Alien Anthology [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Ethan Stevenson (30th November 2010).
The Film

“Alien” (1979). “Aliens” (1986). “Alien³” (1992). “Alien Resurrection” (1997). All on Blu-ray. Yes, they’re finally here. As one of the crown jewels in the 20th Century Fox film library the extraordinarily successful “Alien” franchise has received truly exceptional treatment on home video other the years, and it is exactly for that reason that these four films – particularly the near universally loved “Alien” and “Aliens” – have been, simultaneously, one of the most requested catalog titles on the Blu-ray format, and one longest teased by the studio. Now, for this holiday season, the “Alien” series is making its way to Blu-ray in one of the most attractive boxsets ever to hit the high-def format. Forgoing the “Quadrilogy” DVD title, the films are finally, really, truly, tangibly in consumers hands, only, now via the completionists wet dream known as the “Alien Anthology”. 6 Discs. Handsome packaging. And, of course, remastered, restored high definition transfers of the films complete with mesmerizing DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. But what’s more is that the Blu-ray includes seven feature-length documentaries, more than 100 featurettes and, no this is not a typo, 12,000 photos and images.

Fox’s new boxset of these films truly is the end all, be all, offering not just mountainous supplements, but a plethora of movie-watching options. Each film is available in two versions: the original theatrical cuts are there for posterity sake (and I’m glad, as I prefer both “Alien” and “Alien Resurrection” in their original forms) while another, usually longer, alternate cut is also offered via seamless branching. This includes the elusive “Alien³” Workprint – an earlier edit of the compromised film that actually makes it not only watchable, but an actually worthy (if imperfect) entry into the franchise – and it is presented in high definition, with newly re-recorded audio by the cast. I’m a huge proponent of this new release, but I’ll tell you up front that it’s not completely perfect. Read on, if you dare, to find out where the “Alien Anthology” soars, and where it falters. But, know this, you will need this Blu-ray in your collection by the end of this review, so prepare to open those wallets.

The Films:

We all have our favorite movie franchises. Some of us are “Star Trek” (1979-2009) fanatics, while other prefer “Star Wars” (1977-2005) and a fair few can love both; the “Back to the Future” trilogy (1985-1990, my personal favorite… I think), all three of the “Indiana Jones” films (1981-1989), even “The Godfather” trilogy (1972-1990) and “The Lord of the Rings” series (2001-2003) are loved by many, if not most movie fans. For some of us the “Alien” franchise sits up there with the elite too, and while I will admit that the films get progressively (if not even exponentially) worse as they go on there is no denying that I have a love for the series. Every single one of these films – yes, even the bad ones. At it’s worst the franchise is still fun, and at it’s best, well, we enter “masterpiece” territory. I don’t use that word to describe a film very often and actually mean it (I do use it quite frequently, but only to say that a film is not a masterpiece). In fact, in the 97 reviews that I’ve written in the past year, I’ve used the word “masterpiece” in it’s proper context exactly once – in my review of Sergio Leone’s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966). I’m about to use it again, because, really, there is just no other way to sum up Ridley Scott’s perfect mix of sci-fi and horror.

A film of humble beginnings, “Alien” started life as the antithesis of its author’s previous work. After writing a spoof on “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) that no one laughed at – John Carpenter’s first film, “Dark Star” (1974) – writer Dan O’Bannon set out directly in the opposite direction. Instead of turning Stanley Kubrick’s cerebral, slow burn work of genius into a comedy, O’Bannon simply made it a horror picture and forced a creepy monster, designed by his opium-addicted friend, artist H.R. Giger, into the HAL 9000 role. After a laborious rewrite with the help of close confidant Ronald Shusett (who suggested that the Alien essentially face-rape its victims in order to procreate), before he knew it, O’Bannon’s “Alien” was born – in script form anyway. O’Bannon had always assumed that he would pitch the idea to the mega-producer of schlock, Roger Corman, but in short order the writer found himself in talks with Brandywine Productions, a new company headed by director Walter Hill and his producing partners David Giler and Gordon Carroll, who in turn took the project to Alan Ladd Jr. at 20th Century Fox. Ladd is also known as the guy who gave “Star Wars” (1977) the green light. Quickly, what would have been a campy B-movie was transformed into an A-list production of prestige, and while O’Bannon fought to retain creative control of his baby, a young 30-year-old director named Ridley Scott was hired. The rest, as they say, is history.

The story of “Alien” is pretty much universally known. It’s also misleadingly simple. The Nostromo – a space-tug on an arduous journey back to Earth from the far reaches of space. It’s seven-member crew: the would-be-hero Captain “Beard” Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Kane (John Hurt), the modest but tough Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), a newly appointed science officer who joined the expedition just before departure named Ash (Ian Holm; a man who can, to great effect, switch from ordinarily nice to hauntingly creepy in no time flat), and the ships two outspoken, mechanics, Parker (Yaphet Koto) and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton). When they are awoken from hypersleep by a distress signal from a nearby planet, Dallas, under orders from their employer known simply as “the company”, informs his officers and crew that they must investigate. On the planet surface Dallas, Lambert and Kane encounter a derelict ship. Inside, a gigantic fossilized creature with its chest exploded out from the inside. Back on the Nostromo, Ripley, our unassuming heroine, is investigating the signal and the message contained within it’s encrypted code. She discovers that it isn’t a distress call, but a warning. It’s too late however, Dallas and Lambert have carted back an injured Kane, who has a creature affixed to his face, and both he and the creature are in the infirmary under the watchful eye of the eerie Ash. As the crew discusses their options, Kane appears unaffected and the creature that was on his face is dead. Or so it seems, until, at dinner, Kane keels over and a small, metallic teethed creature burst forth from his chest in one of the most horrifically violent and memorable scenes in all of moviedom. The crew must find the creature, who’s acidic “blood” burns holes through three levels of the ships inner hull, before it kills them all just as it did Kane. One by one the ever changing “Xenomorph” takes the lives of it’s victims until only Ripley is left to fight the creature and kill it before the Nostromo reaches Earth.

It couldn’t have been a more perfect mismatch – O’Bannon’s highly original script, that both relished in and attacked horror clichés was in the hands of Ridley Scott, who had no experience with horror films, and had no connection to sci-fi accept for a great love of “2001: A Space Odyssey”. As a creative who dabbled in slick-looking commercials, he was about as far from the logical choice as you could get, yet, as the results show, tasking Scott with the directing duties of this film was one of the smartest moves in all of Hollywood history. Scott’s visual sensibilities give “Alien” the sort of gravitas that makes it more than just a simple B-movie. His slavish push for true art over simple moviemaking is what makes “Alien” what it is. He hired incredibly controversial artists like Jean 'Moebius' Giraud and, yes, H.R. Giger, whose weirdly psycho-sexual ‘Necronom IV”, would define not just the creature, but the entire design of the alien world. Under his guidance, Ron Cobb and Chris Foss built us the truly massive Nostromo set, one of the most believable depictions of life in space to ever grace the screen (assuming, of course, that we get things like artificial gravity worked out).

What makes “Alien” a true masterstroke though is not just it’s visuals – although, no doubt the films mise-en-scéne plays a huge part in creating the horrifying atmosphere that almost reaches out into your home theater – but also the structure of narrative. Rather than a straight-up horror film – which, lets face it, are nearly always cheap and gimmicky – or a perfect representation of real science fiction – which is, sorry to say, often boring; brilliant, but boring (“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), “Solaris” (1972) and even “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979) are a testament to this) – Scott combined the two genres, and added a dash of psychological thriller to the mix.

“Alien” builds better than almost anything else out-there, opening with one of the longest dialogue free credits sequences I’ve ever seen, establishing the ship and the characters in almost wordless exposition. Then as the plot becomes more complex, Scott layers on the tiny hints of a thriller (Ripley’s discovery of the true message working in tandem with the crews exploration of the derelict is a perfect example, as it raises tension to incredible levels). The horror mystery is established with the creature’s appearance, but when it dies the audiences expectations are dashed, until the viewer’s world is upended when Kane’s chest busts open. The tension is thick as the crew hunts for the monster, and as they all die off one-by-one, we can almost predict what’s going to happen next… but, again, a late second act twist involving Ash again twists us in all directions. The relentless, music-less and wordless climax as Ripley tries to blow up and escape from the ship goes on for a good fifteen minutes, and just when we think everything is all said and done, as she puts Jonesy the cat into his hypersleep chamber aboard the escape shuttle, the film once more throws a wrench in the well laid plans of the viewer. Ripley, by herself, must finally confront the creature in a nerve-racking sequence that ends on a somber note as she signs off as the last surviving member of the Nostromo crew.

I absolutely love “Alien”. It’s actually one of my favorite films. I still remember the first time I saw the film. I was eight, it was on VHS, and it absolutely scared the crap out of me, but even then I knew that it was something different. Today “Alien” still has me on the edge of my seat, but not because I’m afraid of what’s around the corner in the next scene anymore – those days are long past. Now I marvel at the sheer brilliance of the film that almost wasn’t; I get wrapped up in the incredibly stylistic vision laid down before us, and enthralled at the birth of one of the strongest female heroines to ever grace the screen (and she is, if not the finest, certainly one of the first, and all the more impressive of that). “Alien” may be the first in a long line of films, but it is most definitely also the best.

"Alien" film grading: A+

Six years after the release of “Alien”, Ripley and creature returned to screens in the hands of another young, visionary filmmaker. Franchise producers David Giler and Gordon Carroll approached a wide-eyed James Cameron, who was hot off the success of “The Terminator” (1984), to write the screenplay for a proposed “Alien” sequel. Adamant that the film wouldn’t rehash the story of the original – that it wouldn’t be a remake of “Alien” – Cameron later accepted the position under the condition that he would be given the directors chair as well, and so began the long road to one of the greatest sequels of all time. I love the original film, and I really like the follow up. But lets get this straight – “Aliens” isn’t, and never was going to be, better than it’s predecessor. “Aliens” is still an amazing ride, and a really awesome action film, but it’s not a masterpiece, and it’s not a film without a couple of really big problems.

After floating through space for 57 years, Ripley’s shuttle gets picked up by the company. The time that she was in hypersleep, everyone she ever knew, including her daughter, has died, and colonists have settled LV-426, the planet where she and the Nostromo crew first encountered the alien. Ripley recounts her tale to anyone who will listen – including a suit for Weyland-Yutani (aka the company) named Carter Burke (Paul Reiser) – but is dismissed as a crazy woman whose brain has dried up in the years that she was frozen and listlessly traveling through deep space. That is, until, the company loses contact with Hadley’s Hope, the largest colony on the planets surface. Ripley accompanies Burke, a gaggle of gung-ho space marines (including frequent Cameron collaborators Bill Paxton and Michael Biehn as Hudson and Hicks respectively) and an android named Bishop (Lance Henriksen) to the planet, in order to investigate what really happened to the now-silent population of LV-426. The only survivor that they find, a little girl named Newt (Carrie Henn), becomes a surrogate child for Ripley, and as they bond amidst the hellish nightmare that has unraveled around them when their landing craft is destroyed, possibly standing them, Ripley and the space marines face exactly what they fear most – the mighty Xenomorph.

