|Star:||Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Paul Reiser|
|Cert / Year:||18 - R / 1986|
After the first film Ripley had escaped in a shuttle slowly head for Earth. Unfortunately she over sleeps by fifty years before the shuttle is salvaged. Things don't get better as the company blames her for the destruction of the Nostromo and has sacked her leaving her to her terrible nightmares. However it's not long before they need her, because they have lost contact with the colony they built to Terra form planet LV-426 (the same planet as the first film). They need her expertise to go back and help rescue the colonists, only this time she will not be alone. This time they are sending a heavily armed colonial marine battalion with her.
The opening line of this review says it all really. Where as the first movie was a brilliant horror film this one is completely different, it's a war movie. Logan has already highlighted some of the pitfalls of the movie sequel, but on general it a rule that they are never as good as the original. Luckily this is an exception to that rule. Trying to copy the original Alien film would have been a mistake, as it was a brilliant piece of sci-fi horror and would have been almost impossible to better. Instead James Cameron, David Giler and Walter Hill made things bigger (more aliens, bigger guns) and cleverly switched formats. This isn't so much a sequel as a different film in the same Alien universe.
Whereas in the first film we only saw fleeting glimpses of the Alien creature in this one we are attacked by what seems to be hundreds. This is a testament to the cinematography of James Cameron, in fact he only have a very limited number of Alien suits he just made it look like hundreds. Another key difference is pace the Aliens can really move in this film leaving the slow paced tension building of the first and opening the way into pure action. Sure there is both tension and horror but this is permeated with intensely exciting (or is that terrifying) action. If anything this film shaped the way forward for the aliens more so than the first film, for a start it completed the Aliens lifecycle, it improved their agility and introduced the hive concept.
Arrayed against the Alien threat we have the Colonial Marines and some majority impressive hardware. Never has a futuristic earth military force been so convincing portrayed. The design of vehicles and weapons are excellent, and when you see all of this hardware you know something pretty explosive is going to happen. This is a real heavy weight contest H.R. Giger's nightmare alien creatures have finally got some worthy opposition. This leads to some brilliant shootouts and battles as the marine squad fights the army of Alien soldiers.
The superb eye that James Cameron has for action matches a top quality script. The pace never lets up as the shocks and plot twists fly at you. Sigourney Weaver reprises her Alien role and this time is even more the action hero. Accompanying Ripley we have Paul Reiser making an effective break from comedy roles as the slimy company man Burke, and the marines. We have good performances from nearly all of the marines, with Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein and Lance Henriksen being the pick of the crop. The only disappointment is Michael Biehn who is strangely uninvolving in his role as Corporal Hicks. Special mention must be made of Carrie Henn who produces a great performance well beyond her years (no Anakin syndrome here).
Aliens is a fast paced horror, action, sci-fi, war movie (easy to pigeonhole then). Fine acting performances are matched by and thrilling script. Add to this one of the best directors of this sort of film (please Cameron no more Titanic) and you have a sequel that matched the excellence of the first movie. The different focus on the Alien universe pays great dividends. The hardware and (pre CGI) special effects on show are still superb. There really is nothing much to criticise, so just watch it.
The special edition adds back in 17 minutes with includes a number of explanatory scenes that were originally removed for reasons of pacing and feature length. Including these scenes are rather like doing a deal with the devil, on one hand they do add a lot to the story, but on the other they do effect the pacing slowing things down. In fact I prefer the special edition for the following reasons. The scenes with the colonists add to the human element to the film, they increase the horror of what the Aliens \ Company have done and help round out Newt's character. The autogun battle scene is simply outstanding never has watching numbers on a computer screen been so tension building. It is a mater of personal taste as to which version you like, but it is becoming difficult to obtain a copy of the original.
This time its War.
|16:9 Anamorphic||Slight grain but good quality print|
|Dolby Digital 5.1||A good work out for the sound system|
|Nice animated menus|
|Short and pretty boring interview with James Cameron|
|10 very short behind the scenes pieces of film|
|Huge image database with production notes|
|Great transfer with limited extras. The photo archive is excellent but a commentary track would have not gone amiss. Also a small point but using branching it should have been possible to include both standard and special editions on the same disc.|