While its predecessor, the seminal sci-fi smash Alien, is rather more revered, its progeny took more pronounced strides in the man-tastic arena. (If the original took cautious steps across the beach, mortally phobic of medical waste and suchlike, Aliens vaulted into a colossal mech and dashed betwixt the topless women and stealthy sunglasses oglers -perpetrating a ruse that still deceives nobody, ever- with gleeful abandon. There were Godzilla-aping reverberating steps and a plaintive cry of “I FEAR YOU NOT, DISEASED HYPODERMIC NEEDLES!” from director James Cameron, and a great family funtime suntime day was had by all.) To curtail the crazy, it was the paradigm shift from all-pervading horror to balls-out action -featuring obscene weaponry akin to such ballistics Arnold Shwarzenegger surely keeps ensconced under his pillow lest prowlers attempt to steal his heroic biceps as he sleeps- that defined the sequel. It also lent some novel nuances to the genre, as we’ll see.
Aliens presents an encore performance from Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, the single survivor of the conflagration of the Nostromo. She drifted through the tenebrous Sodom of space in ‘hypersleep’ for fifty-seven years (yet retains a perfect proportion of perkiness), until improbable liberation and some ballache with horrific eighties hair named Burke finds her in another confounding conundrum. LV-426, the planet from the first movie, is now colonized, and communication with its denizens were recently curtailed unceremoniously. In lieu of dispatching a sweaty fatass I.T guy to hit control-alt-delete on their PC, the authorities deign to propel a ball-busting aggregation of space marines planet-ward, abetted by a coerced Ripley as adviser. Their inexorable passage toward a xenomorph-infused shitstorm, and the resultant ravaging, is akin to a rather more astute, futuristic Predator; sans inexplicable extraterrestrial dreadlocks and the quip-tastic wonderment of monotone maestro Schwarzenegger.
It’s a veritable action movie masterclass. Visceral (and viscera-dripping) set-pieces, entrenched firefight fisticuffs between one of cinema’s most eulogized antagonists and marines with muscles on the muscles on their muscles finds Aliens safely ensconced in a familiar, formidable milieu. These guys have scarcely scratched their balls upon awakening from stasis before poontang banter begins (indeed Sergeant Apone hadn’t achieved verticality before that heroic cigar was inserted betwixt his teeth), and the jovial dialogue, international language of badassery, is but par for the course here. (“Alright, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed?”) There’s copious my ballistics are larger than your ballistics willy-waving, a wanton portion of bravado, and SEVERAL THINGS EXPLODE IN A VOCIFEROUS MANNER. Combined with the more insidious menace represented here, and the ethical implications, it’s a distinguished offering in the man-movie pantheon.
This effect is exacerbated by the prominent role of women. Vasquez, the female of the marine species, flaunts (allegorical) cannonball cojones tantamount to any of the squad’s dude-ery. With an excess of bravado and nary an inkling of subservience to her counterparts with dangling-parts (“Hey, Vasquez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?” “No, have you?”), she’s a fine bastion of the notion that you can be sexy and/or booby and retain a full complement of ass-whomping capabilities. Perhaps Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise et al could be informed of this. There’s still time for Mission Impossible V: Mad Midget Ethan Hunt Shoots Shit RIGHT UP in Lingerie/Ball-bulge Speedos to come to fruition.
Most pertinent in this regard, naturellement, is Ripley’s own contribution to proceedings. We'll concede, she resembles a first grade teacher we once had. There's the caveat, though, that while not a soldier, a fleeting moment of dicking around with a rifle suffices to metamorphose her into the Terminator. At the denouement, when the squad survivor is taking a casual nap while safely ensconced in the ship with his teddy bear, Mr. Waggles (to the best of our recollection, let’s not get pernickety about extraneous details), she returns to the nest to burn the nuts of the alien queen and her ghastly excess of cohorts. The final encounter, comprising a preposterous farcical fray betwixt queen and cargo-loading exo-suit, is a remarkable sight. Ripley demonstrates a burgeoning maternal relationship with the colony’s singular survivor, a young girl with the moniker 'Newt,’ in tandem with a tenacity that is all too scarce amongst the genre’s womenfolk. Egotastic! will always earnestly extol the virtues of hot moms that kick ass, and as such Aliens is at the forefront of our fundamental man-movie selection.
For more xeno-infused reminiscence, hit the gallery.