Sequels are reupted for being some of the worst movies ever put on film - ultimately taste-less, style-less, and only created to bank in on the success of the first film... Aliens comes as a pleasant (albeit shocking) surprise, then, when it not only matches the first movie, but threatens it with its heightened horror, more elaborate scenes and settings and stunning directing and writing. It took long enough for Fox to green-light a sequel, and maybe it was this lengthy break from the original that allowed a sequel to be better and more thrilling than its predecessor.
Director James Cameron's clever interweaving of military-force drama, out-there science-fiction and unsettling horror makes for a very unique and exciting viewing. With Ripley stronger than ever, and set dead on eliminating the Alien race that killed her entire crew on the Nostromo, Aliens never lets up in its brilliance. Showing the same creative flare as the original, and including some breath-taking scenes that refuse to fade from the mind, this movie is something of a landmark in creative film-making.
An impressive thing about Aliens is James Horner's terrific score, which - although very different from the first movie's, which was far grittier - creates a similar type of atmosphere that was created in Alien, and was the first place ever for the nerve-juddering theme to be heard that has for years now been copied in endless other Horror movies (the latest is the trailer for Lake Placid).
The final show-down between Ripley and the Alien Queen is undoubtedly one of the best moments in the entire Alien series, and while it acts as a kind of homage to the ending of the original Alien, this is on a far grander scale. The Queen itself is as genious and horrifying as the Alien when we first saw it in the original, and adds an excellent backstory and chilling cohesion to what is an awe-inspiring killing machine.
Very different from the first movie, and yet still managing to capture all the horror and suspense expertly, Aliens must be one of the most impressive sequels - and stand-alone movies - to date. If you liked the first, you'll love this one.