The Alien Legacy boxset was first released in the UK in May 2000 priced at £70. I remember wanting it for a long time when it came out but I wasn’t prepared to pay that much for it. A few years later, I managed to buy it for about £30. The boxset contains a total of five discs. The four movies in separate cases – Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection and a special bonus disc. There’s also a Certificate of Ownership leaflet too.
Alien DVD Review
Yes… this is where the Alien franchise began. Alien has to be one of my most favourite films of all time and it’s not hard to see why. I first saw Alien when I was about 10 years old and back then, it really terrified me. The film is just filled with so much mystery at the beginning too. It even takes about 45 minutes into the film before anything happens which is a good thing in my opinion. The atmosphere that director Ridley Scott managed to create here is phenomenal. The sets are amazing too. Especially LV-426 and the Pilot’s spacecraft. The cast is great too and it’s the actors who sell the horror and that’s done incredibly well. Another person who is responsible for the huge success of Alien is HR Giger and his alien creations. The alien design manages to be scary and terrifying. Alien is simply a classic sci-fi / horror movie that still holds up well 25 years after it was first released.
Despite being made in 1979, Alien is still a masterpiece and it’s difficult to tell that the film was made so many years ago. The shadows have a depth and a texture which would simply not have been possible even with VHS. All in all, every aspect of the film is brilliantly accomplished and the anamorphic PAL transfer provides a good resolution for those people with a widescreen television.
The audio, like the picture, is hard to fault. The sound is crisp and clear with the 6 distinct sound tracks of Dolby 5.1 each being used to full effect in an impressive way. In many cases, the rear speakers are used to play music only whilst the voices derive from the front speakers, and this works brilliantly. It’s very rare that audio tracks come onto DVDs like the one here but this DVD is especially an advantage to people with surround sound speakers. For those of you who like subtitles, this DVD comes with lots of subtitles in many different languages.
The Special Features
The Director’s Commentary features the director, Ridley Scott reminiscing about the filming and explaining in detail aspects of the film. The director often praises the cast and the crew who worked on the movie and he also mentions his admiration for Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, where he was a little influenced by the film. Overall, the commentary is very interesting.
There are 10 Deleted Scenes included on the disc which are: Alien Transmission, Lambert Confronts Ripley, Kane’s Condition, Ripley and Parker, Planning The Search, A Quick Glimpse, Ripley Reassures Lambert, Airlock Sequence Part 1, Airlock Sequence Part 2, and The Cocoon Sequence, all of which have a description of the scene to the right of the scene link. All of these are presented in 2.35:1 letterbox widescreen where they look inevitably unpolished compared to the film itself but still they are very interesting. In most of the deleted scenes, you can see why the scenes were not added to the movie apart from the Cocoon Sequence in which Ripley, about to flee the Nostromo, comes across Dallas and Brett encased in a cocoon structure in the ship wall. Brett is clearly dead, but Dallas is still alive and begs to be killed as an act of mercy; Ripley complies with his request, torching the structure with her flamethrower.
There are two outtakes which were chosen not to be used in the final film: Rise and Shine, where Kane enters the room shortly after awaking from hypersleep; and Alien Attacks Lambert, which was not used because Ridley Scott thought the Alien looked too much like a man in a suit. Like the Deleted Scenes, these scenes are shown in 2.35:1 letterbox widescreen.
There are two theatrical trailers and two TV spots included on the DVD. The TV spots are shown in 4:3 aspect ratio and similar to the trailers in terms of quality and style but with voiceovers saying the line “Alien… rated R”. The first trailers is a short teaser showing stars followed by a planet’s surface and with the line in space, no-one can hear you scream. The second trailer starts in a similar way but then includes a range of clips from the film. Both trailers are shown in 4:3 aspect ratio and the picture quality is not as good as the film itself.
The Art and Photo Gallery is vast and features conceptual artwork from HR Giger, Ron Cobb, Jean Giraud and Chris Foss. Each person has their own section of artwork on the disc and Ridley Scott’s full storyboard for the film is included along with Production Photos and Promotional Art and Photos.
