I always hate having to start off an article by saying this, but I love the 1986 James Cameron directed Aliens. It’s a brilliant film. It’s also fun and full of great action. However, I also really, really love the 1979 Ridley Scott directed Alien more but it in no way means that I dislike Aliens. In fact, while I have a favourite, I still love both movies and I appreciate what James Cameron brought to the franchise in the sequel. Aliens also happens to be one of my favourite films by James Cameron. However, I must admit that I’m more a fan of the slow build in Alien than the sc-fi war movie that is Aliens.

Why Most People Prefer Aliens To Alien…

Aliens just edges out Alien on the Rotten Tomatoes critics score metre with the original receiving an amazing 97%. The sequel sits at a slightly higher 98%. Both currently have a 94% audience score; making both these films some of the highest rated original/sequel pairings on the site. Both films also collectively made over $350 million at the worldwide box office and as I just mentioned, both were well reviewed my critics.

In recent years, I’ve found a few reasons why people prefer Aliens to Alien. First of all, many people that I know have seen Aliens before they saw Alien, which is common since Aliens is the more popular film. In Alien, we get a slow-driving first half that some fans of Aliens find boring. While I disagree that the set up in Alien is boring, particularity with the huge pay off we get in the end, I can see why those who expected Alien to be similar to Aliens may get disappointed.

Why I Prefer Alien To Aliens…

While I do know a fair amount of people who prefer Alien to Aliens, I feel that liking the original over the sequel isn’t as unpopular. I’ve spoken to many fans of the franchise and most people I know prefer Aliens, mainly because of the action. There’s no doubt about it, Aliens is an action-packed war movie with lots of gun play and explosions. While I do like that James Cameron made Aliens more entertaining, like many James Cameron films, there are also a lot of annoying Cameronisms in Aliens. For example, Burke, played by Paul Reiser is Cameron’s typical evil corporate slime ball. This is an exhausting and lazy character that Cameron places in many of his films, including Titanic and Avatar. For the record, Paul Reiser played that character much better than Billy Zane and Giovanni Ribisi.

For me though, it’s precisely in the slow moving first half that makes me absolutely love and prefer Alien to Aliens. The first 50-some minutes, until the face hugger bursts out of Kane’s chest, is all set up to one of the most terrifying second halves in film history. While one of the downsides to Aliens, at least for me, are the characters. They’re not as well developed as in Alien and I found most of them to just be cannon fodder meatheads. While I’m sure that was the point, I also didn’t care when half of them got blown away by the aliens, even though that scene is pretty amazing. Well, maybe with the exception of Sergeant Apone and Corporal Hicks but Private Hudson and Vasquez I found to be particularly annoying and I didn’t feel much emotion when they both bit the dust.

Overall, I much prefer the slower-moving Alien, which erupts into one of the scariest second halves in film history. Since there’s only one stowaway alien in the first film, it could be anywhere on the ship. While I love and appreciate the action in Aliens and for making Ripley into a kick ass female action heroine, I find only her character to be that interesting. Everyone else is either a meathead, annoying or an over-the-top stereotype. The original is also a more frightening film.

Still, both are incredible films and are very much worth seeing. If you haven’t seen either movie before, watch the original before the sequel. That way, even if you prefer Aliens to Alien, you’ll still see it in order of release, which most people don’t do years later.

Oh and how could I forget? R.I.P. Private Wierzbowski…