I love movies. They rival games as my favorite form of entertainment. However, I don’t consider myself a movie buff, because there’s just far too many holes in my cinema knowledge. Being born in the late 90s and growing up in the 2000s, there’s a bunch of iconic flicks that I simply missed out on, unless I’ve made the effort to seek them out. This past week, I watched Terminators 1-3 (plus Dark Fate), as well as the original two Alien movies. Turns out, they’re not half bad!
Let’s start with The Terminator. I’m a sucker for time travel BS in my entertainment, so it’s a bit shocking that I hadn’t given these movies a spin earlier. The Terminator has a deceptively simple premise, and is a fun game of cat and mouse from beginning to end. I know that it’s a killing machine, but damn, the T-800 is BRUTAL. I mean, he literally grabbed a phone book and was like “I’m not sure which one of these people is the Sarah Connor I’m looking for, so I’ll just kill ALL of them.” That’s hardcore. Could you imagine the fear you’d experience when you turn on the news and see that two other people with your name were murdered in the last 24 hours? Woof.
I also really appreciate how it’s a clear open and close story. Though the franchise might have gone to hell and back with timeline shenanigans, it’s cool to see that the original Terminator story is easy to follow, and doesn’t feel like it requires a follow up. Of course, it got one, so let’s talk about that.
T2: Judgement day is simply one of the greatest sequels I’ve ever seen. The way it takes so many elements and themes from the first movie and completely flips them on their head is nothing short of brilliant. 30 years later, the special effects are still damn good. We actually get to meet John Connor, and he’s easily one of the better child characters/actors I’ve ever seen. Putting a kid in the leading role could have very easily tanked the movie, but it didn’t!
I also really love that both of these movies feel like preambles. We constantly hear about this apocalyptic-level war between man and machine, but we only get very brief glimpses of it. It’s really cool and clever that they chose to tell the story from this angle. James Cameron’s work on these films laid the groundwork for so many action movies to come down the road.
More recently, I watched Alien and Aliens. Can I just start by saying that the naming convention there is just slick as hell? I love a cleverly named movie sequel that isn’t just “____ 2” and I don’t know if anything will ever top going from Alien to Aliens.
The first Alien movie is much more scary than I was expecting it to be. With the crew of a spaceship being hunted down by a killer Xenomorph, it felt like a classic slasher movie set in outer space. I already know that Ripley makes it out alive, but I was still so nervous in the closing minutes of the film. Again, man, these special effects still hold up extremely well.
The premise for Aliens is awesome. We pick up right after the first film, except instead of the 6-week trip she thought that she was embarking on, Ripley wakes up 57 years later. In the first movie, the one Xenomorph wreaking havoc on the Nosotros crew was terrifying. Aliens ups the ante by throwing a dozen of these deadly creatures, plus a Queen, at our main characters. However, Aliens is less horror, and more action.
This is where Ripley is really established as one of the firsts action heroines in film. Watching her throw herself into danger and take on these creatures, knowing just how dangerous they are, is cool as hell. She’s fearless, brave, and capable. I also love the relationship between Ripley and Newt. With Ripley being such a badass, Newt often falling into harm's way really ups the stakes for the viewer. Like T2, Aliens is one of the best movie sequels ever produced. Man, James Cameron has one hell of a resume, huh?
Another similarity between the Alien and Terminator franchise is that they both have a bunch of sequels, sequels that are quite divisive among fans. I’ve seen T3 (it’s ok) and Dark Fate (solid movie), but i'm debating if I should even bother watching Terminator 4 and 5. I haven’t watched an Alien flick outside of the first two, but am having the same internal discussion about those sequels as well. Please, let me know if you think those movies are worth watching, and give me some more film recommendations on stuff I might have missed out on!