-Easter Egg 1
Nostromo Crew Biographies: Go to the Special Features menu. Once in there arrow down the list to the Main Menu and instead of pressing right to go to the more extra special features press down again and you should be highlighting the hole in the floor. Select this and it will take you to the secret reports that ASH the android was sending back to the Special OPs. You are able to read them all.
-Easter Egg 2
Alien Lifecycle Transmission: In the Main Menu go up to the Special Features part but instead of pressing enter press LEFT. This should highlight the window box to the left. Press ENTER and this will take you to more Hidden documents. This time about the Nostromo’s flight plans and bios of all the crew aboard it.
The Alien DVD is very nice and features an impressive range of special features, including trailers, photo galleries and the Director’s Commentary. Apart from the extras, another important thing is the presentation of the film itself, and in this aspect the DVD is on top form. They’ve spent a lot of time and expense getting the transfer to look as good as it does. Overall, there’s very few faults with the DVD and is definitely worth the purchase. If you don’t fancy paying out the money for the Alien Legacy boxset, then this DVD is right up your street.
|Movie Rating:||(5 / 5)|
|DVD Rating:||(4 / 5)|
Aliens DVD Review
Not many sequels are as good as or even surpass the original film but Aliens does exactly that. The director, James Cameron, took a new dimension to the film by creating an sci-fi/action movie as opposed to spending time building up suspense like in the first film. This time, Ripley, the last survivor of the Nostromo goes back to LV-426 with a group of marines armed with all sorts of weaponry and equipment to help them in the battle. Characters have also been well developed with Ripley forming a close relationship with Newt and each person is shown to have their own unique personality.
As suggested by the name, there’s more than one alien in the film – in fact there’s a whole hive of them. The aliens aren’t as smart as the alien in the first film but that could be down to the fact they’re under the Queen Alien’s control. Speaking of which, Stan Winston did a great job creating the Queen Alien. Aliens, like Alien, is pretty much flawless. There’s nothing I don’t like about it. This is also the special edition version of the film where you get 17 minutes of extra footage commonly labelled as the Director’s Cut. This adds a whole lot more to the film and is the version I’ve seen the most over the past few years.
The film has a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer and the picture isn’t as good as it ought to be. It’s probably the weakest transfer out of all four Alien DVDs – mainly because there’s a lot of ‘grain’ visible throughout the movie – particularly in the darker scenes. This can’t really be helped unfortunately since it was a consequence of using the film equipment when James Cameron made the film. There’s a lot of detail in many of the scenes. The action scenes look great. It’s just a shame about the grain.
The sound is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and it’s perfect for those of you with surround sound. Dialogue is spoken clearly and weapon sound effects are heard wonderfully. Also the music delivers well to action sequences. The film also comes in a number of different subtitles including English.
The Special Features
The interview with the director of Aliens, James Cameron is provided and is about 12 minutes in length. The interview took place in 1986 and the director talks about his approach to directing and writing Aliens. Sadly though, there’s no director’s commentary throughout the film like there was on the Alien DVD.
-Behind the Scenes
There are altogether eight short clips relating to things in the movie and they are called: Miniature of the Colony, Miniature of the Atmosphere Processor, The Face-Hugger Mechanism, Sculpting the Chest-Burster, Testing the Chestburster’s Inner Skeleton, Testing the Queen, Sculpting the Miniature Queen and Sculpting the Full Size Queen. Unfortunately, these clips are incredibly short and come with no sound or commentary. On the Behind the Scenes menu, there is however a short description in the right-hand panel explaining the clip.
There are 12 small photo galleries relating to aspects of the film and these are called: Cast and Crew, The Narcissus, Salvage Ship and Gateway Station, The LV-426 Earth Colony, The Jordan Tractor, Assets of the Colonial Marines, Face-Huggers, The Alien Nest, Chest-Bursters, Aliens, The Queen / The Power-Loader and Theatrical Release. At the beginning of each gallery, there is a good description of what’s in the gallery.
