Ripley's run of bad luck continues in this combat hungry all-action sequel to Alien, as she leads a commando assault on not one but hordes of aliens. Directed by James Cameron, this is hailed as one of his finest movies but what you might not have realised without this kick ass two-disc set (available as part of the nine disc Quadrilogy release) is that Cameron was doing some very clever commitment juggling. Added to that, a Brit revolt nearly killed the movie stone dead.
Choose the director's cut over the original theatrical version and you get 17-minutes worth of extra scenes. Both cuts look and sound the same, though the surprise is that the picture quality is not as good as Alien. The difference is small but Cameron was happy with the last transfer done for DVD. That said, the image is clearer than on the old DVD thanks to some clean-up work. Highlights of the new material include the facehugger being found in the derelict ship and introduced to the colony with none too pleasant results. As James Cameron informs us on a fact-stuffed commentary, it turns out that while writing Aliens, he was also committed to re-working The Terminator and penning the script for Rambo: First Blood Part II at the same time!
If you ever wondered why this sequel didn't come along sooner, you'll find the answer in 57 Years Later, a documentary which also reveals how important the success of The Terminator was to the movie being made. The look of Aliens is comprehensively dealt with in Building Better Worlds, while Lance Henriksen once again proves himself to be quite the method man as he discusses splitting his fingers while practising the knife trick for a whole month!
Effects maestro Stan Winston has an interesting take on Jim Cameron, describing him in the This Time It's War featurette as being "cursed with a vision". The feature also reveals the problems between Cameron and his British crew: at one point, Jim threatened to shut production down. Gasp more as The Risk Always Lives featurette uncovers three near disasters that almost cost lives on what was a torturous shoot for all involved.
Fans of miniature effects will love The Power Of Real Tech documentary, which contains fascinating footage of the two sound stages that were entirely taken up with miniatures for the movie. Old-fashioned effects like stop-motion were still in use, and the ingenuity of Robert and Dennis Skotak really is something to marvel at.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-N5 DVD player.