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Written by , November 9, 2010 at 10:25 pm 



Finally, one of the box-sets we’ve all been waiting for! The Alien franchise is one of those series that’s perfect for Blu-Ray. It is a benchmark for the format and you can check out our full review of The Alien Anthology below.

Alien:

How much can one say about the timeless classic sci-fi horror film that hasn’t been said before? Well, very little. This is still Ridley Scott‘s finest film to date and it hasn’t aged a bit. Every beat of tension still lands with a punch, the alien is still one of the best ever to be put on-screen, and it’s atmosphere stays eerie and unsettling throughout.

Alien is the king of the monster movies. Very few horror films can achieve the level of investment Scott and co. did with making you actually care for the ensemble, even outside of Ripley. What you don’t see onscreen is still the most frightening and the sound design even adds more to the scares and tension. This is a film with no characters arising to becoming action-heroes, but rather average joes up against something they don’t understand. It’s a masterpiece of claustrophobia and tension.

Aliens:

Aliens isn’t Alien. There’s the obvious comparison between the two, but they are both very different films. Whereas Scott made a horror film, visual-effects auteur James Cameron turned out a kick-ass action movie amping up the stakes and set-pieces. Cameron may not equal the tension that Scott crafted with the first film and his cheesy B-movie dialog is still here, but Aliens is still an action film unlike any other.

Just like Scott’s film, Aliens still stands up tremendously to time. The dialog still has its iffier moments – don’t lie to yourself Cameron fans, plenty of lines you’d scoff at if they were in any other movie – but Cameron still showed that immersive touch where you forget some of his weaker points as a writer. It may not have the scares that Ridley mastered, but it’s still one of the best action-films ever to put to screen.

Alien 3:

If anyone knows the behind-the-scenes story of Alien 3, then you already know it’s a terrible one. A script wasn’t ready when they went into production, there were constant rewrites, disagreements over the budget and constant battles between David Fincher and 20th Century Fox; Fincher ended up leaving the film during editing. This chaos making-of is absolutely represented onscreen in this chaotic mess of a film. The work-print cut is certainly an improvement, but you can’t help but watch it without a sense of frustration knowing Fincher could’ve made a great Alien film.

You know he could have made a great film because, despite Alien 3′s manic nature, there’s a lot of impressive failure and wasted ambition present throughout. There’s a consistent atmosphere, plenty of well-composed shots now commonplace for Fincher, and even some unique ideas. Some of the CG Alien work still looks horrendous and it is a mess structurally with its half-baked religious themes, but Alien 3 is still a fairly above-the-cuff horror film with some lavish visuals.

Alien Resurrection:

Alien Resurrection gets a bad rap. Watch it with an open mind and you’ll find it’s not quite the dog many claim it to be. For the first two-thirds, it’s a lot of fun. Resurrection is certainly a disappointment in terms of the franchise and Jean-Pierre Jeunet‘s filmography, but this looney toones action film has an enjoyable Euro-trash sensibility. It’s a film filled with despicable characters, over-the-top gore and a unrelenting cartoon sensibility. In terms of tone and storytelling, it’s far more cohesive than its predecessor.

Where Jeunet and the script drop the ball drastically is the climax, which is almost unwatchable. The creature design of the newborn is still goofy – in a horrendously bad way – and all the B-fun is lost. The last 20 minutes are joyless. But due to some slick production design, solid action set pieces (the under water chase in particular), Winona Ryder and Ron Perlman almost stealing the show, Alien Resurrection is mostly successful with tongue-in-cheek trashy fun, even with that disaster of a third act.

Films:

Transfers:

The first two installments undoubtedly look the best out of the four films. The models of the alien have never looked better and more vivid. All the little details of the production design pop more than ever. Despite being a darkly lit film, all the small touches still manage to pop. The same goes for Cameron’s film, which also looks (mostly) stunning. It still has its original grain, but it feels more cleaner and crisp. There’s a few moments where faces feature a wax-like quality, but this issue is rare in an overall beautiful presentation. Alien 3 and Resurrection aren’t quite up to par as the previous films’ transfers, but they’re substantial upgrades from the DVD releases.


