In the near future, mankind has taken its powers over nature into outer space. Men can now mine other planets; they have the ships to travel between them; & the Marines to fight mankind’s wars. Colonies are sent to inhabit some of the planets. Scientific expeditions go searching for strange things, so that science may become more powerful. Science has already made mankind mechanical likenesses of themselves, much stronger, more enduring than man, indeed fearless.
This is the story of the encounter between these men & a terrible predator. When a colony stops communications with Earth, the Colonial Marines are sent to find out what caused the isolation. The expedition includes an agent of one of the great corporations investing in that planet, a human-looking robot, a young officer to lead the Marines, & a warrant officer, our protagonist, Ripley, who alone knows what awaits on the planet called Acheron.
Ripley learns quickly that the Marines despise her because she is not a warrior & the rest ignore her, because she does not fit in the conventional scheme for organizing an expedition. She is more or less a nobody. In return, she is skeptical of the incompetent officer, afraid of the human-looking robot, for she alone seems to think that it may be a danger, & perplexed that the Marines can ignore the great threat ahead.
The predator of which she speaks preys on man, & is very difficult to kill. It is unnatural, she thinks, because it combines size, speed & strength, & great ability to reproduce. The river Acheron marked the entrance to Hades. It is fitting that such a monster should dwell there, its very blood a horrible acid. Perhaps it protects Hades from human transgression. People fear it itself created Hades.
The different kinds of people react in different ways to this alien animal. The soldiers try to kill every one they find, when they come alive to the threat. Their officer is too scared to survive in this kind of situation. The corporate agent tries to betray them to their deaths, aware that the animal might be worth saving, & that it is confined to the planet. Other corporate agents acted the part of scientists, preserving specimens in their laboratories.
Ripley finds a little girl who had hid from these animals, the colony’s sole survivor. She learns to avoid quietly these animals; they are too dangerous to fight; she attempts to escape the planet. She is not a captain, so she can act alone. Ripley, already convinced that these animals must be destroyed, needs scientific power to acquire this destruction. The expedition may be a timely reminder of needed vigilance in the conquest of nature.
James Cameron’s fearful story of the fight between man & alien. A must see.