Overall | Alien: The Director's Cut: Special Edition (1979) | Aliens: Special Edition (2 disc) (1986) | Alien3: Special Edition (1992) | Alien Resurrection: Special Edition (1997) | Alien: Quadrilogy-Bonus Features (2003)

Alien: Quadrilogy (1979)

Alien: Quadrilogy (1979)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 8-Dec-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Overall Package

    Wow! I have finally made it through all the content of the Alien Quadrilogy box set. It's taken a long time, what with having two versions of every movie, a commentary on every movie, and an extremely comprehensive set of extras (5 dual layered discs of extras is one heck of a lot of material). And now I have to try and summarise what we get in this box...

    Actually, it's not too hard. What we get is probably the most thorough and complete look at an entire series of movies that I've seen so far. When it is complete, the Lord of the Rings set of extended editions will number more DVDs, but it won't be as complete: those 12 DVDs don't include the theatrical release of each movie — you have to buy 6 more DVDs to get that. I really like the way that this set includes the theatrical release of each movie. I'm not sure that we needed the special editions of the first and last movies, but we definitely needed them for the second and third movies. For the second one, because the extended edition is more complete (and more popular); for the third one, because the extended edition makes a lot more sense (I, for one, am much happier with the extended version).

    The extras included in this set are interesting, and a lot more honest than usual. It is refreshing to hear people talking openly about conflict on the set, and about reasons why things did not go well.

    The packaging of the set is unusual, and rather neat. Fox have taken a pile of those rather nice clear plastic frames that are usually glued onto cardboard (the R1 package has them glued on cardboard and rolled up — makes for an rather unwieldy package), but instead of gluing them to cardboard, they've glue a strip of flexible clear plastic to the left edge of them, so we have a pile of 9 clear plastic "pages" that open like a book. This is a novel (sorry, pun not intended!) solution, and one that I applaud, as long as it lasts. There's a cardboard cover wrapped around it, and it all slides into a slipcase. The package is roughly the size of three standard cases (I just managed to slide three cases into the slipcase), but holds 9 DVDs neatly and securely. Certainly qualifies as an innovative solution, and one that's easier to manage than the Region 1.

    When I started reviewing this pile of DVDs I had my doubts: I suspected that this was little more than a cynical exercise in parting us from our money. I was wrong. It is easy to see the huge amount of effort that has been put into creating this set, and that effort has been well-directed. This is really worthwhile.

    If you already have the Alien Legacy set, you are probably a fan. Should you get this set? Probably — there is so much more in this set for the fan. Of course, if you never listen to commentaries, hate featurettes, and don't want to look at photos or artwork, then the only attraction to this set is the two versions of each movie, but even that alone is a fairly compelling argument.

    If you don't have any of the Alien movies, and want them, I recommend getting this set. Even if there's one movie you don't want, get the whole set. These films are intended to stand as a whole. You can buy just one or two of the films, and I'm sure some people will (I suspect that the first one will be the biggest individual seller).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Other Reviews
The DVD Bits - Allan H
DVD Net - Jules F
MovieHole - Clint M

Comments (Add)
Packaging -
price - Geoff (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
Poor packaging -
R4 Easter Eggs? - REPLY POSTED
Destroyed my packaging already -
re: Poor packaging - Anonymous -
Packaging -
lil' speed ups - Damien (biotech is godzilla)

Overall | Alien: The Director's Cut: Special Edition (1979) | Aliens: Special Edition (2 disc) (1986) | Alien3: Special Edition (1992) | Alien Resurrection: Special Edition (1997) | Alien: Quadrilogy-Bonus Features (2003)

Alien: The Director's Cut: Special Edition (1979)

Alien: The Director's Cut: Special Edition (1979)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 12-Jan-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
THX Trailer
THX Optimizer
Introduction-2003 Director's Cut Version: Ridley Scott (Director)
Audio Commentary-Theatrical Version : Cast And Crew
Featurette-Making Of-The Beast Within - Star Beast: Developing The Story
Featurette-First Draft Screenplay, The Visualists: Direction And Design
Notes-Ridleygrams: Original Thumbnails And Notes
Storyboards-Archive
Gallery-The Art Of Alien, Cast Portrait Gallery
Featurette-Truckers In Space: Casting, Sigourney Weaver's Screen Test
Featurette-Fear Of The Unknown, The Darkest Reaches
Gallery-Production Gallery, Continuity Polaroids, The Sets Of Alien
Featurette-The Eighth Passenger, Future Tense, Outward Bound
Multiple Angles-The Chestburster
Gallery-H.R. Giger's Workshop, Visual Effects, Poster Explorations
Deleted Scenes-7
Featurette-A Nightmare Fulfilled
Gallery-Special Shoot, Premiere
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 111:05
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:59)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Version Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ridley Scott
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Tom Skerritt
Sigourney Weaver
Veronica Cartwright
Harry Dean Stanton
John Hurt
Ian Holm
Yaphet Kotto
Bolaji Badejo
Helen Horton
Case ?
RPI $31.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
Icelandic
Norwegian
Swedish
Dutch Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

in space no one can hear you scream

    Alien is probably the best horror / science fiction movie ever made. Some people may nominate films like The Blob, or The Body Snatchers, but I don't think they compare for sheer visceral terror.

    A common element in horror movies is having the protagonists trapped, perhaps in a dark house. The problem with this is that the protagonists can get out of a house in lots of ways (even smashing through the walls), so the writers often invoke the supernatural to explain why they cannot escape. That's not necessary here: outside the Nostromo is empty space, vacuum — if the protagonists smash through the walls and get out, they'll have a slight problem with breathing. So there's no escape, far more than in any Earth-bound horror film.

    Ridley Scott is now recognised as a brilliant director — he has made films like Bladerunner, for example. When they were looking for a director for this film, he had made just one film, Duellists, which had won an award at Cannes, but he was mostly known as a director of commercials. He insisted on casting experienced skilled actors for every role (yeah, every one of the seven), but they wanted a relative unknown for the lead female role. He chose Sigourney Weaver, who was an experienced stage actor, but who had never made a film before. It's amusing to hear him say, now, that she was born to play Ripley — certainly I can't imagine another actress in the role. It was also amusing to hear that several of the cast and crew were unimpressed by her performances on-set, but very impressed when they saw the dailies.

    I'm not going to explain the plot. Either you have seen it, or you haven't (where have you been?). If you haven't seen this film, then you should approach it knowing as little as possible, so you can get just as terrified as the rest of us. Just be aware that this is a serious horror film, one that happens to be set in space, and it's very effective. Even 25 years after it was made, this is still a very frightening film.

    Alien has been released on DVD before. They did quite a nice job for the 20th anniversary of the film. So why did they feel a need to do it again? Is it just a cynical grab for your money? I was a bit wary in approaching this version, because I was questioning the need for a new release. It was interesting that they were releasing two versions of the movie (they did two versions of each of the movies for this new release), and using two discs for each movie — the obvious assumption is that they'd put each version on a separate disc, and tucked the extras in around the two versions. It turns out that that is not what they've done: they seem to have made the two versions using seamless branching, so both versions are on the one disc, and the only extra on that disc is the commentary. All the extras (and there are plenty of them) are on the second disc.

    If you have the Alien Legacy version of this film, do you need this new one? That depends. If you are interested in owning both the original theatrical version and the new special version, then this is your only choice. Note that there is very little difference between the two versions (on this film — that's not true of the other Alien films), because Ridley Scott was happy with the original version. He has, however, made a few small changes, and it's fun trying to spot them.

    OK, I've given you all the qualifiers. What do I think? Well, I already own a copy of Alien Legacy (I got the R1, and even had a friend in the US send away for the bonus disc for me), but I will be shelling out the money for this new version — it is worth it.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. That's the expected aspect ratio. On some systems you may get some overscan and see a little clipping on the opening credits. That's not a mastering error — it is just overscan.

    The movie is alone on this disc, except for the commentary. This is close to being a Superbit disc (only the fancy menu and the commentary are exceptions, and the commentary has been held to 96kbps to minimise its impact), and that is reflected in the quality of the transfer.

    The picture is clear, and as sharp as the source material allows — it's a good quality transfer. Shadow detail is very good, where it can be, but there's an awful lot of darkness, and that's both deliberate and appropriate. There's some noticeable film grain, but that is completely unavoidable: Ridley Scott points out that he was running the anamorphic lenses and film at the very edge of their capabilities on some shots, so some grain is inevitable. There is no low-level noise.

    Colour, what there is of it,  is very good indeed — well-rendered. The production design means that there are lots of grey and black in view, but that's no mistake. And the black is very definitely black — we get lots and lots of solid inky black. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts of any consequence, save for a couple instances of what might be very slight judder in the transfer process at 80:29 and 81:46.

    There is some very light aliasing, but you have to look for it. There no significant moirι, and no shimmer. There are no MPEG artefacts.

    There are subtitles in six languages, plus English for the Hearing Impaired. I watched the latter. They are mostly very accurate, with few abbreviations; they are well-timed, and easy to read. I did spot one error: they show the word "initial" instead of "inertial" during the landing, but that's a small slip.

    The movie disc is single sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 60:59 in the Director's Cut, or 60:55 in the Theatrical Cut, at a cut between scenes — it is close to invisible, and I would not have found it without technical assistance. The extras disc is also single-sided and dual layered, but I didn't see a layer change in any of the pieces.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three audio tracks, all in English, on the movie disc. The first two are the soundtrack, provided in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps and dts 5.1 at 768kbps. The third is the audio commentary, provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 (surround encoded) at 96kbps. I listened to all three tracks, and I must say that I slightly prefer the Dolby Digital over the dts, although I'm hard-pressed to say why — the difference is small, whatever it is.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand, except where intended — there are spots where multiple actors talk at once. There are no lapses in audio sync.

