Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 71


Audience Score

User Ratings: 429,135
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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 her company's representative, Carter Burke (Paul Reiser) that the planet where her crew discovered the alien has since been settled by colonists. Contact with the colony has suddenly been lost, and a detachment of colonial marines is being sent to investigate. Invited along as an advisor, Ripley predicts disaster, and sure enough, the aliens have infested the colony, leaving a sole survivor, the young girl Newt (Carrie Henn). With the soldiers picked off one by one, a final all-female showdown brews between the alien queen and Ripley, who's become a surrogate mother to Newt. Several future stars made early career appearances in Aliens (1986), including Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Reiser. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi


Michael Biehn
as Cpl. Dwayne Hicks
Bill Paxton
as Pvt. Hudson
William Hope
as Lt. Gorman
Jenette Goldstein
as Pvt. Vasquez
Al Matthews
as Sgt. Apone
Mark Rolston
as Pvt. Drake
Ricco Ross
as Pvt. Frost
Colette Hiller
as Cpl. Ferro
Daniel Kash
as Pvt. Spunkmeyer
Cynthia Scott
as Cpl. Dietrich
Tip Tipping
as Pvt. Crowe
Trevor Steedman
as Pvt. Wierzbowski
Paul Maxwell
as Van Leuwen
Alan Polonsky
as Insurance Man
Alibe Parsons
as Med Tech
Barbara Coles
as Cocooned Woman
Carl Toop
as Alien Warrior
Louise Head
as Double for Newt
John Lees
as Power Loader Operator
Kiran Shah
as Double for Newt
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News & Interviews for Aliens

Critic Reviews for Aliens

All Critics (71) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (70) | Rotten (1)

  • Sigourney Weaver is merely terrific... When she straps on her armament to do battle with the aliens, she makes Sylvester Stallone look like a pipsqueak.

    Mar 14, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Beyond dispute, however, is the film's timeless worth as a cathartic work, especially in terms of its accidentally commentary on the sexism of the corporate structure.

    Oct 4, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Scene to scene, encounter to encounter, its tension builds unrelentingly. So, fasten your seat belts. It`s a blast.

    Oct 14, 2014 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • [Aliens] is a spectacular example of state-of-the-art science fiction simply because it never tries to be overtly spectacular.

    Jul 30, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jul 30, 2013 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jul 30, 2013 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Aliens

