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Aliens (1986)

tomatometer

98

Average Rating: 8.9/10
Reviews Counted: 59
Fresh: 58 | Rotten: 1

While Alien was a marvel of slow-building, atmospheric tension, Aliens packs a much more visceral punch, and features a typically strong performance from Sigourney Weaver.

92

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 1

While Alien was a marvel of slow-building, atmospheric tension, Aliens packs a much more visceral punch, and features a typically strong performance from Sigourney Weaver.

audience

94

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 420,438

My Rating

Movie Info

Big-budget special effects, swiftly paced action, and a distinct feminist subtext from writer/director James Cameron turned what should have been a by-the-numbers sci-fi sequel into both a blockbuster and a seven-time Oscar nominee. Sigourney Weaver returns as Ellen Ripley, the last surviving crew member of a corporate spaceship destroyed after an attack by a vicious, virtually unbeatable alien life form. Adrift in space for half a century, Ripley grapples with depression until she's informed by

Jun 1, 1999

20th Century Fox Film Corporat

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All Critics (59) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (58) | Rotten (1) | DVD (37)

[Aliens] is a spectacular example of state-of-the-art science fiction simply because it never tries to be overtly spectacular.

July 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's blaster action, not Gothic future-horror. Fortunately, director-screenwriter James Cameron has shaped his film around the defiant intelligence and sensual athleticism of Weaver, and that's where Aliens works best.

July 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This film is also the best monster movie of the year and the best picture of any kind to open so far this summer. Put it another way: Aliens is the Jaws of the '80s.

July 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Action thrillers assail but rarely test us; this is the tautest, most provoking, and altogether most draining example ever made.

July 30, 2013 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Count me out of the fan club for this one.

January 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The trouble Ripley has found this time is exponentially bigger and scarier than anything she encountered in Ridley Scott's memorably minimalist, eerily elegant 1979 film.

October 19, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The first of these movies remains one of the great sci-fi horror achievements of the modern cinema, but its sequel, "Aliens," is that rare instance where a follow-up deviates from the formula and finds an effective rhythm in propelling the story

October 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinemaphile.org
Cinemaphile.org

The idea behind Aliens remains the scariest, dirtiest, most perversely funny one for a monster film, and the Rambo action further gooses us.

July 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News

The result is a film that not only answers many questions raised by the original story, but also expands production values, amplifies special effects and weaves a new plot that is even more exciting than the first.

July 30, 2013 Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Surpassing its predecessor in terms of sheer spectacle, this sequel to Ridley Scott's outer-space nightmare from director James Cameron is an outstanding science-fiction thriller.

July 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

So much for the theory that sequels never equal the original.

July 30, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

On the short list of sequels that not only matched the quality of its predecessor, but arguably surpassed it to become one of the greatest films of its genre.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Lyles' Movie Files
Lyles' Movie Files

Another defining picture in the sci-fi genre. A stellar achievement that's almost as good as the original.

June 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

Aliens contains a fascinating exploration of the way Western culture has traditionally aligned feminine characteristics onto nature while masculine characteristics have been aligned with civilisation.

September 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Autopsy | Comments (3)
Cinema Autopsy

James Cameron's Aliens is easily one of the best sequels ever made, taking the original story and expanding upon it in ways most sequels are afraid to do.

October 30, 2010 Full Review Source: IGN DVD | Comment (1)
IGN DVD

Alien sequel is bigger, faster, scarier.

September 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comments (5)
Common Sense Media

It's interesting that the film, a sequel to Ridley Scott's 1979 atmospheric horror-film-in-space, is generally regarded as an action movie. Go through it, and you'll realize the character and dialogue scenes far outweigh the kablooey stuff.

September 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune | Comments (3)
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Proved that James Cameron has a mind for directing action movies considerably more nuanced and plot-driven than just "find ways to blow things up".

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

If you were to only see one movie in your entire lifetime it would have to be ALIENS. James Cameron has delivered a masterpiece that will never in a million years be topped...

August 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Bloody Disgusting | Comments (8)
Bloody Disgusting

Some critics consider this chapter to be better than the first, but the two movies are vastly different: Ridley Scott's is a scary horror film, whereas James Cameron's is a high-tech actioner with superlative set-pieces.

