James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) is one of my three favorite films in the history of cinema, I’ve seen it a minimum of twenty times already and I try to rewatch it once a year. I consider it a perfect film in every detail and I’m part of the minority of the world population considering it superior to the original Alien (1979) by Ridley Scott, which is also a masterpiece.
Why this premise? Because Macrocosm, the twelfth episode of the third season of Star Trek: Voyager, is a kind of soft remake of Cameron’s film. As a result, I really enjoyed it! Having said that, I realize that the episode has a lot of flaws, the pace is uneven, the special effects look horribly dated, the direction is not particularly inspired… in short, objectively I know that this is probably one of the worst episodes of the season and perhaps of the entire series. But how could I not praise Sigourney Wea… ehm, Kate Mulgrew in tank top exiting an elevator with a giant shotgun to fight dozens of aliens who’ve taken over the ship and put crewmembers into cocoons? And what about all those holes in the floors made by green corrosive acid? Of course I love it!
But apart from the value of referring to an amazing movie, what’s good about this episode? The soundtrack is, for once, catchy, if only reminiscent of the one composed by James Horner for Aliens, of course. Ok, ok, but what’s really good beyond what reminded me of the absolute masterpiece with Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen?
Kate Mulgrew is great here, and it must be said that while I was a little hard on her at first, she has improved over time and her character has become more interesting too. And then the whole first part of the story with Janeway and Neelix returning to Voyager adrift in space and finding it on red alert and with large deserted sections works really great (exactly like in the first hour of Aliens there is a halo of mystery about what happened to the colony on LV-426). Then… despite all the scenes with the amazing Doctor played by Robert Picardo, the flashback explanation is truly anti-climatic and undermines the rhythm of the narrative. And from then on things only get worse, with a lot of biology / bacteriology / nonsense explanations and with the fight scenes against aliens that, both for budgetary limitations and directorial skills (poor Alexander Singer is no James Cameron) fail to sustain the episode’s good premises.
However, I did love the scene in the recently created holodeck beach resort program (seen in Warlord) which basically represents what I wanted to do myself to the beach resort holographic characters that is, to kill them all. This is the new Chez Sandrine (see The Cloud and Twisted), basically.
Finally, why do the Tak Tak make the most stupid gestures in Star Trek history??? What was Brannon Braga thinking when he imagined these gesticulating idiots (I know what he was thinking: he wanted to make fun of Kate Mulgrew who always put her hands on her hips… but was it really worth it?)? I think that it’s better not ask too many questions about Macrocosm. It’s a tribute to Aliens (or a soft remake, if you prefer), it’s fun, and nothing more. Ciao!
PS: The Delta Flyers podcast shout out: Garrett Wong and Robert Duncan McNeill aren’t fans of Macrocosm. They talk at length of the stupid Tak Tak and the badly aged special effects, it’s obvious that this episode is worth something only for true Aliens fans! Also, it was inevitable for the two podcast hosts not to notice the parallels between the episode’s plot and the current Covid-19 pandemic.
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