Review: Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Scene access; trailer; James Cameron
interview; Behind-the-scenes footage; photo gallery; subtitles
in 10 languages.
IF RIDLEY Scott's Alien is a tension-packed and hugely claustrophobic
screamathon, then James Cameron's pumped-up sequel is an adrenalin-fuelled
rollercoaster ride through Deep Space which heralded a brave new
direction for the franchise.
Using only elements of Scott's original, Cameron's movie is a
very different beast; refraining from the obvious pitfalls of
the sequel (ie, more of the same, only louder and more spectacular)
and opting for an all-out assault on the sense. It's no coincidence
that the poster to Cameron's movie states: 'This time, it's war'.
Set 57-years after the events on the Nostromo, the movie picks
up after Sigourney Weaver's sole survivor, Ellen Ripley, is picked
up by a deep space salvage crew. Sent back to Earth to explain
herself, Ripley (still haunted by the events of the first film)
has a hard time convincing her superiors about her story, until
contact is lost with the colony that has been established on the
planet which first harboured the alien.
Reluctantly, Ripley agrees to go back with an elite troop of
marines to wipe out the alien threat and rescue what remains of
the survivors - but things don't go according to plan and it isn't
long before Ripley must face up to her nightmare once more for
another do-or-die confrontation.
One of the biggest talking points among fans (and critics) of
the alien franchise is whether Alien or its sequel is the better
movie; but the two are so different it could almost be a mute
point. Cameron's Aliens has a mind of its own and works on a different
level to Scott's interpretation, filling the screen with aliens
and seldom shying away from the action.
It's this in-yer-face approach which keeps things fresh and exciting,
as well as developing the character of Ripley from a gutsy loner
to a maternal protector.
The DVD release of the movie includes the 17-minutes of extra
footage missing from the cinema version which develops the Ripley
back story even further (she receives the unwelcome news that
during her 57 years in hyper-sleep, her daughter grew old and
died) as well as adding another well-staged action sequence -
involving the Sentry Guns and the aliens' subsequent change of
Weaver, as usual, is superb in the lead role, while the likes
of Michael Biehn and Bill ('Game over, man!') Paxton add solid
support, seldom losing out to the effects (which remain pretty
And if Alien has numerous individual moments, then so too does
Aliens - notably Ripley's final battle with the Queen alien, the
aforementioned Sentry sequence, the marines' first encounter with
the aliens and, of course, the tension-packed encounter with the
face-huggers involving Ripley and Newt.
Aliens constitutes cinema at its most exhilarating and Cameron
at his best; it is damn near essential viewing and a must-have
for any fans of the science fiction genre.