You will be missed.

Aliens (1986)

Almost 30 years ago, a nearly unknown filmmaker named James Cameron created a science fiction masterpiece that changed the genre forever and became a landmark film with long reaching influence. As a pure action movie, Aliens is as well constructed and paced as any in Hollywood history. Let’s take looks back at James Cameron’s Aliens, one of the greatest films of our generation.

aliens2Aliens is set 57 years after the events of the first film. It begins with Ripley being rescued & revived from hypersleep after drifting in space far longer than she ever expected. After hearing her account of what happened to her former crew on Nostromo, the panel board turns down her story, revokes her space-flight license & makes her aware of the colonisation of the planet LV-426, where the alien spaceship was found in the first film. Things set in motion when the contact with the colony on planet LV-426 is lost and Ripley is requested to join a group of space marines to investigate which she, after initially refusing, finally accepts in order to face & overcome her fears.

Given the task of following up Ridley Scott’s Alien, a lesser director would have simply provided more of the same. Another ship, and another crew to impregnate, stalk and terrorise by an apparently indestructible alien creature. It’s to James Cameron’s credit that, when he wrote and directed the sequel to Ridley Scott’s original, he chose to strike out on a different path, creating a film with its own tone, pace and themes while still adhering to various visual and narrative laws set up in the first film.

aliens4In Alien, we got to know the monster; how it grows to maturity inside an unwilling host, how it bleeds acid, and how difficult it is to kill once it’s loose. In that film, we watched a single one of these life forms tear an entire ship out from under its crew, and no matter what steps were taken to defeat it, the alien simply would not die. In Aliens, James Cameron shows us what an army of them is capable of, and by doing so transforms his movie into more than a mere sequel.

Where Alien was a comparatively slow horror thriller that prowled like a lion in undergrowth, Aliens was a war film that sped from one set piece to the next, slowly building up to a roller coaster of bombastic action. That Aliens is bigger and louder has led some to suggest that Cameron’s sequel is superior to Scott’s original, while others prefer the latter’s reliance on atmosphere and quiet suspense. But I’d suggest that, rather than either being superior, the two films complement one another in a way seldom seen in cinema.

aliens3Alien was metaphor for sex and encountering something traumatic that could barely be comprehended, a monster that violated as well as killed, that rendered its victims chillingly powerless. Aliens is about facing trauma head on, and gaining closure in the process. In Aliens, Cameron quickly establishes that the events of the first film had caused Ripley to lose everything. By returning to LV-426, the now terraformed planet of Alien, Ripley is able to confront the trauma of her past, and in the final battle with the alien queen, ultimately overcome it.

It’s also worth noting that, where Alien was cut off from any sense of society, Aliens gives a greater sense of social order. We even see the ant-like hierarchy of the aliens themselves, with soldier aliens protecting the egg-laying queen. We even learn that the aliens can, in a basic way, be bargained with, as Ripley threatens the queen’s eggs with a flamethrower. With a quiet nod from the queen, the soldier aliens back away.

As a pure action movie, Aliens is one of the best constructed and paced in Hollywood history. Its first hour methodically reintroduces Ripley and the outfit of cocky Colonial Marines who will accompany her to LV-426. Once the action starts however, the film peels back the layers to reveal a display of pure action and suspense.  Then there’s Cameron’s endlessly quotable script and broad, memorable characters. Wisecracking space marines have since become a cliché of cinema and video games. Cameron’s, headed up by Hicks, Hudson and Vasquez, are the original and still the best.  And let’s not forget about that creepy android (or Artificial Person) Bishop, or the slick company representative Carter Burke. We can trust them… or can we?’

As for this film’s technical achievements, Aliens’ art direction & set designs may not have surpassed the artistic levels set in the previous film but it certainly comes close. However, the one category where this film sets a new benchmark of its time is in its state-of-the-art visual & sound effects. Visual effects are absolutely groundbreaking and that’s one part which has since become a trademark in James Cameron’s films. Sound always plays a big role in combat & horror films and is impressive here as well, be it the sound of guns blazing, aliens shrieking or explosions. Cinematography successfully creates a more evolved atmosphere of what existed in the original film. Editing is cleverly done & it successfully manages to keep the viewers gripped to their seats for 2.5 hours which goes pretty unnoticed. And finally, the score perfectly balances the tone of the film and stays in sync with the film’s content. It’s loud, terrifying, suspenseful & also touching wherever & whenever it’s supposed to be. Splendid work by composer James Horner.

Cameron’s biggest achievement in Aliens was in creating a film that dovetails so perfectly with the original Alien. Watched back to back, Alien becomes the first act to Cameron’s lengthier story. Ripley encounters the xenomorph and all the horror that comes with it in the first film, and through a mixture of circumstance and bravery, is able to put those horrors to rest in the second. This gratifying sense of closure is one reason why the attempt to create a second sequel was always doomed to failure. With Aliens, Cameron had already created an arc for Ripley’s character that was both satisfying and logical, and demonstrated that the aliens themselves, apparently indestructible in Scott’s movie, could be killed after all.

Like Cameron’s later work, Terminator 2, what makes Aliens more than just a sci-fi action thriller is the underlying emotional connection between the characters, particularly between Ripley and Newt. There are also semi-romantic undertones between Ripley and Hicks, but they are wisely kept as undertones. A full-blown romantic subplot would have interrupted the movie’s lightning fast pace. By the climax, we’re not only on the edge of our seats because of the action and tension, but because Ripley, Newt, and Hicks have come to mean something to us. When Newt is taken by the aliens to their nest, necessitating Ripley’s climactic confrontation with the Queen, it ups the stakes even further in a climax that already approaches the harrowing urgency of Alien. And the climactic battle between Ripley and the Queen is not only human vs. alien, but two mothers pitted against each other in defense of their “children.”

Even though many fans will be divided over which is a better film between Ridley Scott’s Alien & James Cameron’s Aliens, there is no denying that both films are masterpieces & immortal for their contribution to horror, action & science-fiction genres. And looking back, Aliens is indeed a perfect follow-up to Alien, not just because it explores the elements of the original beautifully, but also because it places greater emphasis on staying true to the original by following it up with an equally mesmerizing story rather than something made just for financial gains, like most sequels of today. Highly entertaining, immensely satisfying & a spectacular roller-coaster ride of non-stop action, Aliens refuses to age even after three decades and continues to rank amongst the most intense & fulfilling pieces of action films, ever. Although Aliens is strong enough to be a standalone film, it still would be a wiser move to visit the original by Ridley Scott before moving on to this one. Despite their differences, Aliens feels very much of a piece with Alien, and in retrospect, this is where the series should have ended. Unfortunately, opportunities to continue milking a franchise for box office profits often supersede creative integrity, but the shortcomings of the following installments do not diminish what Ridley Scott and James Cameron achieved with Alien and Aliens.