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This time it's war. 

Year: 1986 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by James Cameron 
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn  
An image from Aliens

One of the great sequel debates - only beaten by The Godfather perhaps - is around which film in the Alien franchise holds the crown: the original, or its bombastic sequel? Well, there is finally an opportunity to decide for yourself.

Ridley Scott’s original is a masterclass in low-key terror. Playing out like a slasher film in a vacuum, the suspense is held from the very first scenes. As the crew of a commercial space carrier answer a distress call, the planet they find is mysterious and beautiful: HR Giger’s cathedral-like sets remain influential. But after stumbling over some strange-looking eggs, there’s an attack and an alien infiltrates the ship; battling for survival with an array of devastating natural weaponry. The confidence and staging of each horror set-piece - not just the dinner table shocker - remains amazing.

Then, James Cameron came along for the follow-up with, as is his wont, a bombastic action spectacle. A returning character from Alien (no spoilers here!) is sent back to the same planet, despite warning of attack: surely nothing bad could happen? To up the stakes for the sequel, the new crew finds an alien queen who is determined to protect her colony, and as the tagline says “this time it’s war”. Equally thrilling, and a satisfying new direction for a franchise to take.

Max King

More than a half-century after the events of Alien, Warrant Officer Ripley - the sole survivor of the Nostromo - is discovered adrift in the shuttle she used to escape. By now, the Company - Ripley’s employer - has colonized the planet where the alien was found. Intent on covering up its illegal actions of years before, the Company strips Ripley of her flight officer’s license. But when transmissions from the colony stop without warning, she is called into action again - this time with a group of Space Marines. Now the alien menace is hundreds of times larger, more insidious, and all but invincible. The sole survivor of the Nostromo reenters a world of sudden, unspeakable horror - one that attacks without warning again and again and again.

The result is that Aliens, unlike many sequels, is not a disguised remake that rehashes scenes and ideas from the original; instead, it’s like an exorcism, a chance to turn the tables on the fear generated by the first film. Or in other words: that first Alien might have given you nightmares-but now, it’s payback time!

Cameron’s strength lies in solid storytelling in the muscular fashion that he stages the action, creating exciting thrills and intense suspense without ever descending into the mere mechanical. He treats the genre with respect, milking it for the elements that the audience wants to see, without pandering or dumbing down the material; the result is dramatically involving roller-coaster ride that appeals to a wide audience without skimping on the chills and thrills.

Victoria Galloway.

For Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) it has been 57 years since she tangled with the first alien aboard the starship Nostromo. Now she, the sole survivor (except for the cat - Jonesy!) is rescued after drifting in her escape capsule right across the system.

Much has changed since her disappearance, and now LV-426 is being terra-formed by a group of over 50 colonists and their families. Ripley, still suffering the traumatic after-effects of her ordeal, is requested to join a team of marines (the toughest hombres in the company) to go and find out why they have suddenly lost contact with LV-426. Are the marines good enough to face the massed assault of a whole colony of aliens, and what is the companies' interest in these perfect fighting creatures?

The film is packed full of action, suspense and brilliant acting, Hicks (Biehn) plays the marine hero, and equally as good is Bill Paxton, as the loudmouthed and comical Hudson. But it wouldn't be complete without the superb "artificial person" Bishop played superbly by Lance Henriksen.

However it is not all tough-talking hard-headed marines shooting off at every opportunity, we also have the quiet but intelligent Newt, a little girl who has survived in the colony for many months. The advantage of seeing it here on the big screen is that we will be showing it un-edited for anyone who had the misfortune of seeing the dubbed version on TV. This film is a real tribute to the direction of James Cameron (Terminator I & II), who manages a sequel to Ridley Scott's Alien, without trying to upstage it.


Fifty seven years after Ripley battled with one acid salivating beastie, the most unfortunate lady in the Universe returns to do battle with a whole army of the monsters. This being a James Cameron (The Terminator, True Lies) sequel Ripley is now packing a lot more in the way of firepower, eschewing skimpy underwear in favour of a pulse rifle and a flame thrower large enough to compliment her rather pissed off attitude.

