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Aliens (1986)

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NOTE: This commentary is only available on the "Collector's Edition" DVD release, which is also available in the Alien Quadrilogy box set.

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director James Cameron, producer Gale Anne Hurd, creature wizard Stan Winston, visual effects supervisors Robert and Dennis Skotak, miniature effects supervisor Pat McClung, and actors Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn, and Christopher Henn Rating:8.3/10 (54 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Blunt on June 7th, 2004:Find all reviews by Blunt
I'm not sure but either this track or the one on ALIEN won an award for best commentary in 2003 - but both are equally good, and put together with a care that puts most others to shame.

This is a comprehensive and fairly candid summation of the sequel's production and is at its most interesting when detailing Cameron's problems with the untrusting British crew. Cameron himself - whilst being initially reluctant to record such tracks - proves to be a natural and he commands the proceedings. Hurd and Winston are recorded together and their contribution can be a little too touchy-feely for my tastes. The actors all appear together which makes for a nice variety of pace, though I personally feel that any more than three participants in a room tend to diffuse the focus. Too many tracks are just recordings of reunions, but this one manages (only just) to stay on the right side of inclusivity.

Nonetheless, a very good track overall.
Reviewed by ZachsMind on August 31st, 2006:Find all reviews by ZachsMind
This commentary was a real trip and it's all in the editing. After this, and a preciously rare handful of other commentaries I've heard, I've come to the opinion that the best way to engineer a commentary is to take the cast and crew of a given movie, break them up into pairs or threesomes, put them into the sound booth with the film one group at a time, record whatever happens, and then painstakingly edit out the boring stuff. Take a dozen different audio commentaries and strip them down to one. Then step back and let the world be amazed at your brilliance. Nicely done. Lotsa fun tidbits as the voices of cast and crew cut in and out. One would think it'd get disjointed and annoying after awhile, but when Bill Paxton's got a big moment, you hear him. When the focus on the screen is the special effects, you hear from those guys. When it's all about the alien on screen, that's what they're talking about. So it turns into a sort of stream of consciousness about the film. If this film's an ice cream sundae, this commentary is a complementary hot chocolate and cherry glaze that is delicately poured over it.. which y'know, is far better than alien saliva.
Reviewed by pat00139 on March 27th, 2007:Find all reviews by pat00139
Okay, first Mrs. Hurd and Mr. Winston are together, I think the Skotak brothers and Mr. McClung are together but I'm not sure, the two kids in the movie, Carrie Henn and Chris Henn, are also together and the four actors, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein and Bill Paxton, are also together. Interestingly, three of these four actors worked together again on 'Near Dark' (Mr. Biehn is the odd man out in case you're wondering.) The four actors are naturally the most fun to listen to, giving out a lot of behind the scenes tidbits and making you laugh the most. Mr. Cameron also riffs on the second unit work and wonders at how people in movies always seem to be able to fit into air ducts. Because of the way Mr. Cameron did one of the scenes, the editor said he had more cuts in one reel (reel number 12) than in any other complete movie he had done. This bit of info is given out by Mrs. Hurd: for the scene where Mr. Henriksen plays with the knife, they used a camera where the frame rate changed automatically. It was one of the first movies with that kind of camera. You also learned that they auditioned about 3000 people (in England, I think) because Fox had a limit of how many people they could bring to England. Last one: the Alien Queen's sound was designed on a synthesizer in Mrs. Hurd's living room. Interesting stuff, but one person that didn't talk enough was Miss Henn. Chris Henn literally says about 15 words in the entire track, but what Miss Henn remembers is quite interesting, being remembered from the perspective of a 9-year-old girl. Nice job by these people.
Reviewed by stuartbannerman on August 21st, 2007:Find all reviews by stuartbannerman
This is a great commentary. James Cameron covers a lot of the production side of things. and the cast (specially Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen are great to listen to)
I listened to the commentary on the extended edition. Its great to hear some of the problems that they had filming.
Highly recommended chat track!!!
Reviewed by Agressor on January 19th, 2008:Find all reviews by Agressor
Wow! What a commentary! Easily one of the best I've heard. There's not much to add to what's already been stated above, I can just concure that it's an excellently edited track with loads of informative and funny anecdotes from all participants.

I would have liked if they showed the name of the person talking though, 'cause sometimes I got a bit confused, especially when they make a "hard" cut between the different groups. And i would've loved to hear a seperate track with just Cameron, everything from him is gold here.

Best bit: I like when they talk about Camerons hands-on approach in directing and what consequences it had on the set.
Reviewed by Buldrebisk on April 7th, 2009:Find all reviews by Buldrebisk
Now this is what a commentary should be like. Wonderfully edited between the many groups here. And I love the blend of tone as well, from the very funny chatter from the three actors, to the more serious Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd, who is also very interesting to listen to. I can see why Cameron married her. 9/10
Reviewed by JWINGS on October 29th, 2011:Find all reviews by JWINGS
An awesome track from start to finish. Must listen!
Reviewed by Jonathan E on September 7th, 2012:Find all reviews by Jonathan E
As good as this commentary is (and it is enjoyable) my major complaint would have to be the spliced up nature of the track.

I would rather have had 4 separate tracks much like the Lord Of The Rings special edition DVDs.

This should have been divided up into:

1)Director 2)Actors 3)Gale Anne Hurd/Stan Winston 4)Effects crew

I was hoping when the Blu ray arrived with the extra space available on the disc that they would separate the tracks but all they did was transfer them.

As much as I am happy we at least have this track to listen to I can only think of what we are missing...I mean Bill Paxton and James Cameron MUST have sat through the whole film so who decided what I don't need to hear?
Reviewed by Uniblab on December 11th, 2013:Find all reviews by Uniblab
Yet another truckload-of-people track in which an editing beaurocrat gets to decide what you're gonna listen to. Ironically, the most fun about it is the actors in general and Bill Paxton in particular having a great time - needless to say that they deserved a full-length track. Apart from that, the most informative and interesting is the special/visual effects talk, which in this movie comes across as having being a very paintaking process. That's the best subject covered by the late Stan Winston and also by Cameron himself, who started off in his career as a visual effects technician. His contribution probably is the only one I would miss in its entirety, given that he comes across as pedantic and redunt talking about non-effects stuff, even cooking up some pretentious Vietnam war analogies the betray his gross ignorance of the subject. There's also some substantial talking about Hurd and Cameron's clash with the (now deceased) original director of photography Dick Bush (to whom Hurd mistakenly refers as "first AD"), but it's hard for us to pick sides since pretty much all the other commenters talk about the issue in a less passionate way and Cameron's own reputation in that aspect isn't particularly good, either.
Reviewed by grimjack on January 3rd, 2021:Find all reviews by grimjack
I was disappointed as soon as I learned this was one of those tracks that are spliced together from multiple groups watching separately. But it actually works really well. Cameron is mostly technical and mostly interesting. Some of the cast were not in a lot of the film, and some are more talkative in scenes they are not in than those who are. But it manages to be spliced together so well, that it feels like only good stuff is here.

A few pieces of trivia were even new, which did surprise me since I had the famous special edition laserdisc that had tons of interviews and extras (but no commentary). And I had read every article about the film. But still I learned a few good things here. And when I was not learning new things, it was still entertaining, as it skillfully cut between the different groups, losing the boring stuff, and keeping the most interesting.