Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The screening on Wednesday, May 17 at 7:00 PM will be followed by a book signing and conversation between critic Matt Zoller Seitz and author Sarah Welch-Larson, author of Becoming Alien.


“There’s a widely circulated story about how James Cameron pitched his sequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien. He wrote the title “Alien” on a white board, looked meaningfully over at the executives in the room, then added an “s” to the end of the title and drew a vertical line through it, turning the plural into a dollar sign and implying that his movie would essentially print money for 20th Century Fox. The story is apocryphal, but the lesson Hollywood learned from James Cameron’s Aliens is anything but. Sequels don’t simply tack on more story to the plot of their predecessor: they must also deliver more of the same thing that made the first film so successful. Ridley Scott’s Alien capitalizes on the creeping dread of its titular monster. Cameron’s Aliens multiplies the monsters until they’re literally oozing out of the walls.


Luckily, Aliens isn’t just interested in compounding the threat and calling it a day. Cameron’s film adds flesh to the sketched-out world of Alien invented by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shussett. It gives a face to The Company in the form of Paul Reiser’s Burke, playing an oily corporate executive incapable of seeing the equipment and people around him as anything more than dollar signs. Aliens might have traded in the late-70s paranoia of its predecessor for the musclebound action of its contemporaries, but the film also carries hidden in its chest a powerful dislike for cold-blooded capitalism. Aliens takes the mission and ethos of its Colonial Marines (rounded out by Al Matthews, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Jenette Goldstein) with the same suspicion that Ripley does. It’s both a rip-roaring maximalist action movie and a critique of the forces that made movies like it possible in the first place.


Aliens is also a love story. Not a romantic one—although Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn) do get the chance to flirt with each other as they prepare to fight the aliens during some much-needed downtime—but a parental one. Ripley, the sole survivor of her previous encounter with the aliens, forms a bond with Newt (Carrie Henn), the sole survivor of her own alien encounter. The most memorable scene of the film features Ripley staring down the Alien Queen with Newt in her arms: two mothers, fighting for the survival of their children.” —Sarah Welch-Larson, author of Becoming Alien

Presented as part of the series Movies with MZS – Spring 2023

  • Country USA
  • Year 1986
  • Running Time 137 minutes
  • Distributor Twentieth Century Fox
  • Director James Cameron
  • Cast Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn

IFC Center does not generally provide advisories about subject matter or potentially triggering content in films, as sensitivities vary from person to person. In addition to the synopses, trailers and other links on our website, further information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense Media, IMDb and as well as through general internet searches.