Sunday, March 26, 2017
'Aliens' Movie Adapation Review
If at anytime you felt concerned or worried that the first 'Alien' movie to book adaptation set the bar for what was to come, let me assure you that it was the black sheep of the family. Sitting at the head of the table, on the other hand, is the 'Aliens' adaptation.
Whereas the first one ran far too slow in many parts, the pacing in this story is on the dot. Where there was too little or too much detail in any given scene, 'Aliens' paints a picture and lets you admire it without forcing your face to the canvas. When the original quoted a largely out-of-date screenplay for a movie so many were familiar with, this adaptation adds select scenes that were left out of the original movies but only so as to benefit the story and not confuse the reader.
To those unfamiliar with the 'Aliens' movie, this story picks up 50+ years after the original 'Alien' story. Ellen Ripley, the last survivor of the Nostromo disaster highlighted in the first story, is discovered and revived from cryogenic sleep. Despite briefly returning to Earth, Ripley is forcibly thrust back into the terror. Planet LV- 426, now known as Acheron, has since been colonized and begun to be terraformed in the interim, only to mysteriously go dark shortly after Ripley wakes up. Now, with a squad of Colonial Marines at her side, Ripley returns to LV-426 only to discover how truly unprepared even the military is to face the monsters that led to the Nostromo disaster. With time ticking down to destruction and aliens around every corner, Ripley and the few survivors must find a way off of Acheron before the clock hits zero.
To those who have seen the movie, easily some of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences include the marines and seeing how the aliens function in a more natural dynamic. The book delivers well on both.
For the marines, the novel expands upon not only interpersonal relationships, but the marines are given more character then is even present in the original movies. Off handed characters like Spunkmeyer and Frost who are forgotten against big characters like Hudson and Sanchez are given more scenes and more personality versus 'stock marines'. Smaller, subtle interactions like Hicks training Ripley are given more personable details and help to show both of these people as human beings, not just survivors. And conniving little shits who are constantly searching for their next big meal ticket like Burke demonstrate their thought process in a way no movie can truly reveal.
The same mastery of omnipotence that can only come from a book delivers well within the context of the Aliens as well. Entire creatures, like the 'worker drones', that were left out of the movie make a sudden appearance and add clarity to several unanswered questions. Certain untold features about how the creatures hunt and immobilize their prey are also expanded upon; namely the creature's 'stingers' that only appear in the original script of the movie. Plus, you get just a taste of what the colonists truly faced when dealing with the scourge that overran them.
The only complaint I can make, and this is a minor one: the language. First, allow me to clarify: while I'm sure any of my regular readers are well enough aware that I can be a fucking foul mouthed motherfucker, I don't have some bizarre love of curse words. That said, one of the most iconic lines of the film is "Get away from her you, bitch!" which, in the adaptation, is altered to "Get away from her youuuuu!" Doesn't quite have the same ring. Pretty much all cursing has been removed, which just seems out of place. The book is by no means child friendly, particularly with people regularly being gutted and eviscerated, so it just seemed an odd choice to do this. While it doesn't truly retract from the experience, it just jumps out as being odd.
With that said, I highly recommend this title. Having read all four (with the other two reviews to come), Aliens was easily my favorite of the series of adaptations. It's well paced, fun, breathtaking, and engaging. It expands upon all the right things, makes addendums to small inadequacies that didn't quite add up, is overall exactly what I'd hope for when I think of a movie to book adaptation. If you enjoy horror and action, give it a read.