Friday, January 8, 2016

Aliens


  I debated heavily about whether or not to actually write about Aliens. I've written about it so many times, and I watch it on my birthday (January the 5th) every year, so what more could I possibly say about it? Well, in most of my reviews I try to remain unbiased, objective, and provide a fair critical analysis of the movie. Yet, I've already done that for Aliens, so why not indulge in the opposite? Let me talk about how amazing this movie is, what it means to me, and how it's been a massive part of my life ever since I saw it for the first time when I was 9 years old.

  My parents raised me on a steady diet of 80's movies. Back to the Future, The Neverending Story, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, Tron, The Goonies etc. but they also sheltered me a lot. Horror movies were the devil in our house and whatever I watched was strictly policed. Which is why it was so odd that my mom decided to rent Aliens one night. She decided that I was old enough and that I'd really like it- I guess. I don't know what she was thinking, but mother knows best. She sent my dad and I off to go rent it (remember those days?) and buy all the fixings for a solid movie night. Popcorn, soda, ice cream. The works.

  Then we all sat down to watch the movie, and the following two hours completely blew my fragile little mind. The movie was terrifying, but also exciting. There was an action packed edge to this sci-fi horror flick, and I tapped into that big time. It was almost cathartic, being so scared of these creatures, and then being able to root for a protagonist who has the guts to fight them- and win.  Of course, my mom would've preferred that I didn't become obsessed with the movie the way I did, but it was inevitable. It opened my eyes to a whole new genre of movies, and would eventually be the movie that inspired me to pursue a career in filmmaking.

  Being that I wanted to know simply everything there was to know about the movie, when I had the opportunity some years later to dig into the behind-the-scenes featurettes on the DVD, I was just captivated by what I saw of the filmmaking process. While most of my friends at the time were simply content being able to watch R rated movies without being hassled by their parents, I was trying to write my own movies and making lists of my favorite directors. Granted it was a short list at the time, but still. I can safely say I would not be who I am today if it wasn't for Aliens. It inspired me creatively, and opened the door for other movies to inspire me even further.

  I don't remember quite when it started but it became a personal tradition of mine to watch Aliens every year on my birthday, and it's always a treat. I always find something new to appreciate about the movie. From it's impeccable effects, to it's oppressively dark atmosphere, Aliens is a near-perfect movie. The casting is perfect, the dialog is memorable, and nobody crafts a nail-biting climactic act like James Cameron does. Even after having seen the movie maybe ten or more times, the intensity of the climax still gets to me. There's a moment in the movie where everything just goes batshit crazy and does not let up til the movie ends.

   This might be the final ten, fifteen minutes of any other flick- but if you stop to check the runtime, you'll see that the movie has forty minutes left... 40 minutes. (on the special edition at least) Forty minutes of nerve shredding, adrenaline pumping, fine tuned tension. Running, screaming, shooting, and everything else one can do when trying to escape hordes of vicious creatures and rescue a little girl, all in a facility that's about to explode with the force of a nuclear bomb. Even after all that, the movie pulls the rug out from under you again, thrusting you into yet one more insanely terrifying life-or-death scenario.  As far as science fiction, horror-thrillers go... they literally don't get much better than Aliens. It's a classic, from beginning to end.

  I look forward to many more birthday viewings, and even several more in-between. Hopefully one day I'll be able to pass this movie on to the kids I might have. If it's held up to scrutiny all these years from 1986 to 2016, who's to say how much more mileage is has left in it?

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