Six years had passed since Ridley Scott released the enigmatic, lurking sci/fi-mystery, Alien when James Cameron, fresh off from the success of The Terminator, reprises the creature and the heroine, but certainly not the atmosphere of Scott's film. Aliens is a far more noisy, rough-edged and relentless film that behaves a lot more like a war movie than a science fiction film when Cameron lays his foundation early on. He is in a hurry dealing with 'the return of Ripley', and the first part of the film suffers from it. Her motivation isn't justified well enough, and what with her age? Or her remarkable story? Or her position as a veteran captain? Nobody seems to take notice or care. Instead, people around her are more occupied with being the toughest marine, delivering the lamest of sayings or being as selfish as possible. Not for the first (or last) time does Cameron write a handful of pathetic stereotypes that are about to ruin the fun with some of the worst dialogue you'll find in movies.
But then Cameron's immaculate gift for creating fast-paced, well-adjusted, nail-biting action elevates the film from dreary drama to first class thriller. There is no let-up as Ripley starts taking over and Cameron's script becomes gradually more clever. The alien itself has been wisely kept more or less the same as in Scott's film, but there's an impressive sequence involving a queen alien, and the film thrives from the fact that the filmmakers don't try to overrate its monsters. They are simple but forceful creatures whose only purpose is to find a way to live and breed. Their nature isn't scary per se, but the combat they indulge in becomes as exciting and suspenseful as anything you'll see in this genre. Cameron keeps his production tight and on the money, and Aliens is another testimony to the fact that the Canadian director fares better with machines than with humans. It isn't elegant, but it is shamelessly effective.