As the title pre-tells us, “Aliens” really ups the ante; Ripley, Hicks and the other marines are pitted against not just one alien, but a whole horde, including what would be Cameron’s greatest addition to the “Alien” mythos: the angry bitch known as the Queen (designed by the great Stan Winston). At its core “Aliens” is a gigantic action-fest. Sure the atmosphere is dark, and the film has elements of horror, and definitely some sci-fi (it does take place on another planet after all), but unlike its precursor, “Aliens” is first and foremost dumb action schlock. I mean that in the nicest way possible. It’s wonderfully crafted action schlock, and like Scott, Cameron’s visual sensibilities are so well rounded that the director creates a full 3D world for his action-plot to exist in, but the film is ultimately (less worthy?) action schlock nonetheless. The films biggest downfall is that Cameron seems more interesting in his Rambo-Ripley fighting off hundreds of creatures with machine guns (as opposed to the characters cunning wit, plain dumb luck, and a homemade flamethrower that she doesn’t use, in the first film) and exploring the character too much. Sure she has some complexity, and Cameron’s underlying theme really is about revenge and redemption, but undeniably he seems more interested in long action sequences and seeming just how many bullets can be fired in 2 hour and 10 minutes.

The directors-preferred 1991 Special Edition of “Aliens”, running some 25 minutes longer, fixes a lot of the little problems that I have with the film’s theatrical cut. For instance, it adds that little bit about Ripley’s daughter being dead, forever changing her character’s connection to Newt and actually adding a bit of depth to her otherwise action-hero arc. We also see what life was like for Newt and the other colonists before the alien outbreak, and Newt’s parents finding the derelict (thus explaining the sudden outbreak of alien-itis on LV-426). The early scenes with the colonists also drastically change the pace of the film, allowing a bit of breathing room and exposition before the film dives into it’s ruthless, unmoving push forward towards action-scene after action-scene. But the Special Edition isn’t without its issues too, which is why I wouldn’t consider “Aliens” a masterpiece. With the (much-welcomed) added character depth, we must also endure the ultimate indulgence of Cameron’s gun-obsession – an entire subplot dedicated to twin automated Sentry’s, culminating in a sequence in which we watch the aliens exhaust the ammo supply of the weapons in real time. The scene is a great idea, on paper, but the reason that I don’t like it is simple: the audience realizes that the guns aren’t going to protect the marines or Ripley forever, and thus the tension builds as the ammo counters round down on the guns. But, because of the way that Cameron has edited this scene – having it occur in real-time (or slower than real-time, as it seems) – it goes on forever, thus completely distilling the little tension that existed in said scene by it’s end.

Make no mistake; I really do, truly like “Aliens”. And I recognize that it is, if nothing else, pure escapism (which few people can do much better than James Cameron) and because of this, endlessly watchable. It’s also an indefinitely better film, with far fewer (mostly minor) problems compared to the sequels. Sigourney Weaver manages to give a great performance, for which she received a surprising academy award nomination. I also think, despite having a less poignant and character driven plot than it’s predecessor, that the one thing that “Aliens” has is a little bigger sense of humor. Finally, why “Aliens” is successful is that it also manages to be a unique entry separate from the film that follows it, yet, at the same time, one of the most logical and satisfying sequels ever made.

"Aliens" films grading: A-

“Well, ‘Alien³’… everyone wanted to make the sequel to ‘Aliens’. Well, kind of… except us.” – Writer/Producer David Giler in “Wreckage and Rage: Making ‘Alien³”.

As if that quote weren’t telling enough. After original director Renny Harlin left the immediately troubled “Alien³” project due to creative differences with the less-than-cooperative producers, Brandywine and Fox regrouped, and started over from scratch. Hoping to recreate the magic that happened not just during the production of “Alien” and but with “Aliens”, they hired an imaginative young director and tried to give him free-reign – exactly as they had done with both of those two immensely popular titles. This young new director, who (taking a page from Cameron’s “Aliens”) was also supposed to pen the script, would be New Zealand-born Vincent Ward. Ward, who would later go on to direct the surreal watercolor painting of a film “What Dreams May Come” (1998) had an interesting idea as to where the franchise could go; and strangely that was into the past… sort of. His original concept, which was stupidly greenlit before he even finished the script, involved a wooden planet populated by celibate monks who partied like it was 1096. Ripley was supposed to crash-land on the shore of a body of water on this “wooden planet” and thus introduce the weird and wonderful female element into a society that seeped with an undercurrent of latent homosexual behavior. Her craft would bring the remnants of two aliens – one of which was to be implanted into Ripley during her proposed hypersleep – and soon the creatures would wreak havoc on the monastic order of “villagers”. Ripley and the monks (including a priest whom falls for our heroine after they had sex) were to fight the alien with medieval technology. Both Hicks and Newt would have died in the crash. The Ripley character was supposed to die in the ultimate sacrifice. Ward’s concept eventually fell through, but only after he failed to adequately explain to David Giler why and how the “wooden planet” worked. By then Fox had already invested millions of dollars into Ward’s elaborate sets, many of which were already completely built. Ward walked away, although he retains a story credit in the final product, and 28-year-old wunderkind David Fincher – who was already a hugely successful director of commercials and music videos – stepped in to replace him, and began working… without a script. Unfortunately for Fincher, because the production was already hemorrhaging money he was granted almost none of the creative control that the other directors experienced. The penny pinchers, producers and unimaginative studio executives descended upon the set, demanding re-shoots and constantly changing the “script” which often shifted drastically, and sometimes even made previous work unusable. In short, this was a film doomed from the get go.

It’s not really a surprise then that “Alien³” is a mess. A good chunk of Ward’s original “scriptment” – with only subtle and superficial changes – still lives on in the film. A distraught Ripley, carrying a Queen inside of her, is left to fend for herself after she crash-lands on a prison planet (populated by a group of murderous religious nut jobs) called Fury 161. They have no modern weapons to fight the creature, and no real connection to the outside world. When Ripley contacts “the company” to ask for extraction and permission to terminate the creature, she is told that a team is being dispatched in short order, but that it won’t be there for a few days. The Ripley character has a quick romantic subplot with the prison’s Dr. Clemens (Charles Dance), before he dies a horrific death. A preacher named Dillon (Charles S. Dutton) tends to his flock of unruly followers. Hicks and Newt are dead. Ripley dies by committing suicide, and in her dying act, kills the Queen who bursts forth from her in its final death rattle.

Now, I don’t completely hate “Alien³”, if only because, despite its flaws, the film exudes style. Fincher may not have been able to do a lot, but the tiny amount of personality that he inflicted into the production is certainly unique. The film is interestingly shot – mostly from a low angle – and I don’t have a problem with the new “whippet” alien design (I actually think that it makes perfect sense) and think that the film’s corridor chase is really pretty neat. Still, despite this, I think that the film’s theatrical cut isn’t worth watching more than once. It’s just a terribly convoluted film that moves too fast – in the supplements, the film is likened to one long-drawn-out chase – sacrificing characters for action, and without much reverence as to it’s end. I particularly dislike the ending; Ripley’s strangling of the Queenburster as she falls into the fire is just needlessly cheesy, and feels incredibly cheap.

Having said that, I do think that the included Workprint – supposedly the version of the film that resembles Fincher’s original vision most closely – is, if not perfect, considerably better than the theatrical film, and actually deserves to be considered the final part of a film trilogy. The only real reason I think this is that what I like about the theatrical film (the style) persists, while my two biggest complaints – the harshly insistent pace and the awful, awful ending – are at least partly fixed. A majority of the thirty extra minutes added to Workprint help to enhance the plot, space out the action sequences, and give a few other characters greater depth. This is particularly of Ripley, who now has an impending sense of doom about her. The alien also has more attention given to it, but mostly in the genesis of the creature, and not so much the kills it makes. Finally, I really, really like the ending scene in the Workprint. It’s almost identical to the theatrical, save for one incredibly noteworthy change: the Queenburster doesn’t burst from Ripley as she falls. Instead she just pitifully falls to her death in the ultimate sacrifice to save mankind from the Xenomorph and the ills of Weyland-Yutani. In the Workprint, Ripley’s death then becomes more affecting, somehow incredibly fitting and even logical, because it has haunted her for years, across vast distances; it’s almost perfect that Ripley can only escape the monster in death. Ripley’s new death is even bizarrely literary, and, if nothing else, gives her storyline, however tragic, unambiguous closure. It makes the film the final, dark, part of an unplanned character trilogy.

"Alien³" film grading: B-

The fourth, and so far final entry into the “Alien” saga, “Alien Resurrection” proves that death is only the beginning – or, at the very least, not the end. It’s also proof that movie studios will greenlight a pointless sequel to a film series so long as the previous films makes back its budget. As far as I’m concerned, the “Alien” franchise should have ended with the death of its protagonist Lt. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), when she died horribly in a fire. Astonishingly though, as if the title didn’t betray this already, “Resurrection” brings the much-loved Ripley character back to life in the most convenient way possible – cloning.

Set 200 years after the events of the third film, “Alien Resurrection” pits the Ripley-clone, who is often more alien than human due to the Queen DNA that is intermixed with her own human genes, against a whole host of “Aliens”… er, sorry – I meant to type that without the quotes… no I didn’t. She teams up with a rag tag group of space pirates played by the likes of Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman and Winona Ryder and together they fight the creatures in predicable and repetitive ways. Their ultimate goal is to escape from the bowels of a government ship that has been used as a genetics lab, where scientists set to task producing Xenomorph’s left and right. But, what you need to know about the plot of “Resurrection” is that its just illogically pieced together moments, presented with a quirky French-twist as only filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet can do. Because it is so weirdly comedic, stylistically unusual and tonally unconnected to the rest of the franchise, “Alien Resurrection” is, without question, a terrible “Alien” film for certain.

But, as much as I probably should, and as needless a film as I recognize it of being, I can’t say that I hate “Alien Resurrection”. It is indeed watchable. It has some neat action sequences, including a very cool underwater chase scene. And the script by Joss Whedon – yes, the Betty crew are most obviously his first stab at the crew of the “Serenity” – is, if messy in it’s execution of plotting (something that Whedon insists is the fault of the director), at least full of witty, sharp dialogue. Honestly, it’s not a bad film outside of “Alien” context. It’s a decent, interesting-looking sci-fi film that just happens to feature familiar looking monsters, and a main character who’s name sounds a hell of a lot like Ripley, without that actually being her name. At least that’s what I tell myself when ever I watch “Resurrection”. I tell myself this because, despite it’s failings Jeunet’s involvement means that it’s a film I must respect. Why? Because I really, really love his body of work – which includes such amazingly eccentric films as “Delicatessen” (1991), “The City of Lost Children” (1995) and “Amélie” (2001) – because of his style. It’s a style not suited for the “Alien” universe, but when viewed as just another Jeunet film, “Resurrection” isn’t that bad. Certainly not perfect, but not bad. When viewed as just an artsy Jeunet film, you can forget the plotting, and the stupid un-Ripley like things that Ripley does in this film. You can’t if you view it as an “Alien” film, which is why you mustn’t.

I’ve seen it argued that “Alien Resurrection” is actually Jeunet’s critique of the Hollywood action film, and that may be true – I don’t know. I don’t even really care, but it makes at least some sense (why else would the finicky Frenchman take such a job, if not to use the avenue as a ways of critical expression?). Whatever the case, this much is certain; Jeunet’s addition to the franchise rightfully killed it for over a decade. His whimsical, odd style just wasn’t a good match for the series, which was otherwise grounded in logic and reality (at least to the extent that a sci-fi franchise can be). But does that mean that, in it’s own way, the film can’t be enjoyed on some level? I hope not.

