Aliens (1986)

MWagner

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Aliens may be my most-watched film. It's my go-to choice for a lazy/hungover Saturday afternoon. In the way it builds up to the chaotic, shocking scene where the marines get their asses handed to them, and then becomes a one-against-many defend the fort movie - it's the perfectly structured and paced action film. And it still looks great.

But I agree with Toby that Alien is on a different level artistically. Superbly atmospheric, from the soft lighting to the spare, eerie score, to the camera tracking down the oppressive tunnels and hatchways of the Nostroma. Every shot framed perfectly. Alien could have been made by Kubrick. And there hasn't been anything like it made since. It's imitators are too gory, or too action-oriented, or the characters are a bunch of hot 20-somethings and cliches. Nothing else captures the mix of realism, strangeness, and horror of Alien.
 

HanaBi

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All this talk of Alien(s), has got me in the mood to watch both later tonight or tomorrow evening. Still not sure about Alien3. Haven't seen it in about 10 years, and for good reason. But perhaps I can forgive, forget and give it another chance!

And as for Alien:Resuscitation! No way, Jose!
 
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Toby Frost

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I think the problem with Alien 3 is just that it’s not especially good. It makes some bad choices (killing Hicks and Newt, the prison setting, the shaven heads) but there seems to be a bit of a myth that there’s a really good cut of it somewhere. I don’t think there is. It has good bits, and Fincher has gone on to make some excellent films, but I don’t think it holds up on the whole very well.

On the subject of Alien’s brilliance, it has a kind of surreal horror that Aliens lacks. There are moments in Alien where the whole film seems to have gone mad: when the astronauts seem to be exploring something’s innards instead of a space ship; the chestburster; and Ash’s and Lambert’s deaths are all disgusting but also so insane that it’s hard to believe what you’re seeing (or hearing) the first time around. Much has been made of the elegance of the alien, but this mixture of the revolting and the bizarre is very disconcerting and hard to take. The only other equivalents I can think of now come from The Thing, the end of The Wicker Man and perhaps parts of Marathon Man.

What I come away from Alien with is horror, but also awe. In that way, it’s the best Lovecraft adaptation that I’ve seen, because it keeps the core idea of Lovecraft’s works but gets rid of the dusty books, old houses and so on. Aliens is more like a very fast rollercoaster. It’s almost too much, but you at least know that it’s going to make sense.
 

Dan Jones

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Still not sure about Alien3.
If you can get hold of the Director's Cut of Alien3 it might change your perception of it; I thought it was a fantastic film, and quite different from the cinematic release. Completely different from the first two, of course, but I think it stands up.

As for Alien: Resurrection, I think I might be the only person in the universe to actually have a fondness for this film. It is not the science fiction classic of the first two, by any means, but it had a French art director at the helm, and was a completely different interpretation; Jeunet was trying to do his own thing, and I think he succeeded. It probably helps that I wrote an essay on the film for my NF book, which made me appreciate it and try to understand it in a different way, but I still feel like I'm the sole outlier defending Jeunet's artistic choices while everybody else hurls rocks at him from LV426.
 

J-Sun

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I feel like I've talked about these before but it seems not on this thread, anyway. For me, Alien is a great flick but, as has been said, it's mostly a slasher flick where people get knocked off one by one in a virtually defenseless way. In Aliens, no matter how bad things are at a given moment and how many people get knocked off, they mostly die with their boots on and at least have a chance to shoot back, taking a few with them. Passive/active; introvert/extrovert; horror/action. Plus it has the fist-pumping moments of Ripley firing up the cargo loader and so on. And it's funny at the same time as it's deadly serious - very memorable dialog - I can hardly remember a line from the first and there are few lines I don't remember from the second.

As far as the third, I can respect it for trying to create a work of art out of the trilogy beyond just great, high-quality entertainment. It can be seen as going for more honesty as the third act of what is truly and fundamentally a tragedy. Or that's not what they were going for and it was just a goof. Either way, it just makes for an awful film and the way they start it just instantly and gratuitously undoes everything in the second movie and I just don't like it and don't even grant it canon status in my head.

And the fourth (initial Whedon involvement with the script notwithstanding) was just the usual crass Hollywood flogging of the dead horse. Franchise, baby! Money money money. Besides which, it just struck me as terrible. Though Sigourney and Winona made it worth seeing once, I guess. But I'd still like to unsee some of it.

First one I like and respect; second I love. Both great. The other two, not so much. And any other stuff with anything to do with "Alien", I haven't even seen.
 

Judderman

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Aliens is surely the greatest sci fi action film. The ultimate group of loudmouth and cocky but skilled Marines. The memorable lines. The dark atmosphere. The Aliens themselves. The question marks over the Android and his calm behaviour. The scares. The action. The heroine. The slimy corporate backstabber. The confidence turned to desperation of the Marines. Then when you first watch you think the film is ending and then followed by the surprise of the Queen's return and the final fight. Arguably Alien, the first movie, is superior but I enjoy Aliens more.

Although nowhere near as superb as the first 2 films I thought Alien 3 was entertaining and fitted the series. It kept the dark atmosphere of the series, the Prison theme fitted with that, and it had a few twists with the dog Alien and the Ripley development.
 

J Riff

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There's a 'making of' for Alien3 that explains the difficulties. Apparently the plot was chopped, it's actually a better story than got made. Ideally this new, next Alien will get rid of the Ripley character and .... well let's wait and see.
 

hej

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yup, it is one of the very rare sequels to stand up alongside the original...
I think so too, but I was a wee bit disappointed in this one.

