Aliens: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Ridley Scott’s Alien set the standard for horror based Sci-fi.  His film left audiences terrified with some wonderfully calculated scenes and subtle scares. With the end of that film, it almost feels like it would be impossible to top it.  Then came Aliens. With James Cameron in the director’s chair, what was the outcome? Of course, we know the story, a sequel that stands with and sometimes surpasses the original. Read more about Aliens below. I promise not to bore you with over-retold facts! Be sure to click the artwork at the end of the review to access the paid link to get your own copy!


Ripley, the sole survivor of the space tug Nostromo’s deadly encounter with the monstrous Alien, is found after drifting through space in hypersleep for 57 years. She agrees to accompany a team of Colonial Marines back to LV-426—and this time it’s war.

How is Ripley after 57 years you say? Thanks to hypersleep, she is ageless, yet obviously scarred by the horrific evens aboard the Nostromo.  As she heads back into space with the macho group of Marines to LV-426, you just know something is amiss. And what a discovery is made!

I’m not going to act like most of our readers haven’t seen this film, and so just like my reviews of The Abyss and True Lies, I’m happy to share with you the slices of life that seem to accompany these films as I watch them with a nostalgic eye.  Aliens is of course yet another excellent film from director James Cameron.  After The Terminator Cameron wrote Rambo: First Blood Part II and worked on the script for Aliens without any intention of directing it.  Thankfully, the original director dropped out and we got to see Cameron’s vision for Ripley and her unfortunate encounters.

Ripley has been an iconic “final girl” for so long, and while most look lovingly at Ridley Scott’s original masterpiece, it was Aliens that really gave Sigourney Weaver’s incredible character her fantastic perseverance and strength. While in the first film Ripley is strong, she is also very scared.  In this case, Ripley is bitter, saddened, tough and takes no crap. She’s got her head on a swivel and is already anticipating the worst even before they land on LV-426.  As we know, things don’t go well for Ripley and the crew.

Full confession – I saw Aliens before I ever saw the original film.  My vision of Ripley is always the badass woman, wielding a flame thrower or jumping into a huge robotic suit to fight the evil titular aliens.  She’s the mother/protector of Newt and you better stay away from her, you bitch! This iteration of Ripley is fantastic for her will to survive, to keep going, and to be scared yet too strong to give up.  Ripley on her own is already indispensable.  The film also has many incredible characters, first-rate writing, and the sure hand of James Cameron himself.  I remember being scared out of my skin seeing the alien appear, or chests bursting, or androids bleeding white milky blood.  Watching this new edition only heightened my creep factor of this, my favorite entry in the Alien series.


Stills are for promotional use only and are not screenshots from the 4K Blu-ray

Encoding: HEVC/H.265

Resolution: 4K

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

HDR: Dolby Vision

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: As with Titanic, The Abyss, and True Lies, Aliens comes to 4K UHD Blu-ray with the use of AI to help things have improved clarity and more range in sharpness.  Thankfully, unlike True Lies, Aliens has the complimentary look like Titanic and The Abyss. The film has equal parts filmic splendor and 4K sharpness giving you the ultimate viewing experience of this excellent film.

Depth:  Blur free unless the shot is soft, Aliens dark and murky photography has not been this detailed and wonderfully rendered at home.  Interiors in the dark look fantastic and so do the lighter scenes. We are seeing some new details even in the background and it’s wonderful to see the picture looking so healthy here.

Color Reproduction: Much of Alien takes place in the dark, and that’s OK. Colors look source faithful and black levels are deep and dark without looking murky or crushing.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones look natural even in the darkest of scenes. Everyone is sweaty a lot of the time and that piqued look is exactly how everyone should look.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby Digital 4.1, English DTS HD-MA 2.0, French DTS-HD HR 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Dynamics: Aliens had an excellent sounding 5.1 track that has been fleshed out and refurbished for Dolby Atmos. Dynamics are fantastic and sound effects are vintage but still just as impressive as they were 37 years ago.

Height: Height channels encapsulate you in the tight spaces the characters are in during the film. Above us, yes, but how low is the ceiling?! Heights are a nice compliment to the surround sound presentation.

Low-Frequency Extension: Music, spaceships, landings, explosions, flame throwers and more, light up the subwoofer with nice bass extension.  Not the same as a modern mix, but nothing to scoff at either.

Surround Sound Presentation: Constant surround activity helps to drive the film forward with no letup.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is dead center or wherever it’s needed with a natural volume level.


Aliens 4K UHD Blu-ray edition contains all the bonuses from the Alien Anthology edition of the film. There are of course two versions of the film, but just like The Abyss, the special edition is the one to go for.  Also, you have a myriad of features to dive into!

