This is technically the second time I've ever reviewed Aliens, but I spent most of the time focusing on Ripley as a character for that one. I'll do my best to not repeat myself here.
While Alien was a suspenseful horror film, Aliens is more of an action movie with horror elements. Not only are we dealing with so many more of the xenomorphs here, we also have a lot more fighters to combat them. I think it's natural that most people are going to prefer one of these films over the other because they are so different, and I think you've already seen where I fall in that matter. But that doesn't mean I dislike the film.
While it's an action film, it's not a dumb action film. Lots of time is spent letting us get to know more about the Weyland Yutani corporation as well as the alien species. There's also a lot of character moments. We not only see Ripley grow as a characters from the previous film, but we really get to know the marines who join her on the quest, as well as the weasel known as Carter Burke that comes with them and little girl Newt who is the only survivor left on the planet. I also think it's great that with Bishop we find out that not all "artificial people" are inherently evil.
I've expressed my dissatisfaction with James Cameron in the past, and I think a large part of that is I feel like with the exception of when he's building strong female leads, his characters tend to be one note and cookie cutter. While not many of these characters are three dimensional here, they're still endearing. When bumbling leader Gorman and tough chick Vasquez hold hands as they make the sacrifice that saves the remaining members trying to get out alive, it's a sweet and touching moment. And Corporal Hicks may be just a little too sweet and noble at times, but that doesn't make me adore him any less. With the exception of Burke, who's such a jerk you yearn for his come uppance, and Hudson, the ever present whiner, you really want these guys to make it out alive.
Yet at the same time, I still love my xenomorphs. The design here is different from the previous film. I dislike the changes made to the heads here, but I have to admit they still look fantastic. And we still often only see bits and pieces of them, making that moment where the large number of them are crawling at our heroes in the vent wonderfully creepy. Even the queen is revealed to us bit by bit, and when we see her in full it's to point out just what a huge creature Ripley must overcome. I still root for "Momma" by the way. I love Ripley, and she fights bravely, but the queen's just doing what she has to do for her species to survive.
You can read my other review here if you haven't before.
Tomorrow I talk about Alien 3. Bring your torches and pitchforks if you must.