2. Aliens (1986)
Director: James Cameron
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Carrie Henn, Jenette Goldstein
Apparently, James Cameron had never seen any science fiction sequels prior to making the stellar Aliens, the kinetic follow-up to Ridley Scott's slow-burning Alien. If he had, the future Titanic and Avatar guru would've known that most of the genre's second movies usually dumb matters down and take the cheap ways out; they most certainly don't improve upon many of the predecessor's best aspects and go on to earn seven Academy Award nominations. What was Cameron thinking? He was pondering a whole lot, it seems.
More of action adventure and less of an atmospheric haunted house tale, Aliens is basically Ridley Scott's movie on a year's supply of steroids. Sigourney Weaver once again plays Ellen Ripley, and further cements the character's iconic status; Cameron executes several jaw-dropping sequences replete with creature attacks, helmet-cam POV shots, and technically sound violence; and the token comic relief, courtesy of a hammy Bill Paxton, never annoys.
Cameron might have shattered box office records and achieved infamy through his recent blockbusters, but, until he steps away from Pandora, Aliens shall remain his best movie to date.