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Old 07-04-2011, 10:41 PM
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Default Talking About The Xenomorph

Parish's blog post from a few days ago led me to seek out the "Assembly Cut" version of Alien 3. It's pretty damn good. Actually, I'd go so far as to call the first half great. It gets kind of bogged down by complex plot elements and expository dialogue after Ripley finds out that she's carrying the queen, but it never completely flies off the rails. Good movie.

But let's talk about the whole series.

Aliens was my favorite movie through most of my teen years. Obviously the action is amazing, and I liked the superficial post-Vietnam feeling of a bunch of marines trapped in a place they don't understand, battling an enemy they don't understand. I thought the one-liners and quotables were pretty sweet, and the gun porn and Cameronesque badass moments as well. Also, it's got probably the greatest creature effects of all time. The alien queen is one of the only movie monsters, or possibly the only movie monster, that I just take at face value as a character. The execution is so good that it never occurs to me while watching that movie that that creature does not actually exist. When I first saw behind-the-scenes footage where they were testing the partially-built queen skeleton, I was almost surprised.

Later on I self-consciously got more "serious" in my movie tastes (you know, the time of life when you start listening to Bob Dylan), and decided the first movie must be the superior movie without really knowing why I felt that way. I didn't see the second one for a span of years, and I really didn't see the first one more than once or twice either, because I was kind of caught in between not wanting to like the dick-swinging action movie and not being able to appreciate the paranoid psychosexual thriller that is Alien.

Years later I revisited Alien after maturing a lot and its greatness hit me like a brick. The sense of dread in that movie is incredible, because the threat is so unthinkable and the chances so bleak. I'm a big believer in the narrative power of subconsciously fucking with men's sense of masculinity, and if you cast it in that light, Alien is a movie about a snake-spider with a vagina for a belly and ovaries for ears, that rapes men in the face with a slippery tube that comes out of the belly-vagina, forcing them to become pregnant and then give fatal birth to a creature that looks like a ribbed, spiked penis — which grows up into a bigger creature that has a shiny phallus for a head and is designed to either kill people by shooting its own ribbed, spiked penis tongue out of its own face and into people's brains, or encase them in steamy, moist slime-shells to facilitate more face-rape by the vagina spiders. It's mindbending on that level, and it's got such existential atmosphere in a similar way to John Carpenter's The Thing. Great ensemble cast. These days I usually name Ian Holm's portrayal of Ash as my single favorite performance by an actor in any movie I've seen. The only strike against the movie is that the xenomorph itself bogusly looks like a dude in a suit when you finally see it clearly, but I'll forgive that since it's the only movie where a guy tries to shove a rolled-up magazine down a woman's throat and gets stopped by having his head knocked off, and then delivers an amazing psychotic monologue in the next scene. On certain days this is my favorite movie.

And these days I've come back around to Aliens as well. James Cameron is a very smart man who likes things that are kinda dumb, and I'm a big fan of his cinematic obsessions with tough women with maternal instincts and guns, tough men with guns who try to live up to those women, and dated-badass military banter. Aliens is kind of the ultimate statement of Cameronia in that way. It doesn't stand up to thematic dissection like Alien does, but it's big, dumb, exciting, endlessly quotable ("What the hell are we supposed to use, man? Harsh language?"), and technically unsurpassed. I'd probably call it the best action movie of all time if you really grilled me.

Alien Resurrection is balls, which is too bad because the director and cast rarely do bad things otherwise.

I refuse to watch the AVP movies.

Now it's your turn to say things.

Last edited by Ethan; 07-05-2011 at 04:15 AM.
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Old 07-05-2011, 06:03 AM
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I have some qualms with Alien, but I still like it. Aliens is probably my favorite movie ever. Well, it's probably a dead tie between Aliens and John Carpenter's The Thing.

I've seen Aliens so many times that it may not be as efficacious on me as it used to be, but that is a movie that just gripped me and wouldn't let go. The facehugger scene just made my balls run back up inside me. It's a movie, or at least a scene that filled me with dread. With dread. I would disagree that it's dumb. Any action movie that can make me feel that way is beyond just dumb explosions for guys because guys like things that go boom. Sure some of the marines are meatheads, but then you have guys like Hicks and of course there's Ripley. And you are right, it is so quotable and the banter is hilarious. "...we got knives, sharp sticks...." Oh, makes me grin every time. And of course, it is one of if not the best looking action movie ever made. And it's what...twenty five years old now? Amazing.

