This review covers each and every feature available on the 'Alien Anthology' Blu-ray set. As our reviewer points out, the special features add up to over 26 hours of additional material. In order to provide the most detailed review available anywhere, it's all been detailed below. We think you'll agree it was worth the wait.
This review covers each and every feature available on the 'Alien Anthology' Blu-ray set. As our reviewer points out, the special features add up to over 26 hours of additional material. In order to provide the most detailed review available anywhere, it's all been detailed below. We think you'll agree it was worth the wait.
'Alien' is the groundbreaking sci-fi horror masterpiece that catapulted both Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver to super stardom. The film is a virtuoso ride of terror and suspense with subtle philosophical meditations and substance writhing beneath its simple story of survival. Released at a time when the public was still swooning over George Lucas's romantic space opera, 'Star Wars,' the movie told audiences that the universe and its vast darkness remained a place to fear and dread. For those who have watched Howard Hawk's 'The Thing from Another World' and Edward L. Cahn's 'It! The Terror from Beyond Space,' the plot isn't entirely original, but its effectiveness is a testament to the skilled work of the actors, writers, and skilled filmmakers involved at each stage of production. Most importantly, the film sprang from the masterly vision of Ridley Scott.
In the opening shots, the commercial towing spaceship Nostromo moves across the screen — from top to bottom — as if flying above us, intimating the same opening from Lucas's film, but Scott quickly abolishes the similarities and reveals an ugly, bizarre-looking structure floating in outer space, nothing like the sort we'd immediately associate with a science-fiction adventure. Then we move through the damp, silent, grungy halls of the ship and into the control room, where the electronic beeps and chimes of computers are intently watched by an empty helmet. By the time we're finally introduced to the cast, awakening from what can be described as a kind of embryonic sleep, the metallic stillness of the spacecraft has become suffocating and oppressively confining. Once threatened by the alien creature, these tight, enclosed areas are used to incredible effect, creating tension and suspense through space alone.
Ridley Scott shows he is a patient director, first establishing an ominous and foreboding atmosphere, biding his time before characters are forced to survive a ravenous and brutal monster. He is, of course, assisted by an excellent script by Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon ('Return of the Living Dead'), who is said to have pitched the story as "Jaws in space." And like Spielberg's horror classic, Scott holds back from fully revealing his boogeyman. Even while it viciously kills the crew one by one, Scott gives viewers only glimpses of the hideous beast until the closing moments. 'Alien' is a well-constructed and ingenious movie with a great deal more to offer than frights, especially considering the fact that Ripley (Weaver) is our first female action hero. The narrative's underlying themes are ripe with imagery and symbolism of sexuality and politics.
'Alien' depicts a drab and uninspiring future where the struggles of the working class remain unresolved and continue to be problematic, a fact that engineers Parker (Yaphet Kotto) and Brett (Henry Dean Stanton) bring attention to. It's in this space of already existing conflict that Ripley battles for her identity as a strong female voice. Her endless clashes with Ash (Ian Holm) are telling of this aspect within the story. With H.R. Giger's sexually-charged design for the creature and the derelict spacecraft, this tension is brought to the forefront and her fight for self-awareness is made even more apparent. The chestburster scene with Kane (John Hurt) is literally a perverse and abnormal childbirth. The alien kills the men by penetrating their bodies, but it changes modes of attack with Lambert (Veronica Cartwright). Ripley only defeats the deviant monster when she finally removes her androgynous uniform to reveal (and even possible accept?) herself as a woman.