    The score, from Jerry Goldsmith, is excellent — dark, foreboding and tense, it is perfect horror film stuff. He was annoyed when they chose a different piece of music (something he composed for another film) for one scene, but it's appropriate to the scene.

    The surrounds are used surprisingly well for a film of this vintage, and provide some excellent ambience. The subwoofer comes in and out, but gets some serious use at times.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Oh, boy, do we have extras! The movie disc has only the commentary, with all the other extras on the second disc. That was a smart decision.

Menu

    The menu has good transitions, but it's not animated. There's music behind it. It is simple and easy to use, themed with controls from Weylan Yutani (the unnamed company that owns the Nostromo).

Commentary — Cast and Crew

    This commentary features a lot of people, who introduce themselves one by one:

    The only two missing are Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto.

    This is an excellent commentary, with a lot of information conveyed in an interesting way. I have the feeling that parts of the commentary were recorded with all the people together (they respond to one another occasionally), and parts were taken from interview footage (the words and voices match pieces we see elsewhere). I could be wrong, but it is definitely worth listening to, or reading. That's a nice touch — the commentary is provided in English audio, but is also provided as subtitles in English and Dutch — you can watch the film with the normal soundtrack, and read the commentary.

    It is a shame they didn't also include the commentary that Ridley Scott recorded (alone) for the previous version. A solo director's commentary is usually very good.

Disc 2

    This disc is titled The Beast Within — the making of Alien. An apt title. You can select all the extras individually, from three menus labelled Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production (8 extras in each menu), or you can choose Navigation Options, and play all the featurettes together (the total runs 178:01), or look at all the photos, or all the artwork. These are interesting and useful alternatives.

    Note that none of the extras on this disc are 16x9 enhanced. They are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

PRE-PRODUCTION

Featurette: Star Beast — Developing the Story (18:13)

    A very interesting piece telling the story of the development of this script. They aren't afraid to air some dirty laundry, either — there's quite a bit of discussion of conflict between the original scriptwriters and the production team at Brandywine. Well worth watching if you're contemplating writing a screenplay, as some warning about things that can happen.

First Draft Screenplay

    This is very interesting. There are 40 pages of introduction from Dan O'Bannon, including mention of two different attempts to sue him for plagiarism — I like the one trying to sue him for plagiarizing a script written after this first draft... This is followed by 271 pages of script. It's the first draft that was shown to Brandywine, and it's rather different from what we see on-screen, but it is recognisable as the same story.

Featurette: The Visualists — Direction and Design (16:45)

    This talks about the various contributors to the look of the film, particularly Ridley Scott, Ron Cobb, and H.R. Giger.

Notes: Ridley-grams — Original Thumbnails and Notes

    75 pages of drawings and notes Ridley Scott made whilst preparing to shoot this film.

Gallery: Storyboard Archive

    This is 377 pages of storyboards, an awesome effort by Ridley Scott.

Galleries: The Art of Alien — Conceptual Art Portfolio

    Galleries of art from four contributors to the film:

Featurette: Truckers in Space — Casting (14:58)

    A discussion of all of the casting decisions made in this film, including Ridley Scott's insistence that he wanted seven stars, so he could concentrate on the composition of the shots, rather than on directing the actors. It also talks about Alan Ladd's insistence that they shoot a screen test of Sigourney Weaver before hiring her as Ripley.

Featurette: Sigourney Weaver's Screen Test (4:29)

    This is a very cool inclusion. It is the test they shot to confirm the casting of Ripley.

Gallery: Cast Portrait Gallery — Photo Archive

    A total of 27 photos of the cast.

PRODUCTION

Featurette: Fear of the Unknown — Shepperton Studios 1978 (24:06)

    This is about as close as we get to a classic making of, but this is no standard fluff piece. This has a number of anecdotes of how principal photography proceeded — it went surprisingly well, for the most part.

Gallery: Production Gallery — Photo Archive

    These are photos taken by set photographer Bob Penn, divided into nine sections:

    Now here's an interesting glitch — the Cocooned section is not a photo gallery, but points instead at a section of the script.

Gallery: Continuity Polaroids

    Kay Fenton, the script supervisor, took a large number of Polaroid photos of the production as part of ensuring continuity. This is a gallery of 101 of them.

Featurette: The Darkest Reaches — Nostromo and Alien Planet (17:27)

    A featurette about the set design issues, including discussion of (amongst other things) the conflicts between the crew and the producers over the number and complexity of sets that they used. Quite interesting stuff.

Gallery: The Sets of Alien — Photo Archive

    163 photos of the large and complex sets they built to film this movie.

Featurette: The Eighth Passenger — Creature Design (31:38)

    A detailed look at the designing of the various stages of the alien life-cycle. The footage of H.R. Giger is not particularly good quality, but what he is saying is quite clear.

Multi-Angle Sequence: The Chestburster (5:14)

    The two main camera angles, plus a composite of both, shooting the main takes of the chest burster sequence. You can watch it with original sound, or with commentary from Ridley Scott.

Gallery: H.R. Giger's Workshop — Photo Archive

    24 photos of H.R. Giger at work.

POST-PRODUCTION

Featurette: Future Tense — Editing and Music (16:32)

    Discusses some of the conflicts that arose during the editing process, including Jerry Goldsmith's disappointments.

Deleted Scenes

    These scenes are not all deleted. Some are expanded versions of scenes still in the movie.

Featurette: Outward Bound — Visual Effects (18:55)

    Mostly talking about the miniatures work (which was very impressive).

Gallery: Visual Effects Gallery — Photo Archive

    33 photos, mostly of the miniatures.

Featurette: A Nightmare Fulfilled — Reaction to the Film (19:24)

    An interesting recounting of initial reactions to the film, including the fact that people were leaving the cinema to throw up — this film had a profound impact.

Gallery: Poster Explorations

    A wide variety of poster concepts, most of which were not used. There are 53 shots in this collection.

Gallery: Special Shoot — Promotional Photo Archive

    Another 53 photos that are not a whole lot different from those in the cast portrait gallery — I suspect these were separated to ensure they had 8 items on each menu...

Gallery: Premiere — Photo Archive

    29 photos of cinemas with various displays promoting the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this has just been released.

    You will be able to buy this 2-disc edition either separately, or as part of the Alien Quadrilogy, and you'll get the same thing — the only difference is that the Quadrilogy includes an exclusive ninth disc.

    The Region 1 version gets a few features that ours does not, and unfortunately some of the additional features are rather nice to have. These are:

    The other interesting comparison is between the 2 disc Alien Quadrilogy version and the 1-disc Alien Legacy version of this film:

    The 2-disc Region 4 edition is missing:

    The 1-disc Region 4 edition is missing:

    I don't have the Region 4 version of the Alien Legacy set, so I can't tell you which of the two has the greater number of photos and artwork, but I rather suspect that the 2-disc version wins on this count; certainly the 2-disc version is much better organised, with the stills grouped into (lots of) related galleries.

    All in all, I'd say this new version has the better extras (although I'm hanging onto my R1 Legacy disc for the commentary...), and it does offer the two versions, both with very good transfers (slightly better, in my opinion, than the Legacy version).

Summary

    The best horror / science fiction film ever made, presented extremely well on DVD.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are close to overwhelming.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, November 30, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - RobertW

Comments (Add)
Region 1 Director's Cut commentary? - REPLY POSTED
No. -
R1 has more commentary - Jace
Alien Quadrilogy - REPLY POSTED
Can you give us a hint? -
Isolated music -
RE: Isolated score - MickJT (Have a look at my biography)
what, no commentary participation from the best actor in the film? - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio) REPLY POSTED
Director's cut - ins and outs (Warning plot spoilers) - wolfgirv
R4 missing animated menus, seperate deleted scenes & deleted scene markers =( -
Thanks a lot FOX for screwing us over again! - Paul B
Directors cut -
Quadrilogy out now -
RE Fox screwing us - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
Subtitles on extra features? -
Is my copy of Ace Ventura Pet Detective considered Superbit?? :-D - REPLY POSTED
Dts Soundtrack...not on cover? - REPLY POSTED
region coding -
Amusing... - REPLY POSTED
DTS problems on R1 "Alien" ? - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)

Overall | Alien: The Director's Cut: Special Edition (1979) | Aliens: Special Edition (2 disc) (1986) | Alien3: Special Edition (1992) | Alien Resurrection: Special Edition (1997) | Alien: Quadrilogy-Bonus Features (2003)

Aliens: Special Edition (2 disc) (1986)

Aliens: Special Edition (2 disc) (1986)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 12-Jan-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
THX Optimizer
THX Trailer
Introduction-Special Edition: James Cameron (Director)
Audio Commentary-Special Edition: Cast And Crew
Featurette-Making Of-Superior Firepower
Notes-Original Treatment
Featurette-Building Better Worlds,PreparingFor Battle,This Time Its War
Gallery-The Art Of Aliens, Cast Portrait Gallery, Production Gallery
Multiple Angles-Previsualizations
Gallery-Continuity Polaroids, Weapons And Vehicles
Featurette-The Risk Always Lives, Bug Hunt, Beauty And The Bitch
Gallery-Stan Winston's Workshop, Visual Effects
Featurette-Two Orphans, The Final Countdown, The Power Of Real Tech
Featurette-Aliens Unleashed
Gallery-Film Finish And Release
Easter Egg-A Boy and his Power Loader
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 148:05
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (79:47)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Version Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By James Cameron
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Sigourney Weaver
Carrie Henn
Michael Biehn
Lance Henriksen
Paul Reiser
Bill Paxton
William Hope
Jenette Goldstein
Al Matthews
Mark Rolston
Ricco Ross
Colette Hiller
Daniel Kash
Case ?
RPI $31.95 Music James Horner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
Icelandic
Norwegian
Swedish
Dutch Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

this time it's war

    Alien was an intimidating film for which to write a sequel. Trying to write a new horror movie to follow that one would have been a truly daunting exercise, and one almost certain to fail — I'm so very glad that they didn't even try. I think James Cameron's idea, to write the sequel as a different genre of film, was inspired. Aliens is an excellent action / science fiction film with elements of horror — basically a superb thriller. Perhaps the closest film to this is Starship Troopers, but that film is filled with political satire — this one is a straightforward rollercoaster ride of adrenaline.

