MovieChat Forums > Aliens (1986) Discussion > Ripley declawing the Marines

Ripley declawing the Marines

I like this movie. It's better than most modern action movies and genius level compared to modern sci-fi. There's a lot of care in it and it shows, the suspension of disbelief is real. There's a lot of realism in it. The good kind of realism ie. not annoyingly contemporary. It's a rather timeless movie where everything looks real. You can almost feel how tangible the sets and things are.

That said, the processor scene bothers me. Ripley warns Gorman about the reactor which is good yet she stops there. She lets them proceed into the nest unarmed. She knew how dangerous the aliens were and should have fought with Gorman to have them return and reload with lighter caliber weapons. All it would have taken is 10 seconds of screen time for her to protest the foolish mission and Gorman to say no. Then have a quiet look of frustration on her face until it's time for her to take charge and drive the APC. It would have made more sense for her to do so.

She just sort of stares as they go further into the nest and things look worse with the cocoons. She says "Get them out of there" after the chestburster which is reactionary of her.

I know it's a movie and - pacing. It just feels like Ripley's effort is half there, when just hours ago she was reprimanding the Marines on the Sulaco about how dangerous the aliens are.

Also she doesn't warn Ferro to check the dropship. She knew how the aliens liked to sneak on ships and could be anywhere. Of course if that was done it would really mess with pacing and shorten the movie. They fly up to the Sulaco, nuke the site, and play a game of cards?

I like Ripley, I consider her a better action hero than most male action heroes. That doesn't mean she's perfect and her flaws can't be noted. She shined in Aliens but that was partly because Gorman and Burke were idiots, and Hicks wasn't exactly the take charge type.

To her credit she wasn't either. She didn't seek power and leadership, she took charge because she had to in a confused and scary situation. To her credit she's an everywoman.


Bit harsh on Gorman I feel.


He redeemed himself in the end by trying to save Vasquez, and somewhat throughout the second half of the movie by conceding authority to Ripley and Hicks. That's another quality of the movie not seen today - there's no power struggles or bickering among characters who are supposed to be on the same side. Burke is a heel so he does have spats with the others.

Gorman was 110% honorable Marine in the end, he was however a fool to the processor scene. Which was intentional. Cameron was intrigued by the Vietnam war. Gorman was the "butterbar" officer fresh out of OCS, sent to lead more seasoned men.

In a different sort of movie in which his character were given more to do and allowed to live, he might have turned out to be a good leader. Unfortunately the Alien movies are not forgiving toward mistakes. Perhaps sometimes too unforgiving. Some leniency shown to Hicks and Newt in Alien 3 would have given us a different Alien universe today.


Ah, the infamous butterbar. Gorman was the epitome of a butterbar, with all his simulated drops and two combat drops "including this one."

I agree that given the chance to live he might have turned out to be a good leader. The experienced vets all start as a boot, mostly lost and bewildered.


She couldn´t have fought with Gorman. She wasn´t a soldier, she was strictly there as a consultant. It wasn´t until later in the movie when Hicks showed her the ropes on how to use a weapon, that she could actually use one. You make out like she could just tell everyone what to do and they would listen to her. They were military with a chain of command and to them she was just some woman with a "ghost story", she´s actually disrespected several times before the xenomorphs show up. It´s not until later in the movie that they are almost wiped out that Hicks has her respect and says to nuke the site from orbit.


The point is she did speak up when she noticed they were under the heat exchanger. She was brave and bold enough to do that so why not follow through?

It seems somewhat inconsistent to me that she would speak up on the Sulaco when the Marines were being arrogant and then interrupt a mission in progress yet couldn't have said, "Hey maybe sending your troops into this nightmarish environment unarmed is a bad idea"

She was a civilian and didn't seem to care about the chain of command or authority figures after what the company did to her crew in Alien. Then how they treated her during the gateway scene. Heck she blew up at some powerful people in that scene. Probably company people and official lackeys who could have had her locked up if they wanted to.

I just wish an extra 10 seconds or so was added to the processor scene, for someone to have challenged Gorman for continuing the mission as is.


