I hope everyone enjoyed the look into Alien and our favorite crew of Space Truckers. Now it’s time to move on to one of the best movie sequels in movie history. After changing the game with Alien, the odds of a sequel doing the same were probably unthinkable. James Cameron pulled it off. Not only did he hit a home run, he flipped the bat, admired it, and took a slow jog around the bases.
One of the reasons ALIENS was so memorable? The Colonial Marines. Fans are STILL clamoring for the return, and who could blame them? Countless classic moments, infamous banter, and hilarious one liners. Aliens holds a special place in my heart, as without a random viewing of it on television I’m not the fan I am today.
As a kid, I’d dream of being a Colonial Marine fighting off Xenomorphs. It has not happened yet, but I’m still holding out hope. This was the film that set Ripley as the penultimate heroine, but without the support of the Marines there is a good chance she does not stand out like she does. As Hicks says, “Let’s see what we can see…”
Corporal Dwayne Hicks: Michael Biehn. Need a reluctant hero? Call on him! Biehn was a James Cameron favorite and an actor I that I’ll never understand why he wasn’t called on for more action movies. He plays this role to absolute perfection. After watching ALIENS, I’ll run through a wall for the Corporal. You can tell his fellow Marines respect him and stick by him no matter what. Always the first to do what is necessary, like diving through a window to help out Ripley and Newt and peaking through the ceiling tiles knowing very well a horde of bugs is probably waiting for him, Hicks is the right hand man we all need.
Best kill: APC door, as the xeno tries to pry it’s way in.
Best Line: “I like to keep this handy…for close encounters”.
So, after watching Aliens more times then I can count, I noticed for the first time as I write this that Hicks does indeed use the shotgun for a close encounter. I’ll be damned.
Private Hudson: Arguably the most memorable of the entire outfit, Bill Paxton completely and utterly owned this role. He was Hudson. He was a Marine in over his head, who just wanted to go home and end his tour. Hicks may have been the bravest, Vasquez the most badass, but Hudson was probably the most relatable. Hudson, more or less was Lambert with a pulse rifle. He had your back, but was scared shitless of the bugs running around outside. And could you blame him? But if you gave him something to do, he was laser focused. When Hicks ordered him to gather blueprints and secure the perimeter, he was on it.
Best kill: Killing a couple as he’s getting dragged under.
Best Line : “Game over man, game over!”
Private Vasquez: Folks, this is how you write a female character. There is a ton of wonderful emporment going these days, which is fantastic but it too often comes as forced. Vasquez is a badass, plain and simple. The attitude, the gun, the outfit. Don’t fuck with her. She, along with Drake are the tanks of the group armed and ready to take on anything. From the beginning you can tell she’s saved everyone’s ass more than a few times.
Best kill: In the vent, taking one down with a handgun.
Best line: “I just need to one thing…where…they…are”
Private Drake: It’s only natural that Drake follows up the profile on Vasquez. What a team these two were. Two well-oiled combat machines who obviously had been through the shit together. There seems to be a wink to the audience that perhaps they were more than bunk buddies. Drake and Vas together are a supporting character unto themselves, functioning as one complete badass. He fought his way through the Hive with no fear,even running out of ammo he threw off his gear off, switched weapons and kept at it. This is the Drake people should be looking up to in my opinion.
Best line: “Hey Hicks. Man, you look just like I feel”
Best kill: Letting loose with the smart gun then flamethrower while attempting escape
Lieutenant Gorman: Oh Gorman, someone was in a bit over his head it seemed eh? Gorman is proof positive that no amount of proper training prepares you for real life. Gorman was probably tops in his class, but wide eyed and clueless once the dirt hit the road. He seemed more willing to listen to Burke, which opens another can of worms. Was Gorman a Weyland-Yutani plant? Did they purposely put Gorman into a position to fail so Burke can make sure his mission succeeds? But what made Gorman interesting was that after getting his ass kicked he learned from it. Failure set him straight. After the disaster in processing station, he was ready to fall back and do what needs to be done. A nice little character arc.
Best line: “uhh 38..simulated”
Best kill: Sacrificing himself with Vasquez in the vent.
