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In 1986, James Cameron made the sequel that is quintessential
Aliens, a model for all sequels about what they could and really should aspire to be. Serving as writer and director just for the third time, Cameron reinforces themes and develops the mythology from Ridley Scott’s 1979 original, Alien, and expands upon those ideas by also distinguishing his film from the predecessor. The short of it is, Cameron goes bigger—much bigger—yet does this by remaining faithful to his source. In place of simply replicating the single-alien-loose-on-a-haunted-house-spaceship scenario, he ups the ante by incorporating multitudes of aliens and also Marines to fight them alongside our hero, Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley. Still working within the guise of science-fiction’s hybridization with another genre, Cameron delivers an epic actionized war thriller in the place of a horror film, and effectively changes the genre from the first film to second to suit the demands of his narrative and personal style.