Despite his reputation for being difficult, James Cameron is a man who has spent nearly his entire career bucking the odds. Following up the massive international success of The Terminator with a sequel to Ridley Scott’s beloved science-fiction/horror film was a huge gamble, but somehow Cameron created a film that massively upped the ante; introducing heavy weaponry, a much wider scope and dozens of the titular xenomorphs into a story which brings back Sigourney Weaver as Ripley – woken up after 57 years in stasis. While focusing much more heavily on action, the director manages to create a story that sensibly evolves from the first movie, while introducing plenty of new memorable characters – Michael Biehn as Hicks, Lance Henriksen as the android Bishop, Bill Paxton as the whiny Hudson and – memorably – Paul Reiser as the impossibly scummy Carter Burke. It hasn’t all aged well, but the spot-on pacing and high octane action puts the sequels that followed to shame, and the amazing climactic scene is one for the ages. A near-perfect piece of sci-fi action.