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Aliens is a science fiction film directed by James Cameron and released in 1986.



Ellen Ripley is a survivor of a mining ship diverted to an expedition on a remote world to locate the source of a distress beacon. A predatory alien boards their ship and kills the entire crew save Ripley, who escapes in a cryogenic escape pod. After 57 years she is revived and taken to the headquarters of her company, the Weyland-Yutani corporation.

She shares her story with the controlling board of the corporation and is essentially laughed out of employment. However, another distress beacon soon emanates from the same world, which has since been colonized. Ripley reluctantly agrees to play an advisory role on an expedition of Colonial Marines to investigate the second distress call. She is accompanied by the sleazy corporate executive, Carter Burke. Also on the expedition is the synthetic person (a humanlike robot, or cyborg) Bishop.

The expedition arrives on the planet without incident. However, they soon discover that the entire colony has been abandoned. The Marines investigate the colony's deepest levels and discover that the colonists have been cocooned in a blasphemous hive to serve as food for the race of hideous feral aliens that have infested the colony. The aliens are alerted to the Marines' presence, and proceed to attack and harry them, wiping out most of the Marines. Ripley, Burke, Bishop, and four Marines are the only survivors of the initial attack.

Ripley soon discovers a little girl named Newt, the sole intact survivor of the colony. Newt joins the crew of survivors, but all is not as it seems. Ripley and Newt wake up to find themselves locked in the colony's medical bay along with two of the "facehugger" aliens which impregnate live human hosts with alien eggs. The Marines arrive in time to kill the aliens and it is revealed that Burke plotted the encounter, hoping to smuggle alien eggs back to the Weyland-Yutani corporation inside Ripley and Newt. Butler then travels to the other end of the colony to remotely pilot a dropship to take everyone to safety.

Another alien attack comes, and Ripley, Newt, and a single marine are the only survivors. Newt is taken by aliens during the escape attempt, and Ripley arms herself to rescue Newt. She discovers and wounds the alien queen, rescues Newt, and gets back to the safety of the orbiting Marine ship. The sole Marine is safely put into cryogenic storage, but the alien queen has stowed away on the dropship and kills Bishop. Ripley kills the alien queen and she and Newt retire into cryogenic pods, bound for safety.

Related Themes

Artificial Intelligence

A.I. is touched upon in "Aliens", in the form of the cyborg Bishop. Bishop is fully sentient and aware, with a sense of self-preservation and personality. In one scene, Bishop plays a frightening prank on one Marine as a joke, demonstrating his capability for humor. In another scene, in a life-threatening situation, Bishop proclaims "I may be synthetic, but I'm not stupid." He clearly has a sense of self-preservation but places the good of the group above his own safety. Ripley initially distrusts him as she previously (in "Alien"), encounters a murderous cyborg programmed by the corporation to bring back the alien specimen regardless of crew risk. However, her opinion of Bishop is reversed when he puts himself in extreme danger to help her escape the colony and sacrifices his life to help her kill the alien queen. Unlike in many other works, where A.I. is portrayed as a destructive example of mankind's hubris, in "Aliens" A.I. is presented as a helpful and good addition to mankind's arsenal of tools. After the resolution of the story, Bishop mentions to Ripley, "Pretty good for a human," humorously highlighting man's shortcomings in comparison to machines.

Corporate Greed

In "Aliens" as well as "The Girl Who Was Plugged In", a corporation greedily and callously devalues and sacrifices human life in order to enrich its empowered executives.

Circumvention of Physical Limitations

The technology used in "Aliens" regularly allows the characters to extend or circumvent the physical limits of the human body. During the final battle with the alien queen, Ripley utilizes a powered exoskeleton to crush the queen's scything limbs. Had Ripley not possessed this suit, she would surely have been overpowered by the queen's physical superiority. Moreover, the heads-up displays worn in front of the Marines' eyes enables them to view distant events, something certainly not within the realm of unaugmented human ability.

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