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Alien Anthology (Blu-ray Review)

I’m pretty sure that all three of my staff Blu-ray reviewers, excluding myself, would put some of the Alien movies in their all-time favorite lists if I asked them.  And so when the Alien Anthology Blu-ray box set arrived at my doorstep upon returning from sunny California, almost two weeks ago, it arrived at what Tyler Durden would call a very unusual time in my life.  Despite Sean loving these movies so much, I’m afraid to pass these along to him, as I already know he has a lot on his plate with our pals over at Disney and Warner Bros. Gregg, whom I know is a huge fan (if his Halloween costume from this year didn’t give that away), is in preparation for his debut performance of his Irish dance production (with business partner Justin Boros), Rhythm In The Night, down in Sarasota, FL on the 13th of this month.  They are actually opening for Brian Johnson of AC/DC (see here).  How cool is that?  And last, but certainly not least, my favorite Mexican, Gerard, is…well…he’s in Mexico, of all places, vacationing for the three weeks with family.  So I guess that just leaves me to tackle this Blu-ray release.  Woe is me!  Right?  LOL.  But while we are at it, let’s give all three of these aforementioned writers a big round of applause (plus our theatrical movie reviewer Aaron Neuwirth).  They have been working non-stop and very hard to make Why So Blu the success it has become.  I appreciate each and every one of their contributions.

So anyway, we were talking Alien films, right?  I guess we should stop generalizing and speak in formal tongue about the big-a$$ Blu-ray 6-disc box set, the Alien Anthology, everyone has been seemingly drooling over in anticipation all year long.  Like I said, I can’t claim to be the biggest Alien fan around, but I can appreciate them for what they are and what they stand for in the world of filmmaking.  Coupled with the fact that I NEVER seen parts 3 and 4, I think now is as good as time as any to get my Alien on.  What do you think?  Are you ready to take this gigantic fantastic voyage with me?  Good, let’s get started! This is going to be enormous and I know I’m not going to be able to give these films the justice they deserve, but I’ll sure give it a try.  Ladies and gentlemen…it is my pleasure to present to you, Twentieth Century Fox’s Alien Anthology on Blu-ray…

Films  

I’m not sure how much time I want to spend backpedaling catching everyone up to speed on the Alien lore.  I’m pretty confident in my assumption that if you are reading this review, then you are already a fan of the Alien franchise and not much background information is needed.  After all, I don’t want to risk putting you to sleep here.  You need to be careful around those facehuggers.  They’ll get you when you least expect it!  For the longest time I thought I had one growing inside of me as I am always hungry, but x-rays did not reveal anything.

Anyway, unless your parents kept you in a cage in the basement your whole life, you probably have an inkling of an idea of what the Alien creature sort of looks like.  Heck, I remember having a huge 15” toy of one as a kid so there’s really no excuse for you to not know what one looks like if my parents bought me one.  All kidding aside, an Alien is something you definitely don’t want to mess with.  Even if you are lucky enough to impale one you have to watch out for the highly pressurized acid serving as blood conduit within their systems.  If the creature doesn’t get you, their blood will!  That’s almost guaranteed!  Like the Predator species, an Alien is a rapidly adaptable hunter, with the ability to move quickly to take down their prey.

Originally, I wasn’t sure how I was going to tackle this 6-disc beastly Blu-ray set, but once I got my bearings together I decided to do the set justice and tackle everything individually.  I know if I were a hardcore fan of the franchise, I would rather see things broken down and dissected properly rather than a conglomerate review of everything just sloppily thrown together.  Sure, it takes longer to do things this way, but again, I’m doing it for the fans.  You see the sacrifices I am making for you all?  So I decided to talk about each individual film, contained on discs one through four, a little bit and then tackle the audio and video separately for each of the Blu-ray films.  The 50+ hours of Special Features will get their own section, broken down by disc.  Sound cool?  Well, let’s get started.  I don’t have all day.

Alien

Like the others in this Blu-ray set, the 1979 classic, Alien, comes in two different flavors: the Theatrical version and a 2003 Director’s Cut.  I chose to partake in the later as I nestled up on my review couch next to my 9-year old lab and 13-year old cat on either side of me.  The Director’s Cut clocks in at 116 minutes and is preceded by a very short introduction from Ridley Scott (:57) as he talks about some of the minor adjustments he made in this version.

