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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Aliens : Special Edition
Aliens : Special Edition
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Review by Chuck Arrington | posted June 25, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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ALIENS

Synopsis:

Picking up immediately following the events of Alien, Aliens picks up the storyline and takes the viewer on one of the best motion picture thrill ride adventures ever filmed. Aliens changes the rules & instead of one Alien going after a crew of seven, try a planet full of Aliens going after a handful of Colonial Marines, with only Ripley's knowledge of the species to assist them in fighting off this acidic,salivating Alien horde! This is one mean film that grabs you from the opening credits & doesn't let go until the final credit tolls at the conclusion of the film. A deep space salvage vessel finds Ripley perserved in hypersleep after having been adrift in space for 50 years. Once she has recovered from the effects of her abnormally long hyper sleep, she is brought up on charges & held responsible for the destruction of the Nostromo & the loss of her cargo. In addition, her statements regarding the Alien on LV-426 are rebuffed as; a "shake & bake" colony of Terra-formers has been on the planet for sometime without any evidence of an Alien or anything even remotely like what Ripley has identified. Dejected & robbed of her pilot's license by the corporation, Ripley takes a job loading the equivalent of inter-galactic tractor trailers & gets an apartment in a very seedy part of town. Unable to plead her case to a higher authority, Ripley resigns herself to make the best of her situation. Without warning, all communications are lost with the colony on LV-426 & Ripley is called in to assess the situation. Her only stipulation on accompanying the marines is that they are going to kill the Aliens & not bring them back. I'm sure you remember the problems we had with those pesky critters in the last film! Once she receives this assurance, they travel to LV-426 in an attempt to locate the colonists & eradicate the Alien threat. However, once they arrive, neither the Aliens nor the colonists can be found, and a deadly game of cat & mouse is afoot. Needless to say, the Aliens are soon located & to borrow the film's tagline, "This time it's War!" In the way of sequels, Aliens is the best sequel ever produced!

Audio:

These films have been digitally remastered with a Dolby 5.1 digital platform that blows your shoes off! The surrounds…fuggedaboudit (little, Philly, Jersey drawl slipped in, sorry) there is so much activity in the surrounds that you are "surrounded"-- get it! By pretty awesome aural effects. Additionally, the sub is hummin' from start to finish. All around great audio treatment. The center is crisp & clean, & the dialogue is evenly distributed so that each facet of the discs' audio is equally well presented.

Video:

On my initial viewing of the disc, I was so happy to see it on DVD, I overlooked a key element of the film, the quality of the video presentation. While, the transfer for the most part is beautiful, the darker elements of the film do show entirely too much pixellation & even a degree of shimmering. They do offer a bit of detraction in an initial viewing of the film but, with repeat viewings they are somewhat easily ignored. The menus for the disc bear special mention. Next to Alien, Aliens has the best menu screens available. Even the Bond SE discs don't offer the kind of menu awesomeness that these two discs share! Of course, this is solely IMHO. The menus are staged so that you are entering various parts of the film, with a tracking monitor in the lower left hand corner of the image, just in case any nasty Aliens show up you'll know exactly where they are coming from! Now back to the meaty good stuff the Special Edition brings to the table! The absolute best part about the video portion is the addition of 17 minutes of footage that was deleted from the film's original release. In watching the film with all the previously deleted elements now included, I am at a loss as to how the film was so good without these missing bits! As Cameron explained in his video, the studio had a need to keep the film under 2.5 hours. But when you look at all they cut they really excised some gret moments that really would have been more an asset to the film than anything else. Truthfully, I'd sit through 2.5 hours of Aliens any day! Really, the additional footage ties the film together in the way that it should have been done originally. If you read the book (as I did) you knew something was missing, now, that something has been restored. These are not the run of the mill edited sequences that you could take or leave. They really are some pretty involved sequences, that are far too involved to have been cutting room floor residents!

Extras:

The first two Alien Legacy entries are pretty well packed with extras. Aliens (being number two) is no exception to the rule. The Aliens Extras include: An interview with James Cameron regarding his direction of the film. The interview itself is roughly 30-45 minutes in length & demonstrates Cameron's desire to not only create an exceptional sequel but, to build a storyline with Aliens that would not necessitate the viewing of Alien to make the film make sense. Additionally, he described his entry in the saga as something of a "Vietnam war" in space kind of film. In all, his interview was interesting but when compared to Ridley Scott's commentary from ALIEN, it has a tendency to pale in comparison. A Still Photo Section includes both still & video images of the feature in varying stages of completion. Only one segment however, has audio ("animating the queen"). With the rest of the images being presented for viewing rather than listening pleasure. Theatrical trailers for all four films in varying degrees of decay are included as well. Given that the films themselves are rather old, the existence & inclusion of this material is pretty neat. Deleted Scenes As discussed above, these 17 minutes are pretty crucial to the overall explanation of the circumstances surrounding the current Alien feature. Really awesome stuff. The scenes include: The Wayland Yutani Corporation on LV-426 before the Alien attack & the living conditions of the colonists there. The Jordan (Newt's family) families' tractor ride to the derelict Alien vessel & the subsequent cry for help once the Face hugger has attached itself to Newt's father. Ripley sitting in "the park" resting after recuperating at Gateway station. The "sentry guns" on automatic taking out Aliens on the prowl. Overall:

Aliens is probably the most beloved entry in the Alien franchise. It's fast paced, funny, scary & incredibly entertaining all at the same time! If you haven't seen it before & you'd like a good roller coaster ride of a film, this is the one to get!

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