    Aliens is easier to watch than Alien. That's probably because you can watch it — it's happening to other people; with Alien it's more as though you're experiencing it. That's not to denigrate either film, it's more a consequence of the difference in genres — both films are excellent examples of their respective genres.

    I don't know if I need to explain the plot — you have probably seen this film more than once in the seventeen years since its first release. But just in case: this story picks up where the last one left off — Ripley adrift in the shuttle. She is picked up by a salvage team, but rather later than she expected. The planetoid (LV426) on which Ripley's team found the alien has been colonised, but they have just lost contact with the colony (there's a reason for the apparent coincidence that we learn later). Ripley is talked into accompanying the squad of Colonial Marines who are sent to investigate. Can we guess what they find?

    Aliens has been released on DVD before. The previous version was part of the Alien Legacy box set, and only featured the Director's Cut. This disc is part of the Alien Quadrilogy release, and offers both the original theatrical cut (131:03) and the extended Director's cut (148:05 — that's a lot more!) — I really like having the option to choose between these. Both versions are on the same disc — I believe they have been organised using seamless branching. The only extra on this movie disc is the commentary. There's another disc filled (and I mean filled) with extras — this version has far more extras than the previous one. And some of those extras explore the truth behind the rumours we'd heard about conflict during the making of this movie — that's very interesting.

    If you have the Alien Legacy version of this film, do you need this new one? That depends. If you are interested in owning both the original theatrical version and the new special version, then this is your only choice. Note that there is quite a difference between the two versions — I, like most people, strongly prefer the longer version, but that's the one that's on the original disc, so if you have the Legacy disc, you already have it. The other big reason to get this new version is that it has a lot more extras, including a commentary.

    What am I going to do? I am definitely going to spend the money for the Alien Quadrilogy box when it comes out, even though I own a copy of Alien Legacy. On the other hand, if you only want the first two movies (you won't be alone in that!), you can get them separately. Either way, this new version offers substantially more than the previous one.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. That's the expected aspect ratio, and the one in which it was made. Jim Cameron explains in the commentary that he has a strong dislike of anamorphic filming (for good technical reasons), and he was talked out of using Super 35 at the time, but he regrets the fact that this film is 1.85:1 while all the other Alien films are 2.35:1 — if he were making it again, he'd probably use Super 35, because he thinks that the 2.35:1 aspect ratio suits these films.

    The movie is alone on this disc, except for the commentary (and they kept that down to 96kbps). That means that they don't have to compress the movie as much, and so can make the transfer really good. It shows.

    The picture is clear, and as sharp as the source material allows — Cameron discusses, in the commentary, the film stock that was available at the time, and how Kodak was switching the emulsions; that, plus using spherical optics and the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, which uses less of the negative's frame area, meant that this film is unavoidably grainy. The film grain is acceptable, ranging from very light on well-lit scenes, to medium on darker ones. Shadow detail is very good, but not perfect, mainly because of grain. There's no low-level noise.

    Colour is well-rendered — the dull colours of the military and the industrial world are shown perfectly. There are lots of cold blue, black, grey, and white in the sets. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are a few visible film artefacts, such as a water drop at 26:24, but none of them are troubling. You'll see things, like at 16:12, when there's a light flash at the top of screen that looks like it might be a hair, but if you frame-by-frame it, it's actually a flash; it looks like there are more artefacts than are really present.

    There is some aliasing, but only on background objects, and only on pans (it looks rather obvious in the hanger on a non-progressive system, but almost unnoticeable on a progressive one). There no significant moirι, and no shimmer. There are no MPEG artefacts.

    The language menu shows subtitles in five languages, plus English for the Hearing Impaired. I watched the English. They are quite accurate, with some abbreviations; they are well-timed, and easy to read. I didn't spot any errors. Strangely, there are Dutch subtitles for the soundtrack, and the commentary, just like on the Alien disc, but they are not listed on the menu.

    The movie disc is single sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 79:47 in the Director's Cut, or 68:03 in the Theatrical Cut, at a cut between scenes — it is superb in the Director's Cut, next to invisible, and I would not have found it without technical assistance; it's a bit more visible in the theatrical cut, but still good. The extras disc is also single-sided and dual layered, but I didn't see a layer change in any of the pieces.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two audio tracks, both in English, on the movie disc. The first is the soundtrack, provided in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps. The other is the audio commentary, provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 (surround encoded) at 96kbps. I listened to both tracks, and listened to the soundtrack on both versions of the film.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand, mostly, although there's a touch of distortion on the dialogue at 90:47 and 144:58, but I'm convinced that's in the source material. There are no obvious lapses in audio sync, although Ferro (Colette Hiller) looks very slightly off at 28:25.

    The score, from James Horner, is really good, although he spends a lot of the time in his extras complaining about how he didn't have enough time to do a proper job. I really like it, including the military touches.

    The surrounds are not particularly noticeable (nothing much in the way of rear directional sound), but they provide some very good ambience. The subwoofer is used intermittently, but cuts loose in the battle scenes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Now this is what you call extras! The movie disc has only the commentary, with all the other extras on the second disc. That was a smart decision.

Menu

    The menu has good transitions, but it's not animated. There's music behind it. It is simple and easy to use, themed with controls from Weyland Yutani (note that James Cameron added the "d' to the first word).

Commentary — Cast and Crew

    This commentary features a lot of the people who worked on this film:

    It's sad that Sigourney Weaver couldn't make it, but she does appear in quite a few of the featurettes, so we do get to hear from her.

    This is a surprisingly good commentary — usually a commentary with a cast of thousands is a complete disaster. They have clearly recorded groups of the commentators separately (sometimes different groups will repeat information), but it has been edited together with considerable skill, including ensuring that any screen-specific comments are heard at the appropriate spot. Note that they are commenting on the director's cut of the film, and the commentary can only be heard when you are watching the director's cut — it isn't even an option when you're looking at the theatrical cut (very cute!). This commentary is in English, and is available either in sound (Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded, 96kbps), or as subtitles — I like that, because it means you can read the commentary and listen to the original soundtrack (or vice versa). Note that the commentary is also subtitled in Dutch (just as on Alien), but there's no menu item to select this subtitle track — odd.

    We hear quite a bit from James Cameron on how he very deliberately made a link between Alien and this film. We also hear hints of how he is less than impressed with what the makers of Alien 3 did with the characters he gifted them, and his amusement that Sigourney Weaver managed to extort a large salary from the producers because they hadn't made a deal with her before committing themselves to a script that was centred on Ripley.

    Thoroughly recommended.

Disc 2

    This disc is titled Superior Firepower: the making of Aliens. Very cool. You can select all the extras individually, from three menus labelled Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production, or you can choose Navigation Options, and play all the featurettes together (the total runs 184:36), or look at all the photos, or all the artwork. These are interesting and useful alternatives.

    Note that none of the extras on this disc are 16x9 enhanced. They are all presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

PRE-PRODUCTION

Featurette: 57 Years Later — Continuing the Story (11:04)

    The story of the start of this project. James Cameron tells how he got started on this, and we hear from David Giler and Gale Anne Hurd (who was married to Cameron at the time).

Original Treatment

    This is interesting stuff. Although it starts with a menu entry labelled Introduction, it leaps straight into the treatment. This is 158 pages of story, and is the basis on which the project was begun.

Featurette: Building Better Worlds — From Concept to Construction (13:31)

    The conceptual artists involved, Ron Cobb and Syd Mead, and the production designer Peter Lamont get to talk about the development of elements in this story.

Gallery: The Art of Aliens — Conceptual Art Portfolios

    Strangely, when you continue past the 6th page of the Aliens portfolio you end up on the Navigation Options menu — I think that's a bug in the menus

Previsualistion — a multi-angle videomatic (3:16)

    This piece has two angles (with or without the finished footage), and you can view it with or without commentary from Pat McClung, the miniature effects supervisor. These are fragments from several shots. The original is quite crude, but outlines the planned action so well that it closely matches the finished piece.

Featurette: Preparing for Battle — Casting and Characterisation (17:05)

    A discussion of the casting of all the main parts. This is really interesting, because it includes footage both from promotional material shot at the time (1986), and from new interviews shot now (2003) — it's interesting to see how people have changed. Carrie Henn (Newt) has changed the most, unsurprisingly, although Jenette Goldstein is quite different. There's also discussion of the military training they gave to the actors playing Colonial Marines. Michael Biehn missed that, because he was called in after James Remar had to leave — similar to the way that John Hurt had to replace Jon Finch in the first film.

Gallery: Cast Portrait Gallery — Photo Archive

    This is 75 photos of the cast.

PRODUCTION

Featurette: This Time It's War — Pinewood Studios 1985 (19:43)

    There is some dancing around the subject, and a variety of versions of the story, but this does get into the conflicts on-set, including the firing of the first AD, and the departure of the original cinematographer. One of the most generous versions attributes the troubles to a culture clash between the American style of working 12 or more hours in a day, and the English standards of 8 hours a day, including tea breaks. This is quite interesting.