The Ridley Scott directed film, Alien, stars Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, John Hurt and Ian Holm.  Like it or not, Alien set the precedence for the sci-fi genre.  Sure the effects are outdated, but there’s no denying that in 1979, this film completely revolutionized the sci-fi film community.  In 2002, the movie was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for historical preservation and was ranked by the American Film Institute in 2008 as the seventh-best film in the sci-fi genre.  Not too shabby, huh?  But you don’t need me to remind you of all this.  You are already here reading this Blu-ray review because of you love for this film.

Alien tells the tale of the crew of the starship Nostromo and their exploration of the planet LV-426 they stopped by unexpectedly on their way back home to Earth.  Talk about a rude awakening.  Ouch!  Acting upon orders from their corporate employers, the small crew explores an alien wreckage found on LV-426.  After discovering a bizarre cocoon-like egg structures in one room, Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt) falls prey to a creature that latches onto his face (aka a facehugger).  Once back in the starship, that’s where the real fun begins.  You see that creature was literally using Kane as incubator to spawn a young Alien creature.  And in classic Alien franchise lore, that newborn Alien always violently explodes through the unsuspecting carrier’s chest.   Needless to say, the Alien hatchling grows up very quick and ends up going on a rampage killing off crew members one-by-one who relentless try to hunt and exterminate the creature with no luck.  That’s where Sigourney Weaver’s character, Ripley, comes in.  Can she singlehandedly save the day?  Even if you already know the outcome, we don’t want to spoil it for the others whose first time experiencing this film may be on the Blu-ray format, do we?  Alright…SPOILER ALERT…Ripley blasts that beast out into the deepest regions of outer space, never to be seen again.  Um, yeah right.  We’ll get to that never to be seen again thing in a moment.  (4 out of 5)

Aliens

With my viewing of the second film in the franchise, Aliens, I chose to watch James Cameron’s 1990 Special Edition which clocks in at a hefty two hours and thirty-four minutes.  That’s a little long for me (with the exception of a few classics), but I made it through it unscathed for the most part.  The film is once again preceded by a short introduction.  The 34-second intro consists of a bunch of stills with a voice over by Cameron.  Unless you are Malcolm X or something, there’s not too much you can say that’s worthwhile in 34 seconds.

The James Cameron outing once again stars Sigourney Weaver, as well as Carrie Hehn, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Paul Reiser and William Hope.  The film is a sequel to the 1979 classic and is set 57 years after the first film as Ripley’s ship is found drifting in space and after waking, she not only finds out that her once 11 year old daughter just recently died (again…talk about a rude awakening), but also that her former employer intends to go back to planet LV-426 to harvest those Alien eggs, for military and scientific research.  Yeah right!  Not wanting those creatures to ever see Earth, Ripley returns to the planet, accompanied by a unit of Marines, and her nightmare begins all over again, but this time it’s significantly multiplied.  If she thought she had her hands full the first time around, things are slightly a little crazier here with a hundred of those pesky Aliens running all around.  We also discover just who has been laying all those Alien eggs.  Why it’s none other than the big bad momma Alien queen.  And believe me, she’s someone you don’t want to mess with.  Talk about a beeotch!

I like Aliens just a little bit more than the 1979 original, but not well enough to bump the score up.  However, many people regard this movie as the benchmark for action and science fiction genres.  You can definitely tell this is a James Cameron film.  Knowing what I know of him today, his artistic visionary was all over this flick and you can just sense, while watching this, that he was destined to go on and do bigger and better things.  (4 out of 5)

Alien 3

The third installment, appropriately titled Alien 3, also comes in two distinct flavors within this box set, the 1992 Theatrical Edition and the one I chose to watch, the 2003 Special Edition.  The Special Edition clocks in at an alarming two hours and twenty-four minutes.  I say “alarming” only because certain people warned me that this movie would make me want to jump out of a high rise office building window.  Anyway, there were no introductions to be found on this one.  That truly made me wonder right from the get go about what people had said about this feature.  My best guess is that they could not payoff David Fincher to talk about this film that he is most ashamed of.  If that’s the case, then I guess it isn’t true what they say.  Not every one has a price.

Truly, from doing my research, it seems like this film was doomed from the very beginning.  There were so many directors and screenwriters that had their hands in the cookie jar here and the fact that the movie started shooting before the script was even finished just spells D-O-O-M.  Also, David Fincher was brought in very late in the game to reconstruct all the pieces, but ultimately the studio butchered his vision even more with their intrusions.  Needless to say, Fincher wasn’t a happy camper at all here.

