Whenever you hear about James Cameron, it’s generally about what an arrogant prick he is. I admit that his acceptance speeches don’t advantage him, but since I don’t know him personally, I can’t say if he’s a good guy or not. What I do know is that he’s one of the most brilliant craftsmen in Hollywood. You could say that his talent is mostly in FX, but it goes deeper than this.
Cameron has a skill at shooting, editing, pacing and scoring everything so it really gets under your skin. Very few filmmakers can work their audiences that finely. His films usually start out rather quietly, as we get to know a bunch of characters and involve ourselves in the plot. Then Cameron starts building tension, making the film more and more intense until you’re literally on the edge of your seat, and he keeps throwing more shit at you even when you think he’s done!
That’s what I love about Cameron’s work: no matter your expectations, he achieves to win you over and make you submit to the wild ride he’s got cooked up. You’re so excited that you completely lose your notion of time; at 3h14, “Titanic” is still more exciting than many 90 minute movies!
“Aliens” is probably the picture in which this is the most obvious because there’s barely any story, just pure action thrills. This is one of these rare sequels that totally outdo the original. In Ridley Scott’s film, you had a group of scientists on a mission on an uncivilized planet who came across a fierce alien creature who killed them one by one, until it got its gooey ass kicked by one tough broad, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver).
In the sequel, Cameron takes these two awesome characters (the babe and the beast), and then he adds a dozen ultra-macho Marines (Michael Biehn, Jenette Goldstein, Bill Paxton, Al Matthews, Lance Henriksen, etc.) and a whole fucking lot more aliens! The film is set 57 years after the original, as Ripley is recovered by a corporate asshole (Paul Reiser). Unaware of what the scientists discovered in the meantime, he sent people to colonize the planet. Their station doesn’t respond, so he asks Ripley to go back with him and a troop of Marines to see what happened. The place they find is real hell: aliens have slaughtered the humans and taken over. Only a little girl, Newt (Carrie Henn), has survived. It’s up to the Marines and mostly Ripley to get back at these damn dirty aliens…
You really have to see “Aliens” to understand how much ass it really kicks. How can I put into words the terrifying atmosphere, the in-your-face violence or the nerve-wrecking suspense of the film ? This is truly one of the most frightening films I’ve ever seen.
And of course, the Alien series belong to Sigourney Weaver, arguably the toughest gal in Hollywood. Like a Schwarzenegger with boobs, her Ripley is a sympathetic yet take-no-shit chick who ain’t afraid to take action. Weaver really has a strong on-screen presence. Next to her, even these razor-toothed, acid-filled scumbags don’t stand a chance!