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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Aliens

Aliens (1986)

Aliens are pretty scary, but humans can be even worse.

After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). And while no one on-board really knows who Newt exactly is, or why she was all by herself on this huge ship, Ripley takes a liking to her and trusts her with all her might. Little does she, nor everyone else know, that there’s literally a huge colony of aliens waiting to get rid of them all and it’s up to these rough and tough soldiers to step up, stand together, and get rid of the threat, because lord knows that if they don’t get rid of it in space, it may just come closer to hitting Earth and causing way more problems than they could have ever expected.

Say what you will about James Cameron, his scripts, his cheesiness, and his knack for going over-the-top, but the man can direct a freakin’ action movie, for gosh sakes. I mean, literally, there’s not a minute in Aliens that isn’t packed with some sort of fun, or intensity, or excitement in the air; it’s literally two-and-a-half-hours of pure, unabashed adrenaline, mixed in with some speed for even better times. While some movies like to pride themselves on being a piece of absolute energy from start-to-finish, very few of them actually are and it’s why Aliens, all of these years later, still reigns supreme as one of the best action movies of all-time.

Okay, so yeah, Jimmy Cameron clearly recycled some ideas.

That said? Is it stupid? Hell yeah, but with James Cameron, it works. See, whereas Alien was much more of a slow-burning horror-thriller, Aliens is way more of a slam-bang action-thriller, where instead of taking our time, feeling the mood, it’s a pure straight-shot from the get-go. While that may sound bad and a downgrade from the original, it actually works in the movie’s favor; we still get to feel the mood, we still get to know some of these characters, and yeah, we still get thrown on the edge of our seats. All the stuff that made the original so great are here still, but they’re just heightened to a point of where they seemed to have been replaced by something far better.

It’s like something we didn’t even know we needed.

But that’s why James Cameron is such a master at his craft – he knows what a movie-going audience wants and absolutely delivers on it all. Sure, he hasn’t met a cheesy one-liner he didn’t like, nor does he seem to stray away from macho-posturing, but it really doesn’t matter, because it’s so fun to watch and listen as these goofy characters all talk, scream, and pose their muscles. In other words, Aliens is the perfect movie for a nerd to enjoy and not feel threatened by, but also for the jocks to enjoy and not feel like they’re losing their reputation as one of the cool guys.

In other words, everyone can find something here to love and enjoy and at the end of the day, even get along.

See what I mean?

Now, isn’t that what movies were made for in the first place? Not just entertaining people, but bringing them together, no matter how different they may be from one another? To me, that’s what movies are about and it’s why Aliens, while definitely not the heartfelt, sentimental flick I’m making it out to be, is just a near-masterpiece. It’s got some stupid moments and Paul Reiser’s character, more often than not, feels like an unfortunate villain that the movie just falls back on for unnecessary conflict, but for the most part, every bit of it works.

And mostly, it all comes circling back to Sigourney Weaver in the title-role of Lt. Ripley. See, in the original, while Ripley was still a strong character, she wasn’t quite given nearly as much as she’s given to do here and it’s why Weaver’s performance tops everyone else’s here; she’s got presence and seems like she’s as tough as she makes herself out to be. But she’s also the kind of character that isn’t asking for us to love, adore, and praise her – she’s just a rough and rugged S.O.B. that isn’t afraid to stand up to those around her and speak her mind.

In other words, she’s the perfect woman. But also a little scary.

But that’s fine, because Weaver is great at these kinds of characters. After all, she’s practically made a career out of them and it seemed to have started with Ripley. While yes, even those on the side of her like Lance Henriksen, Michael Biehn, and the late, always amazing Bill Paxton are great to watch and have here, it’s Ripley’s show the whole way through. She reminds us not why strong female characters matter first and foremost, but why strong characters matter in general.

Especially in something that is basically an alien shoot-em-up.

Consensus: While undeniably cheesy and over-the-top, Aliens is also undeniably fun, exciting, compelling, and perfectly directed by James Cameron, that you almost forget how great Weaver is in the lead role.

9.5 / 10

Move aside, fellas!

Photos Courtesy of: Horror Freak News

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The Abyss (1989)

If this was remade today, it would just be called Aliens in the Water, and probably would have made more than Avatar. Don’t believe me? Fine! Just you wait and see….

A nuclear sub crashes on the floor of the Atlantic, and the motley crew of an underwater station attached to an oil rig prepare to investigate just what the hell is occurring. Obviously, as you could expect, problems do mount: a hurricane rages above, a loony marine is on the loose, and captain Bud Brigman (Ed Harris) is forced to work with his estranged wife, Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Spousal-disputes aside, shit is still a little wacky under the sea.

What I like most about James Cameron is what he is able to do with any premise. Yeah, he may be a little nutty with his love of the Titanic and Avatar sequels, but the guy knows what can, and just might come out of a simple premise, if you give it the right amount of creativity and fun. Here, he takes what is essentially another boring and lame submarine movie, and somehow turns it into a tense and eerie sci-fi flick that gives you the sense of just how menacing the ocean can be. But the ocean is also a place that Cameron can still let it all hang loose in, no matter what the limitations may be, as you will see with this movie.

