Without a doubt the second instalment of the Alien-franchise is one THE classics of the Sci-Fi-action-horror-genre. With Sigourney Weaver playing the lead, again, there is more of everything. Suspense, action and aliens. With actors like Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton or Lance Henriksen the movie has a good cast also when it comes to supporting actors and the director James Cameron (Terminator) managed to make a good sequel that lives up to the first movie of the franchise.
The original version, however, was too long for the producing studio so it demanded several cuts to tighten the plot. Especially the American audience was not trusted to have the ability to sit through a movie of 148 minutes. So Cameron went to the cutting room, again, and lost more than 15 minutes of footage. It was mostly character development of Ripley or background information about what had happened to Newt's parents. But also some of the action got cut out, it might not be elementary but for people who want the entire experience it is still part of the movie. Among the fans there are two fractions, one preferring the Theatrical version and one preferring the Director's Cut. The advantage of the Theatrical version is that it is more flowing and faster. The Director's Cut, however, offers more depth and information. This is also the opinion of the director James Cameron who prefers the Director's Cut, also called "Special Edition", because he thinks it is the better and more exiting version of the movie. Also leading actress Sigourney Weaver made clear which version she prefers. She threatened to never shoot an Alien-film, again, if the longer Director's Cut was not released, as well.
Comparison between the Theatrical version and the Director's Cut (both from 20th Century Fox).
18 scenes = 987.84 seconds or about 16 minutes 28 seconds
0:08:29: Ripley is sitting on a bench and looking at a clearing. The camera slowly makes a curve and we see that it is only a projection on a video wall. Ripley powers it off with a remote control. Then Dr. Burke enters the room and the following dialogue takes place:
Burke: "Hi, sorry I'm late. I've been running behind all morning."
Ripley: "Is there any word about my daughter?"
Burke: "I do think we should worry about the hearing now, cos we don't have a lot of time now, okay? I read your deposition, and it's great. If you just stick to that, I think we'll be fine. A thing to remember is there are gonna be a lot of heavyweights in there. You got feds, Interstellar Commerce Commission, Colonial Administration, insurance company guys -"
Ripley: "Do you have any news about my daughter?"
Burke: "Well, we did come up with some information. Why don't we sit down? I was hoping to wait until after the inquest. Amanda Ripley-McClaren – married name, I guess – aged 66. And that was at the time of her death. Which was two years ago. I'm real sorry."
Burke gives her the picture of her daughter, an old woman can be seen. Ripley touches the photo.
Burke: "Um... she was cremated and interred at Westlake Repository, Little Chute, Wisconsin. No children. I checked."
Ripley: "I promised her... that I'd be home for her birthday. Her 11th birthday."
Ripley's voice gets weak and she starts crying pressing the picture of her dead daughter against her face.
0:12:57: The chairman Van Euwen says: "It is the finding of this court of enquiry that Warrant Officer E Ripley, NOC 14472 has acted with questionable judgment, and is unfit to hold an ICC licence as a commercial flight officer. Said licence is hereby suspended indefinitely. No criminal charges will be filed against you at this time, you are released on your own recognisance for a six-month period of psychometric probation, to include monthly review by an ICC psychiatric technician. These proceedings are closed."
0:14:35: There is a tracking shot on the alien planet. The camera tracks up and we see the human colony. A vehicle honks and a door opens. The vehicle drives through the complex and the camera switches to an interior view of a commando room. A man called Al grabs a coffee and walks through the headquarters. He says: "I'll be down in Maintenance, okay?"
Al: "Hey, what?"
Lou: "Hey, Al?"
Lou: "Remember you sent some wildcatters out into the middle of nowhere last week? Past the Hillgem rings?"
Al: "Yeah, what?"
Lou: "One of them's on the horn, say's he's onto something. Wants to know if his claim will be honoured."
Al: "Why wouldn't his claim be honoured?"
Lou: "Because you sent them out in particular middle of nowhere on company orders, maybe? I don't know..."
Al: "Christ! Some honch in a cushy office on Earth says go look at a grid reference. We look. They don't say why, and I don't ask. I don't ask because it takes two weeks to get an answer out here and the answer is always 'Don't ask.'."
