There's not a single frame in James Cameron's Aliens that I don't love. (OK, there's ONE scene from the director's cut that really irks me (it has to do with hamsters), but why nitpick?) I love the music, the sound effects, the script, the brilliant (practical!) effects, the pace, the tone, the mood ... Hell, I could probably watch this movie four times a year and never get sick of the thing. (And get this: I think the original Alien is even better!)

Fresh off of The Terminator, James Cameron employed a powerful new weapon for his first big-budget* flick, and that weapon was The Ensemble. After only a few short scenes you could identify the players: By-the-book Lt. Gorman, oily company man Carter Burke, quietly creepy "synthetic" Bishop, tough-as-nails Vasquez, cigar-chompin' Sgt. Apone, and the quietly noble Corporal Hicks. Toss this crew behind Sigourney Weaver's Ripley and a little girl called Newt, and you've got yourself one helluva platoon. Having read the Alan Dean Foster Aliens novelization, I even know the difference between Ferro, Dietrich, Crowe, Spunkmeyer and Wierzbowski! (* Produced in 1985, Aliens cost less than $20 million to create. Think about that.)

Ah yes, I did forget someone. Good ol' Private Hudson. He starts out as your typical alpha male, a swaggering braggart with more guts than brains ... but when the mayhem gets underway, Bill Paxton's Pvt. Hudson becomes a stand-in for you, the viewer. He whines and blusters and cries and complains as the endless waves of aliens come storming in; he basically does what you or I would do in the exact same situation: Misery, denial, plain old panic. But Paxton, a damn solid actor even twenty years ago, knew how dangerously close this character came to being plain old obnoxious, so he brings an eye-rolling, quick-tempered bravado to the role -- and almost manages to steal the whole damn movie.
categories Features, Cinematical