"Alien Resurrection" film grading: C

Video

Fox has pulled out all the stops for exactly half of the films in the “Alien Anthology”. That may sound disappointing, and to at least some extent it is, but I will say this: every single one of these 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded high definition transfers completely obliterates their standard definition counterpart; one of the films – that would be “Aliens” – even destroys an older HDTV broadcast. In short, there is no real reason to fret over the image qualities of these discs. Two of the transfer may not be perfect, but you can buy the anthology with the ease of mind that each one of the films will be an incredible upgrade over the 2003 Alien Quadrilogy that you might have in your collection (and forget about anything older than that; the other home media releases of the franchise were never really that good to begin with. The new Blu-rays will be a whole new experience if you’re upgrading from the Legacy boxset or, god forbid, the Laserdiscs.)

Now, having said the above, let me further preface my comments below by explaining that only two of the films have received proper, director-approved restorations for Blu-ray – and that those restorations are phenomenal. The other two, newer, films however have obviously received less care, and, in part at least, are sourced from outdated high definition DVD-era masters that simply can’t compare with the results of modern scans. Should Fox have given each of the films in the Anthology equal care? Probably, considering the high MSRP of the boxset… but, have they completely botched the transfers of the final two films? Hardly. In fact, both “Alien³” and “Alien Resurrection” look quite good considering that they haven’t been given the same restorative care; obviously, the dated masters were at least competent in their heyday.

As I’ve mentioned in my review of the films themselves, Fox has elected to provide two cuts of each film for this new Blu-ray release. To do this in the most economical and efficient way possible they have seamlessly branched the two versions on one disc. “Alien” includes both the theatrical and director’s cut on disc one. “Aliens” includes the theatrical and special edition versions on disc two. “Alien³” has both the theatrical cut and the original Workprint version on disc three. “Alien Resurrection” has its theatrical and special edition cuts on disc four. Both versions of these films are sourced from a single digital high definition master, and simply use different chapter stops depending on the chosen cut, providing a supposedly seamless transition between the newly added scenes in the alternate versions. However, this approach is problematic for one of the films, for reasons that I’ll detail in its own section below.

"ALIEN":

“Alien” arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded 2.40:1 widescreen high definition transfer, sourced from an all-new 4K photochemical and digital restoration by the folks at Lowry Digital, under the supervision of director Ridley Scott. Scott has been tweaking the colors, contrast and framing on “Alien” since it was first restored in 1999 for a planned 20th Anniversary theatrical re-release; he further refined the new contrast, framing color palette with every subsequent DVD release – including the 2003 Quadrilogy boxset – so it’s really no surprise that he’s gone back and done it again for this new Blu-ray. The good news is that, much like his miraculous 4K-restoration and re-coloring of “Blade Runner” (1982) for that film’s Final Cut, the new high-def “Alien” master is almost too gorgeous for words. The director has been shifting the film ever so slightly away from the brown and white palette as it was originally shot – which dates it almost exactly to 1979 – to a more timeless tint, sliding into a mix of green, teal/amber, and stark black and white look. The film’s ultra-widescreen framing is ever so slightly wider now too – and there is a smidgen more information on screen at the extreme edges of the frame. Yes the film no longer looks like it did in the theater, but that’s all right because the new “Alien” color palette looks better, moodier and far, far less retro and the changes in framing are legible at worst, slightly more panoramic at best. I have no doubt – as the original film did sport some of these colors (just also massively brown) – that the new colors on “Alien” are exactly the way Scott wants them to be, and that the framing is entirely his own preference.

As you would expect from a film that has been restored and remastered in some form no less than three times in approximately ten years, the print is absolutely pristine. There isn’t a blemish to be found in a single second of the film, and a mild but unobtrusive layer of fine film grain is well-digitized and reminds us that “Alien” was indeed shot on film, even though it’s often so clear and detailed that you might think otherwise. Worry not at my use of the term clear – the image is crisp, free of dirt and grime – but there has been no intrusive DNR used here. Edge enhancement and signs of other sharpening filters are also absent. Close ups reveal an incredible amount of rich texture, and wide shots – nearly any scene in the Nostromo cockpit or lounge – offer perfect clarity for discerning the vast array of buttons, switches and knobs. The black level is superb, cloaking the characters like a haunting aura, but shadow delineation is pitch perfect as well, with an amazing level of shadow detail. Compression is excellent, with a rock solid, noise free encode that handles the smoky interiors, often-jerky hand-held camerawork and the near-seizure inducing climax (bathed in flashing, strobe-like, light) shows not a single sign of image breakup or artifacts.

The “Alien” transfer is so exceptional in fact that the flaws in the original photography are even more glaring. A conversation that Ripley has with Dallas at around the 50-minute mark reveals that the focus puller was asleep (or near as good as) on Sigourney Weaver’s angle – with the focal point closer in the foreground on some smoke, with Ripley just ever so slightly blurry. A couple of other focal issues arise from time to time throughout the, and of course, as an anamorphic Panavision product of the late 70's, there is some mild softness sprinkled throughout the film in select shots (the first shot of Dallas entering the MU-TH-UR chamber springs to mind) so I can’t give “Alien” a perfect A+ for video… but, a few quibbles aside, this is definitely a top notch presentation.

“Alien” video grading: A

"ALIENS":

Like “Alien”, “Aliens” appears on Blu-ray with a 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded 1.85:1 widescreen high definition transfer, sourced from an all-new 4K photochemical and digital restoration by the folks at Lowry Digital, under the supervision of director James Cameron with assistance of his colorist on “Avatar” (2009). Again, like “Alien”, Cameron’s new transfer is often drastically different than what we’ve been privy to for the past 25 years. Colors have noticeably changed – some have complained that the film is basically all teal and orange now; it is but that is apparently the way Cameron wants it. But grain is also crisper, better pronounced and more filmic, but at the same time the image is much clearer, richer and with much, much better detail than ever before. I could basically say ditto – that my comments on “Alien” reflect my thoughts on “Aliens” – and that wouldn’t be too far from the truth. The film has superb contrast, strong blacks, and incredible amounts of facial detail in close-ups, as well as medium and long shots that reveal intricacies previously unseen. There are no signs of edge enhancement and other sharpening filters, and, despite Cameron’s provocative comments that he made earlier this year about “completely de-graining and de-noising” the film for Blu-ray, absolutely no evidence of harsh noise reduction.

“Aliens” has always been the odd-man out in the franchise, with its narrower aspect ratio (Cameron was more comfortable with 1.85:1 for effects work, having just come off “The Terminator” (1984), which was also shot in that ratio) and gritty, war-worn look, standing in stark contrast to the slicker, more panoramic films that surround it. Scott’s “Alien” is certainly a film that relishes in darkness and the used future look, but it still has beauty and a lush cinematic grandeur that isn’t shared with its sequel. Cameron instead went for a style that was more akin to WWII combat footage. “Aliens” gets down and dirty, and often doesn’t seem conventionally pretty… but in it’s own way, the film is strikingly eye-catching. Cameron’s style is nothing if not unique – or at least it was for its day – with non-traditional, source created lighting, tons of handheld camerawork, and an almost documentary-like aesthetic. This creates a conundrum – the film doesn’t particularly showcase a picture-window like presentation on Blu-ray, but it does have an incredibly filmic look (as if you were screening a print in your own home), and is much, much improved over not just the DVD, but even the frequent HDTV broadcast that you might catch on AMC or Spike.

I’ll admit that I never expected “Aliens” to look as good as it does here – but to be fair “Aliens” never really has looked any good before this new master. The laserdisc famously used an atrocious transfer that Cameron approved after watching it on his personal, non-calibrated 27 inch CRT; the DVD's weren’t much better, and rumor has it that the Special Edition was completed on standard def Digi-Beta for the Legacy DVD boxset. But, fear not, the days of the murky, ugly and incredibly unsatisfying “Aliens” are behind us. This time, thanks to Cameron’s meticulous restoration, “Aliens” has a positively exceptional transfer, and really, truly, seems like another film. Now, I can’t give “Aliens” a perfect A+ simply because the film is often at the mercy of the high-speed, experimental Kodak film stock on which it was shot – the film is unbelievably detailed but also just a little rough around the edges… intentionally so, but still.

“Aliens” video grading: A

"ALIEN³":

Although similarly encoded via a 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 2.40:1 widescreen high definition transfer, “Alien³” hasn’t been given the same sort of restorative care as the first two films. Instead of an all-new 4K (or even 2K) master, “Alien³” uses the same high def source as the 2003 Quadrilogy DVD; that means that the Workprint version is the summation of what is, basically, a Frankenstein-master. The Workprint is actually the product of the DVD master of the theatrical cut (minted in 1999) combined with then-newly scanned, originally deleted footage to recreate the alternate cut in 2003.The result, when watching the Workprint, then is a mix of a two levels of grain density and detail. The older, 1999, footage is less crisp, while the “new” scenes in the 2003 Workprint show a tiny bit more grain and mildly better clarity. The discrepancy in consistency is noticeable, but not outwardly bothersome. Overall, the “Alien³” transfer is most definitely what you’d call “dated” – from the lingering signs of a mild DNR pass (the image isn’t exactly smeary, plasticized or unnatural; just soft and a little waxy on occasion), to the somewhat clunky nature of the textures in costumes and sets, and most certainly, the sort of inconsistent resolution attributive of the film scanning technology at the time. In short, it’s clear as you watch that this master was minted sometime in the early part of the millennium – and a sprinkling of print damage, most notably during the matte shots in climax with Bishop II, also speaks to the less than pristine condition of the master.

But the reality of the situation is that even if Fincher had wanted to restore the film (and he has expressed great interest in re-mastering his films from their original negatives for Blu-ray as shown with his involvement in the “Fight Club” (1999) and “Se7en” (1995) Blu-rays) I seriously doubt that Fox would have given him the same budget as Scott and Cameron. And that’s if they even extended the offer to him in the first place, which they likely didn’t. This is because, simply, “Alien³” is, without a doubt, the redheaded stepchild of the franchise. On the other hand, we don’t even have to worry about how much Fox might have given the director for his “Alien³” re-mastering project because Fincher would rather we forget that he made the film in the first place, and instead think of “Se7en” as his first feature. It’s a shame too, because “Alien³” is a visually impressive, stylish production, and I think that had it received the same quality director-approved 4K-restoration as the first two films, it would look as good if not better than the previous transfers in this set.

Make no mistake, this is a perfectly palatable high definition image, just that, compared to the first two films, “Alien³” has noticeably less detail, is definitely softer, seems to feature less appreciable resolution, and has flatter contrast and weaker blacks. Rest assured that this new Blu-ray handily makes waste of the comparable standard def DVD. I’m not even sure how much of the films inconsistencies aren’t master related and don’t date back to the original photography. It’s made clear in the supplements that cinematographer Alex Thompson was not a good match for the demanding David Fincher, and that the director often required Thompson to step far too wide outside of his wheelhouse. Add that to the fact the film’s original cinematographer, Jordan Cronenweth, had to leave the production several weeks into principal photography due to health problems, and we’re left with a film that, even without the mild transfer issues, would still be stylistically opposed and suffer from a myriad of issues stemming from the problematic shoot. The differences between Cronenweth and Thompson’s scenes are pretty obvious. The film was mostly shot at a low angle, in an incredibly interesting but also unusual way, with anamorphic lenses. Cronenweth evidently had little problem with this – his scenes seem sharper, more daring and generally less problematic – whereas Thompson’s photography, whether by design, or more likely, lack of technical adeptness, is soft and suffers from some serious focus issues.