Of course, this depends on how one chooses to enjoy Ridley Scott's beautifully crafted vision of a terrifying future in space. The 2003 Director's Cut still preserves these same underlying themes of the horror classic. The differences between the two are very minor, except that the original theatrical version is about a minute longer. The newer cut introduces mostly deleted scenes, like a physical altercation involving the two women of the ship and Ripley discovering a cocooned Dallas (Tom Skeritt), which add little to the movie. The reason for one being shorter than the other is the result of giving the later edition a smoother narrative flow. Scott has stated in interviews that he favors the 1979 cut — that it's perfect the way it is. I agree with that sentiment. 'Alien (1979)' is a horror masterpiece. (Movie Rating: 5/5)
Hot off the success of 'The Terminator,' James Cameron directed a follow-up to Ridley Scott's film and took the storyline in a slightly different direction. Making it completely his own, while still maintaining its roots as a direct sequel, Cameron steeped his plot with a heavy dose of action and adventure. In fact, 'Aliens' pretty much raised the bar in that area, which is a striking contrast to the intense horror elements of the original. The movie is also vastly unique and distinct from the 'Star Trek' and 'Star Wars' movies many were cheering for at the time. Much like its predecessor seven years earlier, this sci-fi feature surprised audiences everywhere, using standard genre tropes and then defying them. Living up to its tagline, "This Time It's War," 'Aliens' is a brash, bare-knuckle display of frenetic action and grandiose violence that, surprisingly, is just as good as Scott's film.
If the first movie can be described as "Jaws in space," as O'Bannon once did, then Cameron's sequel is essentially "Rambo in space." Instead of a commercial freighter crew battling one vicious monster, a gung-ho, trigger-happy Marine Corps will face off against an entire horde. Part of the excitement comes from watching the soldiers interact aboard the warship Sulaco, their aggressive and combative attitudes being a big focus of the first half. Led by the inexperienced Lt. Gorman (William Hope), the colonial marines refuse to show any fear or apprehension before landing on LV-426. They display a disregard for Ripley's caution and a lack of respect for the danger they're about to encounter. But both Ripley (Weaver) and the audience understand the seriousness, which creates tension and concern. Once they meet their enemy, in which most of the team is killed in a matter of minutes, the tune of those left is suddenly for survival rather than the seek-and-destroy attitude seen earlier.
What ultimately works best — that is, other than the exciting action — is Cameron carrying over and expanding on many of the same themes explored in Scott's amazing work of horror. In 'Aliens,' the Weyland-Yutani Corporation is given a personhood through talking head Carter Burke (Paul Reiser), a guy who immediately rubs us the wrong way. Whereas the first film only mentions human life as expendable and preserving an alien specimen as priority, this follow-up now turns it into a focal point of soulless corporate greed. Amid all the death and chaos, the company seeks to protect its investment and sees potential profit in the biological weapons area. In this gloomy and miserable future, even the military has been privatized for further commercial opportunities. Ripley is once again forced to battle two types of monsters and helped by Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn), Vasquez (Janette Goldstein) and Hudson (Bill Paxton).
By placing our tough heroine in the middle of this harsh reality, Cameron is also able to expand on Ripley's character as a strong female voice. Just as in the previous film, she is compelled to prove herself as a woman within a masculine society, which is in sharp contrast to Vasquez's just-one-of-the-boys appearance and posture. In introducing little Newt (Carrie Henn) to the storyline, Ripley takes on a larger, more powerful role, readily accepting a maternal place without leaving behind those characteristics we've already come to admire in her. Indeed, this new attribute of protecting the child — who later eventually calls her "mommy" — from the other violent, monstrous mother, makes her more of a determined and confident hero than the soldiers. Ripley's relationship with Hicks and Bishop (Lance Henriksen) shows a masculine presence that can live peacefully alongside her, listen to her, and work as equals.
