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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Aliens (1986) Action Suspense Alien

Aliens (1986) - Here we are again reviewing what we at Soresport Movies considers a classic. Where the 1979 Alien was a classic in horror science fiction the sequel that debuted a full seven years later was a classic in action suspense. Directed by James Cameron it is the perfect sequel to a great film. I watched the special edition and have to say at the outset, that the added scenes in this film were taken out with good reason. When they are included they do a number on the pacing and they also whack you over the head with the subtext of mother/daughter relationship that Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has with Newt (Carrie Henn). So if you have a choice watch the theatrical release.
Like the first film I like how this one foreshadows the bad guy. Burke (Paul Reiser) is a company guy who as the film goes on really becomes a mirror of the Ash character from the first. Sure his motivations are a bit more personal and greedy but still he is the sleazebag willing to sacrifice human life in order to get the alien into captivity. The way the foreshadowing happens is an excellently executed scene. Ripley has been found drifting through space and she is brought back to an orbital space station. There Burke enters her room carrying Jonsey. "I guess you two have met huh. I'm Burke, I'm Carter Burke. I work for the company, but don't let that fool you, I'm really an okay guy." Anytime someone defines themselves as a good guy you have to wonder about them. Then Burke spills how long that Ripley was drifting in space in hyper sleep, 57 years. It doesn't come off as genuine regret to him that she learns about it this way. Sure he makes the motions of apologizing but you can tell he is a bit of a weasel. Ripley suddenly feels something. In her chest, the convulsions start and we know there is going to be a chest burst. An alien is inside her and she begs Burke to kill her. She wakes from this nightmare giving the audience a great fake out.
The fact that Burke is her representative at her hearing concerning the destruction of the Nostromo is also and indicator. He is the instrument of her loosing her license to fly ships in the guise of being her ally. He is the perfect company man, all smiling and friendly but ultimately he is just using those around him to try to climb that corporate ladder. The entire hearing is a sham a way to blame the little guy of the company for loss of revenue. It was after all in adjusted dollars a 42 million dollar loss. The important thing here is that we learn that there are colonists on the planetoid attempting to create an atmosphere.
Now not to let a really bad movie from outside the four that we are reviewing in playing along at home with the Zombiegrrlz podcast. I bit the bullet and watch Alien vs Predator, and in that film long before the goings on from the original aliens the Weyland company knew about aliens. Having sent a group to the multicultural temple buried beneath Antarctica they learned of both the Aliens from this movie and the Predators from its series. Question is did the one survivor from AVP tell anyone what she saw? If she did then this whole hearing and everything from the series is totally thrown out of whack. Lets pretend though that that movie was never made since that is what most Alien fans do. So although the company may have known or not known, Ripley was clear in her communications about the alien. There was no good reason to send people of to that location again other than to try to get someone else infected.
Several months later when the company loses contact with the settlers on the planetoid we have to assume they feel a certain amount of panic in the conference rooms of the company. Having been warned this would happen. It could be a PR nightmare to have Ripley on every newscast of earth talking about how she warned them of the dangers and they did not listen. They have to at least get her away where she can't blow the whistle. So offering her her flight license back to go on the mission to check out the colony is the perfect solution. She is not the perfect character though, still racked by nightmares she is barely functioning in the world. She really doesn't want this and knows it is going to turn out bad. She though in the end must face her fears and possible save some people in the process.
Playing off war movies, particularly Vietnam flicks we get the inexperience commanding officer inheriting a squad of experience soldiers. It is a great set up for this film giving the audience a reason to know thing are going to go wrong. Ripley gets to be the grounding force among these men and women. They are all piss and vinegar having killed many lesser species in the past. She tries to reality check them having experience the real horrors of war.
The special edition adds in many scenes first showing how Newt's family were the first to come in contact with the face huggers. They went out to lay claim on that part of the rock and after leaving the kids in the transport, the parents go and check out the ship only to come back with a creature on Dad's face. Trauma for sure for such a cute little girl. Of course when they get back to the settlement we can guess what happened. So this little girl survived and Ripley becomes her adopted mother, other scenes show Ripley finding out about the passing of her daughter and mourner her death. She floated out there for a long time and we see how James Cameron originally had way too much of the mother daughter connection in the film and then wisely took them out. It is a fine example how good editing works to improve a movie. The promise to Newt by Ripley to get her no matter what really was all that was needed. She follows through on that promise all the way until the end and when Newt grabs Ripley around the neck and cries "Mommy", it is a perfect connection even without the extra scenes of the special edition.
There is a distinct mother daughter parallel between the queen alien and the eggs she is laying and the Ripley, Newt relationship. They both care for their charges and want to protect them. When Ripley finally gets Newt back after she was cocooned she stands there looking at the queen, threatening her eggs with a flame thrower to get her guard aliens to back off. After Ripley torches the eggs anyway and they make their get away the screaming queen alien rips herself away from her birthing appendage and comes after Ripley for vengeance. On the ship as they leave the planet the queen does not come after Ripley but instead goes after Newt, she want Ripley to feel the pain of losing offspring. Of course then we get the great reveal of Ripley in the loader suit, "Get away from her you bitch!" and the fight is on.
We also see more about the Aliens, that there is a society in play here. It is not a bunch of insects to be exterminated in a "bug hunt". It is a hierarchy with a queen who rules with some kind of communication to her workers. She has Alien guards who stay close to her when she is laying eggs. Ripley saw her telepathically call them off in her confrontation with the queen. The aliens are smart enough to figure out how to test the automated gun, and then again to get into the compound by climbing above the hanging ceiling. There attacked are coordinated and planned. While the first film was about a lone drone alien fighting for survival the second film is about a colony well defined and controlled by the queen.
This is another excellent film
Rating (8.9) 5.0 and up are recommended

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