Gallery: Production Gallery — Photo Archive

    These are photos, some colour, some black-and-white, taken by set photographer Bob Penn, divided into nine sections:

Gallery: Continuity Polaroids

    Diana Dill, the script supervisor, took a large number of Polaroid photos of the production as part of ensuring continuity. This is a gallery of 251 of them.

Featurette: The Risk Always Lives — Weapons and Action (15:16)

    This is a look at how they cooked up the future weapons, including the pulse rifle (Thompson submachine gun + pump-action shotgun) and the smart gun (that cool weapon wielded by Vasquez and Drake — using a Spandau MG42 machine gun and motorcycle parts mounted on a Steadicam harness). It was amusing that the pistol they used was an existing weapon (Heckler and Koch VP70), that has since been discontinued.

    It's interesting to learn that Sigourney Weaver is adamantly anti-gun, and was dismayed to discover that Ripley would be handling and firing weapons.

    By the way, the title of this section is the English translation of a quote that was painted on Vasquez's armour in Spanish — Jenette Goldstein found it in a volume of poetry.

Gallery: Weapons and Vehicles — Photo Archive

    There are 69 photos here. The very cool APC turns out to be an airport tug (used for moving jumbo jets, 747s).

Featurette: Bug Hunt — Creature Design (16:28)

    James Cameron explains that this movie's emphasis is less on horror, and more on terror, and that was reflected in the redesign of some of the creatures. The secrets of making the face-huggers move are well-worth seeing.

Featurette: Beauty and the B**** — Power Loader vs Queen Alien (22:30)

    This is one featurette that you really should see — it's fascinating, including footage of the first test Queen Alien (garbage bags!). There's also an anecdote about a joke played on Sigourney involving a balloon.

Gallery: Stan Winston's Workshop — Photo Archive

    60 photos of work at the workshop of the master monster maker.

Featurette: Two Orphans — Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn (13:51)

    A look at the relationship that developed between these two.

POST-PRODUCTION

Featurette: Final Countdown — Music, Editing and Sound (15:34)

    A lot of this featurette is spent on the conflict between composer James Horner and the producer and director. Much of what he says sounds logical, and it makes you wonder if Cameron and Hurd should have been more reasonable about respecting the time for music (in other places, both of them boast about how they finished on time...). I really like the fact that these featurettes aren't afraid to explore the conflicts — they are much more realistic than the "we all love each other" of a conventional making of.

Featurette: The Power of Real Tech — Visual Effects (27:53)

    The Skotaks talking about the visual effects, and how the studio execs seeing the early footage didn't recognise some of the visual effects — they complained about the huge and expensive sets.

Gallery: Visual Effects Gallery — Photo Archive

    250 photos of visual effects elements.

Featurette: Aliens Unleashed — Reaction to the Film (11:41)

    At the time, it was unheard-of that the female lead in a horror / SF / action movie might be nominated for the Best Actress Oscar — Sigourney Weaver was (but lost to Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God). In all, the film was nominated for seven Oscars, but it only won two, for sound effects and visual effects (not surprising it won those).

Gallery: Film Finish and Release — Photo Archive

    Divided into three sections:

Easter Egg: A Boy and His Power Loader (9:39)

    This is fun! This is the true story of how Van Ling got a job working for James Cameron. He was a film school graduate, looking for work, calling the production office every month. He built a power loader costume for Halloween in response to a bet. His effort was so impressive that he got a job — Gale Anne Hurd described it as the most impressive resume she'd seen. Strongly recommend you watch this.

    You invoke this by (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) bringing up the Post-Production menu, highlighting the first item, and pressing Left, which illuminates an icon on the top line. Then press Enter.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of this set has just taken place; the Region 4 will be out by the 10th of December. You will be able to buy this 2-disc edition either separately (from January 2004), or as part of the Alien Quadrilogy, and you'll get the same thing — the only difference is that the Quadrilogy includes an exclusive ninth disc.

    The Region 1 version of these two discs has a couple of features that aren't on the Region 4, and that's a shame, because they are nice to have:

    The comparison between the 2 disc Alien Quadrilogy version and the 1-disc Alien Legacy version of this film is much more one-sided than the one for Alien:

    The 2-disc Region 4 edition is missing:

    The 1-disc Region 4 edition is missing:

    I don't have the Region 4 version of the Alien Legacy set, so I can't tell you which of the two has the greater number of photos and artwork, but I rather suspect that the 2-disc version wins on this count; certainly the 2-disc version is much better organised, with the stills grouped into (lots of) related galleries.

    This looks pretty one-sided to me, so I'll be happy to buy the Quadrilogy version — I don't think I'll be watching the Legacy version of this movie again.

Summary

    A brilliant action / science fiction film, with plenty of horror seasoning. It has been presented extremely well on DVD.

    The video quality is very good, even with the film grain.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are plentiful, and better, they are interesting — this is a superb extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, December 01, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - RobertW

Comments (Add)
release date query - REPLY POSTED
Quadrilogy / single disc release dates -
Or you could... -
Theatrical versus director's cut - REPLY POSTED
R1 slightly better. -
Theatrical Runtime Mistake - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!)
RE:Theatrical versus director's cut - -
Theatrical So much Better - Damien (biotech is godzilla)
Bit of a coincedence - Damien (biotech is godzilla) REPLY POSTED
Theatrical not-so much better, and not so much of a coincidence -
No,The theatrical is far superior IMO - Damien (biotech is godzilla)
Credits -
Blu-ray - Ted F (If you're bored you can read my bio)
Blu-ray - Ted F (If you're bored you can read my bio)
Blu-Ray - Le Messor

Overall | Alien: The Director's Cut: Special Edition (1979) | Aliens: Special Edition (2 disc) (1986) | Alien3: Special Edition (1992) | Alien Resurrection: Special Edition (1997) | Alien: Quadrilogy-Bonus Features (2003)

Alien3: Special Edition (1992)

Alien3: Special Edition (1992)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 12-Jan-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Theatrical Version: Cast And Crew
Featurette-Making Of-Development: Concluding The Story
Featurette-Tales Of The Wooden Planet, Pre-Production Part III
Gallery-The Art Of Arceon, The Art Of Fiorina, Production Gallery
Storyboards-Archives
Featurette-Xeno-Erotic, Production: Part 1, 2 & 3, Furnace Construction
Featurette-Adaptive Organism, Optical Fury
Gallery-A.D.I.'S Workshop, Visual Effects, Special Shoot
Multiple Angles-EEV Bioscan
Featurette-Music, Editing And Sound, Post Mortem
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 138:56
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (70:47)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Version Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Fincher
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Sigourney Weaver
Charles Dutton
Charles Dance
Paul McGann
Brian Glover
Ralph Brown
Daniel Webb
Christopher John Fields
Holt McCallany
Lance Henriksen
Christopher Fairbank
Carl Chase
Leon Herbert
Case ?
RPI $31.95 Music Elliot Goldenthal


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Danish
Finnish
Icelandic
Norwegian
Swedish
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

this time it's a disaster

    Alien and Aliens were both troubled with problems during production. Both had a principal actor fall ill very early in the shoot, necessitating the rapid acquiring of a replacement — in both cases the replacement was a good choice (John Hurt in Alien and Michael Biehn in Aliens), but it's still disruptive. And there were other troubles — Alien had conflicts between the real scriptwriters and the team at Brandywine, Aliens had rebellion in the crew. But neither film had the problems that afflicted Alien3 from the very start of the project.

    Alien 3 was inevitable. The success of the first two guaranteed that the studio and the production house would want to make a sequel. And James Cameron had made sure that the sequel was set up properly, by putting four characters into hypersleep and setting them off on the trip home. There was one problem, though: the success of the first two meant that the studio was expecting a lot from this sequel. This wasn't a case of "give it a small budget and maybe it will make us some money" — this was a high profile project, and an important one to the survival of the studio. That was the start of the disaster.

    The extras in this set actually concentrate more on the disaster than on the movie — there is quite a bit of information about the movie, but even more on the what-ifs.

    The first name associated with this project was Renny Harlin. He spent about a year working on it, then quit when he felt that the story they wanted had diverged too much from what interested him. Then they found Vincent Ward. We hear a lot about his plans for the movie — we get to see conceptual art and the complete outline of the story he wanted to tell. It's fascinating, and I wish they'd made his movie — it involved a group of men who'd rejected technology (sort of neo-Luddites), who lived on a giant space station (3 miles in diameter) where they'd covered all the metal of the space station with wood (I guess because it was "natural"), and who lived a monastic life. There were all sorts of interesting cognates of these basics, including the idea that they viewed the alien as The Devil. It's a real shame that they didn't make this movie — it sounds like it would have been a fitting successor to the first two. But it was a risk (like the other two...). Too big a risk for the studio execs, who kept meddling, and asking for changes to make it safer, or cheaper, or both.

    They made another big error. They set a release date. And they set it in stone, unchangeable. So they started building sets and designing creatures, even before the script was settled. That was another mistake. Clearly the production was out of control — a real producer would have insisted that they not start work on large and expensive sets until they were certain.

    Meanwhile, the script was being re-written. Vincent Ward left — good old "creative differences". The studio hired David Fincher, another new director who'd made commercials and music videos, but never a feature film. (Hmm, something of a theme in this series — the new director who has made only one or no feature film before...) He didn't have a script to work from, because it was still being rewritten, but he was expected to start shooting almost immediately. A few days into shooting someone fell ill. This time it wasn't an actor (for a change!). It was worse. It was the director of photography, Jordan Cronenweth, who was suffering from Parkinson's Disease. He was replaced by Alex Thomson, a very skilled cinematographer (he shot Excalibur, Labyrinth, and Cliffhanger, for example), but such a change is very unsettling for the cast and crew.