And just as in Scott's horror masterpiece, Cameron's 'Aliens' can be enjoyed on the intense action and suspense alone. But for someone like myself, it's these aspects and qualities of the film which make it a well-crafted classic of science fiction. The 1991 Special Edition cut of the movie retains this same feel, if not actually making it more apparent to viewers. Most of the extra seventeen minutes in fact seem to add depth and motivation to the Ripley character, such as an early scene with Burke where the two talk about her daughter. It is later mentioned during an intimate moment with Newt, and the idea provides weight to their emotional hug at the end. Other scenes are neither here nor there, information that fans can do without, like Newt's family discovering the alien spacecraft and Hudson's "state-of-the-art" speech. Either way, both cuts are equally enjoyable in my book, and the theatrical version is a classic sci-fi actioner with brains. (Movie Rating: 4.5/5)
With two amazing and highly praised films already mounting a strong following, a third follow-up sounded like a great idea at the time. But the movie was instead confronted by challenges, expectations, and controversy. From the beginning, 'Alien 3' seemed destined to disappoint, failing to live up to what Ridley Scott and James Cameron had previously accomplished. At first, the movie was conceived as a two-part epic with Corporal Hicks taking on a more prominent role. With Ripley not making an appearance until the second part, the idea was an all-out war against Weyland-Yutani and the alien species. Of course, that idea was never brought to fruition, and various stories went through the hands of different writers, including one treatment by David Twohy that eventually evolved into 'The Chronicles of Riddick.' Producers David Giler and Walter Hill finally took over by melding the various ideas into one final script.
Sadly, their personal involvement and determination to see their script realized, along with the involvement of other studio heads, can be seen as the film's downfall. It's another disastrous case where outside interference ultimately ruins the potential for an amazing motion picture, especially when a stylized and talented director is hired. In this instance, we have a young, hot-shot music video director by the name of David Fincher poised to make a striking and vividly impressive feature-length debut with this installment. Unfortunately, the future filmmaker of such remarkable movies as 'Se7en,' 'The Game,' 'Fight Club,' 'Zodiac,' and 'The Social Network' was met with distrust and incredible doubt. Much of what he originally wanted with this picture was quickly shot down, and he was never really given the sort of freedom required to even make a film. In the excellently-made and surprisingly revealing documentary 'Wreckage and Rage' (which thankfully is included in its complete runtime on this Blu-ray set), we can see Fincher's frustration and anger with the production, the producers, and his overall experience.
I highly recommend watching not only that amazing documentary but also the Workprint Version of 'Alien 3.' Not as a standalone film, mind you, but rather as a companion piece to the final product. For those unfamiliar with the language, a workprint is essentially a "work-in-progress" version. All filmed footage is made into a rough print from the original negatives which editors use for editing a movie, usually with the supervision of the director. Alas, Fincher walked out in the middle of this process, because at that point, he was simply too frustrated with the demands of the producers. Basically, this is a rare opportunity for fans, since workprints are never meant for public viewing, and it offers a unique glimpse into what could have been a brilliant film had Fincher been given a little more freedom and time with the material. The final version has always felt sloppy and rushed, and this cut shows certain scenes of dialogue that would have smoothed things out a bit more. More importantly, with everything seen in context, it seems Fincher wanted to augment the mythos of Ripley.
By now, it's apparent the 'Alien' saga moves between at least three different themes, each equally enjoyable as the next. And by that, I mean the films are highly entertaining no matter what spin anyone attaches to them. On the surface, the movies are about a war against a monstrous, perverse alien species. On a deeper level, it's a conflict in opposition to an evil and corrupt corporation which seeks profitability over human life. Deeper still, and my primary attraction to the series, this is Ripley's battle and struggle for self-identity, of being seen as equal to the men who surround her. Fincher's third installment, I would argue, is Ripley's journey into sainthood and viewed as a Christ-figure. I honestly believe that if David Fincher had been allowed the sort of creative freedom seen in all the other films in the franchise, this could have been an amazing addition. Looking at what we do have, the movie displays a great deal of potential.