July 14, 2009 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Audience Reviews for Aliens

Just like the film that precedes it, Aliens is a cinematic masterpiece. Whereas Alien was a space horror type film that was all about mood, tone, and atmosphere, and using the claustrophobia of the ship to produce its scares, Aliens is a rip-roaring balls out action fest. The tension and claustrophobia of the setting is used to make things more intense and scary, but this is an action film through and through.

Set 57 years after the events of Alien, Ellen Ripley, last surviving member of the Nostromo, is awoken from stasis, and given another mission. In her time away, LV-426, the planetoid where the Nostromo crew encountered the vicious alien in the original film, has been colonized by a group of terraformers. However, contact with them has been launched, so a group of marines are sent in to investigate, and Ripley is sent along as a consultant. Like the first film, they encounter alien trouble, but instead of a single, yet , deadly threat, there are many of them, and this time, it's war.

Ellen Ripley is one of the greatest action movie characters of all time. She became a trend setter for future heroines to come, but she herself is inspired by the blaxploitation stars of the 70s such as Pam Grier and Tamara Dobson. They laid the ground work, she just built on top of it. She started out as a strong woman just doing what she had to in order to survive in Alien, now, she's a fully developed bad ass that you don't want to mess with. She's not static though- she also shows her tender side by playing mother to the child stranded on the planet. The marines that accompany her to LV-426 aren't as developed, but they aren't totally cookie-cutter caricatures, either. In fact, some of them are pretty funny and likeable, even memorable. None of them outshine Ripley, though.

The real star here is the visual effects. They are outstanding. They still hold up even to this day, and I'm amazed at how they managed to bring all these frightful creatures to life without reliance on CGI. It makes me yearn for the old days when it took blood, sweat, tears, and creativity to get the job done. Even though the emphasis is primarily on action, there's still some pretty intense, spooky, and riveting moments, with does of that moody, unnerving atmosphere from the first.

Bottom line: this is one of the most impressive and influential sci-fi action films out there, so it is basically required viewing for fans of the genre, and people interested in great cinema in general. Both this and Alien are masterpieces in their own ways, and it's hard for me to pick which one is better, or which one I like more. They are similar, but different enough to make it unfair to really pick a favorite. Anyhoo, just see this, already, or rewatch it, whatever applies.
November 7, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Ripley is awakened from stasis to find that she has been gone for 57 years and is being made a scapegoat for the loss of her ship. But then contact is lost with the colony on LV 426 and she is enlisted as an adviser to a combat unit sent to investigate. The vast majority of sequels are of course just cynical attempts to cash in on the popularity of the original film and rarely have much in the way of cinematic merit in their own right. Aliens is one of the few that not only expanded on the idea of the original but took it in a whole new direction. The production design is superb and every sci-fi movie made since that features military hardware gets its cues from here, and it still looks brilliant. The ensemble cast are all excellent, especially Sigourney Weaver who is far from the usual gung ho bonehead with a gun you find in most action movies. She is a believable character traumatized by her experiences of the first film, unwillingly facing her fears. The soldiers are also three dimensional characters, especially Bill Paxton's smart alec who loses his nerve and their camaraderie and funny banter make you care what happens to them. Other well written characters include "artificial person" Lance Henriksen whose cold fascination for the creatures echoes Ash from the first film and Paul Reiser's obsequious company man, each of whom seem to have agenda of their own. The first half of the film is an atmospheric and cleverly written set up for the second half, which can best be described as a white knuckle rollercoaster ride of breathless suspense and excitement. Their first encounter with the aliens is one of the all time great action sequences and the later scene when they await the second onslaught huddled in a darkened room listening to the sound of the motion detector is utterly gripping. Not to mention Ripley's first sight of the alien queen and their subsequent classic showdown. For me, this is an all but perfect film, and the best sequel ever made.
December 29, 2012
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

A film that expands off of the ideas presented in the original. "Aliens" is more of an action film but it still has developed characters and a story that is both intense and scary. It's an overall improvement over its predecessor and one of the greatest science-fiction films ever made. Unfortunately the franchise went downhill after this installment, but the first two are definitely masterpieces in cinema.
December 22, 2012
Market Man
Eric Shankle

