Aliens (Director's Cut)
A couple of months ago, I wrote a less-than-flattering review of Alien. Many of the comments on that review suggested that I just didn't get the film, or was expecting it to be something it wasn't. Even more of them suggested that I take a look at the sequel, Aliens, to get more of what I was after.
And I did. Though I didn't love Aliens, I did prefer it greatly to its predecessor, and I very much preferred Ripley's expanded character in Aliens to her muted one in Alien.
A couple of weeks ago, Dan at Cinemathematics wrote a really interesting piece on "The Two Ripleys". Had I read this piece before I saw Aliens, I might have viewed it differently. I definitely agree with Dan's irritation that the Aliens Ripley puts mother-instincts before her own survival. I didn't need to see mama-Ripley. Personally, I get tired of action heroines having to be mothers (same thing irritated me about The Long Kiss Goodnight).
That being said, though, I don't agree with the rest of Dan's assessment. Mother figure or not, Ripley simply kicks more ass in Aliens than in Alien.
She's a civilian woman who takes over a military operation, makes plans to destroy many millions of dollars worth of the Company's stuff, and runs around shooting and blowing things up. She spends most of the movie in charge, pissed off, and fighting, rather than blathering about rules and regulations. I'm all for that. This Ripley isn't as goody-goody as the first film's character, and she's more likable and funnier that way.
As has been mentioned by others (including Dan), part of the change in Ripley's character between the two films is because Alien is more or less a horror movie, while Aliens is an action film. In the first film, there wasn't really sufficient room in the plot for Ripley to really shine as heroine, and in the second one, there is.
In Aliens, I finally saw the Ripley people are talking about when she comes to their mind after I explain to them what we're doing here at Heroine Content. Though not, in my mind, quite as perfect an HC poster girl as Tank Girl, who doesn't need a kid to inspire her, Ripley definitely takes a deserved place in the Hall of Fame beside The Long Kiss Goodnight's Samantha and T2's Sarah Connor. Four stars.