Friday, June 21, 2013

Aliens v. Jarheads, 1986

What the hell's going on here?  Another movie?  Well, at least it wasn't based on a comic book or video game at the time, even though it fits well into the zeitgeist of today, so I apologize for that.  But out of respect to James Cameron, who I fondly think of as Evil Jim Henson, I'm going to say SPOILER ALERT, because I want to dissect this plot.  Maybe not to the degree that Cracked Magazine did, but still.
For example... the movie begins where the iconic 1979 Alien left off.  Sigourney Weaver is recovered, but only by accident, apparently.  Like James Cameron's crew exploring the Titanic at the beginning of Titanic, a salvage crew comes across Weaver's... I mean, Ripley's ship, believe it or not.  One guy announces "Well, there goes our salvage!" when they discover live people aboard.  Weaver returns to face the wrath of the ... whatever corporation in charge of her expedition.  She tries to explain what happened, but they don't care.  She then tries to get back to a half-ass normal life, but they pull her back in.  Even though she screwed up, and seems to be suffering from PTSD from her experiences... it's still all she knows how to do.  So time to go back out there, and see if she can face the aliens again, who seem to have expanded to a similar colony in space.  She does have a relapse or two, but she's overall able to get back on that horse.
Now, is it just me, or do they spend a lot of time loading up their gear and driving out to the colony in that awesome tank-SUV hybrid?  Probably just me.  Someday I'll watch the director's cut, though, I promise.  Also, I find it hard to believe that Cameron planned things out this way, but I couldn't help but take a little perverse pleasure in seeing the tougher-than-nails army types get quickly decimated by the aliens.  That's the jealousy talking, of course.  To be fair, the aliens picked the perfect spot for their base camp: next to the explosive reactor.  The jarheads was framed, damn it!  They weren't allowed to shoot first and ask questions later.  Maybe they would've stood a chance otherwise.
And then, of course, there's the girl.  Cameron, enjoying blockbuster-related success with 1984's The Terminator, couldn't help but take a page from the Book of Spielberg like so many before and after him.  My viewing companion wanted to know what happened to her... Carrie Henn, that is.  Did the biz chew her up and spit her out?  Or is she working steadily even now... oh, dude, did she get screwed over.  She keeps in touch with Sigourney by letter?  That's even worse!  Now, her character insisted on being called Newt.  Kinda makes me wonder what Newt Gingrich thinks of this movie.  He probably thinks it's a work of genius, or maybe he insists that people boycott it.  Newt is a guy's name, damn it!  A guy's name.
And of course, with all movies like this, it's also interesting to see the stars way back when.  Lance Henriksen and his European haircut, Bill Paxton still enjoying his young dork phase, and the tougher-than-most-men Jenette Goldstein, playing Pvt. Vasquez.  I remember her from Terminator 2 and Lethal Weapon 2, where she gets blown up before diving into her pool.  And Paul Reiser... hard to believe he's a comedian now, isn't it?  He can always fall back on drama if he has to.
I'm going to skip over the ending, but I'll just say that the arcing electricity was a tad too much.  I don't remember a movie hero ever having to go through that much.  Why, all that might even slow a Terminator down a little bit!  But I was intrigued by this one part where Ripley faces off with the egg-laying alien queen.  Two drone aliens are about to attach Ripley, but Ripley fires off her flame thrower.  The alien queen motions to the drones to let Ripley pass... and they back off!  There was a similar moment in Deep Blue Sea... but we'll just leave it at that.  And so, the alien queen grants Ripley passage... but Ripley, the PTSD still fresh in her mind, decides to torch the place anyway.  Frankly, that was just rude.  But never mind.  Nice to see this again after so many years, and in sparkling HD, no less!  The starry backgrounds with the model spaceships looked great; bet those were kinda pricey.  A fine action flick, and I will say that to brush it off as a "rollercoaster ride" as most critics have is a little unfair.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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