Even after 33 years and the much advancement to special effects the nasty breeding Aliens does not rest on their laurels, nor takes away from Ridley Scott’s impressive Alien (1979) film either. Rather James Cameron swore that his movie was not a remake but actual advance of the creature mythology and moving the film into a new direction, and he truly lived up to the promise delivering a new chapter in this known alien lifeform. In addition, where Alien had both a trapped crew and a great tagline of “In space no one can hear you scream” landed a creepy alarming monster movie all complete with jump scares, Aliens mixes action into the sci-fi horror sequel. It was as if Cameron saw the completed version of Predator (1987) and how his own film The Terminator (1984) brought multiple genres together, for understanding the direction this needed to maintain a lasting staying power with fans. Aliens not only had the incredible Sigourney Weaver reprising her role of Ripley but also earned her the Best Actress Academy Award nomination – a first ever for an actress in a role in an action movie. Even though she didn’t win, the film did earn two Oscars for Best Sound Effects editing & Best Visual Effects, not bad for a movie with a budget of $18.5 million and garnished a worldwide gross of $131 million in 1986. Although the film’s anniversary date actual is July 18, 1986 Fox Studios announced April 26 to honor the Franchise, in reference to LV-426 the planet where colonists discover the alien spacecraft.
The short version of the plot as many reading this article know the story of Aliens, and actually the entire franchise, after escaping the Nostromo, Ripley launched herself into space aboard an escape pod, and then blew the creature out of the hatch, set course for earth and placed herself in suspended animation for the extended journey home. A total of 57-years passes before the discovery of her ship and shock with the passage of time appalled to learn a human colony established on the planet LV-426 where she and her crew first encountered the deadly life form. The distrusting corporation doesn’t believe her story and suddenly communications with this colony are abruptly cut off. Hence a team of specially trained marines are sent in to investigate, with Ripley tagging along as an adviser and Burke (Paul Reiser, a corporate scum-bucket accompany Lt. Gorman (William Hope) and Sgt. Apone (Al Matthews, RIP 2018), was in real life the first black Marine to be promoted to the rank of sergeant in the field during service in Vietnam. The marines believe they’re ready to face and eventuality except these creatures just as strong and intelligent as the one that attacked the Nostromo, have the humans been outnumbered. In Alien we got to know the monster; how it grows to maturity, bleeds acid and very difficult it is to kill. Cameron takes that example and shows us what a colony of them can accomplish and by doing so transforms his concept in every direction, never missing a detail of creativity. In addition, he developed a queen all of a sudden without input from H.G. Giger. This offends many Alien purest fans to this day with the surprising new species added to the mix, however in the movie Ripley asks the questions what is laying the eyes, Bishop (Lance Henriksen) answers something we have yet to see.
An interesting tidbit and the movie layers them within, the infamous knife trick scene was not in the original shooting script and took Henriksen, a whole month to practice the trick and his dedication to method acting. One must note that this same trick known as FFF [Five Finger Fillet] originally used five years earlier in My Bloody Valentine (1981). The Marines, play a brutally incredible piece and warrior attitude against the aliens even after round one, while they pulled back, not to retreat rather regroup with Michael Biehn taking the lead. The screenplay takes great strides to have wonderful characters and allow them to improvisation when it naturally fit well together, the actors actually felt and conveyed the unit mentality. Although the character Hudson (Bill Paxton) makes it tad hard to adjust to in the film, first he has a false bravado and then gung-ho, over to coward and back to all guns blazing in an unwavering attitude, it’s as if he suffered from a bi-polar complex. Bishop the android with a heart and compassion, though working on the alien autopsy has a creepy demeanor, yet those familiar with science fiction, understand the programming of him per the Asimov’s Laws. As for Newt, the little girl this role was the only one she ever had, leaving the industry behind and later become an educator. Other colorful characters of the members of marine unit include the talents of Mark Rolston (Drake) and Ricco Ross (Private Frost). Nevertheless, the best line in the movie comes, as an inside joke among the actors, which arose from Hudson “…she thought they said illegal aliens and signed up…” to Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein (Near Dark ) as she went to the Aliens’ audition thinking that the film was about illegal immigrants. A reoccurring theme in Cameron’s films focus generally on the concept of motherhood, shown in The Terminator and later Terminator 2, and even in Titanic. Herein Ripley and the Alien Queen, both seeking survival and protecting their love ones, preserve the sanity of life regardless of the species. The message delivered when Ripley threatens the eggs with a fire and in exchange, the Queen motions for her protectors to back off. It is a wonderful element lost so easily and siding with just the human attribute.
The visual effects, when one returns to this movie find that while outdated to the CGI creations of today’s action and sci-fi flick, it does ruin the movie in any manner. As for the aliens themselves still scary and slimy case in a slick blackness breed to hunt and defend at all cases, a truly superior race that works together to achieve the goal, without a care on profit, rank or medals. The DVDs version of this movie come in various designs and box sets but all with one ideal aspect in common the fifteen minutes countdown at the end of the film actually equals the correct time. The tension of this movie builds to a magnificent crescendo thanks to James Horner’s soundtrack and the bringing raging battle scenes involving the Marines. An interesting trivia note that in post-production they choose to make the alien sounds to mean different things namely their screams actually altered shrieks of baboons.
The action of this movie brings the same range of heart thumping and panic driven scenes regardless of how many times one views it and the length between each viewing, and while the Alien franchise does not all meet the same level of incredible wonderment of the first two movies, it does show that not all sequels suck, this definitely does not falter at any moment.
This review was originally published on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website in April 2016 with a view count of 3,239.
- This time there’s more.
- This time it’s war.
- There are some places in the universe you don’t go alone.
- Somewhere in deepest space, all hell is breaking loose.
- They’re Even Scarier The Second Time Around! (Fox Vhs Cover)
IMDb Rating: 8.4/10
Baron’s Rating: 8.5/10