'Alien 3' doesn't play to this idea of sainthood in a straightforward manner. Instead, it's ironic in its imagery and narrative. While in cryonic stasis, Ripley crash lands on a penal colony called Fiorina 161. The prison facility is run by a warden (Brian Glover), but it's really controlled by Dillon (Charles S. Dutton) who governs the place much like a monastery. She soon aligns herself with these men, these outcasts of society, dressing in their drab, colorless uniform and even shaving her head. It's not that she's trying to gain their respect as much as she understands their position of being shunned for not falling in line with society's norms. Keep in mind, the alien hasn't been discovered yet, but she expects a rescue within a week. Meaning, she doesn't have to do this. When we consider the ending, her ultimate sacrifice, she sees these men, who have committed hideous crimes against women, worthy of salvation. There's some really powerful imagery in this film, and I wonder what could have been accomplished if the producers only gave Fincher more creative control. (Movie Rating: 3.5/5)
Alien Resurrection (1997)
Funnily enough, 'Alien Resurrection' can be seen as what happens when given a bit too much creative control. Looking at this movie as part of a whole, it is ultimately the odd duck of the entire franchise, the one which simply doesn't sit well with the rest of the series and the storyline. I can admit this, both as a huge admirer of the films (obviously) and as a skeptical critic. But at the same time, there's something about its weirdness and outlandish plot that I still find oddly enjoyable. Set 200 years after Fincher's take, the idea of Ripley being cloned so that another mysterious organization can save an alien queen, in all honesty, sounds ridiculous, and the movie makes the whole thing look rather cartoonish. Also, the many leftist, progressive themes suggested in the first three films are discarded here for a sci-fi actioner with space pirates, military cloning experiments, and an overly emotional Winona Ryder.
Sadly, it pains me to say much of this because I usually love weird, eccentric motion pictures. And it pains me even more because this fourth installment comes from Jean-Pierre Jeunet — also making this flick an oddball feature within his own canon of movies. I love every single one of his original, fantastical and bizarre tales that seem to come out of nowhere. From 'Delicatessen' and 'The City of Lost Children,' Jeunet has not disappointed in the least, with 'Amélie' being his most popular and a favorite amongst many film lovers. (His latest, 'MicMacs,' comes to the U.S. on Blu-ray in December.) 'Alien Resurrection' even stars Dominique Pinon, the only actor to appear in all of the director's films. Jeunet is a highly imaginative and visionary filmmaker who's shown to possess incredible skill and control of the camera, providing his work with plenty of child-like humor. So the big question here is how exactly is he right for sci-fi horror?
Trying to figure why producers think the way they do is as difficult as trying to understand why they didn't allow Fincher more creative control, especially since the same group of people are involved. Part of the problem I find is that Jeunet's style is simply not the right tone or approach to the series. His direction and control of the camera, working with cinematographer and long-time collaborator Darius Khondji, remains just as smooth and engaging as his other works. But it's not of the type required or expected for a science fiction story about fighting alien monsters. 'Resurrection' is also the only one of his directed features that he didn't personally write, but the look and feel is still very much a quirky Jeunet production. Joss Whedon ('Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' 'Serenity') actually wrote the script, and he's even admitted it's not a badly-made movie, just not the movie he wrote. I might be willing to give Whedon that, but can he explain how the ending with the whole mother-child aspect was a good idea at all.
No matter how we look at it, 'Alien Resurrection' doesn't fit with the storyline of the franchise. And if not for Sigourney Weaver returning as the iconic heroine Ripley, the movie shouldn't even be considered part of the series. Instead, it goes along with the 'AVP' line as another entity unto itself. Then again, that might be seen as rather extreme. But as far as I'm concerned, Ripley's journey came to an end on Fiorina 161, giving fans a better and more satisfying conclusion to a great action hero. 'Resurrection' is like a bad "what-if" fantasy, starting with the whole cloning angle — one big, empty, meaningless "what-if," in fact, with very little to attractive followers. Jean-Pierre Jeunet makes the movie look good and somewhat entertaining, but this is not the best way to remember one of the most beloved characters in movie history. (Movie Rating: 2.5/5)
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment brings the sci-fi horror saga to Blu-ray as the 'Alien Anthology,' similar to the massive "Quadrilogy" set from 2003. The attractive box set comes with a sturdy and shiny cardboard slipcover featuring the alien creature on the front and the egg on the back.
