Another sci-fi/horror, although Aliens is more horror than its prequel, because its plot echoes one of the best sci-fi/horror films of the 1950s– Them! An insectoid menace, a little girl who is the the lone survivor of the initial carnage, and the need to destroy the queen before all is lost… these are all details shared by the two movies, although there are, of course, many significant differences.
Aliens(1986) opens 57 years after the events of Alien when Ripley(Sigourney Weaver) is brought out of hypersleep, her shuttle having drifted through space all that time. No one believes her story about what happened to her fellow crew members on the Nostromo, and she is demoted down to forklift operator. However, the planet where all the trouble started has been terraformed and colonized, although suddenly all contact is lost. The Company now begins to believe Ripley and asks her to join the rescue mission, made up of a group of maladjusted, misfit space-marines and the corporate bastard Burke. Landing, they discover the little girl, Newt, whose father was the first casualty of the alien outbreak. With an alien for each member of the colony, and an egg-laying queen, not to mention that the whole place is undermined by a nuclear reactor, the plan quickly melts down.
Tension surrounds Ripley’s character from the moment she wakes up. She has to prove that she’s not crazy and acted to the best of her abilities on the Nostromo. Due to the crisis on the colony, the only way to do that is to confront her nightmares head on– not usually a situation female characters are seen in. She also has to constantly deal with the space marines and Burke overriding and belittling her out of sexism, the fact that she’s a civilian, the fact that she’s the crazy Alien lady… you could make an argument for each or agree that it’s a combination of all three. When Gorman panics, she assumes command of the team, using her expertise and leadership to prevent a bigger crisis. And she rises to it all, even taking Newt under her wing, inverting the usual trope that tough women don’t have a tender side. She even learns that androids can be good. We need more characters like her, and no, I don’t mean Avatar.