Worth A Look: 12.02%
Pretty Bad: 1.94%
Total Crap: 1.16%
7 reviews, 216 user ratings
by Brian McKay
ALIENS isn't just a movie, but a movie experience that sticks with you and begs for numerous revisits. It's the kind of film that marks career milestones and re-defines genres. It's so deeply entrenched in our pop-culture psyche that if anyone does a parody that features anything bursting out of somebody's chest, 9 out of 10 viewers will probably get it. But why is it so great?The stock answers are James Cameron's fantastic script and directing, Sigourney Weaver's Balls-to-the-Wall performance, a strong supporting cast, and a plethora of still-amazing action sequences and special effects. But more than all that, it's the attention to the little details that have entrenched this movie into our brains.
"I've now seen it about ten times. There will be an Eleventh."
Everything in this film feels real. The alien creations of H.R. Geiger are terrifying and organic, and it's all to easy to believe that something like that could have evolved in the primordial soup of some harsh, distant world. The habitats they create with their "secreted resin" look completely natural in an unnatural way.
Likewise, the prop and model designs in Aliens are spot-on perfect. Everything from the drop ships to the Marines' Smartguns and Pulse Rifles looks like a real, functional piece of technology. Just futuristic looking enough to be edgy and cool, but grounded enough in present-day hardware to be completely credible. The addition of giving everything a beat-up and well-used look, along with the random adornment of trooper graffiti, ensures that nothing on screen is ever seen as "just a prop".
All these little things, combined with the great script, acting, and directing, make Aliens a near-flawless film, as well as a sequel that completely rivals the original. I'm not going to say one is better than the other. They're both fucking amazing. Any comparison between Ridley Scott's "Haunted House in Space" and Cameron's "Bug Hunt", would be apples and oranges. As for those fucking travesties known as Alien 3 and Alien Ressurection . . . let's just say that I prefer not to acknowledge their existence after the way they thoroughly raped all the groundwork that Scott and Cameron so painstakingly set up.
Everyone who's been anywhere near this film knows that the highlight performances come from Sigourney "Get Away from her you BITCH" Weaver, Bill "Game over man, game over!" Paxton, Paul "It was a bad call" Reiser (who I despise in everything but this film) and Michael "short, controlled bursts!" Biehn. Oh, and let's not forget Lance Henriksen as Bishop, the android with fiber optic intestines and soy milk for blood. But I think it's time we give honorable mention to the lesser known players who made no less of a contribution towards making this film great.
Jeanette Goldstein - She played Private Vasquez, the tough Mexican with the big smartgun. She fucking rocked. She pretty much dropped off the face of Hollywood afterward, save the occasional supporting role that nobody recognized her in. Bloody shame.
Rico Ross - He played Private Frost (you know, the black guy). He also rocked, providing several great moments of comic relief to ease the tension. Like most of the alien chow, he died too soon. Frosty, we hardly knew ye!
Mark Rolston - He played Private Drake, the tall blonde guy who carried the other big gun. He and Vasquez made a kick ass team. He also died quick, but he bagged his share on the way out. Was it just me, or did he and Vasquez have a little "thing" going on?
William Hope - he played the green and weasely Lt. Gorman. Really, is this not the finest portrayal ever of a sweaty-lipped West Pointer who nearly gets his squad killed before finally strutting some heroics?
and last but not least,
Al Matthews as Seargeant Apone. Absolutely bad ass! Once again, another fine cast member who checked out too soon. Hey, wait a minute - he and Frosty where the only two black guys in the squad, and they were among the first to die. Man, it is true - they always kill the brothers off first! That is some bullshit, man! It's all a studio ploy to keep a brotha down! Does Martin Lawrence know about this?
The extended edition DVD almost feels like getting a new movie. It features several minutes of restored footage that include a scene of the colonists finding the derelict egg-filled ship from the first film, and the Marines using automated sentry guns to stave off the Alien hordes. While these scenes were originally cut for length and pacing, they go a long way towards enhancing the story and ambiance. Unlike Apocalypse Now Redux, the extra footage doesn't feel meandering or tacked on, and provides a more solid groundwork for many of the film's themes and sub-plots.
Bonus Game Review: Aliens Vs. Predator 2
While the ill-fated A vs P movie has yet to materialize, it has been turned into a PC gaming franchise that captures the spirit of the source material remarkably well. Any hardcore fan of the Alien films simply must pick it up. While the first A vs P game was certainly noteworthy for being scary as shit thanks to oppressively dark level designs and digital hordes of nasty squealing skittering slithering aliens, A vs P: 2 raises the bar with better graphics, more innovative level designs, and adding additional equipment and plot elements for the marine character that make you feel like you're living in the nightmare of the films. The levels are even darker, with long stretches of empty silence punctuated only by the dull electronic pulse of your motion tracker. When a dot appears on the scope, emitting high-pitched squeals that grow in intensity as your target gets closer, you experience the exhilirating terror of being both the hunter and the prey. The aliens are scary as fuck and will swarm out of every dark niche and cranny. Thank God and the game developers for weapons in your inventory like the smartgun, which can track targets even in complete darkness. The addition of a shoulder-mounted flashlight and infrared vision (absent in the first game) both aid in gameplay and help create a scary environment that has not been seen since the likes of the nightmare-inducing classic Playstation game Silent Hill.
A vs P: 2 also gives you the option to play as the Predator or Alien, but nothing can truly steep the player in the Aliens experience like playing the outnumbered Colonial Marine who is only a few clips away from being cocooned in xenomorph spunk. Don't worry, though, the hardware will be up to the task, including a militarized version of the power loader Sigourney used in the film that boasts a splendid array of heavy weapons.
The games also make excellent use of sound effects from the films to touch all the right nerve endings. Nothing sets the player on edge like the sound of a motion tracker going off, or the distant shriek of an alien. The ambient sounds of dripping water, faint wind, and the droning mechanical hum of doors opening and closing all add layers to the sense of dread and impending horror, giving many of the levels that abandoned "haunted house" feel.
Like the first two films, Aliens Vs Predator 2 steeps you in an atmosphere of darkness and fear, delivering up scares and nasty deaths aplenty. Despite some occasional problems with the A.I. (aliens trying to chase you may get stuck in walls or corners, etc.) the games build atmosphere and deliver suspense in spades. Play it at night with the sound up and the lights out. And wear some Depends.ALIENS is a classic in every sense, and even the franchise's later atrocities cannot tarnish it. Fuck you, ALIEN 3. In my mind, Ripley and Newt will always make it home.
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originally posted: 02/11/03 19:55:19