Aliens is a personal favorite film and mine and has had a huge impact on both the genre and the way I watch and enjoy film.
Directed by James Cameron Aliens follows the end of Ridley Scott's original movie "Alien" and See's the return of Sigorny Weavers character "Ellen Ripley", Ripley is rescued following her ordeal at the hand of a single 'Alien' during the first film and subjected to questioning by bureaucrats who are less than willing to believe her story, but all is not well in Futureland as some unfortunate scavengers accidental stumble upon the ship and awaken the creepy crawlies within which soon descend upon a terraforming station that has been set up on the planet. So as Ripley is the only person with any idea of whats going on, she is sent in with a squad of colonial Marines to clean up the mess.
The story is strong throughout the film and unlike many of today's horror/action films doesn't collapse in the third act. The strength of the plot comes from the films underlying themes such as the theme of motherhood apparent through the relationship between the characters of Ripley and Newt and the way in which they grow to care for one another after the loss of their own daughter/mother. This theme is paralleled by the inclusion of the Alien queen (which also fills in several gaps about the aliens life cycle) mother to the Xeno's(Aliens) and the first alien creature in to be shown to actually care about the others.
Another obvious theme throughout this movie is the chin of command in the army, this is more obvious in the scene in which the Lieutenant loses all control of the situation and has to listen to his marines die in combat while he sits safely in site a command vehicle, reminiscent of the soldiers that would die in the trenches in World War 1 while their commanders sat safely in their bunkers miles away.
A few actors that are worthy of special mention ( I know that Sigorny Weaver is brilliant as Ellen Ripley, but i like to focus on some of the lesser seen characters)
Michael Biehn is as impressive as ever as 'Corporal Hicks' who is forced to take command of the situation after everyone else starts to snuff it. Biehn is able to brilliantly portray Hicks as a man who is simply trying to the best he can in a situation that's beyond his control. A favorite actor of mine Bill Paxton makes an appearance as 'Private Hudson' who portrays a strong sense of panic throughout the film as the situation worsens and worsens, and a final mention for Paul Reiser as 'Carter J. Burke' a slimy money grabbing back stabber, who up to half way through the film has you thinking that he's actually a nice guy, its been too long since I have last seen a corporate money grabber in a movie and not been able to notice that he's only out for himself, These days all 'money grabbers are to obvious and you can see them coming a mile off, but not Burke.
The movie Aliens is one of the few films that can be classed as successful sequels and along with films like 'Terminator 2' (another Cameron masterpiece) the reason for its success is simple - the film changes just enough about the first one to take the film in a new direction in order to make the film feel new and refreshing while at the same time not alienating the fans of the original or damage the universe created by the original.
In order to do this Aliens uses a change in genre, taking the series away from its Claustrophobic horror roots and turns the series in an action/adventure movie with horror elements, this was wise as if the series had kept with the same genre the inclusions of more Xeno's (Aliens) would have only served to lessen the dramatic impact that held on screen and the attempted to recreate elements of the original film would have simply seemed like a attempt at rehashing of the original;
I am happy to say that this is not the case with this movie , and what's more is that the opposite is apparent as the change in genre and direction allowed the series to grow, this could go on to explain why the following sequels were less successful, but frankly I have no desire to go into detail regarding the follow up films and the terrible Aliens vs Predator movies in which Paul W S Anderson attempts to butcher two more of my favorite film series.
The Alien special effects in this film are created by a long time personal hero of mine Stan Winston, a god of special effects and as such despite the film being made in 1986 it still has some incredible effects even by today's standards. One of the most interesting things about this film is that despite suggesting that there may be anything between hundreds to thousands of Xeno's you only ever see up to eight on screen at once; this is do to the fact that the budget only permitted there to be eight suits made, but the way in which the film is shot and only showing eight at a time leaves the audience unsure about how many aliens are actually present.
So in summation Aliens is an incredible film and I strongly recommend Aliens to any one out there who is yet to see it yet.