Lou: "So what do I tell this guy?"
Al: "Tell him as far as I'm concerned if he finds something, it is his. Lydecker?"
Al points at laughing children walking through the hallway. Lou admonishes them: "You kids know you're not supposed to be on this level. Go on, get outta here!"
The boy rolls through the hallway on his tricycle, the camera stops moving pointed at a Weyland-Yutani-logo.
Then we have an exterior view of the planet's surface. The vehicle we have just seen blazes a trail over the uneven surface of the planet. Interior view, obviously the vehicle contains the little Newt and her family.
Timmy: "You go in places we can't fit."
Newt: "So? That's why I'm the best!"
Annie: "Knock it off. I catch either of you playing in the air ducts again, I'll tan your hides."
Newt: "Mum, all the kids play in the -"
Annie: "I don't care."
Father: "Hey, wait, wait, wait a minute! Annie, come and have a look at this, will ya?"
Through the wind shield of the vehicle we see the crashed space ship that has already been entered by some of Ripley's crew members and where Kane got attacked by the facehugger, eventually.
Father: "Folks, we have scored big this time."
The vehicle drives closer to the space ship.
Newt: "What is it, Dad?"
Father: "I'm not sure. Let's see if we can get a closer look at it through that crack down the side."
Annie: "Shouldn't we call in?"
Father: "Let's wait till we know what to call it in as. That's about as close as we can get. Shall we take a look inside?"
Newt's parents get out of the vehicle, Annie says to Newt: "You kids stay inside. I mean it. We'll be right back."
Newt: "Okay, bye"
Newt observes her parents entering the space ship through the crack. After a while they are still not back. Newt wakes up her brother.
Newt: "Timmy, they've been gone a long time."
Timmy: "It'll be okay, Newt. Dad knows what he's doing."
Suddenly the door opens and their mother Annie screams into the radio unit: "Mayday, Mayday, this is Alpha Kilo Two Four Niner calling Hadley Control! This is Alpha Kilo Two Four Niner! Alpha Kilo Two Four Niner, calling Hadley Control!"
Newt sees her father lying on the ground with the facehugger in his face and starts screaming.
0:21:38: Ripley asks Burke: "What's your interest in all this? Why are you going?"
Burke: "The corporation co-financed that colony along with Colonial Administration. We're getting into a lot of terraforming there and building better worlds."
Ripley: "Yeah, I saw the commercial."
In the Theatrical version there is a mistake at this point because the last part of Ripley's line can be heard in a cut way.
0:25:13: The Director's Cut offers a longer tracking shot of the interior of the ship. Besides a locker with the poster of a naked woman we also see the armory and the hangar. After that, the tracking shot to the hyper-sleep-chambers is longer, too.
0:41:36: Hudson is excited and ready for action. Without being asked he informs Ripley about the hardness of the squad and the available armory. "I am the ultimate badass! State-of-the-badass-art. You do not wanna fuck with me. Check it out. Hey Ripley, don't worry. Me and my squad of ultimate badasses will protect you. Check it out. Independently targeting particle-beam Phalanx. Wham! Fry half the city with this puppy. We got tactical smart missiles, phased-plasme pulse rifles, RPGs, we got sonic electronic ballbreakers! We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks..."
0:48:15: Hudson and Vasquez notice motion on the motion tracker. They sneak to a door while being watched on the monitor by Ripley and the commander who stayed in the vehicle.
Hudson: "It's right in there."
They step through a door and we see that the "enemy" is only a hamster.
Vasquez: "Good one, Hudson."
Hudson: "Sir, we have a negative situation here. Ah, moving one, Sir."
0:50:17: The vehicles drives through the base heading to the building Vasquez and the others are in. Ripley and the others get out and walk to the entrance. Ripley, however, hesitates, Hicks says to her: "Are you all right?", Ripley responds absently: "Yes..". Then, they enter the building and the door closes behind them.
1:23:19: Hicks says: "But the good news. We got four of these robot sentries, with display and scanners intact. They really kick ass. I think they'll come in handy."
