In which maternal prowess is demonstrated by skill with firearms.
It's a pretty lousy time for female action stars. Go ahead: Name two. Scarlett Johansson? Her Black Widow benefited greatly from stunt doubles and nifty camera work. Angelina Jolie? Debatable, but her recent efforts (Salt, ) haven't exactly lived up to her tabloids. Jennifer Garner is mostly going the rom-com route of late, while Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu haven't broken a jawbone in almost five years.
My personal favorite, Milla Jovovich, is still at it. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure I'm the only person in North America who's seen all four Resident Evil movies in the theater.
It wasn't always this way. Back in the late '80s/early '90s, when director James Cameron was still making movies that didn't require a 17-million-gallon tank of water or mobile 3-D cameras, he had a pair of actresses who were second to none in the ass-kicking department. But how would Ripley from Aliens and The Terminator's Sarah Connor measure up against each other?
In This Corner: Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Food service professional. Feathered hair enthusiast. Later, after trading in her scooter for a Jeep, becomes military adviser and mother to the leader of the rebellion against the machines.
And In This Corner: Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). [Space] freighter officer. Maternal type. Predestined to tangle with acid-dripping aliens and the Weyland-Yutani Corporation until her death.
Neither woman was what you'd call "tough" at the outset. Ripley was a warrant officer on the Nostromo, while Connor was a waitress. Both were baptized by fire, however. In the original Alien, Ripley outlasted both the xenomorph's attacks and Ash's attempts to kill her, then escaped the Nostromo before it self-destructed. And then blasted the hiding alien out of the escape pod. Clad only in panties and a wife beater. Formidable.
Connor had a bit more of a surreal experience, getting yanked from her working-class existence by Kyle Reese and thrust into a war for the very future of mankind, all while fleeing a murderous cyborg, which she destroys by crushing it in a hydraulic press. On one leg. Not bad.
Each woman would come more into her own in their respective sequels, which I'm going to use for most of my comparisons, but I'm going to have to give the edge to Connor here.
Offspring: Eh. Technically, Ripley never had any (human) children (a daughter was mentioned in the uncut version of Aliens, I believe). Though she was cloned from blood samples taken before she died while giving birth to an alien queen. Now she knows how Hitler's mom felt.
Sarah Connor, on the other hand, sired the leader of the resistance against the robots, John Connor. Granted, it takes him a while to go from being a twerp who rides dirt bikes with mulletheads to the person most crucial to the survival of the human race.
Connor wins again.
Most Effective Use Of Profanity: "You're terminated, fucker!" or "Get away from her, you bitch!" Personally, I'm fond of the former, but Ripley's admonition is a bigger crowd pleaser. Ripley.
Love Lives: Connor, at least, got some loving in the original Terminator, gestating the future general who would eventually send back his own father to have sex with his mother before getting killed and...Jesus, who can keep this crap straight?
Ripley shared a few tender moments with Lance Cpl. Hicks, though most of these involved learning how to use a grenade launcher. He dies before the credits even finish rolling in Alien 3, however. I honestly haven't seen the third one since it came out, so I can't remember if she gets it on with the prison doctor. If she did, it was probably more of a release of tension than anything else. And she probably said Hicks's name.
Connor wins this one as well. Reese and Hicks were both played by Cameron favorite Michael Biehn, but only Sarah Connor got to sleep with him.
Bad-Assedness: Ripley wins this by a 75-foot egg tube, doing what an entire squadron of space Marines couldn't: infiltrating the lair of the alien queen -- killing several xenomorphs while she's at it -- and wiping out her hoard of eggs, all while carrying a seven-year-old girl. She also fights the queen single-handedly and airlocks her. Connor looked pretty severe in Terminator 2, but she spent most of the movie confined to a mental hospital and suffered debilitating PTSD even after she got out. For all her awesome gear and firepower, she never really did anything.
The Verdict: While Connor wins on categories, I'm going to have to overrule. Not just for the following scene, or for telling the Corporation "They can bill me" after getting lectured about the dollar value of the Nostromo, but for the "Oh no you did not just try to send your henchlings to kill me after we made a deal" look she gives the alien queen right before she goes all flamethrower on her, the epitome of "Fuck yeah!" movie moments.
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