Aliens was one of those rare sequels that must include T2 where everything gets taken up a notch without spoiling the elements that made the first successful. This is not to say Aliens is better than the original, but very different yet somehow very much the same. Sigourney Weaver acts with a confidence made possible by the first film. It’s hard to believe but Ripley just gets stronger. The story is much more complex but still retains the chilling simplicity of a horrible creature stalking its prey. There are more cr…atures but you still only get enough glimpses to creep you out. The most important difference, however, is James Cameron and his action oriented style. For Aliens Cameron literally brings out the marines.
Picking up where Alien left off, Ripley (Weaver) is rescued and returned to Earth where she faces serious questions from the company about the alien and the destruction of the Nostromo. No one seems to believe her story until contact is lost with a colony established on the original planet while Ripley was in suspended animation. Ripley reluctantly leads a platoon of space marines to eliminate the creatures.
Aliens is presented in a kick-butt Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Unlike the more subtle, reserved sounds of the first film this one is loud. The disc uses ambient sounds like an orchestra uses strings. There is a near constant bombardment of explosions and gunfire. Surprisingly little of the dialogue is lost in this endless fury, although there are rare moments when dialogue does suffer. James Horner’s score is more vibrant than Goldsmith’s was, which fits the mood of the film well. Highs are crystal and there’s plenty to drive your sub throughout the film.
Aliens is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1… another spectacular transfer from 20th Century Fox. There is still a considerable amount of grain particularly in the planet exteriors but as in the first film it is intended and adds to the mood of the film. Darks are quite realistic and contrasts are vital in this film. All of this is reproduced admirably. My only complaint is there were a handful of moments where it seems some print artifact was not fixed. I’ve read this was because elements of the scene would have been removed in the process. I don’t know how true that is, but it’s not overly distracting and didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the print.
Again there are many incredible features packed into this edition… and again many are returned from previous releases including the deluxe laserdisc. About 17 minutes of footage was reintegrated into the film and I believe this greatly improves the overall film. There’s some exciting behind the scenes footage and an informative interview with James Cameron. Let’s not forget the collection of trailers, production stills and text based stuff to complete this rather generous DVD. The menus are similar to those in Alien and are quite fun to navigate.
James Cameron sure knows how to shine in sequels. Aliens, like his T2, manages to combine a compelling science fiction story with Die Hard like action and adventure.The character of Ripley is more finely tuned and the addition of Bill Paxton is an inspired bit of casting. I could do without the character of Newt and Riser’s unsympathetic role comes across as awkward to me. It’s hard to imagine that Giger’s work could be improved, but the creatures are certainly more frightening than ever. How does this film compare with the first? It’s the same only different. You could best describe Aliens as “It’s a bug hunt”.
Special Features List
- Includes Over 17 Minutes of Restored Footage
- Behind-the-scenes footage
- Interview with James Cameron
- Photo Gallery
- Theatrical trailer
- Booklet with production notes