1:25:30: After Ripley asks if they cannot put up a sentry gun in the tunnel she asks in the DC: "And then seal that door?". In the Theatrical version, however, we see Newt yawning a little earlier.
1:25:47: Hicks discusses the tactics with Ripley: "Right. And then we put the other sentry units here and here, right?"
1:26:07: Hicks adjusts the sentry guns at computers. Hudson connects a cable and says: "Do your thing, baby. Come on, come on, let's get the hell outta here. Hudson here. A and B sentries are in place and keyed."
Hicks: "Roger, stand by. Arming now. Test it, Hudson."
Hudson: "Do it!"
Vasquez: "Fire in the hole!"
She throws a metal container in the hallway and the sentry guns pick up their duty immediately.
Hudson: "Okay, let's get the hell outta here!"
1:27:25: The sentry guns monitor the hallway to both sides.
1:28:54: Newt and Ripley talk a little longer.
Newt: "Did one of those things grow inside her?"
Ripley: "I don't know, Newt. That's the truth."
Newt: "Isn't that how babies come? I mean, people babies? They grow inside you."
Ripley: "No, that's very different."
Newt: "Did you ever have a baby?"
Ripley: "Yes, I did. I had a little girl."
Newt: "Where is she?"
Ripley: "She's gone."
Newt: "You mean dead."
1:31:24: The DC contains a dialogue extension about the alien-queen. While Hudson and Vasquez are talking in the DC the Theatrical version only shows them looking in silence.
Hudson: "Hey, maybe it's like an ant hive."
Vasquez: "Bees, man. Bees have hives."
Hudson: "You know what I mean. There's, like, one female that runs the whole show."
Bishop: "Yes, the queen."
Hudson: "Yes, the mama. She's badass, man. I mean, big."
Vasquez: "These things ain't ants, estúpido."
Hudson: "I know that."
1:33:25: Ripley goes through a door, suddenly, the alarm goes off. The sentry guns in the tunnel fire at the aliens. Ripley, Hicks, Hudson and Vasquez watch the ammunition counters at computer displays.
Hudson: "What is it? What's goin' on?"
Hicks: "They're coming."
Hicks: "In the tunnel. Here we go. A and B gun tracking and firing. Multiple targets."
Hudson: "Look at those ammo counters go."
Hicks: "B gun's down 50 per cent."
Hudson: "Man, it's a shooting gallery down there."
Hicks: "60 rounds left on B. 40. 20. 10. B gun's dry. 20 on A ... 10 ... 5 ... that's it."
Hudson: "Jesus. They're wall-to-wall in there."
We hear hollow steps.
Ripley: "They're at the pressure door."
Hudson: "Man, listen to that."
Bishop reports on the radio unit: "Bishop here. I'm afraid to have some bad news."
Hudson: "Well, that's a switch."
1:37:13: The sentry guns keep firing. Ripley and the others watch the battle on the displays while there are cutaways to the firing sentry guns and shot aliens.
Hicks: "This is unbelievable. 20 metres and closing. 15."
Ripley: "How many?"
Hicks: "Can't tell. Lots. D gun's down 50 per cent. C gun's right behind it."
Hudson: "It ain't stoppin' 'em. This thing ain't stoppin' 'em."
Hicks: "150 rounds on D."
Hudson: "Come on, come on, baby. Come on!"
Hicks: "100 rounds."
Hudson: "Come on, come on!"
Hicks: "D gun's down to 20 ... 10. Damn it!"
Gun D is out of ammunition so Hicks grabs his rifle and wants to start fighting personally but Ripley stops him. One weapon has even only ten shots left.
Ripley: "Wait! They're retreating. The guns stopped them."
Hicks: "You're right. Next time they walk right up and knock."
Ripley: "Yeah, but they don't know that. They're probably looking for other ways to get in. That'll take 'em a while."
Hudson: "Maybe we got 'em demoralised."
Vasquez: "Shut up!"
Hicks: "I want you two walking parameter. Move!"
2:02:09: Ripley gets ready for the seek and rescue mission for Newt. She turns around to Hicks, one more time and says: "See you, Hicks."
Hicks: "Dwayne. It's Dwayne."
Hicks: "Don't be gone long, Ellen."