I’ve probably made “Alien³” sound much worse than it actually is – the film is reasonably detailed (especially in Weaver’s close-ups), and the colors, contrast and black level are perfectly acceptable, if occasionally washed out and a little subdued (I think that’s the intention though; one must also consider that Fincher’s vision of a dungy, cold and mechanically harsh environment doesn’t exactly make for a picturesque presentation). Is “Alien³” going to be the knockout 1080p rendering that everyone is talking about? Not likely. But there is a sizeable enough different between the DVD and this new Blu-ray to get at least a little excited about it.

“Alien³” video grading: B-

"ALIEN RESURRECTION":

Recently – in fact so recently that I had to make this addendum to my review, and rewrite this entire section, before I could publish it – it’s come to light via a posting on the French filmmakers blog that director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has, essentially, disowned the “Alien Resurrection” Blu-ray transfer. The filmmaker states that the 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 2.40:1 widescreen high definition transfer offers a level of clarity that is no better than DVD. Now, I don’t know if he’s really that upset with the way that the film looks, or if this is just sour grapes for not being invited to remaster and restore his film in the same way as Ridley Scott and James Cameron, but I’m inclined to think it’s the latter simply because the “no better than DVD” comment is baseless hyperbole. In fact, this Blu-ray rendition, like all of the other films, offers a sizeable upgrade over the DVD. It’s true that any issues that I might have with this disc simply arise from the – like “Alien³” – obvious datedness of the master… but to say that this is simply an upscale of the standard def DVD? Ridiculous.

According to Jeunet the new Blu-ray of “Alien Resurrection” is actually sourced from a high definition master minted around the time of the Alien Legacy boxset in 1999. The filmmaker feels that this master, although largely unprocessed, lacks not only detail (it doesn’t) but has too harsh of a grain structure (again, not true). Jeunet pointed to his remaster of “Delicatessen” (1991) – which recently made it’s way onto Blu-ray – as an example of what the director would have done differently in restoring “Resurrection”, and if that film’s transfer is a true indication of what could have been, I’m almost glad that Fox went the cheap route and didn’t contact him. Jeunet’s comments about grain removal aren’t empty promises like those of James Cameron; sure, “Delicatessen” looks fine, but is most definitely been manipulated by DNR and has weird haloes that are the result of a wicked contrast boost. I’d rather take the final "Alien" film as it is – a little softer, but ultimately wholly more filmic – than with the chance that Jeunet would have the chance to slather the film in DNR and aggressive contrast related over-sharpening.

The old transfer is far from perfect, but most of it’s “issues” – crushed blacks, fluctuating detail levels, and a sickly green, yellow and brown color palette – all stem from Jeunet’s intended style, so I can’t outright disapprove of it. Most of the director’s films, especially those shot by cinematographer Darius Khondji, use this color and contrast scheme; those inky and impenetrable blacks and the cinematographers reliance on various filters and unique film stocks play into defining the look of this transfer, both to it’s detriment and benefit. It should be noted that a process called ENR often further exaggerates Khondji’s work – especially on “Alien Resurrection”. It is a unique bleach bypass process that enriches contrast, creating vivid, unrelenting darkness and depth, and is most often why the film has such poor shadow detail. Again, I’m almost glad that Fox didn’t contact the director for this Blu-ray; I’m not really sure that I’d want Jeunet tweaking the film away from this look, and think that he probably would have in his proposed remaster.

Honestly, I quite like the look of “Resurrection”, and while the film rarely shares the aesthetics of the other productions in the "Alien" franchise, this Jeunet-directed outing is without a doubt a captivating experience in style (over substance). The disc has other pluses as well, including near-no print defects and not the least bit of compression noise or motion artifacts; the theatrical cut is also light on instances of haloing and problematic noise reduction. It should be noted however, that the 2003 Special Edition – which, like the “Alien³” Workprint, splices the newly mastered scenes into the theatrical cut – often really does look down right terrible. This is because many of the new scenes in the Special Edition – especially the alternate opening and the tacked on epilogue – rely on cheap looking, often-aliased and definitely low-rez CG, including which actually looks worse than something from a SyFy Original these days. Some of the new scenes exhibit heavily applied edge enhancement and smeary DNR as well. My advice is to stick with the theatrical cut; it looks better and doesn’t have nearly as much cartoonish CGI (that is positively terrible in high definition, I might add).

“Alien Resurrection” video grading: B-

Audio

The four films in the “Alien Anthology” feature consistently satisfactory – and in some cases, truly magnificent – audio tracks. Each film has been re-rendered into DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround (48kHz/24-bit) with various dubs and subtitles also available (see below for details). “Alien” and “Aliens” also include the original 4.1 surround mixes from their 70mm exhibitions, only now digitized in Dolby Digital. It should be noted that Fox has also seen fit to have the cast re-record some of their dialogue on the “Alien³” Workprint. In short, the series of films sound utterly superb. If you don’t care to read much further in this section, here is an overview of my thoughts:

“Alien” is a film of great nuance but also great power. In my mind, because it mixes subtlety and aggressive authority so well, I think the first film offers the “best” mix. Also, Jerry Goldsmith’s score on that film is indubitably the finest of the bunch, so it wins by default. “Aliens” is still a strong mix, but because of it’s intended sound design – it’s rather front heavy and lacking in restraint – I found it to be the most unruly of the group. Sure it has great clarity and depth, but it is also earsplittingly loud and with the exception of the score, almost entirely within the front speakers. “Alien³” is a curious experience because it lacks the brutal low-end that the other films feature so prominently and has a terrible balance between dialogue, music and effects, but, this is only the case for some scenes, and apparently the competing layers of audio are inherent to the original mix and, in a way, intended by design, so I can’t fault the mix too much. Plus, surround activity is pretty brilliant. Finally, if there is one completely positive thing I can say about “Alien Resurrection” it’s that the sound mix is pretty grand. True, it genuinely lacks the control of the first film and is almost defiantly loud at times, but it’s also impressive with excellent clarity. Many of these qualities are shared between all four mixes, but “Resurrection” is the only film in this set without any of the creatively intended flaws heard within the other films. In all, the audio on the “Alien Anthology” is certainly worthy of some praise and I don’t think that anyone could really, truly, be disappointed with any of the tracks. Having said that, do read on if you wish to see some of my more film-centric thoughts on the audio….

"ALIEN":

Fox has included a laundry list of audio options and subtitles on the first film. Of course, the default is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) mix, which is, for the most part, exceptional (more on that later). But they’ve also provided legacy mixes in English Dolby Digital 4.1 surround (48 kHz/640kbps) – a reproduction of the film as heard in 70mm exhibition that is only available on the theatrical version – and English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround (48kHz/224kbps) along with various dubs in Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (48kHz/448kbps), French DTS 5.1 (48kHz/768kbps), German DTS 5.1 (48kHz/768kbps) and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (48kHz/448kbps). Subtitles for the film are available in English, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. Optional subtitles are also included on both the 2003 and 1999 audio commentaries in English, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. For the purposes of this review I listed to the lossless mix.

“Alien” has never really had the type of bombastic, action-oriented audio that we might associate with its sequels. That’s because, with rare exception, “Alien” really isn’t the same sort of conventional action film as those that followed it; it’s a sci-fi horror picture through-and-through. And so, when approaching “Alien” – proper expectations in check (that this will not sound like “Transformers” (2007)) – you’ll realize that, like the true cross between Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) and a cheap monster-horror B-movie that the film really is, Scott’s “Alien” is incredibly subtle, even gimmicky, but also incredibly effective in it’s sound design. For the most part the film lives in a world of sound effects and score. Dialogue isn’t necessarily important, which is why most of it is heard in garbled exchanges via intercoms and radios, or shouted over burst steam pipes. Scott was also interested in manipulating the audio to suit certain scenes, often drowning out dialogue (as is the case at about 22-minutes, when an exchange between Ripley and Parker goes soft under the pressure of rapidly escaping steam) or attenuating Ash’s speech as he talks to the crew after he’s been dismembered. In previous versions these audio effects just sounded like bad mixing to me, but on Blu-ray it’s seems all the more clear as to why the film has been mixed the way it has; the manipulated dialogue heightens the believability and realism. As quiet as the film is, it’s also shockingly startling, with explosive rumbling bass accompanying the transition of the Nostromo landing on the planet’s surface. Expectantly the most easily identifiable upgrade in terms of audio is the haunting but reverent score by the great Jerry Goldsmith. His themes are clear, precise and when called upon, fill the rear surrounds well, creating dense atmosphere. Panning and subtle variance in sound effects is also more noticeable, especially in the music-less climax as Ripley scampering across the steam and smoke filled ship with MU-TH-UR counting down to self-destruct. The mix on “Alien” isn’t conventional in the slightest, but it is most certainly great, and it’s never sounded better than it does on Blu-ray.

“Alien” audio grading: A

"ALIENS":

As with “Alien”, Fox has included a laundry list of audio options and subtitles on the second film, “Aliens”. The default is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) mix, which is, for the most part, very, very good. But they’ve also provided legacy mixes in English Dolby Digital 4.1 surround (48kHz/640kbps) – a reproduction of the film as heard in 70mm exhibition that is only available on the theatrical version – and English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround (48kHz/224kbps) along with various dubs in Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (48kHz/448 kbps), French DTS 5.1 (48kHz/768kbps), German DTS 5.1 (48kHz/768kbps) and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (48kHz/448kbps). Subtitles for the film are available in English, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. Optional subtitles are also included on 2003 audio commentary in English, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. For the purposes of this review I listed to the lossless mix.

Although “Aliens” is probably the most action oriented mix of the series, it’s also one of the least impressive. I say this because, for one, Cameron’s film is very, very, curiously, front heavy. In fact, James Horner’s march-tastic score (for which he received an Academy award nomination) is the only rear element of the mix that is even remotely funneled to the rears. Lack of surround activity isn’t in and of itself a terrible thing – which is why, otherwise, the film sounds quite good – but it’s still a odd experience watching a film that really doesn’t create the same sort of atmosphere as you expect it to. One the upside, this film’s dialogue is sharper and less manipulated than it’s predecessor, and it does bounce across the front speakers very well. But, “Aliens” too has a creative decision to overcome, and unlike the sometimes-soft audio on the first film that actually adds to the realism, Cameron’s choice of sound effects for most of the guns – particularly the Sentry weapons and Vasquez’s shoulder mounted-behemoth – seem oddly brittle, artificial and pointlessly loud (remember, loudness does not necessarily equal clarity). Now, those two issues aside, this is still a very strong mix, and the new DTS-HD Master Audio track is far richer an experience than anything available before it, so I wouldn’t worry too much.

“Aliens” audio grading: B

"ALIEN³":

Unlike its predecessors “Alien³” was mixed in modern multi-channel sound from the get go, and so the mostly pointless legacy English surround options disappear. The default on “Alien³” is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) mix, which is, for the most part, great, but not without problems. Fox has also provided various dubs in Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (48kHz/448kbps), French DTS 5.1 (48kHz/768kbps), German DTS 5.1 (48kHz/768kbps) and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (48kHz/448kbps). Subtitles for the film are available in English, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. Optional subtitles are also included on 2003 audio commentary in English, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. For the purposes of this review I listed to the lossless mix.