I recently re-watched both by the way, (both means the first two, the other two are unnecessary, and actually, as far as I'm concerned, Resurrection doesn't exist), and while I do like the first Alien, I think it hasn't aged quite as well as Aliens has. Sometimes the characters do stupid horror movie things "We're being hunted by an extremely dangerous and insanely hostile creature, but let's go ahead and split up." And Ripley opting to blow up the entire fucking spaceship is just.......a stretch. I don't think anyone would take that route if this happened in real life. It's just a little far fetched for me. Also, I don't really understand why the facehugger is able to go through the guys spacesuit like it's made of saran wrap. If they can go through plastic/glass that easily, why are the able to be trapped in the tubes in Aliens? But I guess I'm just picking nits with this particular example.

Also I don't really buy your whole psycho-sexual spiel. I think you may be reading into it. Yeah the facehugger belly kind of looks like a vagina I suppose but I'm not necessarily convinced that was intentional. Still, it's an interesting hypothesis.

Sigourney does have a smokin' hot body in that movie though. My goodness. Well she doesn't have any ass but I'll forgive her.

I still like the first movie and it's something I'll watch from time to time until I die but the sequel doesn't have as many fumbles in my opinion.

Good thread, always happy to talk about these movies.
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Old 07-05-2011, 06:56 AM
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Well, maybe dumb is the wrong word. I really do think Cameron is a very smart filmmaker. But he revels in things that are... base.

"Express elevator to hell... goin' down!"

I mean, really. I love it, probably almost as much as you do, but... really. The guy wrote Point Break, after all.

Re: the sexual element, remember that Alien owes a tremendous amount to the designs of H.R. Giger, and surrealist genital horror was kind of his thing. You don't pick that guy as your art director, and meticulously sculpt a vagina with legs, and write a scene into your stage direction where someone rolls up a magazine tightly and tries to stick it down a woman's throat without knowing what you're doing. That movie is totally sexed up.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:03 AM
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Aliens (Builds well on the original, amazing and incredibly influential action movie)

>

Alien (Effective horror film with imaginative sci-fi setting)

>

Alien: Resurrection (Pretty darn silly)

>

Alien 3 (Boring, I hate what it does to Aliens)

>

AVP: Requiem (Bad movie, but some fun deaths)

>

AVP (Uggghhhhhhh)
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:18 AM
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I love that a French (Swiss!) surrealist was hired to create an alien monster for an SF horror movie. That kind of eclecticism should always be encouraged with these kinds of projects.

Aliens remains my favorite and possibly my favorite James Cameron SF action movie. It should be re-released today (no George Lucas-type "touch ups"!), so audiences can see how masterful it is, and how well it can stand up to more recent SF action movies.

I will vouch for Aliens Resurrection on the basis of its cinematography, set design, creature designs, special effects and atmosphere. But not much else.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:25 AM
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Adrenaline, AVP is not to be mentioned in this thread. Or in any for that matter.

I was confused by the Cameron writing point break thing because I never heard so I looked it up...he was a producer, executive even, but he had no part in the writing.

Back on topic, yeah, I know Giger is a weird ass dude. Hmm...seems one of the writers did say he intentionally made the movie have sexual/rape imagery. Aight. That's brutal, heh.

Resurrection has one plus to it: Michael Wincott. He makes every movie better. It's just that he's sometimes in such horrible movies that not even he can save it.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:25 AM
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Alien is one of the few horror movies which still scares me no matter how much I watch it. It does so for all the reasons Squid Brand mentioned.

I also love the marketing for the film. This trailer still creeps me the hell out. I also like this one, which is less timeless, but I think it epitomizes a certain style of movie trailer from that era. The blood red text, the voice of the announcer. Trailers back then weren't afraid to scare and intimidate the viewer, and they could do so without actually showing full footage. These days, I feel like most horror movies advertise by showing brief clips of various kills, which is meant to entice you to see it all, but instead shows me all I need to see.

I think I like Alien a liiiiiitle more than Aliens, but Aliens is my brother's favorite film, and so it is an institution for us. Every time we see each other, we try and watch it, and it just doesn't get old.

