Monday, February 25, 2013

MR Aliens

And after the original scifi huis clos, the action kicks in, in the almost as cult classic sequel!

This time - it's WAR!

Want more Alien/Predator-related reviews? Check the following!!

Movie: Aliens
Directed by James Cameron
Release date 1986
Genre Science-fiction action
Country USA

In the 1980s, the studio 20th Century Fox went back Alien.
Fresh of the success of the 1970s classic, they wanted to make another. Ridley Scott was occupied with other scifi projects of his own (namely Blade Runner), so instead Fox turned to different film directors.

James Cameron came at the right time on this project.
He came right off the success of Terminator in 1984. The Schwarzenegger classic established Cameron as a big name science fiction/action director and a suitable film director for the whole Alien II film.
After some initial discussions and ideas thrown in there, the movie was greenlit with Cameron's involvement from the screenplay to the story, and even a bit of special effects design.

Aliens - as the title implies, would be bigger than Alien on several aspects.
More suspense, more action and specially, more aliens...

The sequel takes place approximatively 57 years after the original.

Ellen Ripley was the only survivor of the Nostromo.
She drifted in stasis in space all those years until a ship was able to pick her up.
After being held a trial in front of people from the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, people doubted her whole story about a xenomorph creature killing the rest of her crew so they retired her pilot license.
There wasn't any evidence of any of that.
That is when a guy named Carter Burke decided to bring her on board a rescue mission to LV-426 - the planet where all of it happened.
Since those last 50 years, LV-426 has been colonized. They recently lost contact with the colony. Burke and Lieutenant Gorman of the Colonial Marines want to dispatch a team to investigate. And Burke promised they would destroy any egg they would find there.

After a while, Ripley accepts to accompany this rescue team, a unit of  Colonial Marines and thus ends up returning to the planet with some serious firepower this time.
What could go wrong?

The arrive LV-426, don't find any survivors but instead hordes of these aliens....!
The rest is, well, history.

Aliens has more of an action adventure tone than the horror from the original.
Cameron wanted to make the series his, a new world filled with new faces and monsters.
He really kept the same creature and formula, but showed some new sides to it.

As such Aliens is more focused on combat. As he even said himself, it's "more terror than horror".

The film was actually a bit inspired by the Vietnam War. You can certainly feel it a bit in the scenes with the marines.
Soldiers being sent out with what appears to be technological superiority in an hostile foreign environment...but end up getting slaughtered because they weren't told everything...

Cameron had the aliens creature designed.
He wanted new aliens to make the movie his own. They have this new ridged look, almost fragile. Giger's design was changed a bit, without the head-dome as pronounced. You can take these new creatures as "drones" to explain the differences from the first movie.
Syd Mead, who worked on classics like Blade Runner or Tron worked on the special effects, designs and vehicles.
There's also a new important element introduced to the Alien lore & life cycle, the Alien Queen! Partially designed by Cameron himself, the gigantic monster was built by Stan Winsto.
A life sized one was built in the Hollywood studios as well as a miniature.

Aliens was served by a fantastic cast that could only turn the great screenplay into an even better production.
Sigourney Weaver was fantastic (I know, I can't stop using that word...) once more, but supported by an even greater cast as well.

It's really an all around well rounded cast of supporting characters
Paul Reiser is great as Burke, the "default" corporation representative/main villain.
But all the others are just as memorable.
Lance Henriksen as the android of this movie, Bishop, a great contrast to the original Alien's own android.
And let's not also forget Michael Beihn as Hicks, William Hope as Lt. Gorman, the inimitable Bill Paxton as Hudson, Jenette Goldstein as Vasquez and all the others!
They're all really interesting and unlike many other blockbusters, you end up really caring about them and their unavoidable deaths.
Sigourney Weaver really carries this whole picture, alongside the then-youngr Carrie Henn as Newt. Newt is the lone survivor of the colony and truly is the heart of Aliens.

The music is amazing - which is quite impressive when you know it was left to the end of the production and didn't get as much attention besides namedropping James Horner early on the development.
His score is eerie, and has since then became as cult as the film itself.
The musical cues for the action and the last countdown have since been imitated many times but never matched

Aliens went on being nominated and winning several Academy Awards, for so many categories.
Special effects, best actress/or, directing and writing!

Overall, one of the classics of the science-fiction/action horror genre.
Classic Cameron at his finest.
It's a movie where you knew it could only be this good. Well grounded characters great action scenes and a few scares - though to a lesser extent than in the first Alien.

In the end, both are radically different artistic representation of the same universe.
Instead of just copying that one original movie, Cameron went with his own atmosphere and offered something different/something more.
He was brilliant back then, and it really shows through this picture. Fantastic lighting and great cinematography... it only gets better every time!
A near perfect film, not as perfect as Alien in my eyes, but close.
You end up liking all the characters, something rare in movies nowadays, none are really stereotypes even though they did establish the basis that many movies would try to imitate later on. 
And as in the first movie, the women came out as the strongest characters in the movie, which would become a staple for the Alien series.

The original movie was way too long for producers originally, and thus James Cameron had to cut it down.
He didn't like that so it become something he really fought in his next movie pictures, things went differently with Titanic or The Abyss after that.
Anyway, the original cut was 148 min' long, it's not really a "Director's cut" as it gets named on DVDs & Blurays. And the theatrical cut is actually a cutdown version, leaving out more than 15 minutes of original footage.
I really recommend the longer version, since the original '86 release cut a lot of character development, aspects of Ripley's background, more in-depth details and information. It's best to experience the full movie as it was intended!

Aliens lives up to first original Alien movie and it was the one that established the franchise!

I give it:
2.5 / 3 UFOs!

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