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Aliens (R)
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Caution: spoilers.

So. This is the sequel to Alien. It came out in 1986 (when I was 10), and I'm sure I must have seen it sometime in the 80s, whether on TV or VHS. (I must have also seen the first movie, but I definitely remember this one better... though still not in great detail.) I'm writing this review upon re-watching the movie on DVD in 2017. This is more of an action movie than the original, though I still mainly think of it as sci-fi horror (though there are also some genuinely funny lines). Anyway, at the end of the first movie, Ripley was the only survivor (aside from her cat, Jonesy). She went into stasis, expecting to reach a colonized region of space in like six weeks, or whatever. But in this movie, when her escape pod is found by a salvage ship, 57 years have passed. Her daughter has lived a full life and died. And the company Ripley worked for (Weyland-Yutani Corp.) doesn't believe her story about an alien attacking the crew. They revoke her license, and she's lucky they don't press charges for destroying their ship. She also learns that the planet where they had encountered the alien had been colonized 20 years ago, by families who were working on terraforming the world. And it's not long before the company loses contact with the colony, so suddenly they think maybe Ripley was right.

They want her to join a team of Marines who are being sent to investigate, but at first, quite understandably, she has no interest in going back there. However, she's been having some pretty intense nightmares about her experiences there, and I guess she finally decides the only way to put a stop to them is to join the mission, provided the plan is to destroy the aliens, rather than to study them or bring them back to Earth. A representative of the company, Carter Burke (Paul Reiser), tells her that is the case. So she agrees to join the mission. (I want to mention that in 1995, Reiser hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live, in which there was a sketch called "Mad About You Aliens." By that time, I was quite familiar with him from Mad About You, but had no recollection of his having been in this movie. Still, it was an amusing mash-up.)

Prior to the loss of contact, there was a scene where a married couple who were among the colonists were exploring an area of the planet that someone in the company had asked to be investigated. They had with them their daughter, Rebecca (better known as Newt), and son, Timmy. And we soon see the father return to their vehicle with a face-hugger on his face. So... it's a safe bet why contact with the colony was lost. (And I should say one of the few details I remembered about the movie was... well, just the fact that Newt was an important character, and that I guess I liked her well enough.) Anyway, Ripley and Burke and the Marines go to the planet, and take a drop ship down from their main ship. (Incidentally, the drop ship's pilot says "five by five" at one point, an expression I always associate with Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) And um, there's an APC that takes off from the drop ship, once it lands. The Marines include a lieutenant named Gorman, a sergeant named Apone, a corporal named Hicks, privates named Hudson (Bill Paxton) and Vasquez. There were a few others of less importance to the story, I guess. Also there was an android named Bishop (Lance Henriksen). (One of the things I remembered about the movie was Bishop doing the knife game impossibly fast. And I maybe kind of remembered Ripley not trusting him, because of a bad experience with an android in the first movie.)

They find that all the colonists are dead, except for Newt, who is kind of in a state of shock after surviving on her own for some time. But Ripley soon manages to bond with her. (One has to assume Newt reminds her of her own daughter, who was around that age the last time Ripley saw her, though when she died she was considerably older than Ripley is, now. So... it's all kind of weird, but also pretty natural for her maternal instincts to kick in.) And... the Marines soon come into conflict with the aliens. Some of them die, and those that survive aren't particularly confident about their chances for getting out alive. (Hudson has a line, "Game over, man. Game over." that I didn't remember at all, but many years after I first saw the movie, and probably a few years before I watched it again on DVD, I became aware of its being a fairly well-known and popular line, in the fandom.) Of course there are numerous battle scenes. One of the things I remembered best from the first time was Ripley fighting the alien queen with an exosuit cargo-loader. Also there was something I remembered about Bishop... which I don't want to spoil, but I'll just say Ripley finally appreciates him.

And... hopefully I'm not forgetting too much that I wanted to say. Of course the aliens are ultimately beaten (after lots of human losses). Although I can't help thinking that quite possibly the aliens were just defending their territory from intruders, and in particular the queen had a right to be outraged by the humans killing her children. (I definitely saw a parallel between how the alien queen felt about her offspring and how Ripley felt about Newt.) Still, that's a philosophical question I'm capable of setting aside for the purposes of siding with my own species, I guess. I mean, since it's just a movie.

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Alien franchise
Alien Anthology Wiki; TV Tropes; Wikipedia; Xenopedia

quadrilogy: Alien * Aliens * Alien3 * Alien: Resurrection
crossover (non-canon): Alien vs. Predator * Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
prequels: Prometheus * Alien: Covenant-Prologue (shorts) * Alien: Covenant