This time it's war
Hot on the tails of the first Alien, the franchise continues with this sequel with aptly named plural. Those looking for a spooky flick will be kind of disappointed, as this sequel takes a different approach - but not all is lost. Let's continue on and see if it's game over man.
For the special edition director's cut, some scenes have been added in for you viewing pleasure, just so you know. We start off with our heroine being rescued from her cryo-sleep from a passing crew of a scavenger ship. Skip to the hospital, where she finds out it's been 50 years since she was last awake in her harrowing encounter with the alien. Before our conversation can carry on too long however, the mascot cat starts to hiss and our heroine starts having chest pains. As staff rushes in to help her, the alien bursts from her chest! Then she wakes up - she's going to have some PTSD over those past events. Later, she finds out her daughter has died in her 60s, married and with children - a sad event since she had promised to be back by her eleventh birthday. Still, she has a meeting to attend - more of a hearing - over the events of her encounter and destruction of corporate property.
Not entirely believing her story, they revoke her pilot's license and her let her know about the entire population colonizing the planet in question and it's lack of alien presence. Seems life would be back to a close to normal as it could be for her, if not for her representative sending a family from the colony out to check the sector our heroine mentioned in her reports. Predictably, they come back with face-hugged husband in tow, and events escalate to the point that contact with the colony is lost. This prompts the Colonial Marines to get involved, and the rep wants our heroine on board as a "consultant" for the creatures. One nightmare-induced cold sweat later, and she decides as long as they all burn, she's on board.
The marines and her all arrive on site - and it's incredibly vacant. Signs of the mysterious aliens are found, mostly in acidic melted sections of the complex, and a few false alarms pop up to keep everyone on edge. After deciding the complex is clear, another blip on their motion trackers finds them chasing after the young daughter of one of the colonists. Our heroine seems to very quickly form a mother-like bond with this young girl, and after finding where the colonists are things quickly turn south for the entire operation. More than half the marines are wiped out in their first encounter, finding a vast number of the aliens already hiding in the reactor area, and their ride out experiences a close encounter that causes it too to crash and leave them stranded on the planet. They hole up in the command center and shore up the defenses as best they can, but things only go to worse when they find the reactor is venting - meaning they need to remote pilot the remaining dropship down to get off the planet before the entire thing explodes. With aliens closing in, will they be able to make it in time?
Plot-wise, it's not bad. It's a long extended cut, but the flow as soon as we introduce our marines keeps a pretty decent clip so that you don't ever feel too bored or bogged down in things. The heroine seems a bit quick to jump into the motherly role for survivor Newt when she finds her, but considering what has happened to (both) them I'll give that a pass. The marines are pretty much all cookie-cutter military stereotypes, but at the same time it doesn't stop them from being entertaining. Of course, the "corporations are evil" plot is in full effect still - down to straight up delivering a line stating how at least the Xenomorphs aren't screwing each other over for a percentage.
It is much more an action movie this time around, with much gun-ho Hoorah and guns and explosions. This shift doesn't mean they don't keep some of the horror elements in however, giving us moments of stealthy ambush from our extra-terrestrial foes and tension in cross-species Mexican standoffs. Thankfully the effects hold up quite well, with plenty of splattering aliens and moody settings. The marines all have individual tags on their costumes, adding a bit of character to an otherwise uniform set, and the aliens are slightly different this time with a more ridge-ridden head piece than the clear-skulled predecessor. Of course, we also get introduced to the big Queen this time around, whose full-shot body movements don't hold up quite as well as the other effects of the movie. Ship models also seem less detailed than the first, although this might be intended as "military clean and streamlined" than just a lack of details.
Actors do a pretty good job here, and you will find a countless array of lines to quote later on. Although most will be from the marines, even the kid actor get's the rather famous "They mostly come at night, mostly" line. It isn't really hard to tell a fan of this movie. That being said, there are some scenes where acting might not live up to expectations - either seeming to lack a bit of emotion or maybe even having a little too much. Fun enough, the movie shares three cast members with Terminator, so it's safe to say that most the acting is pretty well handled. Audio balance is pretty nice as well, although it may be found that various gun effects may come in louder than a lot of dialogue at times, but it's never a case of needing to adjust back and forth to hear speech.
When it comes down to it, this is a movie I will always recommend. Even if I don't think someone would like it, I'd still wager they should check it out - maybe in the less timely normal edition of course, because if they don't like it I don't want to waste all their time. That being said, it's a great little action movie and arguably (to some I suppose) the last of the good movies in the Alien franchise. Certainly, this and the first are the prime contenders for "best of franchise" slot, although as to which you'd choose largely depends on if you prefer horror or action.