Now despite all the negative press about this particular film and strong words of caution from friends of mine, I preceded with an open mind while watching this for the first time.  And you know what?  I must be crazy because I actually liked it.  It’s the Battlefield Earth of the franchise, as many fans would probably refer to it.  However, it reminded me of a little bit like the final two Matrix installments mixed with a healthy dose of Terminator 2-like Judgment Day ending.  Do you know what I mean by that?  If you seen this film and remember its ending, then you should catch my drift.

Alien 3 stars Sigournery Weaver, reprising her recurring role as Ripley, and Charles S. Dutton (I could not stop thinking Gothika all the time while watching this), Brian Glover, Ralph Brown, Danny Webb, Lance Henriksen and Peter Guinenss.  The film picks up right where the second one left off, except for the fact that Ripley’s hibernating spacecraft crash landed on a correction facility planet called Fiorina Fury 161.  Unknown to Ripley, an Alien egg was aboard the ship.  Oh my God!  How could that be?  But even worse is the fact that Ripley discovers she might be a host for something too.  However, this time around the antagonistic Alien hatches from an ox-like creature and is more of a quadraped sort of creature in this film.  Don’t get me wrong, he still gets around like “Grease lightning,” but he does so mainly on four legs.  So as is formula here, one-by-one the prisoners of the planet get taken out as the survivors race around the clock to try to trap and kill the Alien before Ripley’s former employers come and take it back to Earth.  Sounds kind of familiar, huh?  Well it sort of is, but believe me, this movie is a complete stand alone from the franchise.  It even looks completely different, but we’ll get into more detail about that below.  It should be noted that the classic Alien production still where the Alien is in Ripley’s face was culled from this film’s footage.  I can see how people might not cherish this film.  It’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.  I’ll tell you that much.  (4 out of 5)

Alien: Resurrection

And last but not least, the fourth film in this Blu-ray franchise set is called Alien: Resurrection.  Like the others, it comes with two viewing options, the 1997 Theatrical Version and a 2003 Special Edition.  Guess what version I chose to watch?  You guessed it!  The Special Edition clocks in just shy of two hours.  There is a 46-second intro by the Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.  He basically says that the Director’s Cut was the one shown in the theaters.  He was very hard to understand, but I was able to make out the fact that he hopes us fans enjoy this special presentation.

So you want to here a plot that is ludicrous?  Well, try this one on for size.  This film takes place 200 years after the events in Alien 3.  I know what you are thinking in regards to Ripley’s character, but it’s different this time around.  Gee, I wonder why this was my least favorite film of the set?  Ripley has been cloned.  Yep, that’s right.  Somehow they were able to get a blood sample from the third film and try as they might, after a number unsuccessful attempts, scientists have cloned Ripley.  She awakens only to find out that she is going to have an Alien surgically removed from her body.  Well not just any Alien, but a queen Alien.  I’m sure you all  you know what happens after that, don’t you?  Why all hell breaks lose on that plane.

So anyway, this time around we see a new cast of faces like Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, Brad Dourif, Kim Flowers and more.  I was also surprised to learn that Joss Whedon had a small hand in the designing of the screenplay.  Let’s face it.  This film is not exactly the “right” way to end a profitable franchise,  but hey…things can be a lot worse. (4 out of 5)

Screenshot courtesy of Highdefdiscnews.com.

Video

Alien

If anything impressed me with this first Alien movie on Blu-ray it was its stellar video transfer.  Can you say wowzers?  If a 1979 classic like this can look so good on Blu-ray, I can only imagine how intergalactically (I know that’s not a word) stellar Star Wars is going to look next year on the Blu-ray format. I’m excited!  Anyway, Fox brings Alien to Blu-ray with a very impressive AVC MPEG-4 video codec presented in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio (although strangely…this is not the original aspect ratio of the film).  Had it not been for the 1979-like sounding audio track, I would have never known I was watching a movie this old.  It looks that good!  The computers are a little dated in the flick (LOL), but every detail is sharp and crisp within the deck halls of the Nostromo starship.  Black levels are impressively deep and dark.  Skin tones all look normal.  Even colors are vibrant when warranted.  Basically, this is how you do it on the Blu-ray format!  (4.5 out of 5)