  • May 28, 2017
    Say what you will about James Cameron, but he's got a pretty great track record as it relates to successful movies. Realistically speaking, I think he may be the most financially successful filmmaker of all time. His films, on a worldwide basis, have grossed $6 billion. Actually, now that I check my information, Spielberg is the most financially successful filmmaker of all time, as his movies have made a combined $9 billion. Cameron's is more impressive when you take into consideration the fact that he has made just SEVEN movies in his career. That's almost a billion per movie. Granted, those numbers are misleading considering that Titanic made $2.19 billion and Avatar made $2.78 billion. So more than half of those $6 billion is from just two movies, which is an insane statistic. Cameron has his faults as a filmmaker, but there's no denying he's always been at the forefront for innovation in special effects and new film techniques. But I digress, that's neither here nor there, I just felt like starting out with that. Having said all of that, on to this film. And I'm gonna start off with something that might be controversial to some, but Alien and Aliens is the greatest one-two punch in horror film franchise history. It might be controversial to some, but there's really no debate to me in any way, shape or form. And, yes, I am, in fact, including Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 in that discussion. I really liked Evil Dead, but I didn't think ever reached the great category. I felt that it fell just a little bit short of that. Evil Dead 2 is one of my favorite horror movies of all time, so there you have it. Having watched Alien a week and a half ago, I was aware that its sequel, this film, was a more action heavy affair when compared to the atmospheric and tense-filled original. I don't know why that, in my head, already created a scenario where this movie just wouldn't be as good as Alien. Just because a horror sequel (or any sequel for that matter) relies more on action than its first installment does not instantly make it a worse film. I think this is an assumption that most of us would, wrongly, make. It's not necessarily the most fair way to head into a movie. It really isn't. But, and I don't wanna say I was surprised, this film is pretty fucking great. While both films take place in the same universe, with the same lead character and the same villains, the similarities end there. The original was a more claustrophobic and contained experience. It built up dread through the usage of its atmosphere and the element of surprise, you never knew where the xenomorph would appear in. He could be in the next room, or in the air duct, or right above you. That made the xenomorph in the original seem more terrifying. This movie opens things up, taking place on terraformed colony where the alien eggs and facehugger were discovered in the first film. The film focuses on Ripley, duh, a group of colonial marines sent to investigate this colony (that has 60-70 families living in it) as no transmission has been received from them for a long time. I will say that the first half or so of the movie, maybe slightly less than half, is a slow-burn. Building up to the first appearance of the xenomorph. It's not a dread-filled as the original, but they do a good job regardless. I love that when the xenomorphs do appear, and the shit hits the fan for the marines, you're not exactly what happened, how it happened and who actually died. It's very disorienting. And I can imagine that, if I was in a wartime situation and the enemy took us by surprising, it'd feel similar to this. You really don't know what happened during and it's only after the fact, when you've had time to regroup and catch your breath, where you try to figure out what happened and how. And when the movie does get going, it really doesn't stop with its intensity and visceral attack on your sense. That's one of the many different things when compared to the original, the film is much more conventionally intense. The use of the word 'conventionally' might seem like a negative to some, but what I mean is the fact that they throw so much more at you than the original movie and it's pretty fucking great. The xenomorphs are still terrifyingly designed. But this is where I have some problems with the film. The xenomorphs are greatly designed and everything, but they're dispatched of so easily by the marines and Ripley that it takes some of their original effectiveness away from them. They still do some really cool stuff with them, like running through the air ducts, but some of the scare factor is taken away from them. Of course, the xenomorphs are really just the set-up for the queen, the one who's laying the eggs, and her eventual showdown with Ripley. And, really, the film is about one simple theme and that is motherhood. Ripley takes care of a little girl who survived the attack on her colony. She grows attached to her and, naturally, wants to protect her from these evil motherfuckers. The queen, on the other hand, is trying to protect her own children. Yes, these children are using the colonists as hosts to create more of these xenomorphs, but they're still her children. The climactic battle between the queen and Ripley boils down to that. The queen just wants revenge for Ripley's destruction of her eggs via flamethrower. She's not doing it just because, she's a pissed-off mother, just like Ripley is a pissed-off mother protecting Newt. The metaphor isn't subtle, but it is very well done. And Sigourney Weaver is tremendous here, she really fucking is. She was so great that she got an Academy Award nomination for her performance. Yes, Weaver got nominated for a HORROR movie. Well, a horror/action/war film, but still. This might be her best performance ever, though Weaver has always had a very strong track record. You know, I've always complained about the Resident Evil movies being more action than horror. What I mean by that is that they sacrifice the horror elements, there's nothing even close to remotely scary about those movies, in order to make a, more marketable, violent action flick. But this film proves that you can make a movie that's equal parts horror and action. Again, the xenomorphs are still greatly designed, which means that they would scare people and there's plenty of shooting and explosions in the film to satisfy action fans. THIS is how you combine these two genres and I'm surprised that the Resident Evil film franchise has learned absolutely nothing from this flick. Don't know what else to say about this movie. The cast is full of memorable characters, great action and great in-your-face horror. The debate will always be whether Alien or this movie is better. And, to me, there's no real debate to be had. I think both movies are equally as great for completely different reasons. But I can sort of see how some people who loved the original flick might hate this. Same thing with people who liked this but hated the original. Though I don't know how you can like this movie without liking the original, it pretty much set the ground for the franchise. It's just a shame that it was downhill for the franchise from this point on. At least until Prometheus, which people loved and hated, but at least it took risks. I've got the other two films with Ripley on my DVR. I'll watch them eventually, but I certainly don't expect them to compare with the first two films. With that said, I pretty much loved this fucking movie from beginning to end. This, along with The Thing and Evil Dead 2, are some of my favorite horror films from this decade. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who hasn't seen it yet. Make sure you watch the original first, though. You don't really NEED to watch it, but it'd be a great idea watching them both back-to-back. Fucking great movie right here.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • May 17, 2017
    One of the reasons I'm still clinging onto hope that the Avatar franchise isn't a one-hit wonder is because James Cameron has proven how well he can build out a world in a sequel. He did it with Terminator and he certainly did it with Aliens. It's not only a great sci-fi thriller, but it's easily one of the greatest action films to date. With a much bigger budget and story, Aliens takes everything that was great with Alien, and doubles down on it. All while at the same time building his own world of Alien mythology that seems similar and different enough from Ridley Scott's film to succeed as a sequel and stand on its own. It's a hard thing to do, but amazingly Aliens does it. What's great about this adventure is that we know what to expect with the Xenomorphs. We know that these explorers and military personnel are in for a rude awakening when they reach the colony, but the film takes us on the journey anyway. Everything is avoidable, but yet, all of the character decisions feel logical anyway. It's pretty amazing what 7 years can do to special effects and production designs. While Alien was very contained and simplistic, Aliens is just the opposite, bold with a massive scope. It's a testament to making films with real effects and minimal green screen and CGI, because films (and these in particular) are always scarier and more thrilling when everything feels real. In fact, you feel like you're going on this journey right alongside the crew, experiencing each gun shot and face-hugging with them. In this regard, Aliens plays as both a harrowing western, and an electrifying video game for the audience. That speaks to Cameron's masterful directing. Cameron also manages to write and direct Ripley into one of the most recognizable action stars in film history. She wasn't granted a ton of action in the first film, and fittingly so, but Aliens turns a warrant officer into the queen of all things Xenomorphs. Which brings me to the theme of the film, which seems to be motherhood. It's a nice twist on gender stereotypes and harsh look into the struggle of a "woman's voice" in society. Ripley is questioned at every turn by most of the characters, even though she clearly has the most experience out of anyone. And I love how Cameron parallels Ripley with the "Alien Queen" at the end. Both of them trying their hardest to save their "children". Aliens, much like Alien, is the perfect example of how to max-out the quality of your film in every aspect. Everything from the intense score, the gorgeous production design, the endless tension, and unique and memorable performances. Aliens is quite simply, one of the greatest films ever made. +New take from Cameron +Tension +Ripley is now an action icon +Bigger scope 10/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Jun 22, 2016
    Amazing sequel to the original. Where the original was full of suspense, this film is full of action. In this film, Sigourney Weaver truly cements Lt Ellen Ripley as one of the all-time badass movie heroines. Classic performance by Bill Paxton as well. Revealing the Queen of the "alien hive" in this one was genius. Game over, man. Game over.
    Patrick W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 30, 2016
    While the sequel to 1979s "Alien" goes in a completely different direction than the original movie did, it's probably for the best. Where the first movie was a really good horror movie, this movie went in a completely different direction and became a really great action movie. Sigourney Weaver is the only returning cast member and makes her way all the way to the Academy Awards with her brilliant performance as a much more depressed Ellen Ripley. She also plays great off with the new cast, especially the young Newt, played by Carrie Henn. This movie just further proves that James Cameron can take every franchise he wants to and make it even more incredible than it already was.
    Lasse G Super Reviewer

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