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Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Aliens Movie Poster Image
Alien sequel is bigger, faster, scarier.
  • R
  • 1986
  • 154 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 84 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A mothering instinct/motherly love drives both Ripley and the queen alien. Technology doesn't always guarantee sueriority in combat, as shown by gung-ho Marines charging into tunnels with high-powered guns only to get shredded to pieces by hordes of an enemy that keeps on coming -- director James Cameron's metaphor for the Vietnam War. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ripley turns from the fear-paralyzed victim of the original Alien film into a tough, idealized action-heroine. She even forssakes body armor and takes a combination gun-flame thrower and charges alone into the alien nest. A corporate executive character who claims to be "an OK guy" is really murderous and treacherous in his greed. What little we see of the world of the future seems dominated by evil businessmen and bullying soldiers. The multiracial Colonial Marines are overconfident, swaggering braggarts. 


Mostly in quick flashes, but still severe, as human characters are splashed with acid, torched with fire, or have little aliens bursting out of them. One man is literally torn in half, with the qualifier that "he" is an android, not human, with beige-colored blood and viscera. Gunfire, bombs, and flamethrowers are directed at the aliens. Much of the violence and lethal danger is threatened against a small child.


Indistinct glimpses of pin-up pictures in a locker room. Some mildly suggestive banter between co-ed Marines.


"F--k" and "a--hole" in soldierly banter and anger.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking by the adults.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the relentless, ravenous clawed monsters in Aliens, the sequel to Alien, are likely to give small kids (and others) nightmares. It's even more violent than the original. Besides the rerun of the grisly moment when embryonic aliens burst out of people (in reality and in dream scenes), we also see quick cuts of victims seared with acid, getting set on fire, and blowing themselves up with a grenade. Gunfire, bombs, and flamethrowers are directed at the aliens. Most disturbing of all -- or, at least, the most nakedly manipulative -- is the perpetual threat of ghastly violence/death/contamination directed at a frightened, screaming little girl. There's also a plethora of swearing and lots of adoring fondling of guns and high-powered weapons. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJuggernaut93 May 4, 2011

Not for kids.

Aliens is one of my favorite movies ever, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone but older kids and adults. It is a cinema masterpiece, but not a kid frien... Continue reading
Adult Written byOneVeryLongUsername March 4, 2015

"Aliens" - Parental and Artistic Review.

Sexual Content: A nude photo is briefly seen in the doorway to the hyper-sleeping room. When the team starts waking up, they are all in their undergarments; th... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byjohnwi312 December 27, 2009

Intense and amazing. OK for all teens.

Aliens has intense violence and some profane language, but is totally fine for any young teens or even mature older kids. Awesome movie, the tension never lets... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byzazmopepperz February 18, 2010

Not that violent and barely any strong language

This film is actually not that scary or violent, and theirs not much bad language either. This film nowhere near deserves and 18+ the new alien vs predator movi... Continue reading

What's the story?

Revived from a coma-like state 50 years after aliens massacred her crew, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is forced to take on menial spaceport jobs in ALIENS. When communications with the new colony are lost, a slimy Company executive (Paul Reiser) convinces her to go back to the planet where the massive battle took place. Ripley sets out with a heavily armed squad of interplanetary Marines, all itching for action. At first, the colony seems deserted, except for a cowering girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But a little more searching -- and nightfall -- brings out the aliens; hundreds of jaw-snapping, fanged, acid-bleeding horrors, unafraid of guns, who cut through the panicked Marines. It's Ripley who has to take charge of the mission (and uncover yet more Company treachery) if any of them are going to get away alive.

Is it any good?

This sequel to Alien is bigger, faster, and way more amped-up than the moody, gothic-style interplanetary chills of the original. If it errs, it does so when director James Cameron insists on squeezing every last cliffhanger out of a nightmare scenario about being stranded in a remote place with a bunch of vicious, clawed creatures out to get you. Cameron conjures up a strong Vietnam metaphor (or U.S. military misadventure of your choice) in the proud, gung-ho warriors charging into battle with their fancy hardware, only to get shredded to pieces by hordes of a primitive enemy that keeps on coming. And Aliens is more than a little hard to take seriously when Ripley, forsaking even body armor, slaps together a gun-flamethrower combo and charges alone into the alien nest.

The director really seems to go over the line with the manipulation, putting the screaming little (orphan) girl in hideous peril every time the opportunity arises, and conniving to make sure that opportunity always does. Commentators love to point out, though, that both Ripley and the queen alien are essentially driven by mothering instincts -- Ripley to find a replacement for the child she lost while is suspended animation -- and they serve as mirror images of each other.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the military metaphor in Aliens; it's said James Cameron had Vietnam on his mind when he depicted a group of gung-ho Marines charging into tunnels only to get shredded to pieces by hordes of an enemy that keeps on coming. What could the characters have done differently? 

  • What do you think of the showdown between the bereaved mother Ripley and the monstrous mother alien queen?

  • How do think this sequel compares with the original Alien

Movie details

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