    The litany of bad decisions continued. Perhaps they should have abandoned the production, or shut it down until the script was finished, but by now too much money had been invested, so they engaged in the time-honoured practice of hurling good money after bad.

    David Fincher is quite noticeably absent from the extras. That's understandable, because he copped a lot of flak over this movie, both during the making and after its release. Interestingly, everyone seems to be quick to defend him, with words like "he started shooting without a script", "he was very popular with the cast", "he's a very confident director" and so forth. Under their words, though, there's a strong scent of goat, of the scape variety. One of the few who seems willing to lay most of the blame on the studio is Alex Thomson, but he is long since retired, so maybe he can afford to offend them (I guess the others have to work...). In my opinion, without further research, the majority of blame for this disaster seems to lie with the production team, including the Brandywine team and the executives at the studio — the real damage was done before David Fincher arrived, but was compounded by their continual interference as he tried to put together a movie from the pieces he could make. Yes, a movie must run to a budget, but you have to allow the director the resources he needs to make a coherent film. It didn't help that Sigourney Weaver had her own ambitions for the movie, and was a co-producer — (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) she wanted to die in this movie, so she wouldn't have to make another one (that didn't work, did it?).

    Ahem, moving on to the film... I don't know if I need to explain the plot, but I will give you a quick intro — there are fewer people who have seen this one than the last two. We pick up where the last film left off, with the Sulaco heading home and four characters in hypersleep (clearly they are somnambulists, because they have moved from the Sulaco hypersleep beds with double interlocks, and into ones like those on the Nostromo...). Somehow there's an alien egg on board the Sulaco (hmm). Something goes wrong (there's a hint that this is due to alien acid blood starting a fire) and the hypersleep beds are ejected in an Emergency Escape Vehicle. Fortunately, they are close to an inhabited planet, and the EEV crashlands there. Unfortunately, the inhabited planet turns out to be barely habitable, and the only people there are the residents of a run-down mining prison operated by Weyland Yutani (now where have we heard that name before?). Most of the people were pulled out years before, but a small religious sect among the prisoners decided they wanted to stay, so the company left behind two administrative staff and a medical officer. The prisoners are double Y chromosome (it's a genetic anomaly that was in the news at the time they were making this film — they are men with XYY chromosomes, rather than the normal XY — there was speculation that this made them more aggressive, and more likely to end up in prison). Everyone on the planet is male, so there's quite a stir when they discover that the only survivor of the crash is a woman called Ripley. Ripley's big fear is that she's not the only survivor, and she is proven correct. Fighting against the alien is made more difficult by the fact that there are no firearms, and precious few weapons of any kind, on this planet.

    Alien 3  has been released on DVD before. The previous version was part of the Alien Legacy box set, and only featured the theatrical cut. This disc is part of the Alien Quadrilogy release, and offers both the original theatrical cut and a newly released special edition, which is an extended version which was made from a work print, which is supposed to show us what the film was meant to look like. I like having the option of two versions of the film, especially given that the new version is far more coherent. Certain scenes that were previously inexplicable now make sense, and the pace of the movie is much more even. All in all, it's still not as good a movie as the first two, but the special edition is a great improvement, and I recommend it to you. I think I prefer this ending, too.

    This film is the least popular of all the Alien films. Several of my friends claim that there are only two Alien movies (they also claim that there is only one Highlander movie) — they would prefer to deny the existence of this one and the last. I see that as a limited view. After all, there's the famous saying: "those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it". I think this film (especially the theatrical version) serves as an excellent object lesson in how not to make a sequel to a success.

    If you have the Alien Legacy version of this film, do you need this new one? That depends. If you are interested in owning both the original theatrical version and the new version, then this is your only choice. If you only want the theatrical release, and you have the Legacy disc, then you don't need this one. But I think you'd be making a mistake to stick with just the theatrical version — the special edition is a lot better. The other big reason to get this new version is that it has a lot more extras, including a commentary.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. The aspect ratio in which it was made was 2.35:1, so this is very close.

    The movie is alone on this disc, except for the commentary. That means that they don't have to compress the movie as much. This movie has some excellent photography, and it has every chance to show itself off on this disc.

    The picture is mostly quite clear and sharp; there are a few shots that are a bit grainy, and a few that are slightly out of focus, but it is mostly quite sharp. Shadow detail is generally very good, with the occasional let-down. Film grain is no problem on most shots, but have a look at moments like 42:38 (special edition) — the grain is quite noticeable. There's no low-level noise.

    Colour, what there is of it, is well-rendered — the production designers worked with a very limited palette, but it's all reproduced well. There are no colour-related artefacts, even on the red-lit scenes in the furnace area that provide a gruelling test for your system — if you were going to see colour bleed, you'd expect it there.

    There are a number of moments that look like film artefacts, but they are mostly sparks flying off the strange torches the characters carry. I saw nothing I could positively identify as a film artefact..

    There is some aliasing, but it's quite minor. There is no significant moirι, and no shimmer. There are no MPEG artefacts.

    The language menu shows subtitles in five languages, plus English for the Hearing Impaired. I watched the English. They are reasonably accurate, with some abbreviation and rearrangement, but they are well-timed, and easy to read. I didn't spot any errors. There are no Dutch subtitles this time; not on the menu, and not on the disc.

    The movie disc is single sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 70:47 in the special edition, or 58:10 in the theatrical cut (that's a big difference). In both versions it is quite an obvious layer change, with a noticeable pause, and an unattractive break in the score. The extras disc is also dual layered, but appears not to be RSDL formatted (the inner rim labels for both layers read the same way) — that's no problem, though, because they appear to have arranged the extras so that none of them span the layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two audio tracks, both in English, on the movie disc. The first is the soundtrack, provided in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps. The other is the audio commentary, provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 (surround encoded) at 96kbps. I listened to both tracks, and listened to the soundtrack on both versions of the film.

    The dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand. Some of the dialogue that has been restored in the special edition is clearly production dialogue rather than ADR — there's a fair bit of background noise — but it is generally quite comprehensible. There are no obvious lapses in audio sync.

    Elliott Goldenthal's score is unusual, incorporating all manner of unusual noises in addition to conventional orchestral score, but it's quite effective. Not subtle, but effective.

    The surrounds are used seriously for directional sound in some scenes, and provide near continuous ambient sound and score. The subwoofer used effectively, too.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are quite few extras in this offering, too. Once again, the commentary is the only extra on the movie disc, with all the others on the second disc. This is a good arrangement, allowing the movie disc to be as good as it can be.

Menu

    The menu has good transitions, but it's not animated. There's music behind it. It is simple and easy to use, themed with controls from Weyland Yutani.

Commentary — Cast and Crew

    This commentary features a lot of the people who worked on this film, but only two of the actors. Notably, neither David Fincher nor Sigourney Weaver make an appearance:

    This is an interesting commentary, with some illuminating discussion of how various effects were achieved. This was the last film before the effects houses switched to digital compositing — they describe it as their "last photochemical project". There are also comments on a number of scenes that changed during production; apparently the autopsy scene was a lot more gory originally, for example. They can't help commenting on some of the troubles that the production had, which is understandable.

    As the film progresses, there are a few gaps in the commentary, but they aren't annoying.

    The commentary is subtitled in English, which is a good thing, and something I'd like to see on more movies.

Disc 2

    This disc is titled The Making of Alien³. Such a challenging title, and well up to the standard of the previous films — there are rumours circulating about this, but I'm not going to report them here.

    You can select all the extras individually, from three menus labelled Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production, or you can choose Navigation Options, and play all the featurettes together (the total runs 162:26), or look at all the photos, or all the artwork. These are interesting and useful alternatives.

    Note that none of the extras on this disc are 16x9 enhanced. They are all presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

PRE-PRODUCTION

Featurette: Development — Concluding the Story (17:01)

    Discussions of the development of the project, and how it got out of control.

Featurette: Tales of the Wooden Planet — Vincent Ward's Vision (13:13)

    The story of the movie Vincent Ward wanted to make — I wish the producers had had the courage to make this, because it sounds really interesting.

Gallery: The Art of Arceon — Conceptual Art Portfolios

Featurette: Pre-production Part III (11:43)

    Various unpleasantnesses are mentioned, such as David Fincher starting without a script, and the difficulties that engendered, and Michael Biehn's law suit stopping them using his (dead) likeness.

Storyboards — Archives

Gallery: The Art of Fiorina — Conceptual Art Portfolios

Featurette: Xeno-erotica — H R Giger's Redesign (10:21)

    A featurette about the work H R Giger put into designing a new alien for this movie. The footage of Giger is fairly grainy, but watchable.

PRODUCTION

Featurette: Production: Part I (18:03)

    Talks about the continual reworking of the script, and the frequent chopping and changing of the producers. Some of the behind-the-scenes footage shows a despondent David Fincher. There's also a description of the change of cinematographer.

Gallery: Production Gallery — Photo Archive

Featurette: Furnace Construction — Time-lapse Sequence (4:37)

    This is quite cool: they had a time-lapse camera running from a fixed location as they built this set. It's amusing to watch the ants scurry as they build this set..

Featurette: Adaptive Organism — Creature Design (20:35)

    The creature creators get to tell of their experiences in building the new alien.

Gallery: ADI's Workshop — Photo Archive

    Amalgamated Dynamics Inc built the alien. This is 191 photos of their work.