The production issues that marred the film’s script and needlessly harmed the visuals extend to the audio as well. Fincher famously walked away from the film at the eleventh hour, during one of the most important moments of the filmmaking process – the editing. This left editor Terry Rawlings to make many of the post-production decisions, including balancing the film’s score, sound effects and dialogue, himself. Unfortunately, the overworked Rawlings, who wanted to walk away with Fincher but was contractually forced to stay on, made more than a few questionable choices, and, to be less-than-kind, some of the film sounds terrible. Not all of it mind you; but many sequences do seem as though Elliot Goldenthal’s score and the sound effects by Gary Gerlich and Gregory Gerlich are competing, and dialogue often gets lost in the fray. Also, interestingly, the film’s original mix in test screenings had such deep bass that audience members complained it made them uncomfortable (think, brown noise episode of “South Park” (1997-Present)). As a result, Fox ordered the film have the low-end frequencies filtered out; bass is still present on the Blu-ray, but it’s not as room-shakingly powerful. The mix certainly has the expected clarity and depth of a lossless track, transitions into the surrounds is more natural compared to the two previous films, and as with the other discs the DTS-HD track makes waste of the lossy DVD renderings, but there is little doubt that “Alien³” is much less refined than the other films simply because of the original production troubles.

“Alien³” audio grading: B

"ALIEN RESURRECTION":

“Alien Resurrection” includes an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) mix, which is, for the most part, great, but not without problems. Fox has also provided various dubs in Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (48kHz/448kbps), French DTS 5.1 (48kHz/768kbps), German DTS 5.1 (48kHz/768kbps) and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (48kHz/448kbps). Subtitles for the film are available in English, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. Optional subtitles are also included on 2003 audio commentary in English, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. For the purposes of this review I listed to the lossless mix.

Again easily besting the lossy audio mix on DVD, “Alien Resurrection” is the only film in the series that I would say actually sounds like a modern mega-budgeted action-blockbuster – as it really should, because compared to it’s siblings that is exactly what the film is. Sharp dialogue, authoritative gunfire and powerful explosions populate the mix. Surround panning is precise and controlled, adding to a sense of immersion, dialogue and action is perfectly balanced, and low-end LFE provides a deep and wide bass groundwork to build from. John Frizzell’s score has an inviting magnetism, tightening atmosphere and making the movie watching experience all the more accessible to the viewer. As I said previously, “Resurrection” may be a pointless, beautiful mistake that has a less-than-perfect high def video transfer, but it certainly is the true auditory highlight of the “Alien Anthology”.

“Alien Resurrection” audio grading: A

Extras

Move over or step down “Blade Runner: The Complete Collector’s Edition” cause there’s a new king of the Blu-ray boxset reigning over the format. The “Alien Anthology” features, as it says in the press release, over 50 hours of bonus content. That’s not a lie. The supplemental package is simply massive and will take anyone a few days if not weeks to navigate through. I have done it, and boy is it a tiring, if enlightening, experience. Fox has included all, and I really mean all of the extras from the previous home video releases of the franchise – that means we get everything from the 2003 Quadrilogy DVD set, all of the material from the 1999 Legacy Collection and even the impressive materials found on the Laserdiscs – all spread over six discs.

Each film offers the choice between two versions: its original theatrical form and some sort of Special Edition alternate cut (complete with introductions). Each film also has an audio commentary – and “Alien” has two. That means there are 5 audio commentaries to choose from. Every disc includes deleted scenes (running anywhere from six minutes to near-an-hour’s worth), at least one isolated score (“Alien” and “Aliens” have two tracks), bookmarks, BD-LIVE and an all-new interactive experience exclusive to the Blu-ray format called “MU-TH-UR Mode”. As if that weren’t enough, discs five and six also house hours of documentaries, featurettes, photo and art galleries, screen tests, screenplays, yet more deleted scenes and even a couple of parody excerpts from the likes of “Family Guy” (1999-Present) and Mel Brooks “Spaceballs” (1987).

Now, a word about a couple of these extras: first there are format exclusives to the new Blu-ray editions of these films beyond the “MU-TH-UR Mode” interactive experience and usual BD-LIVE garbage. I’ve tried to point them out in my word labyrinth below. These include new “Enhancement Pods” which are, essentially, additional featurettes, deleted interviews and screen and makeup tests that are linked to the four “making of” documentaries written and directed by the extraordinary Charles de Lauzirika contained on disc five. Yes, you read that right. The special features have special features – this boxset is simply that substantial. Also, this Blu-ray includes the full 3-hour version of “Wreckage and Rage: Making ‘Alien³’” in it’s original, uncut state. Previously, when it appeared on the Quadrilogy, that particular documentary was cut by nearly 30 minutes at the hands of Fox executives in order to censor any negativity directed at the studio by the cast and crew.

Finally, It should also be noted that while the documentaries haven’t been upgraded to HD – I doubt they are even HD capable, and were probably shot on SD videotape – Mr. Lauzirika has reformatted the material from the original 4:3 aspect ratio (as they are presented on the Quadrilogy boxset) into a more cinematic and HDTV-friendly shape. In order to do this, the documentarian and Blu-ray producer has gone back to the original digital “negatives” and reconstructed the feature-length documentaries for 16x9 widescreen televisions. Purists may cry foul but honestly the effect is extremely well done. This is because the process of reformatting the framing was not a simple center-cut “crop job”, but something more akin to 16x9 transfer of an open-matte super35 production. Lauzirika personally oversaw the repositioning of the titles, intertitles, credits and graphics for the new framing on a shot by shot basis, and where necessary, made alterations with the headroom in order to provide the best possible viewing experience. Heads don’t look chopped off, behind-the-scenes footage doesn’t look cramped… and not only that but, the film clips that appear in these documentaries are finally properly anamorphically enhanced in their correct widescreen format.

Now, without further ado, the exhaustive supplements of the “Alien Anthology”…

DISC ONE: “Alien”

“Alien” includes two versions of the film: Ridley Scott’s 1979 theatrical cut and a 2003 Director’s Cut that contains a couple of new scenes. The director’s cut is around a minute shorter than the theatrical, with approximately six minutes of alternate footage inserted into the film. In an introduction (16x9 480p, 53 seconds) Ridley Scott discusses a few of these changes and the main reason for the cuts existence. Scott insists that he is incredibly proud of the original film, but admits that he couldn’t resist tinkering with his creation after some thirty years of contemplation.

To complement the two versions of the film we get two amazing audio commentaries. Ridley Scott rides solo on an audio commentary recorded for the 1999 Alien Legacy boxset. This track is only available on the theatrical cut. An academic discussion and veritable history on the production of what was only Scott’s second film at the time, this track is excellent stuff. He talks about casting, the style, the impact that “Alien” had on his career, his love for the film (which remains one of his favorites to this day) and plenty more.

Ridley Scott returns for a second audio commentary recorded in 2003 and is joined by star Sigourney Weaver, writers Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, and actors Harry Dean Stanton, Veronica Cartwright and Tom Skerritt. John Hurt and editor Terry Rawlings also offer observations on a few key scenes. Intended to be viewed with the 2003 SE director’s cut, but also available in a re-edited version on the 1979 theatrical cut, this commentary is another great listen. My only slight disappointment with this track is in that it isn’t a roundtable discussion; instead the commentary is comprised of separately recorded interviews from smaller groups – Scott and Weaver, O’Bannon and Shusett, and Stanton, Cartwright and Skerritt, for the most part – that have been edited into a coherent and cohesive dialogue on the making of the film. The topics covered – from the script, to the music, to the inner working of studio politics and back – are interesting and Scott refreshingly fails to come across as repetitive (rarely repeating his comments from the 1999 track) but the transition between the many groups is a little jarring at times.

There are also two isolated scores offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Both tracks are only available on the theatrical cut of “Alien”. Viewers can choose between two flavors of Jerry Goldsmith’s masterful motifs in either the “Final Theatrical” score or a similar, but oddly different, “Composer’s Original” score. The two options offer an intellectually interesting comparison for soundtrack and score nuts like myself, but I’ll freely admit that many people will probably skip right over this section.

For those of us that are fascinated by film music, a welcomed addition to this feature is the “Complete Music Index”. This interactive feature creates a playlist for those who wish to only listen to the music without watching the film in its entirety (a task that would require one to sit through large gaps of silence). The index instead creates all new chapter stops for the film removing any portions of “Alien” that do not have score elements. Using the index also gives listeners extended versions of these themes, taken directly from the scoring sessions (complete with Goldsmith lead ins), essentially giving fans the entire soundtrack for free.

The “Complete Music Index” of the “Final Theatrical” score includes 26 cues:

- Main Title [Newer Version] (4 minutes 1 second)
- Hypersleep [New Version] (2 minutes 53 seconds)
- The Landing [Edited Version] (3 minutes 18 seconds)
- Main Title: Segments [Replaces “The Terrain” and “The Craft”] (3 minutes 8 seconds)
- The Passage [Edited Version] (1 minute 22 seconds)
- The Skeleton [Edited Version] (2 minutes 14 seconds)
- The Terrain [Newer Version] (1 minute 50 seconds)
- Main Title: Segments [Kane approaches the Eggs] (1 minute 15 seconds)
- Hanging On [Newer Version] (2 minutes 58 seconds)
- The Lab (1 minute 3 seconds)
- Eine Kleine Nachtmuzik [Edited Version] (47 seconds)
- The Landing: Segment [The lift-off sequence] (1 minute 26 seconds)
- Nothing to Say [Edited Version] (1 minute 14 seconds)
- Catnip [Edited and Replaced Version] (51 seconds)
- Here Kitty [Edited Version] (37 seconds)
- Nothing to Say: Segment [Dallas computer scene] (1 minute 17 seconds)
- Here Kitty: Segment [Ash attacks Ripley] (1 minute 14 seconds)
- It’s a Droid: Segment (24 seconds)
- Constant High Strings [Loop from “The Passage”] and Parkers Death (1 minute 55 seconds)
- Sleepy Alien: Segment (36 seconds)
- To Sleep [Edited Version] (1 minute 56 seconds)
- In the Cupboard [Newer Version] (3 minutes 16 seconds)
- Out the Door [Newer Version] (2 minutes 3 seconds)
- End Title (2 minutes 48 seconds)
- Bonus Cue: The Skeleton [Newer Version] (2 minutes 11 seconds)
- Bonus Cue: The Eggs (2 minutes 22 seconds)

The “Complete Music Index” of the “Composer’s Original” score includes 23 cues:

- Main Title (4 minutes 7 seconds)
- Hypersleep (2 minutes 52 seconds)
- The Landing (4 minutes 52 seconds)
- The Terrain (2 minutes 8 seconds)
- The Craft (59 seconds)
- The Passage (1 minute 26 seconds)
- The Skeleton (1 minute 56 seconds)
- A New Face (2 minutes 41 seconds)
- Hanging On (3 minutes 37 seconds)
- The Lab (1 minute 11 seconds)
- Eine Kleine Nachtmuzik (1 minute 31 seconds)
- Drop Out (1 minute 7 seconds)
- Nothing to Say (1 minute 45 seconds)
- Catnip (1 minute 16 seconds)
- Here Kitty (2 minutes 14 seconds)
- The Shaft (4 minutes 38 seconds)
- It’s a Droid (3 minutes 38 seconds)
- Parker’s Death (1 minute 49 seconds)
- Sleepy Alien (1 minute 4 seconds)
- To Sleep (2 minutes 5 seconds)
- In The Cupboard (3 minutes 14 seconds)
- Out the Door (2 minutes 16 seconds)
- End Title (2 minutes 46 seconds)

A deleted scene index (in 2.40:1 widescreen 1080p with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround) houses 7 alternate, extended and/or deleted scenes, many of which appear in the 2003 special edition director’s cut. This supplement is for those of you who’d rather watch the scenes by themselves instead of reintegrated into the film. These scenes include:

- “Transmission” (1 minute 35 seconds). Lambert plays the alien signal for the crew.
- “Kane’s weapon” (11 seconds). Kane puts down his gun before he takes a look inside the egg.
- “A slap in the face” (48 seconds). Lambert confronts Ripley outside of the infirmary.
- “Red Rain” (1 minute 50 seconds). Brett’s death scene is extended to include the Alien hauling his flailing body into the air ducts just as Parker and Ripley arrive on the scene.
- “Access Granted” (11 seconds). Ripley, now authorized to access MU-TH-UR on her own, shares a quick exchange of glances with Lambert.
- “Cocooned” (1 minute 51 seconds). Ripley stumbles upon Brett and Dallas.
- “Not a Cat Lover” (10 seconds). The Alien finds Jonesy in his carrier and violently lashes out.