Aliens

Like the video on the first Blu-ray disc, Alien, the video here is absolutely phenomenal.  If there was no audio on and you told me this was a brand new movie, I would be fooled.  The video looks fantastic!  Once again, Fox really did a bang up job cleaning up these coveted treasures.  I’m salivating for the Star Wars franchise on Blu-ray now more than ever.  The video codec of choice here is an AVC MPEG-4 transfer like the first film, but its aspect ratio is different.  Aliens fills your HDTV screen up.  Yea!  The film is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1.  I like my HDTV screen real estate filled up and so will you here.  After all, bigger is better, right?  There is a light minimal veil of grain here, but nothing intrusive.  The sets are simply gorgeous.  For example, take the ice that formed on the instrument panels and interior walls of the Nostromo as Sigourney Weaver’s character floated through space for almost half a decade.  It glistens ever so angelically.  Facial close-ups also provide the much-needed level of attention garnered by pore whores, such as myself.  Beads of sweat trickle down the actor’s faces.  Strands of hair are visible without any eyestrain.  The black levels match the deepest levels of space that you could ever imagine.  In other words, this is near perfect!  However, due to its age and the incredible level of detail captured here, some explosions are painfully more noticeable than others against a flat CGI wall, but that’s to be expected.  Come on, it was only 1986 when this movie was released.  I can’t hold that against it too much.  I know, I know.  I’m sadly jaded.  (4.5 out of 5)

Alien 3

Alien 3 hits the Blu-ray format with another AVC MPEG-4 codec transfer presented in a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, but this time around, things are not as razor sharp as they were in the first two films.  Odd, huh?  But here’s the thing.  I don’t blame it on the transfer at all.  This film, I believe, was intended to look murky and dull.  While the blacks are still deep for the most part, the colors are all drab and washed to match the confined and dismal atmosphere this movie takes place in.  There were no visual blemishes, dirt or specks on the print, but it just was not a feast like the first two films were.  It was just very flat and soft at times like pita bread.  Oh well, you win some…you lose some.  (3.5 out of 5)

Alien: Resurrection

The final film in the quadrilogy, Alien: Resurrection, arrives on Blu-ray with an impressive AVC MPEG-4 video codec transfer presented in a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio.  I’m confused to say that colors are rich and vibrant at times…a first for this franchise!  Blacks are extra deep and inky.  The skin tones all look normal throughout, but it’s the sharpness in detail that amazes me the most.  But sometimes, that’s not always for the best.  For example, take the scene where they were cutting the Alien queen from Sigourney Weaver’s chest.  It looked so fake that I thought for a minute that I was watching a Troma film on Blu-ray.  I had to check myself.  But again, that’s only a minor quip.  I would rather have it sharp than blurry like a DVD, any day.  BUT…there’s that most commonly used word of mine again.  The print was a little inconsistent at times because of batches of softness creeping in once every so often.  It’s pretty obvious, don’t you think, that the attention to these video transfers were catered mostly to the first two films.  (4 out of 5)

Screenshot courtesy of Highdefdiscnews.com

Audio

Alien

Although the audio has that unmistakable 1970’s-like tinty sound to it, you really couldn’t ask for more here.  Alien is offered to us viewers on the Blu-ray format with a gracious 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track.  The dialog is always loud and clear.  Rear channels are mostly used for ambient effects such as radio signals zinging all around you.  It’s kind of like the original Halloween, there’s not a lot going on here that is going to sonically please your ears.  Alien is more about suspense than anything else.  So I had to keep that in mind when critiquing the audio here.  My favorite aspect of this surround track is the LFE.  The bass is very strong as the starship makes its intergalactic flight.  Again, I can’t wait to hear how those Star Destroyers and Tie Fighters are going to sound on next year’s Star Wars Blu-ray release when they come screaming by on my HDTV screen.  One thing that stands out to me that I want to comment on is the forceful winds on the alien planet of LV-426.  Wow!  The audio made you feel like you were actually there.  Kudos!  (4 out of 5)

Aliens

Aliens hits the ground running with a very loud 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Just because I said it was very loud doesn’t mean it was excellent.  I wasn’t impressed with the surround sound here.  It’s a very front heavy film.  Rears do pick up during the intense action scenes, but I would have loved to hear even more atmospheric action from them.  They did do a nice job of balancing the musical selection in the rear channels.  I liked that!  Dialog is clear and intelligent for the most part.  But yet again, what impresses me most about this film, besides the whipping wind on LV-426, is the roar of the ships as they zoom by in space.  I just seemingly can’t get over it and it has me screaming “Star WarsStar WarsStar Wars!”  (4 out of 5)