One reason why I like both films is that in some ways, they are a very stark and realistic portrayal of humanity would probably be like in an era of space travel. They make space this very lonely, cold place, where indeed, no one could hear you scream. You might have to venture out to god knows where to make a living, all the while missing out on years of quality time with friends and family. There's also something about the lighting which I admire - maybe some film buffs could help me out. All in all, it makes space anything but romantic, and somehow emphasizes the idea that in the vastness of space, a single life means squat. Its depressing and scary and just plain perfect for these films.

It's also just amazing to see a single franchise house two very different films.

Also, I haven't watched 3 and 4 in their entirety.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Sir Sly Ry View Post
Resurrection has one plus to it: Michael Wincott. He makes every movie better. It's just that he's sometimes in such horrible movies that not even he can save it.
If I didn't sound like a 10-year-old boy, I would sound like Michael Wincott.

One of these days I should watch Alien and The Thing back to back. I have a feeling that I will like The Thing more.

Anyone read any comic book spin-offs of the movies? I didn't read too deeply but I came across one comic where the Xenomorphs were colonized for their blood, which was somehow used in a formula that boosted athletic performance. A guy ingested some good ol' Xenogoop for an Olympic race and ran straight into a wall and exploded.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:40 AM
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You know I read a book spinoff where that happened. Weird.

One thing I like about Alien is that the spaceship doesn't look like modern sci-fi movies, where everything is shiny and looks glamorous. In Alien it looks more utilitarian and kind of dingy.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:44 AM
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...and write a scene into your stage direction where someone rolls up a magazine tightly and tries to stick it down a woman's throat without knowing what you're doing. That movie is totally sexed up.
Isn't it a nudie mag, too? Or is it just a regular magazine?

Yeah, I saw Alien for the first time back in Fall of '09 and it was just great. I think it's easily the best in the series.

I also haven't seen Alien 3 since I was in middle school, but I think it gets too much flak from the nerds. Just use selective continuity, people! Alien stands alone, if you don't want it to stand alone imagine that there is a universe where Aliens follows it, and likewise with 3 after Alien and Aliens. Resurrection will be left out of this due to a lack of interest.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:57 AM
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Wait, AVP is not to be mentioned? The games were good. (At least the 1999 FPS one by Rebellion and the sequel to it by Monolith.)

That said, Alien Resurrection was a giant...clusterfuck of Joss Wedon wanting to do one thing and the director doing another, with FOX handing piles of money to Sigourney Weaver to let her be this alien/human caricature. There were some parts of it I thought that were interesting, like the defective clones of Ripley and human alien hybrid death having a human like scream being rather disturbing. Other than that the staff at Wayland-Yutani feel like comic book characters instead of the cold and calculating feel you got with the first movie (where they sent other people to do their dirty work for them). It felt like a direct-to-video/series spinoff, like Stargate SG-1.

I never got to watch Alien 3 until the Quadrology Special Edition. I thought it was different, and honestly don't see what the backlash is all about, other than THEY KILLED EVERYONE OFF OH GOD and other fanwankery. That said why isn't the Anthology on DVD? I only see it on Blu-Ray and I'm not much of an HD guy so...
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Old 07-05-2011, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Dizzy View Post
I came across one comic where the Xenomorphs were colonized for their blood, which was somehow used in a formula that boosted athletic performance. A guy ingested some good ol' Xenogoop for an Olympic race and ran straight into a wall and exploded.
I read a spinoff novel in the way-back where people were doing this in order to make music. Something about taking the royal jelly from the queen and recording her screams? Also, there were eunuch ninjas shooting laser bullets.

Regarding the movies:

I pretty much agree with Squidz. I, too, was in love with the second as a young man, then cast it aside for the first in a conscious attempt to be a MATURE ADULT MAN IN COLLEGE, but have now come around to it. I love it about as much as Ryan does, I'd bet (it's up there with Predator as my favorite action movie - Predator is like Aliens's big, dumb roomate that sits on the bed and does hammer curls and blasts Pantera while Aliens is reading poetry).

Regarding the sex in Alien: the facehugger was not originally called the facehugger, so, yeah.
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Old 07-05-2011, 08:12 AM
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Also, I thought 3 was O.K. I will check out this "Assembly Cut" thing. What the hell is it?

EDIT: This is all making me want to listen to Sulaco again.