EEV Bioscan — multi-angle vignette (2:01)

    A multi-angle piece showing the layers of the bioscan and the final composite — a total of six angles.

Featurette: Production Part II (14:40)

    They didn't wrap, they simply stopped shooting. Then they moved the film to LA, and ended up doing another six weeks of shooting to try to get the additional footage they needed.

Featurette: Production Part III (8:57)

    Further discussion of where things went wrong.

POST-PRODUCTION

Featurette: Optical Fury — Visual Effects (23:22)

    Repeated comments about how much simpler this would have been digitally, and how much work it was to do optically. There's an interesting demonstration of the rod puppet that did the ceiling running.

Featurette: Music, Editing and Sound (14:54)

    There's some interesting discussion of the music and its composer, and of the sound effects and their team. There was some conflict between the two, with the combination of their work sometimes producing cacophony. The composer is proud of his score, but he thinks the movie sounds bad.

Gallery: Visual Effects Gallery — Photo Archive

    137 photos of visual effects elements.

Featurette: Post-Mortem — Reaction to the Film (5:51)

    They have a lot less to say about this film's reception...

Gallery: Special Shoot — Promotional Photo Archive

    79 photos shot to promote the movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of the Alien Quadrilogy has just taken place (December 2003); the Region 4 is out, too. You will be able to buy this 2-disc edition separately (from January 2004), or as part of the Alien Quadrilogy, and you'll get the same thing — the only difference is that the Quadrilogy includes an exclusive ninth disc.

    There are a few differences between the Region 1 and Region 4 versions, and unfortunately they are all in favour of the Region 1. The Region 1 movie disc has:

    Comparing the 2 disc Alien Quadrilogy version with the older 1-disc Alien Legacy version of this film is much more one-sided than the one for Alien:

    The 2-disc Region 4 edition is missing:

    The 1-disc Region 4 edition is missing:

    That's a fairly conclusive win on the extras front to the new 2-disc version. Add to that the presence of the special edition of the film, which is considerably more coherent than the theatrical release, and I'd call this an overwhelming win to the new one.

Summary

    The Alien film that almost everyone hates. It has been presented extremely well on DVD, and I have a new appreciation for it after seeing all the extras — it's still nowhere near as good as the first two, but the special edition is something watchable (at last!).

    The video quality is mostly very good, but there are those moments of film grain.

    The audio quality is excellent, except for the background noise on the dialogue of some of the restored scenes.

    The extras are plentiful, and go quite some way toward explaining the problems of this film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, December 04, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - RobertW

Comments (Add)
Stop paying out this movie!... - REPLY POSTED
I'm guilty of liking it - Simon O'Connor (I wouldn't suggest reading my bio)
what is not on this disk etc -
Quote: "The Alien film that almost everyone hates." ...no, that would be Alien Resurrection. ;-) -
Is it actually available yet? - REPLY POSTED
Doco Changes. - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!)
Alien Vs Predator -
Alien Quadrilogy is *not* out yet -
Another brilliant nihilistic Fincher vision - Edward M (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Alie 3 is vile. -
Alien 3 is vile -
Digital bits dejavu - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
workprint quality? - REPLY POSTED
Alien³ -
Why Alien3 is so disliked - Jace
Alien 3 - MaskMan (read my bio)
Subtitles - REPLY POSTED
Subtitles are not burnt in on region 1. -
The extended version is a great film - Nick H (do you have a spare 60 seconds-read my bio) REPLY POSTED
Why no director's intro like the other 3 films? -
RE: Why No Director Intro / Commentary Like The Other Three Films - NewcastleBoy (read my bio)

Overall | Alien: The Director's Cut: Special Edition (1979) | Aliens: Special Edition (2 disc) (1986) | Alien3: Special Edition (1992) | Alien Resurrection: Special Edition (1997) | Alien: Quadrilogy-Bonus Features (2003)

Alien Resurrection: Special Edition (1997)

Alien Resurrection: Special Edition (1997)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 12-Jan-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Theatrical Version: Cast And Crew
Introduction-Special Edition: Jean Pierre Junet
Featurette-Making Of-From The Ashes: Reviving The Story
Notes-First Draft Screenplay
Featurette-French Twist, Under The Skin, Test Footage
Gallery-The Marc Caro Portfolio, The Art Of Resurrection
Storyboards-Archives
Multiple Angles-Previsualizations
Featurette-Death From Below, In The Zone, Unnatural Mutation
Gallery-Production Gallery, A.D.I.'s Workshop, Visual Effects
Featurette-Genetic Composition, Virtual Aliens, A Matter Of Scale
Featurette-A Critical Juncture
Gallery-Special Shoot
Easter Egg-Interview with David Prior (2nd Alien)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 104:22
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (47:03)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Sigourney Weaver
Winona Ryder
Dominique Pinon
Ron Perlman
Gary Dourdan
Michael Wincott
Kim Flowers
Dan Hedaya
J.E. Freeman
Brad Dourif
Raymond Cruz
Leland Orser
Carolyn Campbell
Case ?
RPI $31.95 Music John Frizzell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
Icelandic
Norwegian
Swedish
Dutch Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

the b**** is back

    That quote was the tagline for Alien³, but it is so much more appropriate for this movie, don't you think? (If you remember who Ripley called a b**** in Aliens...)

    Sigourney Weaver had been adamant that Ripley had to die in the third Alien movie because she didn't want to do another one. Something must have changed her mind. It can't have been a lack of work — she made several movies in the intervening period. Maybe they found her price? I doubt we'll ever know (it is one of the few subjects not covered in the extras).

    Joss Whedon was hired to write the script. In the Candace Havens biography of his life (so far), he describes this as a marvellous opportunity, because he had immense respect for the Alien saga. He was first asked to write a script without Ripley, but when the studio execs started to worry about the audience-pulling power of a film without Ripley, he was then asked to produce a script with her. In typical Joss Whedon style, he made her resurrection (mostly) credible, and made her a tortured soul (not an infrequent feature of a Joss Whedon story...). He also included some of his trademark black humour. The genre this time was going to horror / science fiction / black comedy. Not a bad choice, given that Alien was straight horror / science fiction, Aliens was action / horror / science fiction, and Alien³ was horror / science fiction / unpopular (sorry, couldn't resist that). Unfortunately for Joss, the director's vision must have been quite different from his own, because he was bitterly disappointed in the resulting film. Still, if this was the stimulus that turned him away from the very lucrative career of writing and fixing movie scripts, and resulted in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then we have cause to be immensely grateful.

    The director the studio chose for this movie was an unusual selection. Jean-Pierre Jeunet was already established, not a newcomer with only one film to his name. Moreover, he was a Frenchman who spoke no English (his English skills have increased substantially by now, as you will see and hear in the extras). Still, he had a distinctive style, and had been quite successful with films like The City of Lost Children and Delicatessen, so he got the job. He brought with him a number of crew members from France, including his cinematographer, Darius Khondji, editor Hervι Schnied, and visual effects supervisor Pitof. This was the first Alien film to be shot in the US — the first three were shot in Britain.

    The plot starts something like this: on a medical research ship called the Auriga, parked outside regulated space (which turns out to mean outside the orbit of Pluto), a team of dedicated (but reprehensible) scientists have produced a clone of Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), complete with the alien that was inside her (someone is taking liberties with our understanding of cloning...). Indeed, we rapidly discover that their objective is the alien, and not Ripley. But she survives the operation that removes the alien, so in typical reprehensible-scientist fashion (which seems to resemble the behaviour of a small boy with a poisonous spider), they hang onto her, and poke her with a stick to see if she bites. Meanwhile, they need some very special supplies to continue their work with the alien, so they engage the services of a tramp freighter called the Betty, and her crew of misfits, including Johner (Ron Perlman), Call (Winona Ryder), Vriess (Dominique Pinon), and Christie (Gary Dourdon). One of the scientists, Gediman (Brad Dourif), is distracted long enough for an alien escape...

    This film is not popular (and I don't mean just with Joss Whedon). Different people have different reasons for disliking it, I've found. Some dislike Winona Ryder's character; others think she is one of the few good things in the film. I found one person who disliked the black humour (he doesn't like Buffy, either, so obviously we can't take his opinion too seriously). A lot of people like parts of the film. I like the new Ripley. Indeed, I like many of the characters (Dan Hedaya is good); I think for me the flaw in this film is the aliens — they don't seem like enough of a threat, so the film seems tepid, instead of hot.

    Alien Resurrection has been released on DVD before. The previous version was part of the Alien Legacy box set, and only featured the theatrical cut. This disc is part of the Alien Quadrilogy release, and offers both the original theatrical cut and a newly released special edition. This special edition is not a director's cut, as Jean-Pierre Jeunet explains in a brief (32 seconds) introduction — he was quite happy with the theatrical release version. No, this is just a new version that includes some extra footage and some extended scenes, plus a new opening title sequence — adding up to 7 more minutes. This new opening title sequence was storyboarded for inclusion in the film originally, but was cut for budget reasons. Is the new edition better? In my opinion, no — it really adds nothing to the film (although it makes a few scenes a little more coherent), but at least it doesn't detract from it.

    If you have the Alien Legacy version of this film, do you need this new one? I'd say no, not for the film alone. The extras make a big difference, though — I won't be disappointed that the Quadrilogy set I will be buying includes this version.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD is presented in the original and intended aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The movie is alone on this disc, except for the commentary. That means that they don't have to compress the movie as much. This movie has been shot in an unusual and distinctive way (a trademark of Darius Khondji), and has every opportunity to show its strengths on this DVD.