Alien 3

The music surrounds you!  Alarms buzz behind you!  Thunder booms!  I cannot tell a lie, I like the sound of this 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track a little more compared to the first two films.  The dialog is all clear and intelligible, but I have to admit, the strong accents were hard at times to decipher during moments of loud action.  However that’s a very minor quip on my behalf.  I don’t have much more to say here.  The soundtrack is still very front heavy like its predecessors, but a wee bit more immersive.  I just wish the film’s video had looked a little better.  Oh well, there’s always the next film.  Let’s move on.  (4 out of 5)

Alien: Resurrection

And last but not least, the audio cut of choice here is another 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track.  Like the other films, it is plenty loud and front heavy.  The rears do come alive, but not as much as I would like them to.  But perhaps, most importantly for me, the dialog is always clear and understandable.  Out of the four films, if we are talking in regards to surround sound, I think the action was best captured here.  Everything was a bit livelier.  However, I think I had about enough talking about the A/V genetic makeup of these four Blu-ray films.  What do you say we tackle the exhaustive collection of Special Features, all listed below?  (4 out of 5)

Screenshot courtesy of Highdefdiscnews.com

Special Features

I think I have only seen one critical review thus far, in which the reviewer actually sat through the gazillion hours worth of Special Features spread across the Alien Anthology 6-disc Blu-ray set.  I never did this before, but I feel the need to congratulate fellow HighDefDigest reviewer M. Enois Duarte (see here) for successfully completing what had to be a very daunting and extremely tiring task.  Kudos to him!  For everyone else out there…how the heck do you digest and take in all these bonus materials?  In actuality, there’s not even enough time in 2 days to get through everything found within this set.  That’s how ludicrous this is.  Now this can be a blessing for the die-hard fans, but quite frankly, it’s too much for me.  If you add up all the different cuts of the film, material culled from the previous Quadrilogy DVD set and the new material found within this Blu-ray release, you are talking about 60+ hours of so called Special Features.  Where’s the beef?  Are you kidding me?  It’s right here ladies and gentlemen.  It’s right here.

There was simply no way for me to sit through all of these Special Features and still deliver this review in a timely fashion.  With my hectic schedule, you would be lucky to get a review from me by January next year if I had to do what the fellow reviewer above did.  He’s definitely a trooper and I truly admire him for his hard work in dissecting all of this.  So for those of you that really need to know about every single item, you know where to look.  But if it just so happens that you are content with just knowing about every treasure you will find here and whether it is Hi-def or not, then you come to the right place.  Look no further than below.  And be careful!  Don’t get carpal tunnel from the scroll wheel on the mouse.  Use a Mac!  If there was any Blu-ray release that deserved a score of 5 in the Special Features category, this is it!  In fact, let’s give it a 10!  LOL!

*

Disc 1: Alien

  • 1979 Theatrical Version (HD)
  • 2003 Director’s Cut with Ridley Scott Introduction (HD)
  • 2003 Audio Commentary with Director Ridley Scott, Writer Dan O’Bannon, Executive Producer Ronald Shusett, Editor Terry Rawlings, and Actors Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skeritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, and John Hurt (HD)
  • Audio Commentary (for Theatrical Cut only) by Ridley Scott (HD)
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Composer’s Original Isolated Score by Jerry Goldsmith (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD)
  • MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream

*

Disc 2: Aliens

  • 1986 Theatrical Version (HD)
  • 1991 Special Edition with James Cameron Introduction (HD)
  • Audio Commentary with 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 (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Composer’s Original Isolated Score by James Horner (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD)

*

Disc 3: Alien 3

  • 1992 Theatrical Version (HD)
  • 2003 Special Edition (HD, Restored Workprint Version)
  • Audio Commentary (Theatrical Version) by Cinematographer Alex Thomson, Editor Terry Rawlings, Alien Effects Designers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., Visual Effects Producer Richard Edlund, Actors Paul McGann and Lance Henriksen.
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score by Elliot Goldenthal (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD): There are 31 deleted scenes.  Wow!

