Some people panic in crisis situations. Toward the end even Ripley succumbs to emotion a bit and starts crying as her, Parker and Lambert decide what to do/how to escape. She doesn't really overcome that fear, she mostly stops crying because she gets pissed off at Parker. And that's okay, because she's ultimately a human being.
Originally Posted by Jennifer
And actually, now that I think about it, Ripley screams a couple times at the very end in the shuttle.
It's not as though all of the crew are portrayed as competent, composed people in stark contrast to Lambert. Brett for example was pretty useless, he just happened to die early.
Jim Cameron was smart when he wrote the same sort of part for Bill Paxton in Aliens. And Hudson is an excellent foil to Vasquez. Vasquez, whilst a little over-the-top, stays calm, cool, collected throughout the film. She acts bad-ass, and she is bad-ass. Whereas Hudson acts bad-ass and after the first firefight becomes the most panicked of the survivors.
And speaking of Hudson, there might be no scene in the film to illustrate the bolded than the following:
I noticed that too, though. I thought the two characters dovetailed so well -- giving us a depiction of a woman trying to be masculine to prove her strength, versus a woman who is just basically a person who ends up needing to be strong and rising to the occasion as she works through her issues and exerts herself to care for others
. (In her favor, Vasquez drops some of the bravado by the end and has a bit more meaningful connection with others.)
RIPLEY: How long after we're declared overdue can we expect a rescue?
HICKS: [pause] Seventeen days.
HUDSON: Seventeen DAYS? Hey man, I don't wanna rain on your parade, but we're not gonna last seventeen HOURS! Those things are gonna come in here just like they did before. And they're gonna come in here...
HUDSON: ...and they're gonna come in here AND THEY'RE GONNA GET US!
RIPLEY: Hudson! This little girl survived longer than that with no weapons and no training.
[Newt apes a salute]
HUDSON: Why don't you put her in charge?
RIPLEY: You better just start dealing with it, Hudson! Listen to me! Hudson, just deal with it, because we need you and I'm sick of your bullshit.
Aliens is one of my favorite movies, regardless of genre. The action sequences are great, the bantering is fun, but it has that dramatic core of Ripley's journey of survival and healing. Yes, she happens to enact this through the role of "mother" due to her personal story, but in a sense despite that feminine angle on things, she could be male or female, her story is a "human" one and thus something we can all identify with. She is a strong PERSON, not just a strong woman.
Alien and Aliens are both in my Top-Five.