Aliens (James Cameron, 1986)
I may as well, be one of James Cameron's furiest detractors, I must admit that I had some fun way back watching True Lies and the first two Terminators. I should also say that I've never imposed to myself the torture of Titanic and Avatar, yet. I know, as a cinephile I should have seen those mainstream extravaganzas. For both, I don't really have the interest of watching them and having heard so much from them that this is sure I will get bored and predict every moment of them. But, one day, after I'll have seen all the Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Jean-Luc Godard, and all the other filmmaker's films I have deep interest in I will have to see Cameron's movies.
I think I took one good step by watching one of his films I had most interest in and that was from his pre-extravaganza period: Aliens. The Alien franchise is a particular one, starting with Ridley Scott's masterpiece and passing by the hands of James Cameron, David Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, not bad. Another interesting point here the protagonist of the franchise, Ripley is woman portrayed by Sigourney Weaver, for a Sci-Fi/horror series of films this is uncommon but it is so right! Weaver has so much guts that I would not want to see anyone else as Ripley. It was probably one of the first times that horror met Science-fiction and action films. Ridley Scott's film, Alien, has a particular atmosphere that only this mix of genre could have create. He invented a new genre and he brought to the screen one of the best cult franchise. Everything about it feels right. On the other side, its follow up, Aliens directed by James Cameron is really not directed by Ridley Scott.
First of all, the story has so many stereotypes that even the worst of Steven Segal's flick seems liberal. The characters are tools for the plot, even if we know that they're all gonna die we like to watch actual human beings on the screen, I guess. The dialogues are stupid and the only interesting relationship is the one between Ripley and Newt (the little girl). Even if it's cheesy as cheese, it was interesting to see Ripley have maternal feelings and care for another human being in the movie. I think what was really strong in the 1979 Alien was that horror was the main centerpiece of the story. In the 1986 edition, it's action that is "au rendez-vous" and besides big explosions and many gun fights with the aliens the atmosphere of Scott's film never shows up.
On the other hand, James Cameron shot the action sequences with the time's best visual effects and the aliens are more disgusting than ever. One thing I guess Cameron knows how to do well is to shot action sequences that we feel we are taken inside the battle... One of the good things I liked about Aliens (1986) was that it made me like even more Alien (1979). Well, this may not be a good thing after all for Cameron's Aliens...