Notes on watching “Aliens” for the first time again, with a bunch of kids   For his 11th birthday, my son asked if he could have a slumber party. He invited seven other fifth-grade boys. They played video games for a 
couple of hours, ate pizza, then said they wanted to watch a movie. 
They’d seen every comic book movie multiple times. Seen all the Indiana 
Jones films. Star Wars. Anything with a hobbit in it. The usual 11-year 
old boy options, circa 2015, weren’t going to work.   So I suggested “ Aliens ,”
 thinking, “Well, it’s exciting, and even if they haven’t see the first 
one, the movie tells the story well enough that you won’t be confused 
about who Ripley is and what’s at stake for her.”   They agreed 
(some of them had seen the first one anyway, and nearly all had seen at 
least one film with a xenomorph in it) and so we watched it together. 
And as we watched, I realized again that while unfortunately you can’t 
see a great movie again for the first time, the next-best thing is to 
show it to people who’ve never seen it.  My first time with James 
Cameron’s sci-fi war movie was a great filmgoing experience. I saw 
“Aliens” at the NorthPark 1 and 2 theater at NorthPark Mall in my 
hometown of Dallas, with a high school classmate who was, at that time, 
my regular action movie-watching buddy: Gabe Michaels. We drove to 
NorthPark to catch the 11 a.m. show on opening day and got in line a 
couple of hours early. We’d already drunk a bit of soda beforehand and I
 think we might have downed some more while standing in line. When we 
got into the theater, they seated us immediately and there was only one 
preview, for “The Fly,” and then wham, they started the movie. Neither 
Gabe nor I nor anyone else who’d been standing in that line wanted to 
get up from our seats and answer nature’s call, even though we all 
pretty desperately had to; there was a lot of muttering and shifting in 
seats, quite a few “grin and bear it” expressions.   If you’ve seen
 the film, you know there are no aliens to speak of for the first hour, 
then suddenly there are aliens all over the place, coming out of the 
walls and ceiling, drooling and shrieking and dragging Marines off into 
the darkness to be cocooned. It’s one of the greatest releases of 
built-up tension in action film history. Throughout
 this sequence the audience was enthralled, screaming as the xenomorphs 
attacked, cheering as Ripley took control of the all-terrain vehicle to 
rescue the imperiled Colonial Marines. Then when the ATV crashed through
 the wall, the music stopped, and Hicks told her she’d blown the 
trans-axle and need to “ease down, Ripley, ease down,” everyone 
collectively seemed to realize they were being given a breather, so at 
that point Gabe and I and probably a fifth of the audience rose from our
 seats and headed for the bathrooms: fast-walking, some running.  Guys
 at the urinals were peeing as fast as they could because they didn’t 
want to miss another minute of “Aliens.” You’d have thought somebody was
 timing them. Like this was the Olympic qualifying round for the bladder
 evacuation team. But they weren’t going fast enough to suit a guy 
standing near the front door of men’s room. He yelled,  "Goddammit! All of you, piss faster!“   And that’s when I knew "Aliens” was going to be a hit.  Anyway, the slumber party…

Notes on watching “Aliens” for the first time again, with a bunch of kids

For his 11th birthday, my son asked if he could have a slumber party. He invited seven other fifth-grade boys. They played video games for a couple of hours, ate pizza, then said they wanted to watch a movie. They’d seen every comic book movie multiple times. Seen all the Indiana Jones films. Star Wars. Anything with a hobbit in it. The usual 11-year old boy options, circa 2015, weren’t going to work.

So I suggested “Aliens,” thinking, “Well, it’s exciting, and even if they haven’t see the first one, the movie tells the story well enough that you won’t be confused about who Ripley is and what’s at stake for her.”

They agreed (some of them had seen the first one anyway, and nearly all had seen at least one film with a xenomorph in it) and so we watched it together. And as we watched, I realized again that while unfortunately you can’t see a great movie again for the first time, the next-best thing is to show it to people who’ve never seen it.

My first time with James Cameron’s sci-fi war movie was a great filmgoing experience. I saw “Aliens” at the NorthPark 1 and 2 theater at NorthPark Mall in my hometown of Dallas, with a high school classmate who was, at that time, my regular action movie-watching buddy: Gabe Michaels. We drove to NorthPark to catch the 11 a.m. show on opening day and got in line a couple of hours early. We’d already drunk a bit of soda beforehand and I think we might have downed some more while standing in line. When we got into the theater, they seated us immediately and there was only one preview, for “The Fly,” and then wham, they started the movie. Neither Gabe nor I nor anyone else who’d been standing in that line wanted to get up from our seats and answer nature’s call, even though we all pretty desperately had to; there was a lot of muttering and shifting in seats, quite a few “grin and bear it” expressions.

If you’ve seen the film, you know there are no aliens to speak of for the first hour, then suddenly there are aliens all over the place, coming out of the walls and ceiling, drooling and shrieking and dragging Marines off into the darkness to be cocooned. It’s one of the greatest releases of built-up tension in action film history. Throughout this sequence the audience was enthralled, screaming as the xenomorphs attacked, cheering as Ripley took control of the all-terrain vehicle to rescue the imperiled Colonial Marines. Then when the ATV crashed through the wall, the music stopped, and Hicks told her she’d blown the trans-axle and need to “ease down, Ripley, ease down,” everyone collectively seemed to realize they were being given a breather, so at that point Gabe and I and probably a fifth of the audience rose from our seats and headed for the bathrooms: fast-walking, some running.

Guys at the urinals were peeing as fast as they could because they didn’t want to miss another minute of “Aliens.” You’d have thought somebody was timing them. Like this was the Olympic qualifying round for the bladder evacuation team. But they weren’t going fast enough to suit a guy standing near the front door of men’s room. He yelled,  "Goddammit! All of you, piss faster!“

And that’s when I knew "Aliens” was going to be a hit.

Anyway, the slumber party…