Special Features:

James Cameron Introduction – A message from writer/director James Cameron introducing the Special Edition version of the film.

2003 Audio Commentary by James Cameron and the Cast and Crew-Special Edition – 1990 Special Edition Commentary by James Cameron and the cast and crew.

The Inspiration and Design of ALIENS – For the 30th anniversary, writer/director James Cameron reveals new insight into his own inspiration and the design elements for Aliens.

2003 Audio Commentary by James Cameron and the Cast and Crew – 1986 Theatrical Version Commentary by James Cameron and the cast and crew.

Isolated Scores

  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score – This isolated track presents, as accurately as possible, James Horner’s music score in its final form following extensive reworking during the post-production process.
  • Composer’s Original Isolated Score – Although there are a few instances where the length of individual sequences was changed slightly after the music was recorded, this isolated score track presents, as accurately as possible, James Horner’s original intentions.

Superior Firepower: Making Aliens – Immerse yourself in the world of ALIENS with 11 fully-loaded featurettes that deconstruct all that went into making this sci-fi thriller, from casting to creature design to post-production and everything in between.

  • 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
  • Two Orphans: Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn
  • Beauty and the Bitch: Power Loader vs. Queen Alien
  • The Final Countdown: Music, Editing and Sound
  • The Power of Real Tech: Visual Effects
  • ALIENS Unleashed: Reaction to the Film


Superior Firepower: Making Aliens Enhancement Pods – Supplemental video pieces to complement Superior Firepower: Making ALIENS.

  • 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
  • Praising 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

Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Videomatics

  • Angle 1: Videomatic
  • Angle 2: Videomatic/Final Shot Comparison
  • Audio Commentary by Miniature Effects Supervisor Pat McClung

Direct Access to New/Additional Scenes From Special Edition

  • Ripley’s Daughter – Burke informs Ripley that her daughter died two years ago.
  • Van Leuwen’s Verdict – Van Leuwen reads the findings of the court of inquiry.
  • The Colony/The Jordens’ Discovery – The colony is bustling with life and activity. Newt, along with her brother and parents, come upon the Derelict ship.
  • Burke’s Answer – At Ripley’s apartment, Burke explains why he’s making the trip to LV-426.
  • Sulaco – Establishing shots of the interior of the Sulaco before the crew awakens from hyper-sleep.
  • Hudson’s Hubris – As they descend in the drop ship to LV-426, Hudson boasts about their advanced weaponry.
  • False Alarm – Hudson and Vasquez detect motion in the colony, only to find it is pet hamsters.
  • Ripley Pauses – As she enters the colony, Ripley hesitates for a moment.
  • The Sentry Guns – Hicks reveals they have robot sentry systems. While examining the colony blueprints, Ripley and Hicks discuss where to place the robot sentries.
  • Fire in the Hole – Hudson and Vasquez set up the UA 571-C remote sentry weapons and following a quick test, seal the tunnel.
  • Last Line of Defense – The Sentry Guns dutifully scan the tunnel for incoming targets.
  • Newt’s Questions – Newt quizzes Ripley about the fate of her parents.
  • Hudson’s “Ant” Theory – Hudson speculates on how the Aliens are organized and reproduce.
  • The Aliens Attack – The Sentry Guns unload on multiple targets.
  • The Aliens Retreat – Under withering fire from the sentries, the Aliens are temporarily repulsed.
  • First Name Basis – As Ripley departs the drop ship to try and rescue Newt, she and Hicks share their first names with each other.

Deleted Scene: Burke Cocooned – Long one of the most sought-after lost moments from the entire ALIEN Anthology, this scene depicting Carter Burke’s fate is now revealed.


Deleted Scene Montage – This collection of scene extensions and omitted moments represents the remainder of deleted scenes not appearing in either the Theatrical Version or the Special Edition.

Still Galleries and more

  • Original Treatment by James Cameron
  • Storyboard Archive
  • The Art of ALIENS
  • Cast Portrait Gallery
  • Production Image Galleries
  • Continuity Polaroids
  • Weapons and Vehicles
  • Stan Winston’s Workshop
  • Colonial Marine Helmet Cameras
  • Video Graphics Gallery
  • Weyland-Yutani Inquest: Nostromo Dossiers


Post-Production Aftermath

  • Image Galleries
  • Laserdisc Archives
  • Main Title Exploration
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Teaser Trailer
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Domestic Trailer
  • International Trailer


Whether this is your favorite film of the Alien series or not, this is a top-notch release. Not needing any new features due to the already infinite ones included in the Alien Anthology edition of the film, this is an excellent release overall.  The new Dolby Vision and Atmos upgrade is worth the price of admission, and you’ll be reminded of just how different yet complimentary this film is to its original. I can’t recommend this enough!

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