Inside, we find six Region Free, BD50 discs housed within the pages of an 11-page hardcover book and a 14-page booklet outlining the special features of each Blu-ray. While the package is quite extravagant and eye-catching, some buyers, I imagine, won't care too much for slipping the discs in and out between the pages, nervous of either scratches or ripping the thick lining. Still, it's a lovely package most fans will enjoy.
At startup, each disc takes a really long time to load, which is a result of both BD-Live functionality and the BD-J powered feature called "MU-TH-UR Mode." Once complete, viewers are asked to choose between the original theatrical version of a movie or the Special Edition cut. Afterwards, the standard menu selection appears at the bottom of the screen on top of what looks like a computer screen displaying various layouts and schematics in connection with the movie.
Simply put, Ridley Scott's 'Alien' looks phenomenal in high definition. The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.40:1) brings this sci-fi horror classic to Blu-ray with incredible detail, far better than anyone could have imagined for a thirty year old film. We can clearly make out the intricate design of the Nostromo's and the crashed alien spacecraft's interiors. Every distinct line in the metallic, claustrophobic halls, the mess hall, the air shafts, and all the computer gadgetry is made plainly visible. We can even see pores, wrinkles and small defects on the faces of actors while the alien's body reveals the hard work done by the designers. At times, the picture appears as though some digital noise reduction was used to clean it up a bit, but it's very mild and doesn't ruin the movie in any significant way. There is also a minor framing change (OAR is 2.35:1), but it's not drastic or observable unless one looks for it.
The film has always been dark with harsh, oppressive shadows, but delineation remains strong. Contrast is pitch-perfect, and blacks are often intense and deep, much better resolved with clean gradients than on previous editions. There are a couple moments with noticeably weaker resolution which take away from the brightness levels somewhat, like the scene when Kane wakes up in the infirmary. But for the most part, the image is consistent and beautiful. The palette is rather limited since more emphasis is placed on generating a brooding, ominous atmosphere, but the colors we do see, particularly reds, are rendered accurately and vibrantly. There is also another small change in color timing with a slight push on blue, giving the video a steelier, metallic appearance. Again, this is only noticeable if one wishes to carefully examine the differences, which honestly does nothing to spoil the film's enjoyment. All things considered, this high-def transfer of 'Alien' makes a stunning presentation on Blu-ray and remains the horror masterpiece it's always been. (Video Rating: 4.5/5)
Back in August, James Cameron had the internet forums in a flurry of controversy over his words about de-noising and de-graining 'Aliens' for Blu-ray. Thankfully, the director was simply caught using poor choice of words to describe the restoration work done to the original camera negatives of the film.
Just as its predecessor, this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.85:1) looks stunning and spectacular on Blu-ray, exhibiting plenty of natural film grain throughout. The picture shows astounding resolution and clarity in the clothing, weapons and exposes intricate, distinct lines in the architecture of the Hadley's Hope colony. Facial complexions display amazing lifelike definition and texture. Blacks are deep and penetrating, often rich while contrast levels are crisp and precise. The balance is so good, in fact, that early sequences in space can easily serve as demo-material for calibration purposes. Shadow details are also superb and revealing. Colors are deliberately limited, but accurately rendered, especially in the primaries, with strong variation in the palette.
The one major caveat in the entire presentation is also a rather significant change from all previous home-theater releases, something Cameron also mentioned in the interview linked above. Of course, the application of some digital noise reduction and sharpening is a considerable alteration for fans and purists, as it is quite noticeable in a couple scenes. However, it's not obtrusive or distracting enough to ruin the movie. The issue here is with the change in color timing, from warmer redish hues with a strong blue push to an obvious green-teal appearance with orange hues. This is most apparent when characters arrive on LV-426 in Chapter 9 and at the beginning of Chapter 11 when the team walks around the research lab.