After I saw this flick, I did some research on it and found out that the majority of the film was actually filmed underwater in an abandoned nuclear reactor. That’s right: Cameron actually got his whole cast and crew, and made them go underwater to shoot this whole film. Sounds a bit risky when you take ego’s and all sorts of other personalities into consideration, which would also be another example of how crazy and inspired Cameron can be. However, he makes it work. He makes the ocean his own little personal playground where he’s able to do what he wants, when he wants and no studio can stop him because seriously, how are you going to say no to the dude who just did The Terminator and Aliens? Yeah, didn’t think so.

On second thought, maybe the guy isn't so original after all.

On second thought, maybe the guy isn’t so original after all.

This film can be very fun at points but what I liked most about this film was how original Cameron could make it at points. In this flick, we get a cool look at some neat-o ideas that Cameron obviously has had rolling in his head for so long and finally got a chance to reveal to the public. Little details like the cool spacesuits that look like a mixture between the ones from Alien and actual spacesuits themselves, or the concept of having oxygen-infused water that you can just sip on, in order for you to reach superhuman lengths in the ocean, or how the aliens in this flick, aren’t actually mean or evil creatures, they’re nice and love to help out fellow humans. Not only do they look freakin’ cool, but they also show a lot of compassion, sort of like fellow human-beings. It’s a surprise that more people didn’t hop on the bandwagon after this and make more “alien friendly sci-fi movies”, because they could have really worked and turned-on a new generation to making sci-fi movies. Because just juggle this idea in your heads: are they really that mean and terrible?

As usual with all Cameron films, no matter when they were filmed, the visuals are absolutely outstanding. I knew that this film won the Oscar back in 1989 for Best Visual Effects, but that’s 1989 and that doesn’t really mean diddly-squat now. Surprisingly though, the visuals still hold-up today and every time the aliens would show up in the story, everything just started to look so much more beautiful and blue. Probably best combination to have out there: beautiful and blue. It’s something that Cameron works best with, obviously.

As is always the problems with other Jimmy Cameron films, the action and special effects may be rad and awesome, but the scripts always seem to suck, therefore: taking everything else down with them. This film is no exception to that convention, which meant that the eyes rolled pretty much after every single line these characters uttered out their mouths. Every piece of dialogue that tries to sound funny, hip, or cool, just comes off as terribly corny. And even whenever the film does try to get sentimental and show certain relationships between people in this submarine, it fails at bringing any emotions whatsoever. It all just felt so damn 80’s to me (no-brainer), to the point where I just wanted them to be able to do something cool and exciting, without them opening up their mouths. Sadly, they did and that’s when I started getting annoyed.

Probably the worst, and most memorable scene out of this whole flick has to be when a character, not giving away who, tries to revive another character by using CPR for over 10 minutes and then comes back to life, only after that same character yells “FIGHT!” to them. It was such a terribly corny scene and it made me laugh my ass off the whole way through because this film was so serious and even though Cameron knows how to direct: he sure as hell can’t write. Then again, I guess it doesn’t matter to him because the dude freakin’ takes showers in $100 bills everyday, without giving any damn whatsoever. Lucky son of a bitch. Practically stole my life over there.

"Anybody want to start drinking?"

“Anybody want to start drinking?”

It was surprising to see Ed Harris not only play a lead role in a movie, but also play a character that’s likable and considered a hero. Nonetheless, the guy’s still solid as Bud Brigman and makes it easy to root for him whenever he seems like he’s done for good. You need that in a hero, even if it never seems like he makes any drastic-decisions that could potentially harm the rest of his crew in anyway. He always seems to know what to do next, and it kind of got bothersome after awhile, since we pretty much knew that nothing could stand in this guy’s way. Not even a shark. Then again, highly doubt they would be able to do anything to a submarine. But I digress.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is fine as his ex-wife, Lindsey, but her character is so annoying and bitchy that I got to a point of where I wanted her to just get killed off somehow. And trust me, there were a couple of close calls for her character in this movie. Not close enough in my opinion, but that’s just me. Cameron-regular Michael Biehn is also here as the completely psycho head SEAL and it makes me wonder just where the hell this guy has been after all of these years. Dude needs to team-up with Cameron again for these countless Avatar sequels that were apparently getting, as it will probably get his career back on the high-rise. All of the performances that I’ve already mentioned, along with plenty of others, are good but the script tears them down to pieces after awhile, and makes it seem like everybody just got out of a stage-play for Shakespeare.

Consensus: The Abyss suffers from some terrible writing (that’s James Cameron for ya), but still has plenty of inspired ideas straight from Cameron’s goofy head, exciting scenes that seem to all take place underwater, and a bunch of beautiful visuals that still hold up today, even against Avatar. Actually, no: Avatar looks better. Lot better.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Well, if we die soon, wanna rekindle the marriage and go out swinging?"

“Well, if we die soon, wanna rekindle the marriage and go out swinging?”