41 years ago today Ridley Scott’s Alien made its theatrical debut in the US. The sequel, Aliens, brought fame to James Cameron seven years later through a very different style of film. Both have their merits, but in the battle of Alien vs Aliens, which is your favourite?
The original Alien delivered a sci-fi horror experience unlike any before it. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and her crew of seven undesirables are travelling back to Earth aboard the commercial space tug Nostromo. The entire crew is in stasis for the journey. However, upon detecting a transmission from nearby moon LV-426, the ship’s computer, Mother, awakens the crew. They discover the signal comes from a derelict alien ship and proceed to investigate.
You could say that this was enough bad decisions for the beginning of a movie already. However, things get even worse when one of the crew finds a nest of eggs. Upon touching one has a parasite leap from it and attach itself to his face. Furthermore, the rest of the crew then decide to bring him back aboard the Nostromo, parasite and all. Now, I’ve never travelled in space, but I’m sure I’d recognise the signs of a hostile alien encounter if they happened like this.
Given the infamy of the film it seems unwarranted to continue retelling the plot, however the original Alien movie established two core characters that have remained in place for more than 40 years. Ripley and the alien species, the Xenomorph, have been cemented in sci-fi culture forever..
The direct sequel to Alien, Aliens, arrived seven years later, and brought with it a completely different atmosphere. The original was about a single stalking predator; a psychological horror as much as it was a visceral one. The second film, as the plurality of the title suggests, was not about a single enemy but an entire horde of Xenomorphs.
After being kept in stasis for 57 years, Ripley, somehow, is convinced to follow-up on her previous encounter by returning to LV-426. A mining colony was established on the moon and suddenly all communication had been lost, so Ripley is asked to return and offer guidance on how to deal with any potential threat, given her earlier encounter. Yet again, Ripley and her crew begin with the bad decisions…
Aliens is a straight-up action film. There are some elements of horror, but the engagement most definitely relies on more of everything – more guys to kill, more guns to fire, more aliens on the attack. The aggression of the adversaries is turned up to 10 also; no longer willing to lie in wait, the Xenomorphs flood down corridors and air shafts in pursuit of their prey.
Aliens may not have delivered two genre defining characters, but it did gift us with two of the most famous lines of dialogue ever spouted in an action movie: the late Bill Paxton’s Pvt. Hudson after the first Xenomorph encounter, “Game over man, game over!”, and Ripley’s empowering attack on the Xenomorph Queen: “Get away from her you b*tch!”
Some argue that Aliens marks the point where the franchise lost its brain, opting for violence over suspense. However, it’s the ability of the series to challenge preconceived notions that arguably makes Alien still worthy of your time investment to this day.
Alien vs Aliens – Which is Your Favourite?
So, after a brief recap of two of the most important sci-fi films of all time, which is your favourite? Alien vs Aliens – you only get one vote, and now is your chance to have your voice heard!
The Future of Alien (It’s not Alien vs. Predator)
Ignoring the Alien vs. Predator spin-offs, which held so much promise but delivered so little, the future of the Alien franchise is up-in-the-air right now. The prequel trilogy which began with Prometheus managed to tie some strings together in Alien Covenant. However, unlike the Star Wars prequel trilogy – the model the franchise was obviously copying – Alien doesn’t have a blank cheque runway and the reported poor box office performance of Alien Covenant means that we may never truly connect the dots. Exactly what will come next is a mystery at this point; much like that original Alien movie, we’re all being kept in suspense right now.