kesseljunkie’s review published on Letterboxd:
Tried to show it to the eldest. She found it to be "OK." Well that's fine and all, but I found it to be excellent on my first rewatch in many years. I watched the "Special Edition"/aka Director's Cut/aka Cameron's Preferred Cut and while I still think it's in desperate need of a remaster, it's a terrific film. Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn have a real chemistry as what amounts to a riff on the Connor/Reese combination from the first Terminator film. The entire supporting cast is terrific, especially Bill Paxton in a breakout role and Paul Reiser as the irredeemably sleazy "company man."
The redesign of the titular creature(s) is interesting as well, and they look more like gorilla acrobats than the slender gymnast who terrorized the Nostromo in the first. Design shifts like that always happen in franchises, but in the post-video market world, they're more starkly noticeable since everyone can watch these films in such close sequence. I'm sure someone has constructed some sort of "head canon" reason for the differences as well, and I entertain several notions, too.
The Alien Queen is, of course, the stuff of nightmares.
The compositing and rear-projection effects are products of their time, but for the most part hold up pretty well. There's a great cheat of scale that only breaks down at certain key moments.
The most fascinating thing in this film is what makes so many of Cameron's films fascinating. They carry with them a rebuke of what has come to be labeled "toxic masculinity" and the embrace of the power of womanhood. The bravado of Hudson collapses in the face of adversity; the command of Lieutenant Gorman evaporates in a crisis; the Marines themselves are lost without direction. It's Ripley who rises up.
When paired with the thematic climax of the New Mother (capable, powerful, leading through strength) fighting the Old Mother (instinctual, breeding, controlling through menace), this elevates the work past any shortcomings you might register in terms of technique or pacing at some points.
So in short, while my kid thought it was "OK," I find sincere adoration and respect for a masterwork. And a desire to test the kid's genetics to see if I'm actually the father to someone who would call this just "OK."