Aliens is one of those rare sequels that expands and improves upon the original film (sorry Mark, don't hate me!!!). Cameron steers clear of a mere remake of Alien and rejects the visual beauty of that film in favour of all out action and sheer gut wrenching suspense. Aliens is, however, not just a guns and wisecracks fest (although there is plenty of both). The character of Ripley is developed through her relationship with orphaned colony survivor Newt (Carrie Henn) their friendship providing a resonance and balance to the fury of the action. The Colonial Marines who accompany Ripley are fully fleshed out characters, as opposed to being mere Alien fodder. Hudson (Bill Paxton) and Vasquez (Jeanette Goldstein) standing out as memorable reversals of the stereotypical science fiction roles.

Cameron manages to draw out the suspense to an almost unbearable height, beginning the film relatively slowly and ensuring that, by the conclusion, the audience has chewed down to the quick of their nails and enjoyed the ride of their lives.

In a genre renowned for screaming bimbos occupying the female roles, Aliens is a true standout. Weaver is thoroughly convincing in her portrayal of a woman who has journeyed to hell and back,and is not at all enthusiastic to take the trip again. She is more than complimented by Carrie Henn whose silent, resourceful Newt provides an amusing contrast to the hysterical ravings of supposed tough guy, Hudson.

With special effects that would put Jurassic Park to shame (and an Alien Queen that would knock seven bells out of that movie's T-Rex), quotable lines galore and the opportunity to see Ms Weaver wielding more hardware than Arnie, Aliens is a genuine must-see.


Aliens is the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic Alien, although Aliens is a complete film in itself. Mainly because the only characters to survive the first film are Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and the ships cat.

The story begins with Ripley being rescued from the escape pod we left her in, only to be told that she has been drifting in space for 57 years and much has changed. She finds she has lost her job, she has no surviving family or friends and when she tries to tell them of her previous encounter with H.R.Geigers perfect predator she’s told she’s crazy as well. That is until contact is lost with a mining colony, which has been built on the planet where Ripleys ship picked up its unwanted passenger. All of a sudden they start to take her seriously and, having nothing better to do than talk to her cat, she agrees to join an elite task force sent to investigate.

Arriving at the planet they discover that most of the colonists are dead or are being used as hosts to breed more aliens. With the sole exception of a little girl called Newt (Carrie Henn) who has managed to hide in the pipes of the refinery. Soon afterwards the Marines have their first encounter with their alien foe and despite their superior weapons and badass attitudes lose most of their men, leaving the survivors to realise “We just got our asses kicked!”. Stranded on the planet with aliens all around them, what should have been a bug-hunting trip becomes a fight for survival. When their incompetent commander cracks under pressure, Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn, Kyle Reese in Terminator) is left in charge of getting everyone out alive.

Unlike the first film, which was edgy and full of suspense, this is a Vietnam war movie in space. Superior weaponry defeated by an unseen enemy and ‘The Company’ working to its own agenda in the background.

This is definitely not a ‘Chick Flick’ but its also not only boys with toys. Sigourney is superb in her roles as both no nonsense feminist and caring mother figure to her adopted daughter Newt. Who she risks her life to save in the ultimate bitch fight of all time against the alien queen. Newt, Bishop(Lance Henrickson), an android who through his self-sacrifice proves to be more human than most, and Hicks support Ripleys character brilliantly. This film sees the transition of Ripley the loner to a more complex character, who finds in her companions a kind of family. Bill Paxton provides some comic relief as Private Hudson, an all talk no action coward who ultimately proves himself in the end.

Aliens is a masterpiece of filmmaking and along with the first film defines the alien genre. It’s rare for a sequel to be as good as the original but Aliens is one of the few exceptions.

Joseph Peel.

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Screenings of this film:

1992/1993 Spring Term (35mm)
2001/2002 Spring Term (35mm)
2006/2007 Autumn Term (70mm)
2009/2010 Autumn Term (70mm)
2016/2017 Spring Term (digital)
2022/2023 Autumn Term (35mm)