Aliens: Special Edition (1 disc) (1986)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Menu Animation & Audio
THX Trailer
Featurette-James Cameron Interview (12:05)
Featurette-Aliens: Behind The Scenes (7:59 in total)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 148:07
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:34) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By James Cameron
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Sigourney Weaver
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music James Horner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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 Czech
Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, sound at the end of the credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Aliens picks up the story where Alien left off, excepting a number of very large plot holes which I personally hadn't noticed before, but which don't really matter in the grand scheme of things. It is worth noting that this is an extended cut of Aliens, with some 17 minutes worth of added footage. If you want a run-down of the differences between the theatrical release of this movie and this extended cut, The Big Picture review of the Region 1 version of this DVD provides a complete listing, just under the image of the "Best Supporting Alien". Personally, I quite liked the additional footage, as it provided a great deal of background information that deepened and explained a number of plot points that hitherto had gone unexplained.

    Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is in hypersleep after escaping from the Nostromo at the end of Alien, but apparently misses her mark and drifts for 57 years until her escape pod is picked up by a scavenger ship. She ends up under the company's auspices, but it seems as if the company does not fully believe her story, particularly since colonists have been on the planet LV-426 for the last 20 years without incident. She is subjected to an inquest and banned from further flight duties, relegated to earning a living handling cargo, a skill which becomes useful in the latter part of this movie.

    The company, in the form of Burke (Paul Reiser) quickly change their tune when they suddenly lose contact with the colonists on LV-426, and manage to convince Ripley to return to LV-426 in an advisory capacity, along with a bunch of seriously bad-ass marines who are there to kick some serious Alien butt. This time, however, as the blurb says, it's war. The first instalment served up a single Alien. This one serves up a whole army of them, in addition to showing considerably more of the Alien life-cycle.

    James Cameron has managed to keep the franchise going in this instalment by re-inventing the premise. Instead of the horror of the dark and the silence, James Cameron delivers up a non-stop, action-packed thrill-ride from the moment of the first encounter with the Aliens to the final climactic battle.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer belies the age of the movie, and looks immaculate with only trivial problems denying it reference status.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is beautifully sharp and clear, particularly after we get past the first 10 minutes or so, which seem marginally on the dark side. Shadow detail, particularly in the latter half of the movie, is impeccable for a movie of this vintage, with copious amounts of detail able to be resolved in the darkest and deepest of shadows. No low level noise disrupts the viewing experience.

    James Cameron's trademark blue colouration is heavily in evidence during the early part of the movie, but it eventually settles down to a more evenly drab appearance, albeit considerably brighter than the colouration of Alien. A number of sequences involving conversations between Ripley and Newt tended to be on the oversaturated side, but I suspect that this was how James Cameron intended for these scenes to look, with a deliberately warm feel about them. Other than these minor quibbles, the colouration was immaculate.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noted in this transfer. Aliasing was at very worst a trivial problem, with the worst aliasing being exhibited by the marines' spaceship en-route to the planet LV-426. I noted no film artefacts interfering with the image at all.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change coming during Chapter 13, at 61:34. The layer change took quite some time to be negotiated by my Toshiba 2109, making it quite noticeable, despite its more than satisfactory placement.

Audio

    This is a good Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Note that the packaging claims that it is a 5.0 mix. This is incorrect. It most definitely is a 5.1 mix.

    There is only one audio track on this DVD, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. It had some slight distortion at times, and sounded a little dated at times, much in the same way as the soundtrack for Alien did, but this was far less of an issue for this transfer than it was for Alien.

    Audio sync was not a problem at any stage.

    The score by James Horner aptly suited the on-screen action, especially during the heavy action sequences, and is typical of his work.

    The surround channels were used a little variably by this soundtrack. The action sequences were extremely immersive with aggressive audio cues spread throughout the soundfield which made them immensely satisfying. Many of the quieter scenes were also blessed with subtle surround sound cues, but there were times when the soundfield collapsed into mono dialogue. As is typical with a James Cameron movie, anything that can make a sound, does make a sound, often hyper-realistically.

    The subwoofer was aggressively used by this soundtrack during each and every action sequence. All manner of noise emanated from this channel, and it provided a very satisfying bottom end to much of the soundtrack.

Extras

    There is a passable set of extras on this DVD.

Menu

    This has extensive and complex audio and animation which sets the tone for the entire movie. As for the Alien menu animation, it is highly themed and specific for this movie.

THX Trailer

Featurette - James Cameron Interview

    This is not all that great, and is only worth a single watch.

Featurette - Aliens: Behind The Scenes

    This leads to a menu of 8 additional selections, which play back small fragments of video. Some are silent, and some have poor quality monaural audio behind them. The interest level of these extras is variable, from totally uninteresting (the two Miniature featurettes), to fascinating (Testing The Queen).

Theatrical Trailer

Photo Gallery

    Once again, like the Alien DVD preceding, this is a huge extra, with lots and lots of photos to look through. There is some annotation at times, which makes this mildly interesting. These photos automatically advance, saving you from pressing the right arrow key too often. Cast & Crew biographies are included within this section.

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 and Region 1 versions of this DVD are identically featured.

Summary

    Aliens is a rare beast indeed - a sequel that is in a different genre to its predecessor, and successfully measures up to the original, albeit in a different way.

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The audio transfer is pretty good.

    The extras are passable.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Monday, May 15, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer

Other Reviews
Michael D's Region 4 DVD Info Page - Dean M (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
The Fourth Region - Roger T. Ward (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
Dark Horizons - Garth F
DVD Net - Robert M

Comments (Add)
transfer not that good - lordg (Biography Tag) REPLY POSTED
Grainy Aliens - capone (they're some fine antibiotics you got there..)