Agreed, it's bad writing, I always felt the same way.
I think it should have been Burke to point it out, to serve his company.
Also, having her debate the foolishness, would have added even more suspance to the mission.
And she would look even more heroic and wary of the aliens. Instead, she's just interfering with military strategy and fucking everything up.

Cameron just wrote it to fix "space marines platoon>aliens" so he has them unarmed. Lame!


Indeed he could have written it better. Although compared to today's movies and the often lazy plots, it's not too bad. It just could have been so much better if more care was put into setting up the processor fiasco.

I get that the Marines were intentionally portrayed as over confident so boldly went ahead into enemy territory where the enemy had obvious advantage. It's tough to believe that someone wouldn't have spoken up about the insanity of that, even Burke as you suggested. It's like their survival instincts were non existent. At least Vasquez and Drake had some will to survive with keeping their smartguns armed.


No, I mean Burke should have said: "hold on a minute, that is the station nuclear reactor right there. You can't have them blazing away in this area. Remove their weapons".
Ripley "Are you crazy? If one alien is lurking there it will slaughter them all like a fox in a henhouse."
Gorman "We are trained to face any opposing force known in the galaxy. Apone, switch to side weapons and retrieve all the heavy ammo."
Ripley "That won't suffice! This is not a training simulation, quit toying with your soldiers and get them outta there now!".
Burke "She's not in charge here. Sorry Ripley, this is not what we came here for."
Gorman "Apone, procede with recon and rescue with maximum caution."


I get what you mean. I wouldn't have minded if Burke mentioned it, someone should of.


Turn it around. As things actually happened in the movie, it becomes a character-defining moment; Not a weakness in the plot. We learn that:

1) Burke isn't bright enough to see the potential danger (but Ripley is)
2) Gorman is not only green, but bad at thinking on his feet
3) Ripley is good at observation/critical thought/rapid decisionmaking
4) The company doesn't know and/or care enough to send the proper resources to deal with this problem.

I've worked for enough huge corporations that it always amuses me when people complain about the "unrealistic nature" of (1) and (4). Trust me: there is a LOT of both, when a company becomes sufficiently mammoth.


Yes all these points are valid, but the facts in the OP remains, and they are more relevant, and it is crap writing.
Ripley, who is well aware of how deadly aliens are, is the genius that tells them to don't shoot. And then watches silently them walking in the lait.
Who cares that Burke is ignorant or the company careless? I care that Ripley is the hero and is intelligent enough and human enough not to trigger this clusterfuck.


You're forgetting that you, as the audience, knows more than anyone in the movie. ESPECIALLY in hindsight. None of them. . .not even Ripley. . .knew the level of danger, or if the Aliens were even there. They'd *just* left another location, and the fight had passed them by. ("The area's secure." "WHAT? The area's not secure!" etc.)

I'm not saying the movie's flawless, just that you're being unnecessarily hard on the writing here. It's by no means out of character/"lazy writing," for anyone on screen.


The area secure line was said about the colony not the processor. The colony had barricades, bullet damage, holes in the floor... ok we can convince ourselves that an incompetent officer would say that area is clear.

The processor is a different can of worms. It looks like a maze to start with = easy to get disorientated in. Then they find the hive, which was an obvious sign of something not human. Probably Ripley's alien. It wouldn't take much logic to figure out that they were real and dangerous - from the missing colonists, to the traumatized Newt, to the melted floors.

The movie uses a common horror trope. The character(s) walking into the scary dark room when you know and they should know there's trouble in it. Characters in horror stories are supposed to show a lack of logic and survival instinct because the plot requires it.

That could have been done more intelligently with someone at least mentioning the insanity of proceeding with a mission like that with only a few flamethrowers. No need to even say it's bad writing, let's say it was a lapse in awareness. Maybe Cameron was excited about this cool scene and got caught up in it.


Let's go point by point. You say "The colony had barricades, bullet damage, holes in the floor... ok we can convince ourselves that an incompetent officer would say that area is clear." And then "Then they find the hive, which was an obvious sign of something not human. Probably Ripley's alien."
This is faulty reasoning: the scene at the colony is Already Proof of "Ripley's Aliens." So to call the processor "a different can of worms" doesn't work, for the purposes of this discussion. No thinking person at that point could doubt that the Aliens were "real and dangerous," from the FIRST scene @ the colony.