    The picture has been shot with rather limited depth of field, mainly because the director and cinematographer used a lot of short lenses. Focus is not always perfect, so the image is sometimes a little soft, with the backgrounds being quite markedly softer. Shadow detail is generally quite good, but there is still quite a lot of black. Film grain is difficult to judge, but does not seem to be a problem. There's no low-level noise.

    Colour has been deliberately manipulated by the cinematographer. He lights and shoots his film in a particular way, then has the film processed specially. The result is that blacks are enhanced, and contrast slightly altered, while colour is noticeably desaturated. This treatment is very effective in producing a mood, but it means that you must look elsewhere if you want to see deeply saturated colour. The colour on the DVD accurately reproduces what the filmmakers intended. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no visible film artefacts. There is some minor aliasing, but it's untroubling, even in the early scene where we are looking up at General Perez, who is standing in front of a light fixture. There is no significant moirι, and no shimmer. There are no MPEG artefacts — giving the movie an entire disc to itself is probably part of the reason for that.

    There are subtitles in six languages (Dutch is back again), plus English for the Hearing Impaired. I watched the English. They are mostly quite accurate, with some minor abbreviation and the loss of one or two lines. They are well-timed, and easy to read. There is one notable error, though, at around 15:28 in the special edition: Elgyn calls the cargo bay on the intercom, and says a slightly muffled line that I heard as "About done? We're gonna dock", which makes perfect sense in context; the subtitle, however, reads "Goddamn, we're gonna die" which, while prophetic, is completely inappropriate at that point. (This line doesn't appear in the theatrical cut.)

    The movie disc is single sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 51:22 in the special edition (which runs 111:22), or 47:03 in the theatrical cut (runs 104:22). It is located at a change of scene, and I found it rather less noticeable in the theatrical cut than in the special edition (the pause was shorter). The extras disc is also dual layered, but appears not to be RSDL-formatted (the inner rim labels for both layers read the same way) — that's no problem, though, because they appear to have arranged the extras so that none of them span the layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three audio tracks, all in English, on the movie disc. The first two are the soundtrack, provided in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps and in dts at 768kbps. The third is the audio commentary, provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 (surround encoded) at 96kbps. I listened to all three tracks. There's very little difference between the two versions of the soundtrack; both are quite good.

    The dialogue is mostly clear and comprehensible, but a few lines are a bit muffled. There are no noticeable issues in audio sync (save for one line in the queen's chamber). Even the lines that were restored in the special edition are release quality.

    The score by John Frizzell is very good. He mentions in the extras that he had seven months to compose it (so much more than Mr Horner), and it shows: the music fits well with the movie.

    The surrounds are frequently used for ambience and score, and sometimes very effectively for directional sound cues. The subwoofer is given plenty to keep it amused.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are plenty of extras on these two discs, although not as many as on the previous three movies. Once again, the commentary is the only extra on the movie disc, with all the others on the second disc. I like that arrangement.

Menu

    The menu has good transitions, but it's not animated. There's music behind it. It follows the same theme as the other three movies..

Commentary — Cast and Crew

    This commentary features plenty of the people who worked on this film. Unfortunately Sigourney Weaver does not appear.

    This is a good commentary, with lots of information about how the film was made, and some of the things that came up. They find plenty to talk about, so there are few gaps in the commentary.

    The commentary is subtitled in English (and Dutch), which is a good thing, and something I'd like to see on more movies.

Disc 2

    This disc is titled One Step Beyond: the making of Alien Resurrection.

    You can select all the extras individually, from three menus labelled Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production, or you can choose Navigation Options, and play all the featurettes together (the total runs 174:24), or look at all the photos, or all the artwork. These are interesting and useful alternatives.

    Note that none of the extras on this disc are 16x9 enhanced. They are all presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

PRE-PRODUCTION

Featurette: From the Ashes — Reviving the Story (10:07)

    Joss Whedon explaining the treatment he wrote, and how he got the job of writing the script (he doesn't say what he thought of the movie...). There's also, interestingly, an admission from the people at Brandywine that they opposed the making of a fourth Alien movie.

Script: First-Draft Screenplay — Joss Whedon

    This is the entire screenplay Joss Whedon handed over on 14 September 1995 — it is presented on 403 pages. It is presented in a very legible font. There seems to be an error on page 53-28 (the 148th page), as though a couple of lines are missing.

Featurette: French Twist — Direction and Design (26:11)

    Mostly concerning the selection of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and some of the design decisions that followed from that.

Featurette: Under the Skin — Casting and Characterisations (12:48)

    Apart from Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder, who were already attached to the project, the director was given a fairly free hand in casting — some of his choices, such as Ron Perlman and Dominique Pinon, were actors he had worked with before. One amusing item in this featurette is Winona Ryder's admission that she swiped a couple of items from the set as souvenirs...

Test Footage — Creatures and Costumes

    Two collections of footage showing tests of:

Gallery: The Marc Caro Portfolio — Character Designs

    A total of 22 pages of drawings by Marc Caro (who works closely with Jean-Pierre Jeunet on other projects).

Gallery: The Art of Resurrection — Conceptual Art Gallery

Storyboards — Archives

Previsualisations — Multi-angle rehearsals

    This is a short piece, only 2:52 long, showing the original storyboard, a rehearsal using stand-ins, and the finished film. The first two are shown separately, while the third angle shows the finished film in a composite view with the storyboard and rehearsal. There are two audio tracks, one playing the rehearsal audio, and one the finished film's audio. This piece shows fragments from several parts of the film.

PRODUCTION

Featurette: Death from Below — Fox Studios LA 1996 (31:39)

    This concentrates on the underwater filming — they did this first, and it was quite an ordeal, taking weeks of training and three weeks of shooting. There were other complications, too, like Sigourney Weaver's claustrophobia, and Winona Ryder's fear of the water (from a near-drowning experience years before).

Featurette: In the Zone — The Basketball Scene (6:45)

    That unbelievable shot was real — most of this piece involves everyone telling us that, and how Ron Perlman almost spoiled it.

Gallery: Production Gallery — Photo Archive

Featurette: Unnatural Mutation — Creature Design (26:25)

    The creature creators talking about enhancing some familiar creatures, including the eggs, and building some new ones.

Gallery: ADI's Workshop — Photo Archive

    Amalgamated Dynamics Inc return for their second film. This is 195 photos of their work.

POST-PRODUCTION

Featurette: Genetic Composition — Music (13:12)

    John Frizzell, the composer, talks about the music he wrote for the film, and shows us a couple of unusual sound creations.

Featurette: Virtual Aliens — Computer Generated Imagery (9:55)

    A rather brief look at the CGI work that went into this film.

Featurette: A Matter of Scale — Miniature Photography (22:52)

    All the spacecraft were shot as miniatures — they felt that CGI wasn't up to the levels of detail they wanted on the spacecraft.

Gallery: Visual Effects Gallery — Photo Archive

    170 photos of visual effects elements.

Featurette: A Critical Juncture — Reaction to the Film (14:30)

    The director was not able to read the criticism in English of the picture, but he had his translator pile it up in a good pile and a bad pile — they were about the same size, so he was happy...

    Much of this piece is actually spots of various members of the cast and crew speculating on what a new Alien movie (Alien 5), might be about.

Gallery: Special Shoot — Promotional Photo Archive

    39 photos shot to promote the movie.

Easter Egg (6:50)

    This is moderately interesting. It's an interview with David Prior, who played the second alien in shots where there were two aliens. Apparently he always wanted this part, having constructed alien costumes as a youth. He got his wish, and discovered how uncomfortable it could be, but still loved doing it. You find it by (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) going to the second page of the POST-PRODUCTION menu, highlighting the first item, pressing Left, which highlights an icon at the top of the page, and pressing Enter.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of the Alien Quadrilogy has just taken place (December 2003); ours is reportedly out, too, although our official release date for the box set is 10th December. You will be able to buy this 2-disc edition separately (from January 2004), or as part of the Alien Quadrilogy, and you'll get the same thing — the only difference is that the Quadrilogy includes an exclusive ninth disc.

    The Region 1 version has a couple of additional features on the movie disc (the extras disc is the same). Unfortunately, the additional features are rather nice to have:

    Comparing the 2 disc Alien Quadrilogy version with the older 1-disc Alien Legacy version of this film is a bit cruel; this is an extremely one-sided comparison:

    The 2-disc Region 4 edition is missing:

    The 1-disc Region 4 edition is missing:

    Total knockout on the extras front to the newcomer. The transfer on the new disc is slightly better than the old one, even with the seamless branching for the two versions. All up, I have to report this as a rout: the two disc version is comprehensively better than the one disc.

Summary

    Another Alien film that not everyone likes, but one that has been presented very well on DVD this time.

    The video quality is very good, although a little soft due to the film making style.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are exhaustive (and exhausting for a reviewer!).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, December 07, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - RobertW

Comments (Add)
not afraid to admit i like this - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)
Joss Whedon on 'Resurrection' -
I WOULD PREFER ALIEN TRILOGY -

Overall | Alien: The Director's Cut: Special Edition (1979) | Aliens: Special Edition (2 disc) (1986) | Alien3: Special Edition (1992) | Alien Resurrection: Special Edition (1997) | Alien: Quadrilogy-Bonus Features (2003)

Alien: Quadrilogy-Bonus Features (2003)

Alien: Quadrilogy-Bonus Features (2003)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 8-Dec-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Featurette-Alien Evolution
Featurette-Experience In Terror
Interviews-Crew-Ridley Scott: Q & A
Notes-Alien, Aliens Laser Disc Archive
Theatrical Trailer-Alien - 2, Aliens - 3, Alien 3 - 5, Alien Resurrection - 1
TV Spots-Alien - 2, Aliens - 1, Alien 3 - 7, Alien Resurrection - 4
Teaser Trailer-Aliens, Alien Resurrection
Featurette-Advanced Featurette
Featurette-Bob Burns Alien Collection
Gallery-Dark Horse Still Gallery
Booklet-24 pages
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time ?
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring None Given
Case ?
RPI Box Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio Varies
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

but wait, you also get...