Last edited by Mokrap of Croton; 07-05-2011 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 07-05-2011, 08:29 AM
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My memory of 3 tells me that the movie is serviceable, but nothing terribly special. I wouldn't call it bad, just there. However the....and if you haven't seen it then don't read further.....killing off of Newt and Hicks before the movie even starts just trivializes all the hard work of the second movie. Kind of annoying. Why have this epic struggle in the second movie just to shrug it off like it didn't even matter in the third? But whatever, I'm more concerned with how Alien 3 stands on its own, and I remember it being ok. It's like a decent album by your favorite band. It may seem pedestrian compared to the high standards set before it, but at least it's an Alien movie.

Resurrection though, that's probably more like what the new Morbid Angel album is like for fans of the early work.

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Wait, AVP is not to be mentioned? The games were good. (At least the 1999 FPS one by Rebellion and the sequel to it by Monolith.)
Well I was just taking a dig at the movies (not that I've seen the second one) but yes, the first AVP game on computer is awesome. It also filled me with dread. Never really played the second game. Seemed a hell of a lot more cinematic and probably not as scary.
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Old 07-05-2011, 08:29 AM
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With you, Squidbrand. Honestly, after having seen the first twenty minutes of Aliens at too young an age, if I ever have a nightmare it tends to have the Alien in it. The design is pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel, tapped from the subconscious and undergoing the same process that turns opium into heroin. And, frankly, any argument against the psychosexual elements in the series can only be supported by "nuh uh!" - it's as plain as the beard on Freud's face. Few movie monsters are as deeply unsettling as the Xenomorph, and its largely because of how well it represents an unwanted part of our psyches.

The first AVP movie was dreadful, and Resurrection was shockingly bad, given Jeunet's talent as a director; perhaps he was unable to direct in English? In any case, I would suggest that the later movies fail largely because they merely take the shell of the monster without looking at what makes it horrifying. I love Aliens as much as the next guy, but I don't think anyone could deny that it represents a turning point for the series which has not been re-assessed by any film maker since.

A note on the first AVP: they're in the fucking antarctic, and no-one's wearing a watch-cap, much less a balaclava. In the final sequence, the protagonist is running through the snow in her skivvies. God, that made me mad - I don't care how much adrenaline you've got going, you are not surviving that for more than a few minutes.
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Old 07-05-2011, 08:56 AM
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I was confused by the Cameron writing point break thing because I never heard so I looked it up...he was a producer, executive even, but he had no part in the writing.
From the internet:

Quote:
Originally Posted by some website
James Cameron co-wrote "POINT BREAK" with Kathryn Bigelow from an original script by Peter Iliff.
They didn't get the official credit, but it's known that they did a rewrite after the movie landed in their laps. (Apparently it was originally a Ridley Scott project, coincidentally.) The dialogue in the movie feels very, very Cameron. John C. McGinley saying "young, dumb, full of cum" is possibly the pinnacle of all Cameronia.
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Old 07-05-2011, 09:01 AM
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I love Alien. It's in my top 10 movies ever. They really nailed the casting in that movie, I love every crew member but Tom Skerritt really takes the cake for being the coolest guy in space with a beard.

Aliens is awesome but it's not on the same level for me as Alien. I thought 3 was hella boring and Resurrection was a joke. Was Resurrection the one where Ripley plays basketball? I remember seeing that scene in the theater with friends and one of my friends said "SLAM DUNK!" at some point and we couldn't stop saying that for weeks on end. Man, what a turd.
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Old 07-05-2011, 09:10 AM
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Imagine being in the theater for Alien on opening day and seeing Tom Skerritt, the take-charge bearded space action hero who got top billing on the poster, turn around in that duct, discover that the alien is right there in front of his face, and then disappear. What a moment.

Last edited by Ethan; 07-05-2011 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 07-05-2011, 09:13 AM
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Few movie monsters are as deeply unsettling as the Xenomorph, and its largely because of how well it represents an unwanted part of our psyches.
The perfect organism.
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Old 07-05-2011, 09:27 AM
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@ Squidy: neat. Conerning the Cameron writing stuff. Was not aware of that. I used to have Point Break on DVD but it got lost in the aftermath of Katrina. Are you suggesting that "young, dumb, and full of cum" was not a common phrase at the time but Cameron originated it? That would be even more neat if it's true. I also just typed cum out as "cumb" and laughed. That would have been funny if hadn't caught that.

back on topic: "Look into my eye."
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Old 07-05-2011, 09:33 AM
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I doubt he coined it, but I can imagine him thinking it would be super cool for McGinley to say that to Keanu, sitting at his typewriter with a big shit-eating grin on his face.
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Old 07-05-2011, 09:58 AM
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Also, I thought 3 was O.K. I will check out this "Assembly Cut" thing. What the hell is it?
Fincher's work on Alien 3 (and the process that it went through at Fox) is pretty well-storied, but the Assembly Cut is essentially what he delivered to the studio and said "fuck this, I'm done." They chopped about an hour out of it and it became the Alien 3 we know and despise. At least what we got is better than William Gibson's script treatment, which is one of the worst fucking movie scripts I've read ever (which kills Ripley and keeps Hicks and Newt).

