Aliens (1986)

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The moon from Alien (1979) has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough? (IMDb)
More people, aliens, and guns make this sequel more of an action-thriller than its slow-horror predecessor, replacing the latter’s subtle suspense and relatability with more straight-forward shoot-em-up fodder, but that’s not to say it’s always a bad thing (more aliens makes for a stronger sense of hopelessness; Ripley and the alien Mom’s unexpected final showdown is awesome) or that it doesn’t still have good character work (sniveling Burke is the perfect complement to strong-willed Ripley).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Alien (1979)

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After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious life-form, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. (IMDb)
Only a few instances of distractingly dated SFX (see the puppet-like movement of the worm; big explosion) mar this claustrophobic and intimate sci-fi thriller: Natural dialogue and pacing, along with an excellent use of long tracking shots, shaky handheld movement, and facial close-ups capture perfectly the unsettling dread, shocking horror, and relatable characters trying to cope in a uniquely nightmarish plot (the initial terror from the gross alien is boosted by the robot twist later on).
8.5/10 (Amazing)

Holes (2003)

A wrongfully convicted boy is sent to a brutal desert detention camp where he joins the job of digging holes for some mysterious reason. (IMDb)

An already unique premise here is given a delicious second layer of back-story that pops up in the current tale in a peppering of delightful past-present parallels and fulfilled prophecies that work well with the bleak but intriguing desert setting. LaBeouf’s hard-luck Stanley, meanwhile, leads an enjoyable cast of characters that includes a loveable gang of misfit adolescents and three wonderfully nasty bad guys, bringing some heart to this immensely satisfying mystery story.

7.2/10