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"Alien" - {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Sci Fi
Release Date:
Special Features:

Two commentary tracks- the first with director Ridley Scott along with members of the cast and a second with Ridley Scott solo for the Director's Cut; extended and deleted scenes; two isolated music scores by composer Jerry Goldsmith-the original score and the final theatrical score Rating: R


In space no one can hear the sound of the cash register. It's also a big place with lots of empty space so it's possible that you aren't going to notice that this has been released many, many times before in various formats and with various extras. Fox certainly hopes that's the case as they have reintroduced the "Alien" saga on home video. The sad part is that Fox has driven this fine series of films into the ground allowing less talented directors to chop the first two (and part of the worthy third and in that case the studio did the dirty work) films into the ingredients of a mediocre gruel known as "franchise" genre films. There are some franchise films that stand or fall with each installment but generally can hold up with less than dignified treatment (the Bond films, the Indiana Jones films are but a few) but, ultimately, the "Alien" films were turned into little more than theatrical filler by film directors who gave new definition to the term "hack". ***

The first film written by the late Dan O'Bannon with uncredited rewrites by the producers was a perfect haunted house film in outer space. With production designs by H. R. Giger and Ron Cobb as well as a director with a unique visual sense in the form of Ridley Scott Alien became the must-see film of summer 1979. The film also made actress Signourney Weaver a star and generated a franchise that, after the second film, increasingly became troubled and was bungled by Fox and Brandywine Productions. Still, there's the impact of the first film and the claustrophobic atmospheric setting has never been topped (equaled by James Cameron's very different take with the first sequel to the film with Aliens but not surpassed). ***

For those who have seen the film and want to skip the synposis below feel free but I feel that we still need to revisit what the film is about. The mining vessel Nostromo is diverted by Mother the computer system that runs everything when an alien distress beacon is detected on an uncharted moon. Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Kane (John Hurt), Lambert (Veronica Cartright), Ripley (Signourney Weaver), Parker (Yaphett Koto), Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) and their new science officer Ash (Ian Holm) discover an alien spacecraft with what appear to be eggs from some unknown alien creature. When Kane attacked by a creature "hatched" from the egg, Dallas brings him back aboard ship breaking isolation protocol and letting a predator on board the ship that the miners are ill equipped to fight. ---

Image & Sound:

Both the original theatrical version of Alien and the "Extended Cut" from 2003 look exceptionally good here. There are some minor variations in some of the material due to some minor differences in color timing from what I can tell but overall both versions look amazingly consistent with a richer, darker image but plenty of detail reflecting an experience closer to the theatrical showing for the original film. Detail is remarkably sharp and Scott has altered some of the color timing a bit on this latest version of the film to the benefit of the film. Colors positively pop and the blacks are rich and deep throughout the presentation with a terrific presentation of detail even during the darkest scenes from the film. Saying that the film looks almost as good as a brand new film is saying quite a bit about this restoration and digital transfer of the film since Alien 31 years old this year. ***

Audio sounds brilliant with a marvelous, active sounding 5.1 lossless presentation.

Special Features:

I was hoping that the extras on the boxed set would be carried over and we do get some of those special features here but not as many as I had hoped. We get the combined audio commentary track and the solo commentary track that director Ridley Scott did for the "Director's Cut" of the film. We also get extended and deleted scenes and, of course, the original theatrical version and 2003 "Director's Cut" of the film. ***

We also get the original theatrical isolated score by late great Jerry Goldsmith which also includes a portion of Goldsmith's score that was composed for Freud that editor Terry Rawlings and director Scott fell in love with and kept in the film. Howard Hansen's Romantic Symphony which was used at the conclusion of the film is also featured here. We also get Goldsmith's original score some of which wasn't used for the final film. ***

We also get Ridley Scott's introduction to the Director's Cut. Unfortunately, we don't get much of the special features that were included on the last two discs from the boxed set.

Final Words:

If you're in this just for film Alien with some nice but unexceptional extras, the single disc Blu-ray of Alien will be for you. If you want all the bells and whistles you'll obviously need to pick up the boxed set with all the films. What matters most though is how the film looks--Alien has NEVER looked better on home video and looks better than when it was originally exhibited in theaters in 70mm 31 years ago last week.


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