Audio:

Each of the films’ audio is equally as impressive. The first film’s sound design is unrelenting in atmosphere and tension, and hearing it even more so in that vein adds to the film’s horror. Every conversation and action sound is crisp and clear. Aliens is as bombastic as you’d expect. Cameron’s explosions and flame thrower sounds are room shaking. You won’t find yourself constantly having to turn the volume up and down, but it’s action set pieces and score are perfectly loud and clear. The same goes for the last two films; the third film’s DVD audio was botched, the blu-ray fixes that.

Supplements:

There’s over 50-hours of bonus features from multiple commentaries to extensive making-of documentaries. The documentaries are the standouts, which are incredibly extensive and detailed. It goes into all portrayals of production; the Alien 3 documentary doesn’t avoid the darker moments. It’s endlessly fascinating seeing Fincher work on set on his first (disastrous) feature. The documentary is better than the third film itself. All the docs cover nearly everything imaginable: production, effects, editing, etc. Everything you’d want to know about the Alien franchise is all here.

Check out all the contents below.

DISC ONE: ALIEN

  • 1979 Theatrical Version
  • 2003 Director’s Cut with Ridley Scott Introduction
  • Audio Commentary by Director Ridley Scott, Writer Dan O’Bannon, Executive Producer Ronald Shusett, Editor Terry Rawlings, Actors Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton and John Hurt
  • Audio Commentary (for Theatrical Cut only) by Ridley Scott
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Composer’s Original Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream
  • DISC TWO: ALIENS
  • 1986 Theatrical Version
  • 1991 Special Edition with James Cameron Introduction
  • Audio Commentary by Director James Cameron, Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Alien Effects Creator Stan Winston, Visual Effects Supervisors Robert Skotak and Dennis Skotak, Miniature Effects Supervisor Pat McClung, Actors Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn and Christopher Henn
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by James Horner
  • Composer’s Original Isolated Score by James Horner
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani DatastreamDISC THREE: ALIEN3
  • 1992 Theatrical Version
  • 2003 Special Edition (Restored Workprint Version)
  • Audio Commentary by Cinematographer Alex Thomson, B.S.C., Editor Terry Rawlings, Alien Effects Designers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., Visual Effects Producer Richard Edlund, A.S.C., Actors Paul McGann and Lance Henriksen
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by Elliot Goldenthal
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani DatastreamDISC FOUR: ALIEN RESURRECTION
  • 1997 Theatrical Version
  • 2003 Special Edition with Jean-Pierre Jeunet Introduction
  • Audio Commentary by Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Editor Hervé Schneid, A.C.E., Alien Effects Creators Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., Visual Effects Supervisor Pitof, Conceptual Artist Sylvain Despretz, Actors Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon and Leland Orser
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by John Frizzell
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani DatastreamDISC FIVE: MAKING THE ANTHOLOGY
    In addition to over 12 hours of candid, in-depth documentaries, you now have the ability to go even deeper into Alien Anthology history with nearly five hours of additional video Enhancement Pods created exclusively for this collection, presenting behind-the-scenes footage, raw dailies and interview outtakes from all four films. At topical points in the documentaries, you may access these pods to enhance your experience, or watch them on their own from the separate Enhancement Pod index.
  • The Beast Within: Making ALIEN
  • o Star Beast: Developing the Story
    o The Visualists: Direction and Design
    o Truckers in Space: Casting
    o Fear of the Unknown: Shepperton Studios, 1978
    o The Darkest Reaches: Nostromo and Alien Planet
    o The Eighth Passenger: Creature Design
    o Future Tense: Editing and Music
    o Outward Bound: Visual Effects
    o A Nightmare Fulfilled: Reaction to the Film
    • Enhancement Pods

  • Superior Firepower: Making ALIENS
  • o 57 Years Later: Continuing the Story
    o Building Better Worlds: From Concept to Construction
    o Preparing for Battle: Casting and Characterization
    o This Time It’s War: Pinewood Studios, 1985
    o The Risk Always Lives: Weapons and Action
    o Bug Hunt: Creature Design
    o Beauty and the Bitch: Power Loader vs. Queen Alien
    o Two Orphans: Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn
    o The Final Countdown: Music, Editing and Sound
    o The Power of Real Tech: Visual Effects
    o Aliens Unleashed: Reaction to the Film
    • Enhancement Pods

