Game over man, game over!!!!
Everybody has a movie they watched as a kid that they were to young to watch. Aliens was mine. I couldn’t have been more then nine or ten when I saw this masterpiece. A horror masterpiece that absolutely terrified me.
During the summer I would usually spend most of the summer break at my Nan’s in Birmingham. One uncle in particular showed much pride in showing me movies that weren’t necessarily age appropriate. Total Recall, Robocop etc. All really exciting movies to watch, especially when you knew they were meant for adults.
I had no previous experience of the Aliens universe, I didn’t even know that it was a sequel. The only knowledge I had of it was from posters I saw on the tube. The poster tag line was “This is War”. Sounded pretty cool. So when my uncle bought round the pirated VHS I was pretty excited, little did I know it would become one of my favourite movies ever.
Now as you can imagine not knowing anything about the previous movie, that the dream chest bursting scene came as a bit of a shock. But I was hooked. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know why Ripley had been frozen for so long and it didn’t matter that I didn’t know what the “Company” was. Cameron creates his version of the Alien universe where newcomers are given all the info they need, enough new information and technology to have them biting for more.
Of course I didn’t get this as kid but Aliens is an obvious take on American imperialism. The colonial marines have the best possible tech and and training, but are defeated by animals. Acid spitting, wall crawling, razor sharp teeth having animals to be fair, but still an enemy that they imagined they would have no problem conquering and clearly didn’t understand. Did somebody say Vietnam?
The marines and the Company may have been arrogant, but it didn’t stop them being the coolest characters I’d ever seen. I found the way they talked, spoke and moved to be Uber cool. The guns they used, especially the hip mounted smart gun were incredible. The drop ship that is released from the Solaco just might be my favourite ship ever, even more than the Enterprise. So it’s quite surprising that the destruction of this group actually helps the movie. Yes they were cool, but in a Macho one dimensional way. But once shit goes down that facade is gone. Hudson becomes a cowardly, but super quote worthy character. Company man Burke sells out the entire team for a “god danm percentage”. Lieutenant Gorman reveals himself to have pretty poor leadership skills. The sinister acting android Bishop actually proves to be super heroic. But none of them compare to Ripley, who shows us why she’s one of the best and most bad ass sci fi characters ever. Sigourney weavers Ripley’s importance to modern film shouldn’t be underestimated. Even as boy I felt that it was interesting that a girl was the main character in a big action movie. She’s strong, intelligent and brave. Everything you want a hero movie character to be. Perhaps the start for my interest in feminism?
The one thing that I now realise Cameron is great at, is pacing. It’s a long movie but it’s pacing, much like Cameron’s other blockbuster T2 is amazing. He knows exactly how to balance action and character development. There are not many big time blockbuster directors who can do that.
Aliens was one of the early films I saw as a child that built up my passion for film. Even when I watch it now it still brings back the same emotions. It’s arguably Cameron’s best movie and stands the test of time as one of the best action/horror movies ever.