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Aliens (R)

Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn

Release Date: July 18, 1986

Runtime: 2 hr. 17 mins.

Genre: SciFi/Fantasy, Horror

57 years after the original attack, Ripley and a crew of marines return to the planet to kill the remaining aliens that have slaughtered the colonists on the planet.

Review

Alien, which first hit theaters May 25, 1979, gets digitally remastered for 21st century, but don't let your guard down! This sci-fi thriller still has the power to scare the snot out of three generations of CGI-pampered, horror savvy audiences.


Story

When Alien was released almost a quarter of a century ago, moviegoers lapped it up to the tune of $78.9 million--enough to make it the second highest grossing film of that year. Renowned film critic Pauline Kael, who wrote about the Alien phenomenon in The New Yorker, noted: ''It was more gripping than entertaining, but a lot of people didn't mind. They thought it was terrific, because at least they'd felt something; they'd been brutalized.'' Now, in an era utterly saturated with the genre, the film still assaults audiences on a level that has yet to be matched. The story in Alien: The Director's Cut remains the same: seven crewmembers of the commercial ship Nostromo are awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate an S.O.S. distress call from an alien vessel. Unbeknownst to crew, the distress call is actually a warning. When three crewmembers leave to investigate the abandoned ship, they unsuspectingly allow an alien life to board the Nostromo, a galactic horror that begins to kill the crew one by one--leaving only one exceptionally tough woman.


Acting

Ellen Ripley (a very young Sigourney Weaver), who leads the fight for survival against the alien, has to date returned for three sequels: James Cameron's 1986 Aliens, which earned Weaver an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, David Fincher's 1992 Alien3, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's 1997 Alien Resurrection. For fans who have followed Ripley's evolution from a by-the-book crewmember to a hybrid, half-alien, half-human clone, it's exciting to revisit the roots of her character and understand what fuels her revenge. The rest of the ensemble, including Tom Skerritt as Captain Dallas, Veronica Cartwright as Lambert, Harry Dean Stanton as Brett, John Hurt as Kane, Ian Holm as Ash and Yaphet Kotto as Parker, seems just as appropriately cast today as it probably did then, and even 25 years later the crew of the Nostromo doesn't look like a '70s interpretation of futuristic space workers.


Direction

To revisit the set of Alien's Nostromo, director Ridley Scott (Matchstick Men) and his team of archivists sifted through hundreds of boxes of film footage discovered in a London vault. From this material, unseen in almost 25 years, Scott selected new footage, which then underwent digital restoration, matching it to Alien's newly polished negative. The result is six minutes of additional footage, which goes to show how little improving the original film needed. The most palpable addition is a scene in which Ripley stumbles upon ''the nest,'' where she discovers that her crewmates have been cocooned by the alien. But the rest of Scott's additional footage is so subtle that even diehard Alien fans will have a difficult time pinpointing the new material, which consists mainly of new shots of the slimy and metallic alien. The Director's Cut also features a brand-new six-track digital stereo mix, which strengthens the film's slow but intense cadence with its pulsating beats. But remastered or not, the film remains as gripping today as it was when it was first released in 1979.


Bottom Line

Moviegoers who have never experienced Alien on the big screen should not pass up the opportunity to see the re-release of Ridley Scott's Alien: The Director's Cut, while those who have seen it before will be astounded by the 25-year-old film's enduring ability to ''brutalize.''

Synopsis

57 years after the original attack, Ripley and a crew of marines return to the planet to kill the remaining aliens that have slaughtered the colonists on the planet.