Friday, June 8, 2012


ALIENS (1986)
Directed by James Cameron

Sigourney Weaver - Ellen Ripley
Carrie Henn - Rebecca 'Newt' Jorden
Michael Biehn - Cpl. Dwayne Hicks

     The planet from Alien has been colonized yet contact with them has been lost. A team of Colonial Marines is sent to find out what happened.

     Aliens was the first film in the Alien series I saw. I got to watch it when it first came on HBO back in the late 80's. I remember hearing my sister's friends talking about it and how when they saw it in theaters it scared the shit out of them. By this time my love of horror films was growing at an exceptional rate with having watched multiple films on VHS that my dad rented for me as I would watch them on Friday nights after my parents went to bed. Also during this time HBO would show really odd horror films late at night on the weekends also as the USA network would show unedited films sometimes on Up All Night on their networks. Well anyway, Aliens came on HBO finally and I was able to watch it despite my parents protest that I wasn't quite old enough yet to view it and understand some of the situations involved in it. Needless to say I understood everything in the film, but it still gave me nightmares for about a week anyway. In fact I can easily say that this film is probably what started my love of H.P. Lovecraft stories and the Mythos involved with it as well though Alien is more in line with it.

This is a review for the Director's cut of the film.

I complained about Sigourney Weaver, who reprises her role as Ellen Ripley, in my review for Alien, and I'm sticking by what I said. Yet in Aliens, Weaver's acting is almost as if there is a whole nother Weaver acting. The emotions she shows are believable, and she actually draws the viewer into the world. Weaver just has a presence in this where as in Alien she was more like a background wall or a mouse. It's her confidence in her ability as an actor that is such a relief to see.  Michael Biehn, who plays Cpl. Hicks, also grew as an actor since his last role he was in, which was also a sci-fi film. There's two really interesting characters in Aliens that stick out from the rest, one of which is Pvt. Hudson played by Bill Paxton. Paxton's character is one of the two as in the film as at first he's the jokester who with the rest of the marines think nothing can defeat them and that they are the best there is. His whole world is changed in minutes once he and the rest of the marines go up against the aliens for the first time. The other character that sticks out is Newt played Carrie Henn. Henn for a first time actress and in her only film role brings a fear to the screen that isn't seen by someone her age very often. But it's her growing trust and her ability to show that trust as it grows that helps the character seem more real and that helps draw the audience into the relationship she has with Ripley which I'll go into next. But I do have to say that every actor and actress in Aliens does an amazing job.

I would be remiss to not mention Lance Henrickson's Bishop. His character is a major plot point in the film as it shows a maturation in Ripley's character. When Ripley is found after 57 years she hasn't moved on but the world around her has. Her mistrust of androids due to Ash is engraved into her after her old crew was betrayed by it. Bishop shows that there has been improvements in science and that what she once feared can be more human than the actual people around her. Yet the main story is about  Ripley as she is a person misplaced in time and a person that lost everything, including her daughter due to the passage of that time. Ripley up to the point where she finds Newt at Hadley's Hope is almost a basket case due to nightmares and PTSD. It's in Newt that Ripley finds a way out of her fear as she views Newt as a replacement for her daughter. As someone she she can protect and in that way she is Ripley's one hope for a life she lost and in a way to try to have a normal life throughout the craziness surrounding her. Newt is in the same position as Ripley as she has lost everything in her life; her family, her home, her peace, and her hope of surviving. Newt sees Ripley after their first meeting in suspicion, someone who won't be able to keep her promise. Yet by the end of the film the bond between Ripley and Newt grows more into a mother and daughter relationship. Newt even calls Ripley mother after she saves her from the alien queen which makes the story all the more powerful as you were seeing the bonds form but didn't realize it as the action was front and center.

I mentioned before that Aliens scared the shit out of me when I watched it. The reason for this is the aliens plain and simple. Unlike in Alien, the aliens in this one are much more animalistic and can be seen as thinking animals as they learn through experience. Also previously we only were able to see the alien in shadows or very quick shots. In Aliens the creatures are in full view even though we don't know that until it's to late as they are fully camouflaged within their environment.  By the time we see them another body is added to the count. The design for the aliens is also updated and they are much more mobile than in Alien. James Cameron has done something that few directors have managed to do and that's to make a sequel that outdoes the original in every way. Cameron tells a story that starts out slow and then slowly builds as his characters we as viewers know are heading to their death. Even though most of the characters seem cartoonish in certain ways, we find ourselves rooting for them to survive though we know they won't. It takes almost an hour for the action to kick in and by that time over half of the crew  meet their end, but during that time we get to know them and their quirks and how they are one hell of a disfunctional family. After everything goes to hell Cameron does what Alien didn't and that is to ratchet the tension up minute by minute where it's almost unbearable, but at the same time the film is still fun as we are still hoping those that are alive will stay alive, though again we know not all will. The office fire fight is one of the best action set pieces I've seen and even with repeat viewings it has never lost any of its power. The same can be said for the film as a whole as there is always something new I see every time I watch it.  And that is the true sign that Aliens stands the test of time and is considered a modern day classic film.

     Even though it's not a death, Bishop's splitting meeting of the queen.

     We're on an express elevator to hell, going down!

     During the scene when they have landed and deployed in the troop carrier, Apone tells the Marines they have 10 seconds until they arrive. If you count from here until the first Marine jumps out of the carrier and his boots hit the ground, it really is ten seconds.

     Was voted the 42nd Greatest Film of all time by Entertainment Weekly. They describe it as the "greatest pure action movie ever."

     One of the alien eggs used in the film is now exhibited in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

     In both the standard and special edition versions, the fifteen minute countdown at the end of the film is indeed fifteen minutes.

     To bring the alien queen to life it took anything between 14 and 16 operators.

     United States Colonial Marines personnel service numbers:
  • SFC Apone, A A19/TQ4.0.32751E8
  • Pt Crowe, T A46/TQ1.0.98712E6
  • Cpl Dietrich, C A41/TQ8.0.81120E2
  • Pt Drake, M A23/TQ2.0.47619E7
  • Cpl Ferro, C A71/TQ9.0.09428E1
  • Pt Frost, R A17/TQ4.0.61247E5
  • Lt Gorman, S A09/TQ4.0.56124E3
  • Cpl Hicks, D A27/TQ4.0.48215E9
  • Pt Hudson, W A08/TQ1.0.41776E3
  • Pt Spunkmeyer, D A23/TQ6.0.92810E7
  • Pt Vasquez, J A03/TQ7.0.15618E4
  • Pt Wierzbowski, T A14/TQ8.0.20034E7

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