*

Disc 4: Alien Resurrection

  • 1997 Theatrical Version (HD)
  • 2003 Special Edition with Jean-Pierre Jeunet Introduction (HD)
  • Audio Commentary by Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Editor Herve Schneid, 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 (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD)

*

Disc 5: Making the Anthology

The Beast Within: Making Alien (SD)

  • Star Beast: Developing the Story
  • The Visualists: Direction and Design
  • Truckers in Space: Casting
  • Fear of the Unknown: Shepperton Studios, 1978
  • The Darkest Reaches: Nostromo and Alien Planet
  • The Eight Passenger: Creature Design
  • Future Tense: Editing and Music
  • Outward Bound: Visual Effects
  • A Nightmare Fulfilled: Reaction to the Film

Alien Enhancement Pods (SD)

  • Conceiving the Alien Lifecycle
  • The Influence of Jodorowsky’s Dune
  • O’Bannon Working with Shusett
  • Ridley Scott’s Epiphany
  • Jon Finch Sets the Record Straight
  • Finding the Right Ripley
  • Actors as Props
  • Sigourney Weaver Learns the Ropes
  • The Functional Art of Ron Cobb
  • Dailies: Parker and Brett Ad-Lib
  • That Used Future Look
  • Bolaji Badejo Alien Movement Tests
  • Discovering Bolaji Badejo
  • Giger on Giger
  • The Distrubing Brilliance of H.R. Giger
  • James Cameron Dissects Alien
  • Cocoon of Love
  • Jerry Goldsmith Recalls Alien
  • Goldsmith on Silence
  • The Pros and Cons of Temp Tracks
  • Same-Sex Relationships in Space
  • Toy Birds of Destruction
  • Oscar Night Memories
  • Test Footage: Nostromo on Forklift
  • End of a Genre
  • First Impressions
  • O’Bannon’s Fight for Credit

Superior Firepower: Making Aliens (SD)

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

Aliens Enhancement Pods (SD)

  • Without Sigourney Weaver
  • Origins of Acheron
  • Building Hadley’s Hope
  • Cameron’s Design Philosophy
  • Finding an Unused Power Plant
  • Cameron’s Military Interests
  • Working with Sigourney Weaver
  • The Importance of Being Bishop
  • Paul Reiser on Carter Burke
  • The Paxton/Cameron Connection
  • Becoming Vasquez
  • On Set: Infiltrating the Colony
  • Props: Personal Light Unit
  • Simon Atherton Talks Weapons
  • Prasing Stan Winston
  • Test Footage: Chestburster
  • Fighting the Facehugger
  • Test Footage: Facehugger
  • Stan Winston’s Challenge
  • Test Footage: Queen Alien
  • Stan Winston’s Legacy
  • Cameron’s Cutting Edge
  • Sigourney Weaver’s Triumph
  • Re-Enlisting with Cameron
  • From Producer to Stunt Double

Wreckage and Rage: Making Alien 3 (SD)

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

Alien 3 Enhancement Pods (SD)

  • Renny Harlin Quits
  • Explaining the Wooden Planet
  • Ezra Swerdlow’s Concerns
  • Intimidating Baldies
  • Roaming the Fury 161 Set
  • The Art of Storyboarding
  • Hicks’ Alternative Future
  • Costuming for Character
  • On Set: Filming the Alien’s POV
  • Head Casting with Charles Dutton
  • On Set: Filming the Oxburster
  • Sausage-Motivated Alien Whippet
  • Fincher’s Alienation
  • Lance Henriksen Returns in Style
  • Sucking Up to Fincher
  • Detailing the EEV Miniature
  • Matte Painting Memories
  • How to Make Alien Acid Saliva
  • The Sulaco’s Cameo
  • The Weaver Wagger
  • Bald Cap Blues
  • Bragging Rights
  • Stealing Sigourney’s Top
  • Creating Alien Sounds from Scratch
  • Dangerous Location Recording
  • Painful Low End Frequencies
  • The Power of Silence
  • Ripley’s Evolution
  • Mixed Reactions

One Step Beyond: Making Alien Resurrection (SD)

  • From the Ashes: Reviving the Story
  • French Twist: Direction and Design
  • Under the Skin: Casting and Characterization
  • Death from Below: Fox Studios, Los Angeles, 1996
  • In the Zone: The Basketball Scene
  • Unnatural Mutation: Creature Design
  • Genetic Composition: Music
  • Virtual Aliens: Computer Generated Imagery
  • A Matter of Scale: Miniature Photography
  • Critical Juncture: Reaction to the Film

Alien Resurrection Enhancement Pods (SD)

  • Costuming the Betty Crew
  • Intentionally Uncomfortable Costumes
  • Creating Ripley’s New Look
  • Downsizing the Design
  • Dueling Design Sensibilities
  • Breaking the Language Barrier
  • The Storyboard Bible
  • Preparing for Action
  • Winona Ryder Answers the Call
  • Surviving the Shoot
  • Swimming with Aliens
  • The Art of Slime
  • The Cloning Process
  • Considering Giger’s Legacy
  • Newborn Dick Removal
  • The Evolution of the Alien
  • Designing the Newborn
  • Becoming a Film Composer
  • The Burden of Temp Music
  • Animating Underwater Aliens
  • VFX: Knifing Ripley’s Hand
  • VFX: Shooting Miniature
  • Abandoning the Bug Opening
  • Ending After Ending After Ending
  • Remembering the Premiere
  • Future Franchise Directions

