Aliens (1986)

Sigourney Weaver as Ripley and Carrie Henn as Newt in Aliens. 20th Century Fox.

Ridley Scott’s Alien is excellent — one of the best sci-fi and horror movies ever made.

It’s astonishing that Aliens improves on it, but it does. James Cameron, taking over for Scott, puts Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) at the center of the story from the start — the original Alien does a bit of a bob-and-weave before establishing her as the heroine, helping establish the final-girl horror tradition — and her relentless fight for survival when all hopes seems lost is incredibly compelling.

Alien has a cold, less-is-more brilliance, but Aliens suggests that sometimes more is more — and was the first films to demonstrate what a genius James Cameron has for sequels. He’s also responsible for the next film on our list of sequels better than the originals.

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