Alien Hunter (2003)

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Released 7-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer
Audio Commentary-Ron Krauss (Director)
Featurette-Director's Location Scout
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Storyboard Comparisons
Deleted Scenes-With Optional Director's Commentary
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Bad Boys II, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
Trailer-Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 88:03
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (73:26) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Ron Krauss
Studio
Distributor
Nu Image
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring James Spader
Janine Eser
John Lynch
Nikolai Binev
Leslie Stefanson
Aimee Graham
Stuart Charno
Carl Lewis
Svetla Vasileva
Anthony Crivello
Kaloian Vodenicharov
George Stanchev
Rufus Dorsey
Case ?
RPI ? Music Tim Jones


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Romanian
Russian
Serbian
Swedish
Turkish
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch 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

    Taking around 32 days, the principal photography for Alien Hunter was completed by March 2002. J.S. Cardone wrote the script and when Ron Krauss read it he instantly thought of hit movies such as The Thing and Close Encounters of The Third Kind. But Krauss says that this story had added plot twists and characterisations which caught his initial attention and compelled him to make the movie. The film was shot in Sophia, Bulgaria where the landscape and old buildings were used to their full potential. Krauss, Skinner and a few others also find it irresistible to do a "Hitchcock" and feature themselves in the opening scenes.

    The talents of William "Bill" Skinner who was the Set Designer for Blade Runner and 2010 were utilised for this film and his past experience clearly shows. The primary location for the film is in the one place, so this was something that Bill would have been used to when he was the Production Designer on U-571 where the majority of shots were on a submarine.

    Alien Hunter stars James Spader who is one actor that I am interested in watching whenever he features in a movie. He also happens to have a starring role in one of my all-time favourites, Stargate. This was the first title that I imported from Region 1, and it is placed in a prominent position in my DVD collection. The character James plays in both movies is that of a bright and intelligent specialist, but one that is constrained by his character's past events and not taken too seriously by his peers. It was because of James that I thought I should give this title a go and see how it panned out. After all, I have often found hidden little gems by using a similar process in the past.

    Well, unfortunately this was not the case with this particular title. There was nothing wrong with Spader or the other main actors, but the story failed to deliver what it initially promised. It did have an interesting introduction, although too many different locations were introduced causing an unnecessary diversion at times. The movie loses its way in the middle (perhaps the writer tired of the story), and then finishes off abruptly.

    Scientists from an Antarctic Research Station designed to grow genetically modified corn find an object frozen in the ice which is emitting a repeating radio signal. Julian Rome (James Spader) is a well-known cryptologist and he arranges a flight to take him there to conduct some research on the object and to try and find its origins.

    Without spoiling the plot, the object in question ends up being an alien (the movie's title gives that bit away already). Julian and the station's crew, including Dr. Kate Brecher (Janine Eser), Dr. John Bachman (Roy Dotrice), Dr. Michael Straub (John Lynch) and Dr. Alexi Gierach (Nikolai Binev) have to catch the creature and save themselves from imminent death.

    If you have some time to spend one rainy day and want to watch a movie featuring a scary alien, then may I suggest a title called Predator instead...

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was relatively sharp with good clean lines around objects. Shadow detail was controlled well for the greater percentage of the film. There were some sections where lighting was a little dim and Ron Krauss mentions that they were unable to bring lights in for the University location shoot around 6:00 and had limited time to film the scenes. In the Antarctica shots there were some scenes that were quite dark but this was intentional to keep you guessing and to add an extra layer of tension to the shots. There is some low level noise.

    The colours were rendered well with no transfer issues being present here.

    There was several moiré effects visible with their trademark swirl effect at 45:28 and 52:30. Grain was present in some of the darker scenes, particularly on the walls. Aliasing is very rare and very mild when it does occur. Film artefacts were something that was not apparent.

    This disc is a dual-layered disc, with the layer change placed between Chapters 23 and 24, at 73:26. It is well placed at a quiet scene where there is no music or other form of audio to cause any obvious disruptions to the flow.

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

Audio

    There are four audio tracks on this DVD. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is also an English Audio Commentary track in Dolby Digital 2.0, and Italian and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks as well.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer, and was completely spot on.