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Disc 6: The Anthology Archives

Alien Pre-Production

  • First Draft Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon (HD, text)
  • Ridleygrams: Original Thumbnails and Notes (HD, window)
  • Storyboard Archive (HD, window)
  • The Art of Alien: Conceptual Art Portfolio (HD, window)
  • Sigourney Weaver Screen Tests with Select Director Commentary (SD)
  • Cast Portrait Gallery (HD, window)

Alien Production

  • The Chestbuster: Multi-Angle Sequence with Commentary (SD)
  • Video Graphics Gallery (SD)
  • Production Image Galleries (HD, window)
  • Continuity Polaroids (HD, window)
  • The Sets of Alien (HD, window)
  • H.R. Giger’s Workshop Gallery (HD, window)

Alien Post-Production and Aftermath

  • Additional Deleted Scenes (SD): Includes seven deleted scenes that were not restored to the Director’s Cut.
  • Image & Poster Galleries (HD, window)
  • Experience in Terror (SD)
  • Special Collector’s Edition LaserDisc Archive (HD, window)
  • The Alien Legacy (SD)
  • American Cinematheque: Ridley Scott Q&A (SD)
  • Trailers and TV Spots (SD): Includes two trailers and two TV spots.

Aliens Pre-Production

  • Original Treatment by James Cameron (HD, text)
  • Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Videomatics with Commentary (SD)
  • Storyboard Archives (HD, window)
  • The Art of Aliens: Image Galleries (HD, window)
  • Cast Portrait Gallery (HD, window)

Aliens Production

  • Production Image Galleries (HD, window)
  • Continuity Polaroids (HD, window)
  • Weapons and Vehicles (HD, window)
  • Stan Winston’s Workshop (HD, window)
  • Colonial Marine Helmet Cameras (SD)
  • Video Graphics Gallery (SD)
  • Weyland-Yutani Inquest: Nostromo Dossiers (SD)

Aliens Post-Producton and Aftermath

  • Deleted Scene: Burke Cocooned (SD): Carter Burke’s fate revealed!
  • Deleted Scene Montage (SD)
  • Image Galleries (HD, window)
  • Special Collector’s Edition LaserDisc Archive (HD, window)
  • Main Title Exploration (SD )
  • Aliens: Ride at the Speed of Fright (SD): Video footage from the iWerks Entertainment attraction at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
  • Trailers & TV Spots (SD): Includes four trailers and a TV spot.

Alien 3 Pre-Production

  • Storyboard Archive (HD, window)
  • The Art of Arceon (HD, window)
  • The Art of Fiorina (HD, window)

Alien 3 Prodction

  • Furnace Construction: Time-Lapse Sequence (SD)
  • EEV Bioscan: Multi-Angle Vignette with Commentary (SD)
  • Production Image Galleries (HD, window)
  • A.D.I.’s Workshop (HD, window)

Alien 3 Post-Production and Aftermath

  • Visual Effects Gallery (HD, window)
  • Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive (HD, window)
  • Alien 3 Advance Featurette (SD)
  • The Making of Alien 3 Promotional Featurette (SD)
  • Trailers & TV Spots (SD): Includes five trailers and seven TV spots.

Alien Resurrection Pre-Production

  • First Draft Screenplay by Joss Whedon (HD, text)
  • Test Footage: A.D.I. Creature Shop with Commentary (SD)
  • Test Footage: Costumes, Hair, and Makeup (SD)
  • Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Rehearsals (SD)
  • Storyboard Archive (HD, window)
  • The Marc Caro Portfolio: Character Designs (HD, window)
  • The Art of Resurrection: Image Galleries (HD, window)

Alien Resurrection Production

  • Production Image Galleries (HD, window)
  • A.D.I.’s Workshop (HD, window)

Alien Resurrection Post-Production and Aftermath

  • Visual Effects Gallery (HD, window)
  • Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive (HD, window)
  • HBO First Look: The Making of Alien Resurrection (SD)
  • Alien Resurrection Promotional Featurette (SD)
  • Trailers and TV Spots (SD): Includes two trailers and four TV spots.