I get that there's room for Ripley to have said more, but you can't call it lazy/weak writing, because the scenes just don't support that. Her input had been shot down before.

"That could have been done more intelligently with someone at least mentioning the insanity of proceeding with a mission like that with only a few flamethrowers." Did you forget that Frost said exactly that?

Finally: "Characters in horror stories are supposed to show a lack of logic and survival instinct because the plot requires it"??? Never not ever. Not in Good horror stories, anyway.


No AZ is totally right, it is a different can of worms: you move from an abandoned, quiet zone where there has been some action, imagining one of these beasts infiltrating the base, to a narrow tunnel that resembles a descent in hell.
You see and feel the difference right away, the danger level is on another scale, it looks like a trap, a lair, an enemy controlled area.

It totally is lazy writing, with the characters acting foolishly, ignoring what anybody would think, let alone trained marines, or just act out of character like Ripley, who all of a sudden forgets about the danger and suggests the unwise, the foolish, the suicidal. And then watches it.
This is done only to justify how a platoon of armed marines would get in trouble in such a mission (which is 3/4 of this movie): not because the aliens are more deadly, outnumber them or have a better strategy, but because they incredibly decided to do their mission unequipped. WTF!?!?

Lazy {shit} writing: when the writer forces the evets in a direction that serves the story instead of letting them develope in a natural, logical way.


Nah. You're missing my point. I said it's not "a different can of worms," For The Purposes Of THIS Discussion. Reread; I've explained why.

"Lazy writing" is far too often thrown around on message boards, by people who have NO concept of how much goes into writing/rewriting/shooting and then rewriting again even a *small* budget movie. It always makes me laugh when people level this claim. . .And it's usually because they disagree with a story beat.

Ah well.


Well you are not getting what AZ wrote as different can of worms, reread what I wrote.
Same for lazy writing, I explained it clearly for you, how is this not an instance of shit writing and not a claim by someone with NO concept of how much goes into writing......


It is a different can of worms and obviously Gorman and some of the Marines weren't convinced of the danger by merely seeing the colony. You're the one who brought up the "area secure" line.

By the time they get to the processor and have seen the colonist beacons all stationery ... and then the hive... someone should have said something about proceeding unarmed. Which should have been Ripley. Everything she did built up to her having an opportunity to say more. From yelling at the company execs and snapping at Burke. To snapping on the Sulaco at the Marines. To telling Gorman the colony wasn't secure.

To say that Ripley suddenly would go quiet doesn't make sense because that's not her character, she had always been outspoken.

It would have been better from a narrative perspective if she spoke up about them proceeding unarmed into the hive. Again, Gorman could shut her up. She could stew with frustration and fear until she finally takes control.

Frost's line doesn't really count. He's a supporting character and it's a one liner. Yeah it's funny yet it's not important to the plot. It's like many of Hudson's lines, they're funny yet don't move the plot forward. They're there for humor and steam release. It's not the same as Ripley or Burke saying something.

Also, by your logic Aliens must not be a good horror story because the entire plot requires the characters show a lack of logic in the hive. I get that the Marines are supposed to be overconfident so ok they proceed ahead. Ripley had no excuse and should have said something.

Whether bad writing or a lapse in judgment, it is a narrative issue.


Good points about how the scene defines the characters yet the scene as is doesn't seem complete.

I would have liked to see anyone make more of an issue of proceeding into the nightmare processor unarmed, to cover that base. Ripley was the most logical person to sound the warning.

Even Apone could have spoken up more. Unless there is some rule in the USCM that gets you a firing squad for questioning an officer while on mission.


See above. (She'd already sounded the warning in the previous scene, & been summarily ignored.)


She wasn't ignored, that's the point. She was listened to when she warned about the reactor, which is the reason Gorman disarmed his Marines.

All I'm saying is there should have been a line of dialogue like "You're not just gonna send them in unarmed!" and Gorman could say "They have flamethrowers Ripley" and shut her up. That would give her more reason to finally take control when she springs into action with the APC.


No, my point is she Was ignored, when she objected at the colony.