A deleted scene footage marker is included on the 2003 Special Edition. When activated an “x” appears on screen anytime originally deleted footage has been reinserted into the film as to help identify the new from the old.

To better navigate the massive collection of extras found on both this disc and the relevant material contained on the supplemental platters (discs 5 and 6) Fox has created “MU-TH-UR Mode” an interactive data overlay that creates a running index of all that is occurring within the disc supplements at any given time. This feature is kind of hard to describe, but once you see how it works it’s quite nifty, and frankly, simply a godsend considering the hours of supplements found within (not to mention the various dangerous combinations in which you can listen to and watch them). There are three sections – “Auditory”, “Visual” and the ominous sounding “Weyland-Yutani DataStream” – each serving their own purpose:

- The “Auditory” section provides a rundown of the available audio commentaries and isolated score tracks found on this disc, along with what each of those options offer at any given time. For instance, if you are listening to the 2003 audio commentary you can use “MU-TH-UR Mode” to see what Scott is discussing by his lonesome on the 1999 track without actually switching over to that commentary. If you wish to, you can flip to that track by clicking on it.

- “Visuals” allows you to tag topics for latter digestion on the other discs, as well as keep a tally of the material that you have already watched and what remains available to you. Perhaps you’re interested in seeing H.R. Giger’s sketches or would like to hear from Ron Cobb and Roger Christian on the design of the Nostromo interior? If so simply tag the relevant tab in this section and when you insert discs five or six, it will auto-play those sections.

- The “Weyland-Yutani DataStream” isn’t as oppressive or as detailed as it might sound. In actuality the “DataStream” is a glorified trivia track. Now, it’s a very good trivia track no doubt but nothing more than text delivered at a rapid pace. I recommend, for maximum utility (and a double-whammy of info), that the DataStream be played alongside either of the audio commentaries on this disc.

Fox has also included their standard bookmarks feature, although that seems a bit redundant these days because the current Java authoring suite used by Panasonic (who manufactures Blu-rays for Fox) defaults to resume playback anytime you boot up the disc.

Finally, “Alien” is equipped with BD-LIVE. At this time only two film-specific extras are offered. Sigourney Weaver’s screen test called “Ripley & Dallas” runs 2 minutes 21 seconds and is available in either stream (low quality) or download (higher quality) formats. An “Anthology BD Trailer” is just that – a 57 second trailer for the 6-disc Blu-ray collection. It too is offered in stream and download formats, both encoded in 720p high definition.

DISC TWO: “Aliens”

“Aliens” includes two versions of the film: the original 1986 theatrical cut and James Cameron’s 1991 Special Edition. As Cameron says in his included Laserdisc introduction (16x9 480p, 34 seconds): “what you’re about to watch is the special edition of “Aliens”. I actually prefer this version to the release version because, as it’s been best described by one of my friends, it’s 40 miles of bad road. I think it’s a longer more intense and more suspenseful version of the film. The conventional wisdom of the time was: ‘Don’t make the film too long.’ But, at 2 hours and 37 minutes, this is the ride that we always intended for you to take, so enjoy it.” 20 minutes longer than the theatrical, the special edition features some much-needed extra character development for Ripley, and lets not forget, the infamous extended Sentry-gun sequence.

Unlike “Alien”, “Aliens” only has one audio commentary – and it is available on either version of the film – but boy is it a monster of a track. Recorded in 2003 for the Quadrilogy Boxset, the commentary is another edited affair with multiple participants recorded separately and then pieced together to make a better-rounded discussion. These participants include, of course, director and writer James Cameron who talks by himself about the script, characters and visual style, producer Gale Anne Hurd and special effects genius Stan Winston who talk about the numerous production issues, as well as the special effects, and creature design. Visual effects supervisors Robert and Dennis Skotak talk about the films photography and working with Cameron on design. Pat McClung, miniature effects supervisor on the film, is rarely heard from, only piping up when he has something to say about a scene that he was involved in. Lastly, we get comments from the cast (sans Sigourney Weaver) including Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, and Carrie and Christopher Henn. The cast is lively, but none of them are as brash as Skerritt and Stanton on the first film’s cast and crew commentary. If you haven’t by chance already heard this commentary in the seven years it’s been readily available, listen to it. It is without a doubt educational – most Cameron commentaries are (which is why I wish he did more of them).

There are two isolated scores offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Both tracks are only available on the theatrical cut of “Aliens”. Viewers can choose between two flavors of James Horner’s music in either the “Final Theatrical” or a similar, but different, “Composer’s Original” score.

For those of us that are fascinated by film music, a welcomed addition to this feature is the “Complete Music Index”. This interactive feature creates a playlist for those who wish to only listen to the music without watching the film in its entirety (a task that would require one to sit through large gaps of silence). The index instead creates all new chapter stops for the film removing any portions of “Aliens” that do not have score elements. Using the index also gives listeners extended versions of these themes, taken directly from the scoring sessions, essentially giving fans the entire soundtrack for free.

The “Complete Music Index” of the “Final Theatrical” score includes a whopping 45 cues:

- 20th Century Fox Fanfare (14 seconds)
- Main Title and the Shuttle Recovered (2 minutes 52 seconds)
- Crew Enters Shuttle (53 seconds)
- EST. Gateway Station (33 seconds)
- Ripley’s Nightmare (1 minute 5 seconds)
- Ripley Holds Jones (24 seconds)
- Ripley is In / Transition to Sulaco (45 seconds)
- Sulaco Orbit’s Planet (20 seconds)
- Landing Preparation Sequence, pt. 1 (59 seconds)
- Landing Preparation Sequence, pt. 2 (1 minute 56 seconds)
- The Complex [Edited] (1 minute 15 seconds)
- Searching Levels [Edited] (2 minutes 53 seconds)
- Ripley Enters Complex / Into Med Lab (1 minute 35 seconds)
- Marines Detect Newt Moving (42 seconds)
- Bishop’s Exam / Colonists Found (1 minute)
- APC to Atmosphere Processor (44 seconds)
- Marines Enter Alien Hive (1 minute 39 seconds)
- Chestburster Victim (2 minutes 41 seconds)
- Aliens Emerge (1 minute)
- Aliens Attack / Ripley Rescue Sequence (5 minutes 49 seconds)
- Ripley joins Newt under bed (43 seconds)
- Facehugger Attack in Med Lab (4 minutes 24 seconds)
- Lights go off in operations (21 seconds)
- Group seals up operations (37 seconds)
- Aliens approach ops via ceiling (38 seconds)
- Fight in Ops / Escape in vents (5 minutes 15 seconds)
- Explosion makes Newt fall (42 seconds)
- Alien takes Newt (1 minute 38 seconds)
- Ripley Prepares [Film Edit] (3 minutes)
- Ripley finds Newt in hive (1 minute 43 seconds)
- Ripley confronts the queen (1 minute 36 seconds)
- Ripley destroys hive (1 minute 15 seconds)
- Queen Towards Elevator [Sleepy Alien & Parker’s Death from “Alien”] (1 minute 20 seconds)
- Escape [Edited] (1 minute 20 seconds)
- False Ends [Edited] (50 seconds)
- Bishop stabbed [Edited] (2 minutes 12 seconds)
- Opening Airlock [as on ISO track #1] (17 seconds)
- Queen shot into space (50 seconds)
- End Title [Edited] (4 minutes 9 seconds)
- Bonus Cue: Bad Dreams [Alternate] (1 minute 25 seconds)
- Bonus Cue: The Jordens [Special Edition Version] (2 minutes 7 seconds)
- Bonus Cue: “Alright, I’m In” [Special Edition Version] (2 minutes 3 seconds)
- Bonus Cue: Landing preparations [Percussion Only Version] (3 minutes 23 seconds)
- Bonus Cue: Ripley to rescue [Percussion Only Version] (3 minutes 18 seconds)
- Bonus Cue: Ripley Prepares [Special Edition Version – Segment] (3 minutes 20 seconds)

The “Complete Music Index” of the “Composer’s Original” score includes 19 cues:

- Main Title (5 minutes 19 seconds)
- Bad Dreams (1 minute 22 seconds)
- “Alright, I’m In” (1 minute 13 seconds)
- Landing Preparations (3 minutes 29 seconds)
- Landing Drop (1 minute 34 seconds)
- Searching Levels (2 minutes 46 seconds)
- Med Lab (2 minutes 14 seconds)
- Atmosphere Station (1 minute 14 seconds)
- Sub-Level 3 (6 minutes 39 seconds)
- Ripley to rescue (3 minutes 18 seconds)
- Facehuggers (4 minutes 26 seconds)
- Battle in Operations (8 minutes 24 seconds)
- Alien takes Newt (2 minutes 5 seconds)
- Ripley Prepares (2 minutes 58 seconds)
- Egg Chamber [Composed by Robert Garrett] (1 minutes 46 seconds)
- Escape / False End (2 minutes 51 seconds)
- Bishop Stabbed (2 minutes 16 seconds)
- Opening Airlock (17 seconds)
- End Titles (5 minutes 36 seconds)

A deleted scene index (in 1.85:1 widescreen 1080p with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround) houses 16 alternate, extended and/or deleted scenes, many of which appear in the 1991 special edition. This supplement is for those of you who’d rather watch the scenes by themselves instead of reintegrated into the film, although I can’t really see that being the case – most everyone I know prefers the Special Edition. These scenes include:

- “Ripley’s Daughter” (2 minutes 17 seconds). Burke informs Ripley that her daughter died two years ago.
- “Van Leuwen’s Verdict” (47 seconds). Van Leuwen reads the finding of the court of inquiry.
- “The Colony/The Jordens’ Discovery” (5 minutes 40 seconds). The colony is bustling with life and activity. Newt, along with her brother and parents come upon the derelict ship.
- “Burke’s Answer” (20 seconds). At Ripley’s apartment, Burke explains why he’s marking the trip to LV-426.
- “Int. Sulaco” (1 minute 46 seconds). Establishing shots of the Sulaco before the crew awakens from hyper-sleep.
- “Hudson’s Hubris” (48 seconds). As they descend in the Drop Ship to LV-426, Hudson boasts about their advanced weaponry.
- “False Alarm” (43 seconds). Hudson and Vasquez detect motion from the colony, only to find it is pet hamsters.
- “Ripley Pauses” (1 minute). As she enters the colony, Ripley hesitates for a moment.
- “The Sentry Guns” (16 seconds). Hicks reveals they have robot sentry systems. While examining the colony blueprints, Ripley and Hicks discuss where to place the robot sentries.
- “Fire in the Hole” (1 minutes 26 seconds). Hudson and Vasquez set up the UA 571-C Remote Sentry Weapons and following a quick test, seal the tunnel.
- “Last Line of Defense” (12 seconds). The Sentry guns dutifully scan the tunnel for incoming targets.
- “Newt’s Questions” (30 seconds). Newt quizzes Ripley about the fate of her parents.
- “Hudson’s Ant Theory” (37 seconds). Hudson speculates on how the Aliens are organized and reproduce.
- “The Aliens Attack” (1 minute 15 seconds). The sentry guns unload on multiple targets.
- “The Aliens Retreat” (1 minute 47 seconds). Under withering fire from the sentries, the Aliens are temporarily repulsed.
- “First Name Basis” (33 seconds). As Ripley departs the Drop Ship to try and rescue Newt, she and Hicks share their first names with each other.