I did like the space marines and the weaponry -- in particular the robot machine guns.

I found the loaders to be implausible, but acknowledge their necessity owing to the final confrontation.
 

hej

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Oh, one of my favorite lines from this (or any) flick is from, I think, Vasquez after she has done pull-ups with gusto.

"Vasquez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?"
"No. Have you?"
 

reiver33

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I preferred it without the sentry guns (I've seen the 'Directors Cut'). The linking corridor the aliens use is described as a 'shooting gallery', and from the base schematic it offered zero cover. Given how bunched up they would have been when breaking though the end pressure door, then they must have taken severe losses, and there were no more than 200-odd to begin with. It makes more sense for the Marines to make a fighting retreat in the face of overwhelming numbers, than a last stand against the few surviving aliens.

Just my thoughts!
 

hej

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I preferred it without the sentry guns (I've seen the 'Directors Cut'). The linking corridor the aliens use is described as a 'shooting gallery', and from the base schematic it offered zero cover
I can see where you're coming from.

The weaponry, I like. The WWI-style charge by highly intelligent creatures I found hard to justify.
 

Vince W

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I preferred it without the sentry guns (I've seen the 'Directors Cut'). The linking corridor the aliens use is described as a 'shooting gallery', and from the base schematic it offered zero cover. Given how bunched up they would have been when breaking though the end pressure door, then they must have taken severe losses, and there were no more than 200-odd to begin with. It makes more sense for the Marines to make a fighting retreat in the face of overwhelming numbers, than a last stand against the few surviving aliens.

Just my thoughts!
I'm of the same mind. I generally don't like so-called 'Director's Cuts'. There's a reason you hire an editor in the first place. ;)
 

Phyrebrat

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Aliens could also support the argument that it was the first found-footage film; the marines’ cams that Ripley and How-Many-Drops-Is-This-For-You-Lieutenant are forced to witness the horrible demise of the squad speaks to this.

pH
 

Overread

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I can see where you're coming from.

The weaponry, I like. The WWI-style charge by highly intelligent creatures I found hard to justify.
Aliens have always shown somewhat variable intelligence. I think in part because we forget that most aliens are actually very young; most are hardly a few hours out of the chest before they are being gunned down. I think also the nature of their environment trains them in how they think, so against terraformers chances are they only faced a few light weapons and the terror aspect of their attacks likely also caused more people to suddenly turn and flee rather than remain shooting.

So the corridor being a shooting bloodbath makes some sense - the aliens are more used to light arms and people running; rather than concentrated long term fire that doesn't stop. A bit like the WW1 situation of first discovering machine guns being used on you - the aliens keep charging and its likely not till later that they'd adapt their strategies.

Aliens on their own also seem to act smarter than those in a group; grouped aliens seem to react to things more like a herd so it could be a safety in numbers thing. A lone alien acts far more cautious; whilst a group far less so. A lot might also hinge on the aliens "hive" mentality. If you're the only alien you know of then you're the "hive" and thus your personal safety is of paramount importance. But if you're one of many then its only the safety of the hive that you worry about rather than your own individual safety.

The only aliens that sort of start to go against that are the 4th film ones which seem to show a higher level of self awareness/intelligence. However that might in part be due to their slightly different biology by that stage - it could also be not simply higher intelligence but a variation that is closer toward a human viewpoint.




Going back to the corridor scene I think its an important one in the film as it outlines why in the latter parts of the film Riply is able to charge in and rescue Newt. The aliens have clearly suffered heavy losses by that stage due to their failed attack; which coupled with their general spread around the hive means that there are fewer of them to guard the queen and the nest. Where as otherwise you'd have expected Riply to have been torn to bits at some stage quite easily.
 

J Riff

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Yeah, but in Alien:Conjob, they come out with all the memories of the earlier batch... they instinctively know where the primary heat exchangers are, so they can blow up the ship without much writing, and that's just wrong. )
 

Overread

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The comics developed the concept of telepathy within the Aliens far more so than was ever evident in the films - indeed the films suggest telepathy only in the fourth film. I suspect this is because we mostly deal with only one or two aliens through most of the films in a direct manner- whilst in Aliens (the film) we don't see much alien to alien interaction. Indeed going on the films one can assume that most communicate via voice and visual language as the only telepathic link is shown between Riply and the Queen.
 

BAYLOR

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It never gets old Of the Alien films , this is my favorite installment. (y):cool:
 

Brian G Turner

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Just re-watched Aliens again, this time with all the family. I think my youngest daughter found it a little intense at times, but otherwise everyone really enjoyed it.

It's really amazing to see how progressive this is for 1986 - from Bishop wanting to be called an "artificial person" rather than "synthetic", to the showing of women soldiers in frontline positions, to the whole matriarchal conflict between Ripley and the alien queen. Plus, of course, the character of Ripley being portrayed as a person rather than a sexualized object or needing a romantic interest. Ironically, if made today, it would probably be criticized for its social politics.

Anyway, I'm glad the family enjoyed this, and Aliens very much remains one of the best SF Classic films of all time. While Bladerunner has wonderful visuals and Vangelis's haunting soundtrack, there's little that comes close to the tight plotting and story development that Aliens succeeds with.
 

Overread

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I wish we got more female leads like Ripley. She was never perfect, never an ex-super soldier trained and then retired (as a huge number of sudden heroes turn out to be). She was just a tough gal thrown in a horror story and doing her best to fight through it.
 
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