Plot: What’s it about?
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has survived the recent ordeal, and has been picked up by a probe ship. When questioned about the events that led to her hypersleep, Ripley tells the tale of the alien and the destruction it brought with it. Of course, no one believes her, and in fact a mining colony is now located on the same planet as the alien attack. But all is not well in the mining colony, as contact has been lost, and a search and rescue mission is called for. Despite the danger involved, Ripley opts to join the mission, along with a shock troopers, who will lay waste to anything standing in the way of this project. As we know, there are more than miners on the planet, and things don’t look good for the crew as they hone in on their destination. No matter how cocky they are and no matter powerful their weaponry is, the odds rest comfortably against them on this effort. Ripley was able to escape with her life the first time she encountered the alien, but with more than one looming around, can she survive again?
Whenever a movie has some success, discussions turn toward a possible sequel, and that was the case after Alien enjoyed a healthy box office take. Now, few sequels can manage to equal their predicators, with most falling somewhere toward a bottomless pit of obscurity. Following a movie like Alien is no easy task, but Aliens is more than up to snuff as far as keeping the series entertaining. What makes this success even more impressive is the direction of this movie. While Alien functioned as a suspense driven horror movie, Aliens is a flat out action flick, although some feel the popcorn factor is a little too high. I do think this movie compromises the darkness of the original, but it does have a very high level of energy, which makes up for it. With James Cameron behind the camera, you know the action is going to be constant and intense, and here is no exception. The last half of the film just grabs you and shakes the hell out of you, never letting go. While I do not agree with those who tout this as the best of the series, I do think it stands as a fantastic movie, and it serves the series well.
This movie was directed by a man whose name you all will recognize, James Cameron. Cameron is best known the masses for directing Titanic, but before he picked up the Kleenex, he was always holding a gun. Cameron is the directing force behind some of the all time action classics, such as The Terminator, T2: Judgment Day, True Lies, and the underwater epic, The Abyss. While his filmography isn’t extensive, almost every film Cameron touches turns to gold. I hope that his success with Titanic doesn’t pull him away from the genre that made him famous, action. We all know Sigourney Weaver is excellent in all the Alien movies, so I will move onto the supporting cast of this movie, which is one mixed bag of talent. Two Cameron regulars, Michael Beihn and Bill Paxton appear in this movie, with Paxton serving as an annoying, yet unforgettable character. His wails toward the climax are hilarious and are the catch phrases from the series. The rest of the cast is good also, but none give noteworthy performances. The others include Al Matthews (The Fifth Element, Superman III), Jenette Goldstein (Terminator 2, Lethal Weapon 2), Paul Reiser (Diner, Bye Bye Love), and the ever adorable Carrie Henn as Newt.
Video: How does it look?
Aliens is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer, which is framed at the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Like you would expect, the visuals are driven by darker shades, but the contrast levels ensure a strong image. Even in some of the darkest scenes, detail is very sharp and visible. There is more green and naturalistic Earth tones than bright colors, but they seem to be come across well, with no muted shades or distortion. I didn’t see any compression problems, let’s hope Fox’s future endeavors are this well done.
Audio: How does it sound?
If you want a disc to impress your friends with, this one would certainly turn the trick. When the guns are blazing, blood is spraying, and charges are going off, you’ll be hitting the deck as well, since you’ll feel like the bullets are heading right for you. Every speaker in the place will be pulsing away, your neighbors be will yelling, in short, this is a wonderful audio experience. One small complaint I have lies with the dialogue, which seems to be a couple notches too loud.
Supplements: What are the extras?
While not a true supplement, I am pleased that Fox included the extended director’s cut of the film, so I wanted to mention it here. Eight small featurettes are included, which show various behind the scenes footage. While these are welcome additions, I think it would have been better to combine these into one larger piece. An interview with James Cameron is also found on the disc, which is interesting if a little dated, and runs about twelve minutes. A very extensive still photo gallery is also provided, which is packed with stills of all sorts, advertising, behind the scenes, publicity, and many more. The theatrical trailers for all four Alien movies are included, and some talent files and production notes can be found on the insert booklet.