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45. Aliens

"Get away from her you b*tch!"

The follow up to Ridley Scott's Alien, James Cameron brings this franchise into new territory, from a pure sci-fi horror flick to something bigger, and grander in scale. Aliens and Alien are both fantastic films and different ones and I think the better one comes down to taste. For me, Alien (which will appear on the list at some point) is the better film and Aliens is the more entertaining one.

I personally believe that James Cameron is a great director and he is at his best in the third acts of his films, perhaps better than anyone else is. This film is no different, with perhaps my favorite use of the chekhov's gun principle, in which something hinted at in the beginning of the film plays an integral part of the end of the film. In this case, I'm referring to the powerloader shown above which Ripley uses to fight the mother xenomorph at the end of the film, which is teased in the beginning of the film in what seems like a throwaway scene in which we see that Ripley is adept at using the powerloader. While you don't realize that this aspect of her character is important at first, when the film does come full circle and returns to that aspect, it's all the more fulfilling.

This film also does a good job of upping the ante over it's predecessor without a dramatic decrease in emotional resonance and overall quality, which is why it makes such a great sequel. It pushes the franchise forward and expands upon the original without losing track of the core elements that made the original film so great. It simply uses those elements (bad*ss female lead, cool monstrous alien(s), awesome atmosphere and set design in a very cool sci-fi future world, etc.) in a different way, allowing it to feel unique and still great in it's own right while still being a companion piece.

This is James Cameron in his prime working in his element in a fantastic sci-fi action film that is a great sequel that stand the test of time as well as stands up to the tremendous quality of the original film. It is an absolute classic.