James Cameron’s awesome military led sequel to the original Haunted House scare-fest that was Alien both equals and then surpasses it’s prequel.
With Alien’s recent 30th anniversary, we thought it was time for a fresh look at the classic.
So.. it’s 57 years since Ripley blew up the Nostromo and killed the original acid spilling Alien. She has been floating around in Deep Space and is accidentally picked up by a salvage team. She is subsequently brought back to Earth and meets the Company! Who are not too pleased with her actions and with no evidence of the no-eyed Alien on the ship she is basically treated as mad – since there’s been a Colony out on the planet where the Alien came from and there’s been no report of the nasty things. Ripley is left alone by the company and her nightmares continue until the company loses contact with Colony suddenly and recruits Ripley along with Colonial Marine Core to go and investigate the ongoings at LV426.
Coming in 1986, seven years after the initial Alien – which delighted audiences with it unusual take on Sci-fi. In that it was more of a haunted house horror on a spaceship rather than the traditional scifi, along came Aliens! James Cameron – coming hot of his recent hits Terminator and then Rambo. When Cameron took over the directors chair from Ridley Scott – he knew he had to win over and bring back Sigourney Weaver – as she was busy doing artsy fartsy stuff in theatres at the time. So he wrote the script for her, first and foremost and you can tell with every scene featuring the brilliantly distraught Ripley. Sigourney Weaver probably gives one of her best performances in the role and you want her to win every battle before the movie’s end, this is just how great her acting is. The first hour is a slow burn, reintroducing us to the character of Ripley (even longer in Special Edition!) we don’t even see an Alien rear it’s domed head until were into our second hour! Instead we are treated to the life style of the over confident Marines, introduced to all their hardware and cockiness. Yes, it’s obviously all going to end badly for the Marines here. Ripley even tells them this before they land, but the Marines are like “Whatever!”. Embroiled in the Vietnam war due to Rambo Cameron decided to treat the Aliens as the Vietcong and his protagonists as the typical American Soldier – the so called Colonial Marines.
The interplay between Ripley and the marines, and also Marines to Marines Is what help glues this film together. all the bravo comradely actually helps us believe that this is a battle hardened crew of marines ready to face the oncoming challenge. The tension throughout this movie great, a part that was added on with the special edition released in 1991 (I loved my VHS edition, I think I may played it over 100 times) where they introduced the sentry guns. This showed that even with great fire power the Alien threat was ever present. If you have surround speakers – turn them up to hear the bumping sound of the Aliens as they reach the first steel doors! Awesome!
This movie is stages In three parts, The introduction, the Colony and then the escape. Now in most movies the ending can be a little bit of a damp squib. This movies changes all that by not only giving you the ending you expect but then going further to give you a proper ending you deserve. Introducing the Load lifter at the beginning was obviously showing that this thing was going to make a reappearance at some point. This give Ripley a way to fight the Alien hand to hand without diminishing their strength. It’s funny to think this film is over 30 years old now, as none of the tech as aged at all. Before CGI – the whole thing is practical effects and although they are men in suits – you wouldn’t believe they aren’t Aliens for one second. Cameron hired acrobats to perform In the six aliens suits and cuts the movie so you think there are hundreds of the buggers clambering around. The only thing to show the movie’s age is Ripley terrible suit and boots and 80’s tight perm.
I look forward to Alien 5 which will rewrite the story where 3 and 4 don’t exist – Although 3 was not a terrible film as some may suggest it did ruin all the good that was created in this movie by dispensing with 2 of the survivors and making you wonder why Ripley bothered going back for anyone if this was the outcome. In the end though if look at this movie as self contained movie you will have no complaints.