Admittedly, since this was scanned from the OCN, it's possible this is how the film was always meant to look and previous home editions are wrong. But it's equally possible James Cameron made the change due to some kind of revisionist mentality many filmmakers are lately suffering from. Whatever the case may be, this is an observable and noteworthy change that fans ought to be aware of. Ultimately, this will come down to personal preference for each viewer (I'm not sure I like it too much myself) given that the color timing revision doesn't completely spoil the picture quality of 'Aliens.' The high-def transfer of this classic sci-fi actioner is still beautiful and remarkable on Blu-ray either way. (Video Rating: 4.5/5)
Unlike the previous two films, this third installment to a favorite franchise is not all that impressive, despite still being a reasonable upgrade from its standard definition counterpart. Although the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.35:1) shows several moments of softness, the picture often displays really nice details and clarity throughout. The stylized video shows plenty of clear definition in the faces of actors and the prison facility. Contrast is comfortably bright, allowing for great visibility of background info and strong shadow delineation. Black levels are fairly deep and resilient, providing the image an attractive cinematic quality. The color palette is intentionally muted to give the movie a drab and gloomy appearance, but secondary hues are accurate while reds are bold and vibrant. The transfer looks pretty good overall, but several soft spots brings it down a notch. (Video Rating: 3/5)
Much like its predecessor, 'Alien Resurrection' doesn't appear to have received the same restoration effort as the first two movies. Don't get me wrong, this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.35:1) is mostly an upgrade from its DVD counterpart, but it's not really a hands-down, decisive winner. Of course, this being a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film, the image is highly stylized with a warm palette that artfully emphasizes secondary hues. Fine object detailing is pretty good and improves during close-up shots. Contrast is nicely balanced while blacks are deep and attractive. However, there are a few instances of crush and questionable shadow delineation. There is also some evidence of sharpening and digital noise reduction in certain scenes, such as at the 14-minute mark of Chapter 6 in the Special Edition cut. We can see plenty of natural film grain throughout most of the movie, but the transfer tends to be rather inconsistent, with several moments of softness. By and large, the stylized picture looks good in high-def, but it never really reaches the quality of the first two discs. (Video Rating: 3/5)
Scott's 'Alien' is not a film with a whole lot going on sonically, and that's really more by design than any technical limitations. This DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack appears faithful to that, where silence becomes a terrifying character in and of itself, and doesn't add any artificial effects in the surrounds. Most of the attention is given to the fronts, with well-prioritized vocals and an expansive dynamic range. The other two channels display the discrete, off-screen sounds of the ship accurately and flawlessly, creating a wide and spacious soundstage. Bass is not all that active, but there is a noticeable low-end present throughout, adding good depth and some force to action scenes. Rears are essentially reserved for very light atmospherics and faint echoes that nicely expand the soundfield. Ripley's escape during the self-destruct countdown exhibits the most activity so as to raise the suspense and energy. Jerry Goldsmith's artfully subtle score also makes good use of the back speakers with mild bleeds. This lossless mix of a sci-fi horror classic sounds excellent on Blu-ray. (Audio Rating: 4/5)
James Cameron's follow-up to Scott's horror landmark arrives with an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio option which also appears faithful to the movie's original design. This is understandably a front-heavy presentation with great fidelity and acoustical presence. Dialogue reproduction is terrific and precise, even amid the loudest moments. Channel separation and movement feels expansive and convincing, creating a spacious and engaging soundstage. Sharp, room-penetrating dynamics exhibit plenty of clarity detail, keeping things lively and entertaining, while the low-end packs a clean, responsive wallop during explosions. Rears are not always active, but subtle ambient effects are employed on occasion to enhance the soundfield and can envelop the listener satisfyingly. James Horner's musical score receives the biggest upgrade by spreading to the background evenly, adding to the imaging and pulling viewers into the action persuasively. Overall, 'Aliens' sounds terrific on Blu-ray. (Audio Rating: 4/5)