Junior Executive Carter J. Burke: Burke embodies Weyland-Yutani : He will do whatever it takes to see that they succeed, he is ambitious, creative, and career driven. One can argue Burke is the human embodiment of Ash. He risked his life to go on a mission he had no training for just to see if the Xenomorphs were real. And if they were, to ensure that a sample came home to the Bioweapons division. Marines Expendable. Much like in Alien, and later in Alien 3 these movies show us that humans and corporations are just as evil as the creature itself. Just a fantastic character that lets us fans go wild with speculation.
Best line: “Maybe we can build a campfire, sing a few songs!”
Best kill: Getting killed, all hail that one Xenomorph in particular!
Science Officer Bishop: Another android Science Officer?! Ut oh. That little touch was brilliant on the part of Cameron. After the treachery of Ash, we are inherently questioning every little action of Bishop’s. Is he really there to assist the crew? Boy, Bishop is extremely interested in that dead facehugger. Why is that?! Even now, there are fan theories abound that he placed the Magic Egg aboard the Sulaco in Alien 3 on Company Orders. Bishop was beautifully played by Lance Henrisen, perfect blend of human and synthetic. You cared for him when he crawling through the vents, when the Queen (by the way it took me years to realize Queen took Bishop. Ha.) ripped him in half.
Best line: “Not bad…for a human”
Best catch: Snagging Newt as she was flying into the abyss.
Hide and Seek Champion Rebecca “Newt” Jorden: The emotional growth of Ripley from Warrant Officer to the heroine we know now is largely in part due to Newt. After finding out her daughter passed away, Ripley had nothing. The only thing she knows now is the Alien. Upon rescuing Newt, she finds something to hold on to. Ripley finds a reason to fight and engage with her own humanity.
Not only a winner of the second grade citizenship award, but Newt is a survivor. Despite her family dying (and being partly responsible for the outbreak), and the entire colony she managed to survive. No weapons and no training. That is one tough little girl. The bond she has with Ripley is strong as the secreted resin the Aliens use to prop up their victims. Both characters ended up saving each other. Ripley just used a bit more ammo.
Best line: “They mostly come out at night, mostly”
Best moment: showing off her hiding skills when avoiding the Queen.
Private Frost: I always had a soft spot for his charater, I can not explain why. To me, the movie seemed to paint Frost and Hicks as good friends. Maybe they went through Basic together, and saved each other’s ass multiple times after. Again, it goes to show how well written Aliens is. Frost could easily be written as a throwaway character, but ends up being memorable. The mess hall scene sets the whole stage for that.
Best line “What the hell we supposed to use man, harsh language?”
Sergant Apone: Every Marine Corp needs a memorable leader, and Apone is that. What helped make Al Matthew’s performance so memorable is that he was a legit Sergant in the United States Marine. Now that is badass. You could feel the commanding presence in every scene he is in, only adding to the movie’s military atmosphere. If you’ve played Halo, Sergant Avery Johnson is clearly inspired by Apone. I wonder if they were San Antonio Spurs fans too.
Best line: “Look into my eye…”
Corporal Fero/Corporal Dietrich: Nowadays, fans would be overanalyzing that Fero and Dietrich are genre defying roles. Fero as the female pilot and Dietrich as the grunt. What makes the first two Alien movies so fantastic, is that they are just people doing their jobs. Fero is a no fear pilot (with great sunglasses) who just happens to be female. But these are the types people we connect with. It’s why most of us connect with these movies. Just everyday people getting into shit situations.
Private Spunkmeyer/Crowe/Wierzbowski: Even these background characters stand out. Once again, another testament to how deftly made this movie is. We are now almost a dozen characters deep and still finding characters to talk about. Even the Xenomorph fodder is developed enough where you give a shit. You remember their names, which is something that becomes an issue in later movies.
That was both fun and exhausting to write. As you can tell, Aliens hit the mark when it came to supporting characters. The attention to detail is staggering, and you can dig even further by exploring what is in their lockers and written on their armor. It is endless. There is a reasons this is regarded in the pantheons of science fiction. For many of us, this was the movie that kickstarted an obsession. Looking forward to hearing some feedback and you know the drill Marines..stay frosty..