Of course, this one just had to follow. Alien proved such a monumental success that a sequel seemed inevitable. This time, it’s James Cameron at the helm, at the time a rather inexperienced director who still managed to make quite the name for himself with his previous film The Terminator. Handed the keys to the Alien sequel, Cameron lays his own plaster on the walls of the franchise while still keeping the story grounded, albeit grounded to a floating island high up in the clouds.
Under Cameron’s helm, the film takes on a much more science-fiction feel to it than its predecessor. This is an action-oriented film rather than a mood-oriented one like the first, and there is plenty to be had. Not that this completely disconnects from the first; once we get back to the original planet and the derelict colony, the film’s mood seems very reminiscent of Ridley Scott’s vision. Cameron’s films up to this point had been decidedly dark in visual aesthetic, which made him perfectly suited to taking over the direction of the Alien sequel. Cameron juggles so many elements in the making of this film, and he handles the whole thing with aplomb; everything is where it needs to be, and everything perfectly meshes together into one hell of a working machine.
Everyone involved has upped the ante, including Sigourney Weaver, who got an Oscar nom for this film, and the supporting players, including Cameron regular Michael Biehn and a hilariously macho Bill Paxton, fill the film out with plenty of material to keep it going. The film strays into somewhat campy moments on occasion, much like Terminator did, but again, it seems to work given the context of the film. The film, like Terminator, seems a tad dated, but much of the film is otherwise plenty up to par given today’s standards. I’m not really sure how to recommend this one to fans of the original. It’s such a different film, and yet fans will undoubtedly want to see it (if they haven’t already). Am I not going to recommend it just because it is so different? Absolutely not; this is a must see either way you put it. Just be aware of what you’re gonna get going into it, and you’ll walk away plenty pleased.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10