    The musical score was fitting for this feature, especially during the ending sequence. It also provided a good match to the on-screen action. The volume levels did not drown out the dialogue at any point during the movie.

    The surround channels were well used for ambience, music and special effects. There were frequent directional effects and good sound placement across the front and rear soundstages. This gave the movie an increased presence and soothing feel which added to the viewing enjoyment.

    The subwoofer was mildly active during the action sequences, and imparted a subtle but nonetheless welcome presence to these sequences.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu design is themed around the movie. The main menu features an animated clip from the movie and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio. The menu contains three options but only the currently highlighted item shows on screen. At first I thought that "Play Movie" was the only choice until I found "Subtitles", "Trailers", "Audio Setup" and "Special Features" by using the arrows on the remote. Personally, I think this is a crazy idea as many people might miss the other content altogether.

Director's Feature Commentary

    Ron Krauss takes us on a potentially interesting journey into the making of this film, but it is made dull and boring by Ron's monotonous voice. The commentary is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, and when Ron is not speaking the movie's audio is maintained at a low level, so it is extremely hard to hear any of the feature unless you push the volume right up.

Featurette - Director's Location Scout (10:22)

    This footage was originally intended for production planning. It has been included on this disc as a visual reference for those that are interested. It contains a multitude of video and audio problems and is shot in 1.33:1 full frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Featurette - Making-Of (16:15)

    Somewhat more interesting than the previous featurette, this has the cast and crew discussing their own personal feelings and input into this movie. Running for more than 15 minutes you get a good insight into the production and pick up a few interesting facts along the way. All footage is presented in various aspect ratios ranging from 1.33:1 full frame to 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound.

Featurette - Storyboard Comparison

    This was the most interesting featurette in my opinion. The screen is split into three sections with the original storyboard drawings taking the left third. In the top right is the widescreen footage as originally filmed, where you get to see the green screens and dummy objects in the background. Then the bottom portion contains the final footage with all the CG effects. It has Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound.

Deleted Scenes with Director's Commentary

    Note that not all deleted scenes have an accompanying commentary. A total of six deleted scenes can be viewed from here in varying degrees of quality. There is just over 8 minutes of extra content to see here.

    As is typical for this type of extra, the image and sound quality is lacking, but this by no means invalidates this as an extremely valuable extra. It is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, non-16x9 enhanced, with dialogue only which is basically mixed into the left channel except for one sentence which is mixed into the right channel.

Photo Gallery

    This feature is broken into six sections; Alien, Alien Build, Maintenance, Mess Hall, Pod and Tunnel. By selecting each option you are then presented with multiple pages with one photo on each. You can then advance one-by-one through the images.

Trailers

    Trailers for Bad Boys II (2:20), Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2:20) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (1:43) are all available from here. All are crisp 1.78:1 ratio clips complete with Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    Both versions contain identical main and special features which is nice to see for a change. The only difference is in the subtitle and audio tracks which may be a big deciding factor for some. Due to PAL and NTSC formatting differences and significantly more subtitle tracks, I vote that our Region 4 disc is the preferred title.

Summary

    James Spader is convincing, but few of the other actors put any effort into their performance. With more direction being provided from behind the screen and a different ending, this movie could have been a made-for-TV winner. Instead, it is merely just a filler for those times when there is nothing better on. And yes, there are worse Sci-Fi movies out there - Bio-Force 1 (Mutant Species) is still very vivid in my mind.

    The video quality is what you would expect from a movie made originally for cable TV.

    The audio quality is great with a lot of surround and speaker activity present.

    The extras are satisfactory but as I mentioned before, the commentary is quite soporific.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Mellor (read my bio)
Thursday, February 05, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersWhatmough Classic Series C31 (Mains); C06 (Centre); M10 (Rears); Magnat Vector Needle Sub25A Active SubWoofer

Other Reviews
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Comments (Add)
gets my vote - gRANT (Read my bio, mmm... uncompressed surround audio)
Wrong DVD packaging at JB Hi Fi? - Loose Tongue REPLY POSTED