  • Wreckage and Rage: Making ALIEN3
  • o Development Hell: Concluding the Story
    o Tales of the Wooden Planet: Vincent Ward’s Vision
    o Stasis Interrupted: David Fincher’s Vision
    o Xeno-Erotic: H.R. Giger’s Redesign
    o The Color of Blood: Pinewood Studios, 1991
    o Adaptive Organism: Creature Design
    o The Downward Spiral: Creative Differences
    o Where the Sun Burns Cold: Fox Studios, L.A. 1992
    o Optical Fury: Visual Effects
    o Requiem for a Scream: Music, Editing and Sound
    o Post-Mortem: Reaction to the Film
    • Enhancement Pods

  • One Step Beyond: Making ALIEN RESURRECTION
  • o From the Ashes: Reviving the Story
    o French Twist: Direction and Design
    o Under the Skin: Casting and Characterization
    o Death from Below: Fox Studios, Los Angeles, 1996
    o In the Zone: The Basketball Scene
    o Unnatural Mutation: Creature Design
    o Genetic Composition: Music
    o Virtual Aliens: Computer Generated Imagery
    o A Matter of Scale: Miniature Photography
    o Critical Juncture: Reaction to the Film
    • Enhancement Pods
    • MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience to Access and Control Enhancement Pods

    DISC SIX: THE ANTHOLOGY ARCHIVES

  • ALIEN
  • • Pre-Production
    o First Draft Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon
    o Ridleygrams: Original Thumbnails and Notes
    o Storyboard Archive
    o The Art of Alien: Conceptual Art Portfolio
    o Sigourney Weaver Screen Tests with Select Director Commentary
    o Cast Portrait Gallery
    • Production
    o The Chestbuster: Multi-Angle Sequence with Commentary
    o Video Graphics Gallery
    o Production Image Galleries
    o Continuity Polaroids
    o The Sets of Alien
    o H.R. Giger’s Workshop Gallery
    • Post-Production and Aftermath
    o Additional Deleted Scenes
    o Image & Poster Galleries
    • Experience in Terror
    • Special Collector’s Edition LaserDisc Archive
    • The Alien Legacy
    • American Cinematheque: Ridley Scott Q&A
    • Trailers & TV Spots

  • ALIENS
  • • Pre-Production
    o Original Treatment by James Cameron
    o Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Videomatics with Commentary
    o Storyboard Archive
    o The Art of Aliens: Image Galleries
    o Cast Portrait Gallery
    • Production
    o Production Image Galleries
    o Continuity Polaroids
    o Weapons and Vehicles
    o Stan Winston’s Workshop
    o Colonial Marine Helmet Cameras
    o Video Graphics Gallery
    o Weyland-Yutani Inquest: Nostromo Dossiers
    • Post-Production and Aftermath
    o Deleted Scene: Burke Cocooned
    o Deleted Scene Montage
    o Image Galleries
    o Special Collector’s Edition LaserDisc Archive
    o Main Title Exploration
    o Aliens: Ride at the Speed of Fright
    o Trailers & TV Spots

  • ALIEN3
  • • Pre-Production
    o Storyboard Archive
    o The Art of Arceon
    o The Art of Fiorina
    • Production
    o Furnace Construction: Time-Lapse Sequence
    o EEV Bioscan: Multi-Angle Vignette with Commentary
    o Production Image Galleries
    o A.D.I.’s Workshop
    • Post-Production and Aftermath
    o Visual Effects Gallery
    o Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive
    • Alien3 Advance Featurette
    • The Making of Alien3 Promotional Featurette
    • Trailers & TV Spots

  • ALIEN RESURRECTION
  • • Pre-Production
    o First Draft Screenplay by Joss Whedon
    o Test Footage: A.D.I. Creature Shop with Commentary
    o Test Footage: Costumes, Hair and Makeup
    o Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Rehearsals
    o Storyboard Archive
    o The Marc Caro Portfolio: Character Designs
    o The Art of Resurrection: Image Galleries
    • Production
    o Production Image Galleries
    o A.D.I.’s Workshop
    • Post-Production and Aftermath
    o Visual Effects Gallery
    o Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive
    • HBO First Look: The Making of Alien Resurrection
    • Alien Resurrection Promotional Featurette
    • Trailers & TV Spots

  • ANTHOLOGY
  • • Two Versions of Alien Evolution
    • The Alien Saga
    • Patches and Logos Gallery
    • Aliens 3D Attraction Scripts and Gallery
    • Aliens in the Basement: The Bob Burns Collection
    • Parodies
    • Dark Horse Cover Gallery
    • Patches and Logos Gallery
    • MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience

    The Alien Anthology is now available for purchase (here).



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