Two centuries after her death, Ellen Ripley is revived as a powerful human/alien hybrid clone who must continue her war against the aliens. (IMDb)
It’s not terrible, it’s just hard to like. Case in point, our protagonist Ripley now looks straight out of an 80s hair metal band and is as creepy throughout as her alien offspring (which she fondles affectionately before it gets sucked out into space through a fist-sized hole in a vomit-inducing climax). Other gross-out moments are certainly effective, with good CGI, but they just don’t sit well when considering the film’s meh plot, lack of likable characters, and often cheesy dialogue.
After her last encounter, Ripley crash-lands on Fiorina Fury 161, a maximum security prison. When a series of strange and deadly events occur shortly after her arrival, Ripley realizes that she brought along an unwelcome visitor. (IMDb)
The story and characters leave something to be desired (aside from Ripley only Clemons really gets developed and his arc is cut short), but the dark and brooding atmosphere is incredible, thanks to the sinister and suffocating prison setting, discomforting sound and camera work (see the brilliant autopsy/alien birth montage), and tense mix of religious and foul language dispersed throughout. A bold ending makes up for the confusing final action sequence, though it’s marred by some bad CGI.
7.5/10 (Really Good)
The moon from Alien (1979) has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough? (IMDb)
More people, aliens, and guns make this sequel more of an action-thriller than its slow-horror predecessor, replacing the latter’s subtle suspense and relatability with more straight-forward shoot-em-up fodder, but that’s not to say it’s always a bad thing (more aliens makes for a stronger sense of hopelessness; Ripley and the alien Mom’s unexpected final showdown is awesome) or that it doesn’t still have good character work (sniveling Burke is the perfect complement to strong-willed Ripley).
7.5/10 (Really Good)
After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious life-form, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. (IMDb)
Only a few instances of distractingly dated SFX (see the puppet-like movement of the worm; big explosion) mar this claustrophobic and intimate sci-fi thriller: Natural dialogue and pacing, along with an excellent use of long tracking shots, shaky handheld movement, and facial close-ups capture perfectly the unsettling dread, shocking horror, and relatable characters trying to cope in a uniquely nightmarish plot (the initial terror from the gross alien is boosted by the robot twist later on).
A wrongfully convicted boy is sent to a brutal desert detention camp where he joins the job of digging holes for some mysterious reason. (IMDb)
An already unique premise here is given a delicious second layer of back-story that pops up in the current tale in a peppering of delightful past-present parallels and fulfilled prophecies that work well with the bleak but intriguing desert setting. LaBeouf’s hard-luck Stanley, meanwhile, leads an enjoyable cast of characters that includes a loveable gang of misfit adolescents and three wonderfully nasty bad guys, bringing some heart to this immensely satisfying mystery story.