One of the great things about the DVD are the interactive menus provided. For example, on the main menu, it shows one of the marine’s cameras in action and the motion tracker as well. The animation is displayed on most of the menus and they do come with some good sound effects and the marines say a few lines in the background.
There are 34 chapters to choose from in the Chapter Selection menu and this screen can be accessed through the Main Menu. There are three scenes displayed at any one time and the non-motion scene picture is shown inside of a cylinder which is viewed from a marine’s camera in the middle of the screen.
The movie is brilliant and definitely, any science fiction or alien fan should have this in their collection. It’s a lot different to Alien so it should attract a lot of people interested in buying the DVD. The special features are not as good as the extras on Alien but there is a decent amount to keep any fan satisfied. If you haven’t got the money for the Alien Legacy Boxset, then at least the single DVD is definitely worth buying.
|Movie Rating:||(5 / 5)|
|DVD Rating:||(3 / 5)|
Alien 3 DVD Review
Alien 3 is considered by a lot of people to be the weakest of the four films and many aspects of the movie were a let down for most people. For instance, the fundamental rules of facehuggers is that they die after only infecting one host, but in this film the facehugger manages to facehug two hosts. The biggest weakness of the Alien itself was the appearance of it. The puppets they used to make it move look really bad on screen. There’s no character development like in the first two films and they also killed off Newt and Hicks, the survivors of the last film. As a stand-alone film, Alien 3 would be quite interesting but doesn’t relate to the first two films hardly.
The Alien 3 DVD is possibly the best transfer out of all the DVDs in the Alien Legacy set. The picture, along with the sound, is top quality and the colours and shades have great detail. The colours are not too strong and the contrast is also accurate. Apparently some detail is lost in particular scenes in the UK version whereas the American version more detail is present. Even through a lot of the scenes are in darkness or shadow, the image looks clear throughout the film. Overall the picture is in a brilliant condition and the transfer to DVD has been accomplished very well.
The sound overall is particularly good and they’re at the right levels when needed. When the characters are speaking, the dialogue is perfectly clear with no interference. The soundtrack has a lot of variety and creates a scary atmosphere. The DVD is good for people with surround sound and this give the viewer the total experience of watching and listening to Alien 3.
The Special Features
-Behind the Scenes Documentary
Unlike the first two films, Alien 3 doesn’t have many extras. There’s one interesting 22-minute documentary about the making of the first three films in the saga which includes a look at the creature effects. It includes interviews with cast and crew of the first two films and there’s a look at the behind-the-scenes of Alien 3.
In addition to the documentary, there’s only one trailer in the UK version and that shows a short trailer of Alien 3. At the end the narrator says, “On Earth everyone can hear you scream.” which indicated some Aliens were brought to Earth. This was shown in theatres a while before Alien 3 was actually released. When Predator 2 was released, the writers of Alien 3 changed their minds and found a new story for Alien 3.
Great expectations were amongst people after the success of Alien and Aliens and for a lot of people Alien 3 didn’t live up to their expectations. The film is a decent sci-fi / monster movie, but it doesn’t go well with the series as a whole. The DVD has hardly any extras apart from a documentary and so isn’t worth buying as a single DVD. The DVD does offer exceptional picture and sound quality but is it worth buying it just for those things? Like Alien Resurrection, it’s better just to get this DVD if you’re a die-hard fan of the genre.
|Movie Rating:||(2 / 5)|
|DVD Rating:||(1 / 5)|
Alien Resurrection DVD Review
Whilst the film isn’t quite as good as the first 2 movies, it’s certainly a great improvement over the third. The casting worked well with the film with the likes of Micheal Wincott and Brad Douriff and the introduction of Winona Ryder’s character as an android was quite surprising. The cloning of Ripley was quite interesting as she took on some of the traits of the aliens during the process. One of my favourite scenes in the film is where the characters have to escape the aliens in the underwater scene and the CGI looks amazing. Unfortunately, the CGI doesn’t tend to look that good out of the water but the film still looks good. There’s also a feeling of tension and suspense which was more than what there was in the previous film. The movie combines the suspense of the first film with the action and adventure of the second. The only problem I have with the film was the scene at the end when the half-human, half-alien creature was revealed. Although I’m a big fan of the Alien series, the creature just didn’t fit in with the Alien series and the appearance looked ridiculous.