Anthology

  • Two Versions of Alien Evolution (SD): A TV retrospective from the U.K. that looks back at the four Alien films.
  • The Alien Saga (SD): Another made-for-TV documentary about the four films, narrated by John Hurt.
  • Aliens 3D Attraction Scripts and Gallery (HD, window)
  • Aliens in the Basement: The Bob Burns Collection (SD): An interview with Bob Burns, an obsessive collector of Alien memorabilia.
  • Parodies (SD): Brief clips from Family Guy and Spaceballs.
  • Dark Horse Comics Still Gallery (HD, window)
  • Patches and Logos Gallery (HD, window)

Screenshot courtesy of Highdefdiscnews.com

Final Thoughts

Now I know what it’s like to be Ripley and to be lost in space some fifty or so long years.  That’s how I felt reviewing this collection.  I’m being facetious of course, but damn…there was a lot here and I would be lying if I said this wasn’t one of the longer Blu-ray reviews of my career.  I don’t know how you did it Mr. Duarte, but you have garnered much respect from me.  Anyway, you know you want it.  You know you need it.  If you made it this far in my review, then I already know you are a true diehard Alien fan and the only valid question is, what the heck are you waiting for?  Christmas is way too far off.  Order your Alien Anthology 6-disc Blu-ray set today and start enjoying these science fiction classics ASAP!  That’s an order.  Attention!

*

Bring home these sci-fi classics on Blu-ray.  Order today!

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

16 Responses to “Alien Anthology (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Gregg

    Great reading material as I sit here in the airport. Thanks for the coverage! I have to say, I am extremely disappointed that the vast majority of these monumental extras are in standard definition. I know a lot of work went in to assembling them for this boxed set. It’s still a serious bummer that we couldn’t watch these in at least 720.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    Just a sec… I’m still scrolling through your review, Brian.

    lol j/k

    Great review, and what I really like about it is that you gave it a chance. You’re like a half-virgin to the Alien universe, and I think that’s a refreshing perspective to have.

    Alien = Masterpiece
    Aliens = Masterpiece

    Alien 3 = I used to hate it, but got over it and now enjoy it. The longer workprint version is really interesting.

    Alien Resurrection = I’m a Jean Pierre-Juenet fan to the bone, so his style over substance take on the franchise was cool. Ron Perlman kicks some serious ass, too.

    Great job, B, now go get some rest!

  3. Brian White

    @G & G …Thanks for recognizing all the elbow grease that went into writing this beast of a review. Only Sean Ferguson has wrote a review longer than this with his individual takes on the LOTR features. It takes a lot out of you 🙂

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    Everything Gerard said is correct.

  5. Brian White

    You and Gerard are always right. I can’t live down my Back to the Future comment 🙁 I wish I could go “back to the future” and take that comment back. LOL

  6. GG

    I really like this!

  7. Sean Ferguson

    Good review Brian but I would have been happy to make time to review this set! I have this set on DVD but after reading your review it makes me want it on Blu-ray too especially my favorite of the series – Aliens. I think the first two are the best but the other two have some good moments too. Aliens is one of my favorite movies of all time though so I will be getting at least that one on Blu-ray.

  8. Gerard Iribe

    I’m happy to know that my $52 UK Blu-ray boxset is waiting for me at home.

    I still can’t justify buying it stateside.

    Aaron, did you end up scooping the UK set up also? What about you Gregg?

  9. Aaron Neuwirth

    Yup Yup. Came for me this past weekend. Looking forward to popping in to some facehuggin lovin’

  10. Sean Ferguson

    Is there any difference between the UK and the US versions?

  11. Aaron Neuwirth

    It’s Cheaper.

  12. Gerard Iribe

    @Sean – What Aaron said.

    That and I think the box it comes in are slightly different. The U.S. version comes in a box type thing, and the UK is in a fold out box kind of like how the original Quadrilogy was packaged in.

  13. Aaron Neuwirth

    Either packaging is better that Back To the Future’s, which may have the worst and most inconvenient packaging I have dealt with.

  14. Brian White

    Actually I am not a fan of this packaging or b2f. This packaging is hard to get discs out without fingerprints, my pet peeve. I prefer regular cases and not cardboard garbage.

  15. Sean Ferguson

    Thanks for the clarification! I’m surprised that it’s still cheaper once you factor in the cost of shipping etc.

  16. Gerard Iribe

    @Sean – Yeah, because if you were in Europe you’d be paying a grip since they charge them VAT taxes on top of shipping. We get spared the VAT.