A deleted scene footage marker is included on the 1991 Special Edition. When activated an “x” appears on screen anytime originally deleted footage has been reinserted into the film as to help identify the new from the old.

Fox has included the “MU-TH-UR Mode”, an interactive data overlay that creates a running index of all that is occurring within the disc supplements at any given time, on “Aliens” too. There are three sections – “Auditory”, “Visual” and the “Weyland-Yutani DataStream” – each serving their own purpose:

- The “Auditory” section provides a rundown of the available audio commentaries and isolated score tracks found on this disc, along with what each of those options offer at any given time. For instance, if you are listening to James Horner’s final theatrical score and would like to know what other music might be playing on the composer’s original score, you can use “MU-TH-UR Mode” to see what that might be, without actually switching over to that alternate score. You want to, you can use “MU-TH-UR Mode” to switch to the track on the fly.

- “Visuals” allows you to tag topics for latter digestion on the other discs, as well as keep a tally of the material that you have already watched and what remains available to you. Perhaps you’re interested in seeing Syd Mead’s concept art for the Sulaco or would like to hear from Richard Landon and Shane Mahan on designing and creating the Chestburster puppet (or even see the effects crew testing the model)? If so simply tag the relevant tab in this section and when you insert discs five or six, it will auto-play those sections.

- The “Weyland-Yutani DataStream” is a glorified trivia track. Now, it’s a very good trivia track no doubt but nothing more than text delivered at a rapid pace. I recommend, for maximum utility (and a double-whammy of info), that the DataStream be played alongside the audio commentary on this disc.

Fox has also included their standard bookmarks feature, and “Aliens” is also equipped with BD-LIVE. At this time only two film-specific extras – the same that appear on the “Alien” disc –are offered. Weaver’s screen test (2 minutes 21 seconds) is available in either stream or download formats. An “Anthology BD Trailer” is just that – a 57 second trailer for the 6-disc blu-ray collection. It too is offered as either a stream or a download, and both options are encoded in 720p high definition.

DISC THREE: “Alien³”

“Alien³” includes two versions of the film: the 1992 theatrical cut and the far more interesting, if still deeply flawed, original Workprint. Nearly 40 minutes longer than the near-two-hour theatrical version, the alternate “Workprint” of “Alien³” brings the film closer to David Fincher’s original vision – or as close as possible considering that he was never allowed to finish the film on his own terms. While the Workprint has been available since 2003, this Blu-ray release Fox back the cast to rerecord their lines for certain scenes fixing a few of the glaring issues with the original audio that appeared on the DVD.

Just one audio commentary (another composite track) is included with “Alien³”, but it’s available on both the theatrical and Workprint versions. No – obviously – Fincher and, again, no Weaver, which is kind of expected, I guess. It’s clear that very few people want to talk about “Alien³”. For what it’s worth Editor Terry Rawlings talks about the difficulties of putting together such a slap-dash film, and has some kind, interesting comments for and about David Fincher. Creature designers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff and visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund talk about the film’s style, effects techniques, camerawork and generally very techie stuff. Even more technical is Cinematographer Alex Thomson’s segment where he spouts off about lighting, filters, lenses, film stock and how he came to work on “Alien³”. Actors Lance Henriksen and Paul McGann offer a few choice words about the film as well, although their presence is fleeting at best… again, I just don’t think people actually want to talk about the film that much. Is this a terrible commentary track? No, actually, it’s not. But “Wreckage and Rage”, the making of documentary on disc five about the troubled “Alien³” production, is far more worth your time.

An isolated score is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, available only on the theatrical cut of “Alien³”. A welcomed addition to this feature is the “Complete Music Index” interactive feature. This feature creates a playlist of Elliot Goldenthal’s score for those who wish to only listen to the music without watching the film in it’s entirety (a task that would require one to sit through large gaps of silence). The index instead creates all new chapter stops for the film removing any portions of “Alien³” that do not have score elements. Using the index also gives listeners extended versions of these themes, essentially giving fans the entire soundtrack for free. The “Complete Music Index” of the “Theatrical” score includes a total of 43 cues:

- 20th Century Fox Fanfare (17 seconds)
- Main Title (4 minutes 31 seconds)
- Main Title [Cont’d] (2 minutes 12 seconds)
- The survivor is a woman (1 minute 55 seconds)
- They didn’t survive (32 seconds)
- The Wreckage (1 minute 36 seconds)
- The dog (28 seconds)
- Morgue (2 minutes 43 seconds)
- Autopsy (2 minutes 9 seconds)
- Outbreak of Cholera (55 seconds)
- The Cremation (3 minutes 58 seconds)
- Chow Down with the Boys (2 minutes 32 seconds)
- How do you like your new haircut? (1 minute 55 seconds)
- First attack (1 minute 13 seconds)
- Appreciative of your affections (1 minute 42 seconds)
- That’s his boot (1 minute 19 seconds)
- A mark, A burn (51 seconds)
- Droid / Rape (2 minutes 29 seconds)
- Candles in the Wind (3 minutes 19 seconds)
- Bishop turned on (2 minutes 17 seconds)
- The Dragon (1 minute 13 seconds)
- You’re Going to Die Too (42 seconds)
- It’s a long, sad story (1 minute 28 seconds)
- Clemens Dies (2 minutes 45 seconds)
- Andrews’ Sting (14 seconds)
- What are we going to do? (4 minutes 24 seconds)
- The Explosion (2 minutes 7 seconds)
- The Aftermath (1 minute)
- I have to get to the ship (1 minute 40 seconds)
- The Beast Within (2 minutes 12 seconds)
- In the basement (1 minute 28 seconds)
- Alien’s Lair (3 minutes 22 seconds)
- It won’t kill me (3 minutes 9 seconds)
- I’m not one for begging (2 minutes 3 seconds)
- This was her idea (55 seconds)
- It’s Started (4 minutes 34 seconds)
- It’s Started, Part 2 (3 minutes 29 seconds)
- More Bait and Chase (2 minutes 20 seconds)
- Trap the Alien / Dillon’s Deliverance (1 minute 44 seconds)
- Gotcha (55 seconds)
- Hello, I Must Be Going (1 minutes 36 seconds)
- You Can Still Have a Life (4 minutes 14 seconds)
- End Credits (5 minutes 42 seconds)

A deleted scene index (in 2.40:1 widescreen 1080p with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround) houses near an hour worth of alternate, extended and/or deleted scenes, all of which appear in the Workprint. There are 31 scenes in this section. This supplement is for those of you who’d rather watch the scenes by themselves instead of reintegrated into the film, although I can’t really recommend doing that – ever. If you’re going to watch “Alien³” watch the Workprint. Regardless, these scenes include:

- “Exterior: Fury 161/First Town Hall Meeting” (5 minutes 42 seconds). After the EEV crash, Dr. Clemens finds Ripley washed ashore and brings her inside. The inmate’s retrieve what’s left of the smashed EEV. Dillon leads the group of double-Y chromosome inmates in prayer.
- “Entering the Morgue” (48 seconds). Ripley and Clemens enter the facility’s morgue. And Clemens asks about Newt.
- “The Abattoir” (2 minutes 4 seconds). The dead ox is dragged into the abattoir, and an inmate finds the Facehugger’s carcass.
- “The Oxburster” (2 minutes 58 seconds). As the funeral for Hicks and Newt proceeds, the Alien bursts forth from the ox in the abattoir.
- “Cafeteria Talk” (2 minutes 57 seconds). Dillon confronts Boggs and Rains about their problem with Golic.
- “Prison Faith” (24 seconds). Dillon explains the inmates’ religion.
- “Ripley and Clemens Inside Assembly Hall” (23 seconds). At the end of this scene, after Ripley explains that she’s been in space “a long time”, Clemens remarks, “so have I”.
- “Post-Coital” (1 minute 32 seconds). Additional dialog between Ripley and Clemens following their intimate encounter.
- “Boggs, Rains, and Golic” (39 seconds). The inmates begin their journey into the bowels of the refinery complex.
- “Clemens Meets with Andrews” (3 minutes 4 seconds). This extended take includes additional dialog at the beginning and ending of this scene.
- “Boggs, Rains and Golic II” (26 seconds). The trio continues its trek deeper into the complex.
- “Golic in Cafeteria” (29 seconds). Following the Alien slaughter of Boggs and Rains, a bloodied-faced Golic sits in the cafeteria eating cereal.
- “Golic in Cafeteria II” (13 seconds). Golic is captured by the group.
- “Golic Rants” (20 seconds). In an extended take we get additional dialog, in the infirmary, as the subdued Golic talks to Ripley and Clemens.
- “Clemens’ Death” (2 minutes 24 seconds). We are treated to additional footage of Clemens’ horrifying death. Dillon admonishes the group for the unraveling of their once harmonious existence on Fury 161.
- “Dillon Preaches” (39 seconds). In additional dialog following the death of Andrews, the group discusses their options.
- “Battery Duty” (1 minute 32 seconds). Two inmates check batteries for use in flashlights. This also includes added shots and additional dialog seen during the fire preparation scene.
- “Fire and Aftermath/Ripley and Aaron Talk” (5 minutes 46 seconds). Additional dialogue on the fire; the Alien is captured; and Dillon mourns the deaths of his brothers. After the fire, Ripley and Aaron talk about killing the Alien.
- “Golic Escapes” (1 minute 43 seconds). Golic escapes his restraints and leaves to find the Alien.
- “Message from the Company” (1` minute 7 seconds). Ripley and Aaron send a message to the company. The company denies permission to terminate the Xenomorph.
- “Golic Frees the Alien” (1 minute 36 seconds). Golic frees the Alien and is immediately killed.
- “Ripley talks to Dillon” (1 minute 13 seconds). Ripley wants to kill the Alien, but Dillon doesn’t care.
- “What do we do now?” (2 minutes 13 seconds). In additional dialog, the surviving group talks about what to do now that the Alien is loose again.
- “To The Furnace” (2 minutes 10 seconds). The inmates discuss how to fight the Alien, before deciding upon the furnace as their best option.
- “Ripley Goes Hunting” (47 seconds). Concluding that the Alien won’t harm her, due to the Queen embryo inside of her, Ripley decides to go looking for it.
- “Ripley convincing Dillon to kill her” (1 minute 35 seconds). Additional dialogue; Ripley tells Dillon about the Queen embryo inside her.
- “Furnace Meeting” (52 seconds). In additional dialog the group talks about whether or not they should fight the Alien or wait until The Company arrives.
- “Preparing for the Chase” (59 seconds). The group preps themselves for the risky “bait and chase” plan.
- “We’re improvising” (32 seconds). When their plan appears to be falling apart, Dillon admits that they’re improvising.
- “A Simple Procedure” (24 seconds). Bishop II assures Ripley they want to remove the Alien from inside her.
- “Alternate Finale: Sacrifice” (1 minute 43 seconds). Bishop II yells to Ripley after being stuck in the head by Aaron and Bishop II yells at the Weyland-Yutani videographer capturing the event. Various added shots of Ripley taking a moment before she hurls herself into the flaming pit of death; a differing shot of Ripley falling into the molten pit, without the Queenburster erupting from insider of her.