The film is 2.35:1 widescreen and the anamorphic transfer is enhanced for widescreen televisions. Obviously with this being the most recent film in the Alien series, the picture quality is pretty good.
Sound is actually the disc’s best feature and the audio is extremely clear. The sound effects are very effective and puts the viewer in their own 3D environment. The sound is well presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and there are a variety of sound effects that come from the rear speakers if you have surround sound. What the characters say is well heard and the music is quite interesting. If you are someone who prefers subtitles, there’s many included on the disc.
The Special Features
The trailer itself is about a minute and half long and contains clips from the film. It starts by someone singing and as the seconds go on, fast music is heard by which it shows the main characters and the aliens in the movie. Unlike the Alien trailers, this trailer looks polished and matches the film in terms of picture quality.
I don’t know if you can call it a featurette since it’s only 4 minutes long. It does contain interviews with key cast members such as Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder but doesn’t contain any content for how the film was actually made.
In my opinion, Alien Resurrection is better than the third movie but it’s not worth buying as a single DVD. The only thing I disagree on regarding the storyline was the creature at the end. The lack of special features doesn’t make it tempting and therefore there’s likely to be loads of extras in the upcoming Alien Quadrilogy boxset. The picture transfer along with the sound is practically the only thing worth buying it on DVD for. Unless you’re a die-hard alien fan, you’re better off just getting the Alien Legacy set or even just the first two movies.
|Movie Rating:||(3 / 5)|
|DVD Rating:||(1 / 5)|
Alien Bonus Disk Review
The Alien Legacy Bonus Disc was already included in the region 2 release of the Alien Legacy set as opposed to the region 1 set. The disc contains a 67-minute documentary showing different aspects of how the film Alien was brought about and made and takes a look at behind-the-scenes. It shows deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with people who worked on the movie. Among the people interviewed are the director of Alien, Ridley Scott, screenwriter Dan O’Bannon, executive producer Ronald Shusset and artist H.R. Giger.
The documentary is split into eight sections which are called Conception, Cast, Costume Design, Archivist of Fantastic Cinema, Nostromo, The Planet, Alien on Board and Final Report. The Conception section is about the development of the movie and initial designs of the creature, sets, etc. H.R. Giger talks about the design of the alien of it was developed. In the Cast section, Ridley Scott talks about the character development in the movie and how each person’s personality was created. The Costume Design section is obviously about the clothes that the cast wore when filming. John Mollo talks about the space suits the characters wore on the surface of the planet.
In the Archivist of Fantastic Cinema, Bob Burns shows us a few of the props used in the film. In the Nostromo section, crew talks about the design of the spaceship, the Nostromo and the creation of the dark corridors throughout the ship. The Planet section is about the planet the characters land on to investigate the extraterrestrial signal. The derelict spacecraft and the pilot is discussed in detail. Alien on Board is about the creature which runs about on the spacecraft. Right from the Facehugger to the Chestburster and finally to the fully-grown Alien. In the final section, The Final Report, people speak about the success that Alien has had even 20 years down after it was first released.
This is an adequate transfer that is acceptable given the varying source materials used. The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio that varies between 1.33:1 and 2.35:1. The image was acceptably sharp and clear, though a lot of the archival material is quite blurred and distorted which is to be expected.
There is only one audio track on this DVD which is the English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand and there was little in the way of audio distortion, and there were no audio sync problems.
Overall the Bonus Disc is a great addition to Alien and is really interesting to find out how things were accomplished in the film. It’s a shame this documentary wasn’t included in the Quadrilogy but I guess there wasn’t enough room. Still, if you’re desperate for it, you can also buy it fairly cheaply on ebay.(4 / 5)