Aliens: Special Edition (1 disc) (1986)
Menu Animation & Audio
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
|Year Of Production||1986|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (61:34)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||James Cameron|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, sound effects at the end of credits|
As it stands, the story picks up with the Nostromo's life-boat floating at an unspecified point in space, whereupon it is happened upon by a salvage team, who are disappointed to find that its sole occupant is alive and well. As Weyland-Yutani representative Carter Burke (Paul Reiser) explains to her, the Nostromo's sole survivor, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has spent over half a century in hypersleep. In one of the scenes restored for this Special Edition, Ripley is shown a picture of the daughter she was hoping to return to on her ill-fated voyage in Alien, who has died of old age during the extended hypersleep. A curious piece of trivia about the film that is available on the Alien FAQ is that the woman who appears in the photo shown to Ripley by Burke is actually Sigourney's mother, Elizabeth Inglis.
Anyway, after being relieved of her flight status, Ripley is eventually talked into returning to the planet where the Alien was first discovered by Burke and Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope) of the Colonial Marine Corps. Ostensibly, their mission is to destroy the Alien species for good, and I won't spoil that impression if you're one of the few movie buffs who haven't seen this film before.
As the Sulaco hurtles off towards the planet, which has been colonized by the company in something of an expansionary effort, we are introduced to the new characters who will be accompanying Ripley on her newest adventure. Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn) aids Ripley in gaining surrogate leadership of the strike team after their first attack on the Alien nest goes horribly wrong. Bishop (Lance Henriksen) serves as a synthetic humanoid aboard the Sulaco, mostly for Ripley to take out her aggressions upon. Private Hudson (Bill Paxton) is now etched into many a mind as the comic relief of the film, and Private Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) keeps me happy by working Spanish insults into every second sentence. A curious bit of trivia is that the joke about Vasquez's mistaking the "alien" part of the job description for "illegal alien" actually refers to Jenette Goldstein's mistaking of the casting call for being one for a film about illegal immigrants and turning up in a costume to suit.
Aside from humorous pieces of trivia such as this, one small flub mars the script of this film: during the first sequence in which the Marines wander into the Alien nest, Gorman states that the pulse rifles fire "ten-millimetre explosive-tip caseless". In the scene where the Marines are retreating towards the second drop-ship's landing area, shell casings can clearly be seen coming out of the prop rifles. Anyway, these minor problems aside, the question here, is not whether Ripley can survive a second encounter with the Alien species, but how she manages to do it.
The transfer is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement.
The sharpness of this transfer is excellent, overall. Even the closed-circuit camera shots have a surprising level of sharpness in them that belies the age of the film. The shadow detail is simply excellent, and improves even more in the latter half of the film. There were things that James Cameron wanted you to see in the darkness, and this DVD transfer will make you see them whether you like it or not. There was some low-level noise deliberately inserted into the closed-circuit camera shots, but this was about the limit of the appearance of this artefact within this transfer.
The colours are rather dramatically saturated in accordance with the mood of the corresponding scenes, with the sequences inside the Alien nest being the most noticeable example, with quite a heavy blue tinge overshadowing everything. Within such places as the armoured car or the compound, a prominent red tinge took over, which lent quite a dramatic look to the action sequences. There was a hint of oversaturation in such sequences as the conversations between Ripley and Newt, but this is no different to how these parts of the film looked on any other medium.
MPEG artefacts were completely absent from the transfer. Aliasing was found on the edges of hard objects such as the sentry guns and the Sulaco, but this artefact was otherwise absent from the presentation. The most pleasant surprise is that film artefacts are more or less completely absent from the main feature, resulting in a very clean-looking presentation of the film. I've said it before and I will say it again: I have not seen this film look even half as good as this in just over a decade, making this disc a must-have for demonstrations.
This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change coming in at the end of Bishop's microscope analysis of a Face-Hugger, at 61:34. The layer change took some time on the Toshiba SD-2109, making it noticeable in spite of its impeccable placement.
There is only one soundtrack on this DVD, this being the original English dialogue remixed from the original Dolby Stereo recording into a 5.1 mix. While it would have been nice to hear a representation of the original format for comparison, less fussy viewers will be extremely pleased with this mix.
The dialogue was perfectly clear and easy to understand at all times, although some dialogue tended to be a little distorted due to the limitations of the fourteen year old recording techniques, but this was far less of a problem in this film than it was in Alien. There were no problems with audio sync at any time, even during the closed-circuit camera views of the early raid on the Alien nest.
The music in this film was composed and conducted by James Horner, and it is quite a breath of fresh air compared with other works of his, such as Titanic. It is a score full of excitement, power, energy, and above all, a strong connection to the events taking place on screen. As a result, the mood of every sequence the score appears in is suitably amplified by it, even if the score isn't quite as original or distinctive as others I have heard. The music is heavily reliant on bass-heavy and percussive sounds during the action sequences, while being in sharp contrast by switching to moody, icy strings and synthesizers in the warm-up to the previously mentioned action sequences. It is a crying shame that an Isolated Music Score track was not provided with this DVD, as this soundtrack would be getting quite a lot of use from me.
The surround channels were used somewhat variably, but this is better than we have any right to expect with a soundtrack that was recorded in the days when the idea of digital audio being in every home was still over the horizon. The action sequences are extremely aggressive, with the sounds of pulse rifle shots and aliens pounding on doors being spread throughout the sound field. The Alien attack sequence in the last third of the film is particularly satisfying in this regard, with gunshots and music giving the surrounds a massive workout. Sadly, there were some times when the surround field collapsed into mono, but these were excusable in context with the rest of the film.
The subwoofer placed quite a powerful bottom end on much of the film, with all sorts of bass-heavy sounds causing the floor to vibrate, and not just from the action sequences.
|Surround Channel Use|
The video quality is excellent: this film has never, ever looked better.
The audio transfer is very aggressive, and it will keep most listeners very happy.
The extras are satisfactory, but disappointing considering how much material there must be in the archives (not to mention the stellar collection that was assembled for the previous episode).
|DVD||Grundig GDV-100D/Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsong CS-823AMF (80cm)/Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|