Alien is one of my favorite movies! Not so much the rest of them. Aliens is big, dumb fun, but I wouldn't exactly classify it as "good" because it has too many problems. Alien 3 is a mess outside of the AC, which itself is just a pretty good high-drama Women in Prison film. And, well, Alien: Resurrection has Ron Perlman, and probably the best kill in the series, but that's kind of about it. The less said about those other movies the better.
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Old 07-05-2011, 10:06 AM
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I love Alien best... But...

"every meal a feast, every pay cheque a fortune! I love the corps!"
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:10 AM
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I also just typed cum out as "cumb" and laughed. That would have been funny if hadn't caught that.
Coming soon from Pixar, A Bug's Life 2: Young, Dumb, and Full of Crumbs
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:16 AM
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A while back I was talking with a buddy about Alien and we were talking about how Ripley and Lambert (the other woman) aren't really close but they're not really adversaries either and we came to the conclusion that everyone on board the Nostromo has basically slept with everyone else and Ripley and Lambert's relationship is best described as "Sister Wives." I don't have anything to back that up but it's fun to watch it with that in mind.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:53 AM
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I love Alien best... But...

"every meal a feast, every pay cheque a fortune! I love the corps!"
That's not quite the quote...
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:03 PM
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I love Alien I think the best thing about it is that it's a Lovecraft story in which man is stupid enough to go find the Elder Gods rather then the other way around.

And the best part is that Prometheus seems to totally be backing this up.

Aliens is one of the best action movies with one of the worst directors cuts ever made. For serious it takes twice as long to get to the planet in the DC. In the OC you don’t know what you’re going to find when they touch down on the planet. You don’t know what the colony looks like much less the what the Aliens have done to it. It’s a total fear of the unknown situation which the director cut spoils.

The only point to all the extra footage is knowing that Ripley's daughter has died explaining the bond to Newt. Now this might seem like a good idea but really was anyone wondering about this? Did anyone ever in the history of movie watching go "Well gee I liked Aliens but I find it sort of unrealistic that she would have the desire to protect that adorable little girl."

Boo to the Aliens Director Cut. Boo I say!
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:10 PM
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Aliens is one of the best action movies with one of the worst directors cuts ever made. For serious it takes twice as long to get to the planet in the DC. In the OC you don’t know what you’re going to find when they touch down on the planet. You don’t know what the colony looks like much less the what the Aliens have done to it. It’s a total fear of the unknown situation which the director cut spoils.

The only point to all the extra footage is knowing that Ripley's daughter has died explaining the bond to Newt. Now this might seem like a good idea but really was anyone wondering about this? Did anyone ever in the history of movie watching go "Well gee I liked Aliens but I find it sort of unrealistic that she would have the desire to protect that adorable little girl."

Boo to the Aliens Director Cut. Boo I say!
I like the Director's Cut quite a bit, but I see what you mean. At the very least, you've convinced me that the original cut is the best one to see first.
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:19 PM
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I may have seen the original first, but I was very young, so I don't remember much from my first viewing experience. The version I bought on VHS when I was in high school is the extended cut, that's what I know, that's what I love, I couldn't bear the thought of losing anything from it.
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:28 PM
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Vaeran Vaeran is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2007
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I've been watching nothing but the Director's Cut for years under the belief that more Aliens is automatically better. But yeah, that early reveal of the colony has always bothered me too.

Does the theatrical version explain that Paul Reiser sent Newt's family to investigate the crash site after Ripley gave him the coordinates, or is that omitted entirely? It's been a really long time so maybe I'm way off, but I seem to remember it seeming like something of a coincidence that the aliens all woke up and started wrecking shit only a few days after Ripley was recovered.
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alien , aliens , game over man , movies , quadrilogy , rise from your grave! , science fiction

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