Her warning at the reactor COULDN'T be ignored, so *that's* why Gorman had the Marines disarm.

Big difference.


Also she doesn't warn Ferro to check the dropship. She knew how the aliens liked to sneak on ships and could be anywhere.

This right here is what's always been my biggest gripe with the Alien films. The sneaky Alien stowaway routine happens to Ripley in literally every film and she inexplicably NEVER learns from it.


By AR she should have suspected something when they get away in the ship, or rather the writers should have had her show more savvy.


Gorman was in charge. She had no power there and she'd already warned them no doubt many times, perhaps more often than what we saw in the movie, about what they could do.


See the replies above.

She had plenty of power to speak up, no one was restraining her.

She was a bold character who always spoke up. She wasn't the type of character to say, "Well I tried, I'm gonna give up now" and go sulk.

It was simply out of character for her to go silent. This could have been fixed by two lines of dialogue - "Hey Gorman shouldn't your team rearm?" and Gorman could forcefully tell her to shut up. Which might convincingly stun her bold personality long enough for the hive scene to happen.


She'd already warned them. She knew Gorman and she knew that he was determined to send them in. She knew they were overconfident and they were not listening to her at that point. You seem to be admitting that the marines wouldn't have listened to another warning. Ripley could have known that too.

I see no problem with the scene as written.


It's a strange and out of character time for her to stop speaking up and warning them.

Also how do you know she knew Gorman so well? He wasn't determined from what we saw, he was unsure and lacked confidence as a commander. She had more of a vacuum to speak up during the hive scene than at any other time up to that point. She yelled at company board members who probably could have had her locked up for life for outbursts like that.

What does it matter if the Marines would have listened to her or not? The point is her character was a strong proactive woman who wasn't afraid to speak out. It wasn't in that character for her to let the Marines wander in to that hostile territory mostly unarmed. She was an advisor, it was her job to speak up. More importantly she was a survivor who knew how deadly the alien was.

Again all it would have taken is ten seconds more of dialogue to fix the problem and make the scene more in line with the character.

From a writing standpoint Cameron had to find a way to disarm the Marines and make the initial massacre happen. If he didn't take their guns away and kill off most of the Marines, then you have overwhelming firepower against the aliens and there's no movie.

So he seemed to want to reduce the Marines down to a primitive level without all their gadgets, because it's a Vietnam movie in space. It was about American technology not standing up to the strengths of the Viet Cong who won by guerilla warfare. They could blend into the jungle like ghosts, just like the aliens in the walls.

My point is that the scene could have been done better. I don't know the guy so I don't know why he didn't have Ripley or Burke mention something about proceeding ahead unarmed.

Maybe you don't have a problem with the scene yet I notice the lack of character logic. It doesn't ruin the movie yet it is noticeable.


I think Gorman was at fault for the processor scene. Ripley and Burke had explained to him how dangerous firing in there was but Gorman didn't relay the severity of the situation to the marines.

Gorman mentioned when briefing the marines that Ripley's report was on a file and that they should all look at it, but a source i read somewhere (can't remember where) said that off screen most marines chose not to read it. If they had, the likes of Ferro would have known to check the dropship for the alien. But like most the other marines, she didn't believe Ripley's story. In fact the only one what that was mentioned to have read it was Hicks. Which brings me to my next opinon.

I have to disagree when you say Hicks wasn't the take charge type. I know he seemed to step back and let Ripley take control of the things but i think that was because he trusted her. I think out of all the marines, he was the only one who kept an open mind with her story. Like i said, he had read her report so when they got to LV426 and he saw the holes made from the acid, maybe he started to realise that there was some truth in her story. And when the shit really hit the fan and he knew she was telling the truth, i think he allowed her to take control because she had been in this situation before and survived.

And lastly, yes Burke was an idiot, but i have to have some repspect for Gorman. Yes he was a inexperienced idiot, but once he woke up and to stock of the situation, he didn't revert back to his annoying self. Instead, by this point he had realised that his decisions had lead to the deaths of most the marines, and thus he was not cut out to be in command. On top of that he had lost all respect of his unit (not that he had much in the first place) so it seemed right that he allowed Hicks to continue taking charge of the situation.