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack accompanying the film sounds much better than the movie looks, although it does come with one important issue. Vocals tend to be overwhelmed by sudden bursts of action and music. It can sometimes be very difficult to hear certain conversations. This is a shame seeing as how the rest of the lossless mix sounds great. The front soundstage exhibits imaging that's wide and welcoming with expansive dynamics and sharp acoustics. Low-frequency effects can be quite powerful and broad, but not as responsive or cleanly rendered as I would have liked. Elliot Goldenthal's score fills the entire system with amazing detail and clarity, drawing viewers into the action and story. Rear activity also displays a good amount of ambience and movement, though it never feels wholly convincing or immersive. Nonetheless, 'Alien 3' provides a highly enjoyable lossless mix on Blu-ray, except for some rather weak vocals. (Audio Rating: 3.5/5)
As the newest addition to the franchise, 'Alien Resurrection' comes with the most activity in the surrounds, and this DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack delivers a fun, action-packed experience. Discrete, off-screen atmospherics create an enjoyable soundscape that's engaging, and movement between the channels is convincing. The scene where everyone emerges from the water into a gunfight is a good moment of immersion. John Frizzell's musical score also spreads into the background with charisma, pulling viewers into the movie. Dynamic range is wide and detailed, providing the soundstage with a nice, welcoming presence. Low bass is punchy and deep, giving each explosion and gunshot some serious impact. Dialogue is well-prioritized and clear, even in the movie's loudest sequences. In the end, Jeunet's film sounds great on high-resolution audio. (Audio Rating: 4/5)
Besides providing fans with high-def upgrades of all the films in the franchise, Fox Home Entertainment also includes the same collection of bonus material from the "Quadrilogy" DVD box set. The only difference here is that the supplements are made available on two separate Blu-rays, except for the commentary tracks. I thought going through the first four discs was enough of a task, but the final two offer an enormous assortment of supplements, totaling over 26 hours worth of material. With two different versions of each movie to watch, this is by far the most extensive and fully-loaded package I think anyone has seen for the home video market. And I sat through all of it — fun, but extremely tiring.
DISC ONE: ALIEN
DISC TWO: ALIENS
DISC THREE: ALIEN³
DISC FOUR: ALIEN RESURRECTION
DISC FIVE: MAKING THE ANTHOLOGY
DISC SIX: THE ANTHOLOGY ARCHIVES
Finally, one of the most hotly anticipated motion picture franchises comes to Blu-ray in a sleek and attractive six-disc box set dubbed the 'Alien Anthology.' Ridley Scott's initial film remains a sci-fi horror classic, a masterpiece in suspense and terror that could possibly never be topped. The sequel from James Cameron is arguably the best and most impressive follow-up moviegoers have ever seen, delivering a suspenseful thrill-ride of action and adventure. David Fincher's third installment was a troubled production from the very beginning, made worse by the little confidence he was shown by the producers and studio heads. Still, the potential for an amazing film with a great deal of intelligence underneath can be seen in the final product, just never fully realized. The fourth film from French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet takes a really strange turn for the bizarre and comical, definitely the most outlandish of the series with an even weirder payoff at the end. In the end, the franchise is remembered best for the first two films, as they're the ones which have left the strongest impression.
This Blu-ray edition of all four films is easily one of the most extraordinary packages made available for the home video market. The films by Scott and Cameron display absolutely gorgeous high-def video transfers and audio presentations that fans will love. Well, except maybe for the color timing change on 'Aliens.' Fincher's and Jeunet's movies also look good and sound better, however, they don't quite match the quality of the first two. The assortment of supplements is one of the most extensive and overwhelming — think, time-consuming — I think I've ever experienced. Then to top it off, Fox Home Entertainment throws in another wealth of exclusive material and a fancy interactive feature called MU-TH-UR Mode, which is pretty intriguing. All things considered, this has to be the clear winner as the largest and most exhaustive Blu-ray package of the year. You heard it here first, folks! This package is the one Blu-ray to own in 2010, particularly if you love all things 'Alien.'
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.