is one of the few cases of a sequel that far surpassed the original. Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley, who awakens on Earth only to discover that she has been hibernating in space so long that everyone she knows is dead. Then she is talked into traveling (along with a squad of Marines) to a planet under assault by the same aliens that nearly killed her. Once she gets there, she finds a lost little girl who triggers her maternal instincts--and she discovers that the company has once again double-crossed her, in hopes of capturing one of the aliens to study as a military weapon. Directed and written by James Cameron, this is one of the most intensely exciting (not to mention intensely frightening) action films ever, with a large ensemble cast that includes Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser, and Michael Biehn. Weaver defined the action woman in this film and walked away with an Oscar nomination for her trouble. --Marshall Fine
The Director's Cut of Aliens
includes 17 minutes of bonus footage. The added scenes are intermittently spread out through the film, fleshing out certain characters and plot. Included is a much-needed explanation of what happened to the colony, LV-426 (the decimated planetary outpost the Space Marines are sent to). In addition, there is more focus on the emotional state of Ripley (Signourey Weaver) after she is awoken following 60 years of space hibernation--only to find that all the people she once loved have since passed on. This in turn clarifies the strong bond between the little girl (Newt) and Ripley, which is highly relevant to the climactic showdown between the two mothers (Ripley as Newt's surrogate parent, and the alien queen as maternal protector).