Super Reviewer

The impossibly superior and a loving ode to the original Alien film, Aliens is much more intense, violent, horrifying, and impossibly fast. In relation to the original film James Cameron obviously did main character and protagonist Ellen Ripley justice. The original (directed by Ridley Scott) was certainly relegated to the horror genre, seamlessly frightening you in a jump scare or watching the realization dawning on a victim's face before their evident extermination. Aliens is much more of an action-adventure film that crosses the boundaries of sci-fi and horror as well. From what we learn at the end of the last Alien film, Ripley is frozen in sleep awaiting rescue in the deep recesses of space. We start this film fifty-seven years later, Ripley having slept through all of it, and then convicted of destroying company property while nobody believes her story of the destruction of her crew and the beginnings of this new alien race. Cameron has been reported to have based the manner of the film on the Vietnam War, having a group of people with superior weaponry go into unknown territory and find an enemy that knows the terrain much better. The bleakness, the obvious horror of human life being bitten away a chunk at a time, makes for a queasy watch, the over confident Colonial Marines wading into the nest of the xenomorphs and finding themselves gravelly under qualified for the task at hand. Ripley is such a strong character in the original, but here she is also conflicted about a variety of things: the murders of her former crew mates, the death of her daughter, and the lack of belief from anyone. Her grief manifests itself in a relationship with the last survivor of a colony that had made camp at the site of the barren planet in the first Alien film. The girl is certainly different from past child characters, which are usually pesky, annoying, and are often caught by the foe all the while screaming for help. Newt, as she's called, is a fighter, and a prescient muse to the crew members, who are cocky chauvinists and show offs. The effects in this film are still pretty amazing, especially the dark look of the sets, the shots of space, and the interiors of the ship, which were apparently made with a lowly budget of $18 million dollars and the help of some ingenious visual effects crewmembers. The aliens and their queen look much better than in the first film and are twice as terrifying. Besides that the plot keeps contorting itself into complexity with ever arising problems for the Marines, including their pilots getting eaten, a fire ball dismantling the holdout where they are camped, and the deaths of many of them at the hands of the xenomorphs. The best aspect of the film though is the rash of characters. None of them is a throwaway, and when even one of them perishes you fill a bile like empathy for them. The android, played by Lance Henriken, has an eerie creepiness and a pointed face that sends chills down your spine, while villain Burke (Paul Reiser) is the best example of someone with a motive that doesn't stem from himself but money and greed. He is simply the best written villain I have seen in a long while, and yet he again and again is shown as a slimy dirtball who weasels himself out of trouble. In turn Henriken's character goes through his own android racism thanks to Ripley's prejudice from the first film where actor Ian Holm's character went off the rails, killing several crew members. This development makes for an interesting watch, as you wonder at the motives of the rogue robot. (Though he is apparently bound by Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics) Though it's a 2 and a half hour watch altogether, it flies by quite fast. There isn't any filler, the characters are well developed, the look and feel of the film is perfect for the tone director Cameron was going for, and overall, it was a much better film than the original, which I personally didn't find as intriguing. There will never be another film like this, and it is the best in the four films. Truly, a sci-fi, horror, and action classic, and now one of my favorite films.
November 12, 2012
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

    1. Ellen Ripley: Show me everything.
    – Submitted by Donna S (8 months ago)
    1. Carter Burke: I made a bad call.
    – Submitted by Donna S (8 months ago)
    1. Newt: Ripley, she doesn't have bad dreams because she's a doll.
    – Submitted by Donna S (8 months ago)
    1. Cpl. Dwayne Hicks: It doesn't mean we're engaged or anything.
    – Submitted by Donna S (8 months ago)
    1. Sgt. Apone: Somebody wake up Hicks!
    – Submitted by Donna S (8 months ago)
    1. Pvt. Hudson: Hey Vasquez have you ever been mistaken for a man?
    2. Pvt. Vasquez: No. Have you?
    – Submitted by Benji P (9 months ago)
View all quotes (85)

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Foreign Titles

  • Aliens - Die Rückkehr (DE)
  • Aliens, el regreso (ES)
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