Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

We were out in Los Angeles covering E3 2010 and sitting in traffic with the highlight of that trip easily turning out be our boy Darnell taking us out to the Skotak studio. There he introduced us to Detroit homeys Robert and Dennis Skotak and their producer Elaine Edford who are without a doubt some of the nicest folks you will ever want to meet. I actually got to clutch an Academy Award which I gotta say would make a fine blunt force trauma weapon. Anyway what all of this is leading to is just to mention that one of the movies that the Skotak’s worked on was a little film from 1986 called ‘Aliens’ which I haven’t seen since it blew me out of my seat almost twenty five years ago, and of course this is the ‘Director’s Cut’ which I revisited and like a good bottle of high quality Boone’s Farm Wine, it only gets better with time.

You know the story; Folks pick up alien, alien kills people, girl fights alien, girl blows alien of an airlock and completely exhausted the girl takes a fifty seven year nap. This is where we pick up Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) whose ship is salvaged from space and taken to the hospital of the local Mega Corp where she is informed that everybody she knew, including her little girl, is dead now.

While that blows, what’s worse is that Mega Corp doesn’t believe her story – Aliens that bleed Acid? Come on now - and has even dispatched a few families of terraformers to mine the very same planet that her crew picked up their murderous stowaway so many years ago. Of course they lose contact with the settlement which leads to slimy Mega Corp clown Carter Burke (Paul Reiser) to beg Ripley to tag along with some marine badasses and act as a consultant should they run into these aliens which Mega Corp doesn’t think actually exist. Well they do but… It’s complicated.

Our marine badasses touch down but alas they are too late because whatever happened has jumped off majorly with nothing left but half eaten donuts and a little girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). At least that’s the way it looked at first because as it turns out most of the colonist are still alive, more or less, and its when our marines find these colonist, the roller coaster ride of terror that is ‘Aliens’ begins and won’t end until the explosive showdown. Aliens should really make a mental note to avoid airlocks on spaceships.

Since it had been so long since I had seen ‘Aliens’ I had no idea what footage had been added to this ‘Director’s Cut’ of the movie and had to resort to some external sources to find out what these scenes were and it seems to me that the theatrical version left some fairly critical stuff out of this movie back in the day. Admittedly the missing seventeen minutes didn’t affect my enjoyment of this film way back in 1986 but the added scenes makes a great movie even better. Spending just a little bit of time with the colonist and getting to see them go about their daily lives gave more impact to the disaster that the Alien population wrought upon these poor people. Beforehand we thought Ripley was so virulent in her protection of Newt simply because she was good person but learning about her daughter added a completely new dimension to her character and her motives. Then there was the scene of those automatic guns straight shredding aliens which was like one of the most badass scenes in the movie. Why get rid of that? If the studio absolutely positively had to cut something then they should’ve trimmed out some of Bill Paxton as the prerequisite ‘We All Gonna Die Guy’. That we could’ve done with less of.

But these scenes simply augmented what was already a great movie. James Cameron is a film director who has complete control over his camera and the images that he wants his audience to see, the special effects supervised by my friends the Skotak’s (I think I can call them my friends even though I’ve only met them once) are as good as any film you will ever see coming out of that time period, the performances are pitch perfect, especially Lance Henriksen playing against type as the soft spoken synthetic Bishop and H.R. Giger’s Aliens have never been more horrific.

It’s always a pleasure when you can revisit something that you enjoyed as a much younger person, and quite honestly a completely different person, and have this something turn out to be even better the next time around. ‘Aliens’ easily qualifies as that rare something. I wonder will my son feel the same way twenty five years from now when he watches the ‘Avatar’ Director’s Cut?

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