Riply Scott’s prequel to this film was a tale of intergalactic terror. Seven friends and their Bumbling Side-kick Jones were travelling home after a long vacation when they encountered a monster. Hearing its distress call, they let it board their ship, but rather than show its gratitude, it decided to kill off the friends one by one in a terrifying game of cat and monster. The survivors from that film appear again here, namely Captain Ridley and of course Jonesy our heroic side kick. Ridley wants revenge for the death of her friends and recruits a team of super tough marines (that’s soldiers to the lay person) to go to their home planet and wipe out the monsters once and for all. This darker tone is in stark contrast to Riply Scott’s original, and it continues throughout. This leads to a series of let downs- Jones disappears without explanation early in the film, without explanation so much of the comedy from the first film is lost. Add to this the lack of Cyborg Ash, whose little dance was a hilarious highlight of the first, and there are few laughs to be found here. Bill Pullman’s marine Ernie ‘Dry Heat’ Hudson attempts some improvised one liners ‘Hey Vasquez- you look like a man!’ and tries some banter with his Sergeant. ‘Can I wear your slippers, Sir?’ he asks ‘LOOK AT MY EYES!’ Capone riplyies. I didn’t really understand this comeback, but I assume The Searg was in no mood for fun and games. This is obviously because the film was under the fierce stranglehold of famous control freak Jim Cameroon, known for a lack of humour in all his films. Cameroon reluctantly casts Paxman in all his films as they’re cousins and there is a definite tension between the comic genius of the actor, and the ultra serious ‘I’m The Daddy’ mentality of the Director.
Ridley and crew fly down to the planet to hunt down the monsters but are shocked to find a survivor- a little boy called Newt. This is a deliberate attempt to soften the almost unrelenting darkness of the film, and possibly bring in a wider female audience who may enjoy the mother/son relationship which develops between Ridley and Nuke. The child doesn’t talk much which in fact adds to the bleak tone, and the fact that he carries around a decapitated doll’s head is rather disturbing. I mean, everyone knows boys don’t play with dolls. Newt mumbles things like (in response to Ridley asking if he’s hungry) ‘I’m mostly scared. Mostly’ and the bizarre ‘Hi, Firmative!’. Presumably Firmative is some imaginary friend, or possibly futuristic slang. Throw into the mix the fact that among the marines is a geeky science geek who wants to steal one of the monster eggs to bring home and experiment on or sell or something. Indeed, he hatches a plan to impregnate one of the gang with the egg so that no-one suspects anything. I think if I woke up with an 8 foot monster mounting me in an attempt to give me its seed, I might suspect something was not right. But back to the film. The gang underestimates the sheer number of the monsters (at least 25) and the fact that their King is on the island too, and soon it is the humans that are on the run. Cameroon is clearly adding a subtext here about man’s destruction of nature and of other species, and that eventually it will turn around and we will be on the receiving end. I have studied film studies for at least a year, and have over a year’s experience in social anthbiology, so I know what I’m talking about. The last half of the film is really a series of chase scenes- in the alien base with tanks etc, in a bedroom with spider monsters, through the living quarters, and then into the sewers until The King wakes up. That’s not to mention the super robot fight at the end which was a precursor to Cameroon’s next film Terminator 2. So yes, there is much action and excitement, and lots of mistrust between characters which lends another level of tension.
Most of the characters are killed off, but all fight well and you really feel like you got to know them. Ridley is a true mother- fighting for her family and friends, strapping on a grenade launcher to take on the bullies, Hudson is a comedian but also a bit of a moaner, Capone, Hick, and Vasquez are all super tough and ultra cool. There is also Bishop, a cyborg who doesn’t dance but preaches the Gospel and does magic tricks with knives. Perhaps if Riply had directed this he would have let some more comedy in, and it would have been a stronger film. At times I wanted to jump into the TV, grab a gun and help out my chums, pumping bullets into skulls. ‘Come on, man! Shoot them! Here they come, quick, let’s blow them away and get out of here! ARRGH!’ I would have been shouting like that. Because the film is so dark and depressing though, I didn’t have the energy to jump in and help. So all I could do was sit back and watch each of my friends get eaten, killed, or worse. Overall this is an excitement film, but Cameroon needs to relax and let some light in. I mean what’s the point in having all these characters only for the planet to blow up at the end and kill them all?
Best Scene: When the soldiers are walking through the alien corridors, and all the bleeps are getting closer, but no-one knows where they’re coming from. It was quite scary, but would have been better if Hudson had jumped out with his underpants on his head and shouted ‘ONLY ME!!!’