The Set of 400: #222 – My Favorite Game Over, Man

Today! Because mommy always said there were no monsters, no real ones, but there are –

Aliens (1986)

Directed by James Cameron (x2)

Starring Sigourney Weaver (x5), Michael Biehn (x2), Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton (x4), Paul Reiser, Carrie Henn, William Hope, Jenette Goldstein, Al Matthews, Mark Rolston

Oof, look at that poster! I already regret picking that. It doesn’t look like anything! It certainly doesn’t look like something we associate with Aliens. Even if they couldn’t cram a xenomorph on there somewhere, or a Paxton, or a goddamn Newt, you’re telling me that blue globe thing with Sigourney’s rocking ’80s hairdo wouldn’t have sold some tickets? Come on!

The only film in the series to make the list (sorry, Ridley Scott fans!), Aliens is such a huge jump up from the original that it almost verges on that much-talked-about mental disorder I seem to have – where a superior sequel relegates a chronological predecessor to prequel status. This isn’t quite that – Alien, while not on this list, is still a pretty great movie. But it also has completely different aims. Where that film is a relatively slow creeping space horror flick, the James Cameron follow-up is a slam bang bullets and muscles action movie, replete with unlikable, expendable Paul Reisers, more human than human androids, and Paxton delivering great, funny lines with his indelible Paxtonness. And instead of just having a pet cat tagging along for the adventure this time, there’s a grubby human child now! Fun!

And man, is that kid grubby!

Cameron has only directed five movies since Aliens. Isn’t that amazing? I made reference to this before – that his winning #296 Titanic Oscars cheated us out of many potentially great films. But Avatar is what really ruined things. Here, ten years on from the still highest grossing movie worldwide all-time (as of this writing), the only thing on Cameron’s slate is more Avatars. And yeah, it seemed great in ’09, but when’s the last time you watched Avatar? Is it now a beloved favorite at the level of Aliens, T2, and True Lies? I’m gonna say no. Who’s excited for Avatar 2, for Chrissakes? Anyway, hot on the heels of Terminator, Cameron got the Aliens gig, and the rest is history. From here, the budgets got bigger, the effects got wilder and more innovative, and the Paxton got progressively more awesome (his car salesman/Carlos the Jackal in True Lies is one of cinema’s greatest gifts to mankind). But more about that later.

His last six movies have been nominated for 41 Oscars, winning 21, which all kicked off with Aliens seven, including a Best Actress nod for Sigourney Weaver, yet none of these accolades have rewarded Lance Henriksen’s Bishop for Best Pinfinger Display – his rapid fire knife game, with a particularly terrified Paxton.

As much Paxton love as I’m doling out here, if you’re familiar with the movie I think you could guess who’s getting today’s MVP award. Obviously – obviously! – that baddest of asses, Jenette Goldstein’s Vasquez.

#306 Tombstone co-stars Biehn and Paxton make the Two- and Four-Timer clubs respectively, Paxton also appearing in Titanic and #287 Stripes, making him the 21st person to advance. However, big landmark moment for the list here, as Sigourney Weaver becomes the first actress to make it to Five-Timer status, and only the sixth person overall! #292 Cabin in the Woods, #232 Galaxy Quest, #352 Be Kind Rewind, #290 Cedar Rapids, and now her most famous character! Spotlight!

That’s more like it, poster!

Coming tomorrow! Hold still. I’ve never done this before, and there will be blood –

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