Thursday, November 03, 2016

re-watching "Aliens"

Hard to believe it's been almost thirty years. James Cameron's "Aliens" was released, if you can believe it, on Christmas Eve of 1986. I do remember thinking, even back when I saw "Aliens" in the theater, that some of the special effects seemed awfully noticeable. A few of those effects haven't aged well, while others have stood the test of time.

Re-watching the movie last night thanks to Amazon Prime Video, I had access to movie commentary just by moving my cursor slightly on the screen. The commentary included IMDb-style flagging of various cinematic gaffes ("crew/equipment visible," "audio not in sync," "continuity error," etc.), many of which I didn't see even after reversing and replaying the scenes in question.

Those flaws aside, the movie holds up well in terms of plot, dialogue, and practical effects. Quite a few lines from that script have gone on to become part of American culture ("Game over, man! Game over!"), and much of the imagery is recognizable even three decades later.

I do, however, wish that James Horner had made more of an effort to provide an original score; his music for "Aliens" is occasionally great, but much of it is an acoustic retread from "Star Trek II," "Star Trek III," and other earlier films.

One interesting bit of trivia that flashed on my screen was that, whenever one of the actors' characters had a death scene, Sigourney Weaver (who played Ripley, the main character) would send that actor some flowers. In the case of Paul Reiser's sleazy corporate character Burke, Weaver sent Reiser a bunch of dead flowers to commemorate his death scene.

Director James Cameron apparently digitally remastered some of the more egregious effects flaws for the 2010 home-video release of the film. George Lucas, the king of remastering, famously said that "Films aren't made: they're abandoned." You never catch all the flaws. I'll need to get hold of the DVD/Blu-ray version of "Aliens"; it might be nice to have that in my collection. This is certainly a movie for the ages.

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