Revisiting an old favourite: Aliens [Director’s Cut] (James Cameron, 1986)

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Back when I first saw this movie, I was young enough that my parents probably should have gone all Ted Crilly on me about it. (“Dougal! We are not watching Aliens!”) But they didn’t, and it was the scariest thing I’d ever seen. Also the best, obviously. (Alien, however, bored me, which amazes me every time I rewatch it.) I’d never seen the Director’s Cut, though, so recently decided to give it a whirl.

A few thoughts:

– I appreciate the storyline about Ripley’s grief over her daughter, but agree with the general consensus that the extra scenes in the Director’s Cut are unnecessary. The movie works perfectly well without the padding, and the beginning has far more suspense if we haven’t seen anything on LV-426 before the Sulaco arrives. And no one in the world has ever wanted to hear more of Newt screaming.

– As a Red Dwarf fan, it was still good to see Mac McDonald in an extra scene. Turns out he’s basically playing a non-comedic version of Hollister. There’s a certain irony here; Alien had a strong influence on Red Dwarf, whereas Aliens probably had none at all.

– Bishop has a constant air of embarassment, and yet he’s capable of doing something like crawling through that mortifying tube. He’s so human and not human at the same time.

– I’ve characterised Cameron as a writer of hokey dialogue, but after rewatching this, I think I need to cut him some slack. Aside from, arguably, some of the stuff with Newt, this is not a hokey movie.

– I’ve read that Sigourney Weaver worked out in preparation for this movie, but didn’t diet. This is cool and all, but it’s not entirely positive to say that some female actors and models can be successful without starving themselves when being naturally thin has something to do with it.

– Some of the worse moments in this movie are when the characters unintentionally make things worse for each other, eg. Vasquez getting Drake sprayed with acid when she’s trying to save him, and Vasquez and Gorman’s grenade knocking Newt into the sewers.

– It really gets to me that not only does Hicks die in his sleep, he never even finds out if Ripley and Newt survive. Thanks for nothing, Alien3. (NOTHING.)

– I’ve heard some people say that Aliens is better than Alien because Alien is “just a slasher movie.” Wouldn’t saying that Aliens is “just an action movie” sound snobbish (as well be as asking for trouble)?

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