Script Analysis of Aliens

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright March 2017


This is a review of the first draft script of Aliens written and directed by James Cameron.

o Overall, this reads more like a near final draft than a first draft. It sure follows what I remember seeing on the screen quite closely. I remember there being talk of leaving the Ripley daughter out of the final, but other than that this script seems real close to how the movie came out.

o ...Then again, no "Game over, man!" in the script, so not quite final, unless this was spontaneous at the time of shooting.

o And, once again, I sure read lots of intent in this script, which is like I like to put in mine.

The Analysis

- Structure (does the script follow a 3-act structure format? What are the major plot points?)

o Not really. This is more about responding to surprise situations. I like that Ripley, even though she is real scared, stays cool and responds well to the surprises.

This applies until the third act. Then it gets conventional in structure. There is a climax at the end when Newt falls away from Ripley and Ripley arms up to go get her. Now that I see it in the script, I recall thinking "How Hollywood" when I saw this as I watched the movie, and by the time I read this I had mostly forgotten this part.

- Character (What makes the lead characters interesting / compelling?)

o I like that all these characters respond well to the situations they are facing. They respond like experienced professionals. This is true even when they get frustrated. Watching Hudson express his frustration is lots of fun.

The dialog also works well. It sounds like these people are seasoned professionals at what they do. But this also leads to a bit of inconsistency: "This is another bug hunt?" implies that many aliens have been found before this and dealt with using these military forces.

- Antagonist (Who is the antagonist? What makes the antagonist potent?)

o The antagonist are the sneaky and tough-to-defeat aliens. A secret antagonist is Burke who becomes betraying as he tries to represent "the company"'s interests and personally make a bundle of money.

- Theme (What are the film's major themes?)

o The dread Ripley feels for what is happening on Archon.

o The competence of the military team going into this situation.

o The neat military hardware the team brings with them.

o How competent the aliens are. This makes them real spooky.

- Tone (What is the genre of this script? How can you tell?)

o The tone is sci-fi horror. This is a sequel to the successful sci-fi horror film, Alien, directed by Ridley Scott.

o This also does a great job of portraying experienced combat soldiers. The action is good. Their reactions are good. And the soldier-sounding pace of the dialog is real good. The dialog reminds me of Platoon directed and written by Oliver Stone. That also had real good soldier-sounding dialog... in the first half. The second half transformed into conventional war action movie, not so impressive.

- Uniqueness/memorable moments (What is the best part of the script, in your opinion? What makes this script different from others in the sci-fi genre)

o The dialog is most memorable. The different characters are portrayed very well as being distinctive.

o Hudson's whining in the second half is memorable.

o The soldiers' and Ripley's responses to these situations comes across as very believable. Burke is less so -- given how out of control this situation gets, his betrayals make no sense. He should be feeling he can come back later and try again. But... if he did that it would weaken the story arc, so this is a case of story versus rationality. It is a common conflict in designing movie stories, and I like this movie because it handles this conflict better than most do.

o The defending after the crash of the first drop ship works real well for me.

o And the decision to bring down the second one is also logical and clever.

Other things of note


Page 17 -- **Canted on its side and buckles against a rock outcropping by the lava flow, it is still recognizable as an EXTRATERRESTRIAL SHIP. Bio-mechanoid. Nonhuman design.**
Inconsistency: Any surveying satellite orbiting Archon would have already spotted this.

They are going to hyper sleep for a journey that lasts only three weeks?

page 26 -- **HUDSON
Hey, ever been
mistaken for a man?**
LoL! This and the response are one of my favorite lines. These are part of real good dialog as the soldiers are waking up from hyper sleep.

page 93 -- Small inconsistency: Ripley reveals that Burke was the guy that authorized sending the colonists. And he knew there was danger but didn't tell them. Yet, here he is showing up on sight. I guess his greed is making him brave.



--The End--