    A free set of steak knives... well, not exactly.

    If you decide that you'd rather buy the Alien Quadrilogy Box Set, instead of buying one, two, three, or even four of the Alien movies separately, then you get this disc as well. It has the tempting title of Disc 9: Bonus Disc.

    With the previous Alien Legacy box set you could get a bonus disc, too. Here in Australia that bonus disc was just tucked into the box (no effort involved). If you imported the R1 Alien Legacy box set, you had to buy the set itself, open it and find the coupon, attach a cheque (in US dollars!), get a friend in the US to receive the disc for you, and then send it to you — I did that. And what did I get? A DVD in a cardboard slip with a single documentary on it, running a bit over 60 minutes.

    So I wasn't expecting too much when I slipped this bonus disc into the player. I thought it might have a few more bits and pieces on it than the previous disc, but I was not prepared. Not prepared at all. Don't expect to get through all of this content in one sitting — there is enough here to take you many hours to get through, longer if you linger over some of the stills, or if your player is slow to respond to Skip Forward.

    You may have noticed, going through the individual movies, that the trailers were not include among their extras — it was about the only hole I noticed in the extras. Wonder no more: all the trailers are on this disc. And we are not talking about one trailer per movie, either.

    Occasionally I get e-mail from a reader complaining that a DVD is lacking some of the extras that were included on the laserdisc version. Alien and Aliens were both released on laserdisc in substantial collector's editions. I don't expect any such complaints this time, however, because this bonus disc includes the complete set of extras from both laserdisc sets. As you can imagine, there is substantial overlap with the extras we have already, but that's not a problem: this is serious over-kill!

    There are three other worthwhile extras on this disc. The first is Alien Evolution, a long (64:35) documentary piece made in Britain in 2001. It concentrates almost totally on Alien, but mentions the other three movies in passing. It is a bit sensationalist, especially in the way it deals with the conflict over the script authorship, but it still makes interesting viewing. One rather interesting aspect is that the interview with Giger is in German (with subtitles). I did like the description of Alien as a cross between 2001 and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

    There's also a thoroughly entertaining question and answer session with Ridley Scott conducted in September 2001.

    And, there's an interesting piece where we finally get to see the Alien collection of Bob Burns. His name comes up repeatedly in the extras for the second, third, and fourth movies, because he was the port of last call when they were looking for props from the previous movies. He explains how he came to be the unofficial curator of Alien memorabilia — it's entertaining, and recommended.

    You'll note that the majority of the bonus content is for the first two movies — that seems appropriate, given that those are the two that have generated the greatest amount of acclaim.

    About the only thing not included on this bonus disc is the original Alien Legacy documentary! So if you have a copy, don't be throwin' it away.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Some of the material on this DVD is 16x9 enhanced, some is not — I hope you can switch between 16x9 and 4x3 on-the-fly. Some of the grabs from the various films are pan-and-scan, but many of them are shown in the correct aspect ratio, albeit not always 16x9 enhanced.

    There is no main feature on this disc, so I won't be going into too much specific detail here.

    The image quality varies, as you can imagine, with some of the earlier trailers being a little rough; some of the video footage that was included in the laserdisc extras is rather crude (perhaps shot with consumer video gear). Shadow detail is generally fine. Film grain is noticeable on some of the footage. There's very little low-level noise.

    Colour is also variable, but generally quite good. I noticed some rainbows — false-colour artefacts — on some of the stills and footage in the laserdisc extras. Other than that, there are no significant colour-related artefacts.

    There are varying levels of visible film artefacts, but most of the footage is really rather clean. The same thing applies to film-to-video artefacts — there are varying levels of aliasing, for example, but generally it is quite acceptable.

    There are subtitles on some of the pieces, with six languages of subtitles on the Alien Evolution documentary (English is included). Note that there is no menu option for invoking the subtitles — you'll need to use the Subtitle button on your remote.

    The movie disc is single sided and dual layered, but not formatted RSDL. There is no visible layer change, because the pieces have been arranged so nothing spans the layer change.

Audio

    The only audio track is English, in Dolby Digital 2.0 (not surround encoded). Most of it is actually mono.

    The dialogue is clear and comprehensible. There are no significant issues with audio sync.

    The score has been drawn from all four movies, so you know who wrote it...

    The surrounds and subwoofer are not used by this disc.

Extras

Menu

    The menu has some excellent transitions, but it's not animated, nor is there any sound. It's easy to operate, but it is lacking any control for the subtitles (which is unusual). The extras are divided into the four movies, plus two more headings for the Bob Burns piece and the Dark Horse listing.

ALIEN

Featurette: Alien Evolution (64:35)

    This is a documentary on Alien, but does mention the other three. It is interesting, because it goes into areas that weren't explored in the extras on the Alien discs. It is also interesting because it contradicts a few of the things we heard. There are interviews with quite a few of the cast and crew, many of them shot against a background of a 3D facehugger that's slowly rotating. It's also interesting to note that at least one of Veronica Cartwright's comments is shown to be inaccurate (she talks about how the alien's actor's hands reached his knees, and then we're shown the actor...)

    This piece is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

Promotional Featurette: Experience in Terror (7:12)

    This is the classic promotional featurette, nothing more than a long trailer.

Ridley Scott Question and Answer (15:42)

    This is footage shot at a session on 14 September 2001 — Ridley Scott being entertaining and answering questions about Alien to a group of film enthusiasts.

Laser Disc Archive

    This is huge. It is the entire extras content from the laserdisc Collector's Edition. It is presented as one long piece, divided into 22 chapters (emulated here as 22 titles, each split into chapters). There's a lot of static frames, but there are plenty of inserted video clips (mostly without audio). There are a lot of pages of printed text which look like photos of laser print on white paper. There's a total of 1333 chapter stops, most of them for still pages — text, photos, or artwork — but more than a few are video clips. I hope your remote's Skip Forward button is in good condition, because you will be pressing it a lot!

Trailers

TV Spots

ALIENS

Laser Disc Archive

    Another huge collection of extra material, this time from the Aliens Collector's Edition laserdiscs. This time it is divided into 31 chapters (emulated here as more than 31 titles — some of these "chapters" are multiple titles because they exceed 99 pages). Once again, there are lots of static pages, and quite a few video clips. There are 1024 chapter stops. By the way, there is a page missing at the end of Chapter 17 (53-38), where we're promised a frame from the movie, but the chapter just ends.

Trailers

TV Spots

ALIEN³

Featurette: Advance Featurette (2:51)

    This is one of those promotional pieces that is nothing more than a long trailer.

Trailers

    All these trailers appear to be 16x9 enhanced.

TV Spots

ALIEN RESURRECTION

Trailers

TV Spots

    Note that the last three spots are promoting the appearance of this movie on pay-per-view TV.

MAIN MENU

Featurette: Bob Burns Alien Collection — Aliens in the Basement (16:55)

    This is a very interesting piece about the man who has a very impressive collection of Alien props, costumes, models, and even sets. It happened somewhat by chance, and he tells the story well.

Gallery: Dark Horse Comics

    This is 234 shots of comic book covers, with two or three pages of synopsis for each title. That's an awful lot of comic books set in the Alien universe (they have not listed any cross-overs, like Alien vs Predator, either). All these stills are 16x9 enhanced.

Booklet

    Also tucked into the box, as well as this bonus disc, is a 24 page booklet. The booklet gives us all the information that would be on the back cover and inside cover of each of the movie cases, but it gives us more than that. It also lists the chapter stops, and marks with a * each chapter that includes material not in the theatrical release — not quite as nice as an on-screen indicator, but useful, nonetheless.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of the Alien Quadrilogy has just taken place (December 2003); ours is reportedly out, too, although our official release date for the box set is 10th December. You will only be able to buy this bonus disc as part of the Alien Quadrilogy.

    As far as I can ascertain, this disc is the same for both the Region 1 and Region 4 versions of the Quadrilogy.

    Here comes another one sided comparison: comparing the Alien Quadrilogy bonus disc with the older Alien Legacy bonus disc.

    The Alien Quadrilogy bonus disc is missing:

    The Alien Legacy bonus disc is missing:

    If you are a completist, you'll want to own both the Quadrilogy and the Legacy (I know whereof I speak...). Otherwise, I'd say the choice was pretty clear.

Summary

    An impressive bonus for those who choose to buy the Alien Quadrilogy box set.

    The video quality is mixed, but that has to be expected with the source materials involved.

    The audio quality is mixed, but generally quite acceptable.

    The extras are the entire content of this disc, and very impressive.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, December 08, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
impulsegamer.com - Andrew Biz

Comments (Add)
In space, no-one can hear you scream: "Arrrrrrrrrrggghhhhh! Information overload"!!! - REPLY POSTED
Honestly, how much do you need to know about these movies - Cardiff Giant (Must have the word 'bio' or 'biography' in it)
Alien Evolution is truncated... - REPLY POSTED
Carrie Henn... -
Bravo Fox - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
Sensational Reviewing effort! - Simon O'Connor (I wouldn't suggest reading my bio)
Charlie & Tex... -
R1 vs R4 - REPLY POSTED
Nah, not the Alien Saga one... -
R4 Quadrilogy Easter Eggs? -
Quadrilogy not a word? -
Alien movies have gotten old - Damien (biotech is godzilla)