A deleted scene footage marker is included on the Workprint. When activated an “x” appears on screen anytime originally deleted footage has been reinserted into the film as to help identify the new from the old.

“Alien³” also includes “MU-TH-UR Mode”, the interactive data overlay that creates a running index of all that is occurring within the disc supplements at any given time. There are three sections – “Auditory”, “Visual” and the “Weyland-Yutani DataStream” – each serving their own purpose:

- The “Auditory” section provides a rundown of the available audio commentaries and isolated score tracks found on this disc, along with what each of those options offer at any given time. For instance, if you are listening to the audio commentary but would like to know what music might be playing on the score, you can use “MU-TH-UR Mode” to see what that might be, without actually switching over to that alternate score. If you wish, you can switch to the other track by clicking on it.

- “Visuals” allows you to tag topics for latter digestion on the other discs, as well as keep a tally of the material that you have already watched and what remains available to you. Perhaps you’re interested in what David Giler thought about making a third “Alien” or want to see on set photos from the infirmary attack sequence? If so simply tag the relevant tab in this section and when you insert discs five or six, it will auto-play those sections.

- The “Weyland-Yutani DataStream” is a glorified trivia track. Now, it’s a very good trivia track no doubt but nothing more than text delivered at a rapid pace. I recommend, for maximum utility (and a double-whammy of info), that the DataStream be played alongside the audio commentary on this disc.

Fox has also included their standard bookmarks. Curiously, unlike the first two discs, “Alien³” doesn’t include a BD-LIVE portal. I guess Fox never plans to offer any downloadable content for this film? Too bad.

DISC FOUR: “Alien Resurrection”

“Alien Resurrection” includes two versions of the film: Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 1997 theatrical cut and a longer, retooled, 2003 Special Edition with a new ending. In his introduction (16x9 480p, 46 seconds) Jeunet says, “The special edition you are about to watch is not a director’s cut. The director’s cut was in theaters in ’97.” Some eight minutes longer, the Special Edition includes a few new scenes, but is mostly different in it’s new opening credits and ending. I prefer the theatrical version myself, but honestly both cuts of the film are so similarly faulty that I can’t say that either version is a favorite.

The final film in the franchise includes an audio commentary. Like the other commentaries in the Anthology (Ridley Scott’s solo track from 1999 excluded) this discussion was compiled from a series of separately recorded interviews and edited into a single track. This commentary includes thoughts from Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Editor Hervé Schneid and concept artist Sylvain Despretz, effects gurus Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, and actors Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman and Leland Orser. Honestly this isn’t as engaging of a talk as the other film’s commentaries. It doesn’t have the majesty or affability of the original films discussion to keep things moving smoothly, nor does it have James Cameron and crew talking about the visual and technical prowess of the sequel which so captivates listeners of the second track, and it certainly doesn’t have the intrigue and production history that at least make the third track listenable. Don’t misunderstand “Resurrection’s” commentary is far from boring… it’s just kind of bland and unmoving, much like the film itself.

The film’s isolated score is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, available only on the theatrical cut of "Alien³". A welcomed addition to this feature is the “Complete Music Index” interactive feature. This feature creates a playlist of John Frizell’s score for those who wish to only listen to the music without watching the film in it’s entirety (a task that would require one to sit through large gaps of silence). The index instead creates all new chapter stops for the film removing any portions of “Alien Resurrection” that do not have score elements. Using the index also gives listeners extended versions of these themes, essentially giving fans the entire soundtrack for free. The “Complete Music Index” of the score includes a total of 48 cues:

- Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare. (24 seconds)
- Alien Resurrection / Main Title (2 minute 12 seconds)
- Entering the Ship [Main Title from “Alien” by Jerry Goldsmith (1 minute 10 seconds)
- The Sak (1 minute 22 seconds)
- Make Us Proud (1 minute 9 seconds)
- Meat By-Product (52 seconds)
- Fiora 16 (1 minute 10 seconds)
- Inbred Motherfucker (41 seconds)
- Docking [Ending Used in Film] (1 minute 19 seconds)
- Life Forms on Ship (1 minute 14 seconds)
- Face Huggers (57 seconds)
- Basketball (1 minute 13 seconds)
- Foot Massage (2 minutes 10 seconds)
- Fast Learner (33 seconds)
- Call & Ripley Segues To (4 minutes 54 seconds)
- Gun Fight (1 minute 16 seconds)
- Alien Escape (1 minute 38 seconds)
- Freeze (1 minute 24 seconds)
- Evacuation (1 minute 11 seconds)
- Blood Drops (2 minutes 24 seconds)
- Hose (19 seconds)
- Elgyn’s Death (2 minutes 22 seconds)
- Ripley Believe It (32 seconds)
- Twelve (1 minute 19 seconds)
- Vriess Reappears (47 seconds)
- Telling Vriess (2 minutes 17 seconds)
- Ripley Meeting Clone [Beginning and Ending Unused] (3 minutes 44 seconds)
- After Tube Blow Up (1 minute 17 seconds)
- The Worker (1 minute 37 seconds)
- What’s Inside (2 minutes 23 seconds)
- Going Under (34 seconds)
- Hillard Dies (1 minute 42 seconds)
- The Web (3 minutes 45 seconds)
- More Web (1 minute 36 seconds)
- Christie Dies (53 seconds)
- Call Reveal (1 minute 5 seconds)
- Call’s Fake (1 minute 48 seconds)
- The Chapel (3 minutes 12 seconds)
- Mean Streak (1 minute 37 seconds)
- Carried Away (3 minutes 50 seconds)
- Purvis Gives Birth (1 minute 21 seconds)
- Birth of the Newborn (3 minutes 30 seconds)
- Ripley to the Betty (2 minutes 2 seconds)
- Undocking (1 minute 5 seconds)
- Call Meets the Newborn (2 minutes 36 seconds)
- Ripley and the Newborn (2 minutes 57 seconds)
- Finale (1 minute 56 seconds)
- Alien March (6 minutes 16 seconds)

A deleted scene index (in 2.40:1 widescreen 1080p with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 suround) houses 11 alternate, extended and/or deleted scenes, which appear in the Special Edition. This supplement is for those of you who’d rather watch the scenes by themselves instead of reintegrated into the film. These scenes include:

- “New Opening Title Sequence” (3 minutes 6 seconds). Now we are greeted with a pullout from an alien bug to a wide shot of the Auriga.
- “Rude Awakening” (17 seconds). The Ripley clone awakens as the operation to remove the Queen embryo concludes.
- “Ripley Remembers” (31 seconds). Upon seeing a picture of a little girl, Ripley has an emotional reaction.
- “Cafeteria Scene” (1 minute 23 seconds). Ripley ask how she was “gotten”. Dr. Wren talks about Wal-Mart buying out Weyland-Yutani. Seriously.
- “Vriess’ Joke” (55 seconds). Vriess kids around with Call.
- “The General’s Quarters” (54 seconds). Perez and Elgyn talk about Call. The General says there’ll be no fighting.
- “What’s Inside Purvis: Parts 1 & 2” (2 minutes). The motley group comes upon Purvis, who has been impregnated.
- “Disposable Weapons” (52 seconds). The group talks about their guns being disposable, before they make the plunge into the flooded kitchens.
- “Interior Chapel: Part 1” (23 seconds). Having gained access to “Father”, Call re-routes the Auriga to crash.
- Interior Chapel: Part 2” (45 seconds). Responding to Call’s desire to help humans, Ripley tells her about a little girl she once new.
- “A New Ending” (1 minute 18 seconds). The Betty lands on Earth, and Ripley and Call have a heart to heart in the middle of the post-apocalyptic wasteland.

A deleted scene footage marker is included on the 2003 Special Edition. When activated an “x” appears on screen anytime originally deleted footage has been reinserted into the film as to help identify the new from the old.

“MU-TH-UR Mode”, an interactive data overlay that creates a running index of all that is occurring within the disc supplements at any given time, is included on the final film. There are three sections to this mode – “Auditory”, “Visual” and the “Weyland-Yutani DataStream” – each serving their own purpose:

- The “Auditory” section provides a rundown of the available audio commentaries and isolated score tracks found on this disc, along with what each of those options offer at any given time. For instance, if you are listening to the audio commentary but would like to know what music might be playing on the score, you can use “MU-TH-UR Mode” to see what that might be, without actually switching over to that score. If you wish, you can switch to the other track by clicking on it.

- “Visuals” allows you to tag topics for latter digestion on the other discs, as well as keep a tally of the material that you have already watched and what remains available to you. Perhaps you’re interested in hearing composer John Frizzell’s thoughts on scoring “Alien Resurrection” or want know about the level of freedom that the special effects crew had when designing the clones? If so simply tag the relevant tab in this section and when you insert discs five or six, it will auto-play those sections.

- The “Weyland-Yutani DataStream” isn’t as oppressive or as detailed as it might sound. In actuality the “DataStream” is a glorified trivia track. Now, it’s a very good trivia track no doubt but nothing more than text delivered at a rapid pace. I recommend, for maximum utility (and a double-whammy of info), that the DataStream be played alongside the audio commentary on this disc.

Fox has also included their standard bookmarks feature. Finally, and this is just strange, “Alien Resurrection” does include a BD-LIVE portal. Why was “Alien³” left out of the loop? Was it a production error or conscious decision to leave one of the four films without Internet connectivity? Anyway… “Resurrection” features the same “Live Extras” as those found on “Alien” and “Aliens” – the 2 minute 21 second screen test and the 57 second “Anthology" trailer.

DISC FIVE: The Making of the Anthology

This disc is home to some 12 hours of documentaries and a further 4 hours of featurettes. Quite literally anything and everything you could possibly want to know and the four films in the “Alien Anthology” can be found here. Broken down into four sub-menus marked “Alien”, “Aliens”, “Alien³” and “Alien Resurrection”, this disc is definitely worth your time.

You’ll notice that options for a “Datasearch” and the “MU-TH-UR Mode” both appear on disc five. The two interactive indexes work in tandem or apart to make menu navigation less confusing… or at least I think that’s the idea. “Datasearch” is simply an alphabetical index of literally everything contained within this discs multi-layered menu structure. Any visual tags that you may have created on the first four discs can be found in the “MU-TH-UR” section. There is also a "Play All" featurettes option that will play the vast amount of video based extras, including the four documentaries, straight on… all 16-plus hours worth, without interruption. I can’t imagine anyone using that option. If any of those three options seem too daunting to tackle, the exhaustive amount of documentaries and featurettes are also available under subheadings clearly marked with the title of each film.

To make things less (or more) baffling Fox has also included a unique “MU-TH-UR Mode” on these documentaries. Unlike the three-tabbed film-centric version of this feature found on discs 1-4, the documentary-focused data overlay includes only two. “Visuals” provides optional tags that link related topics and a “Search Index” which is, well, an alphabetical index of documentary’s contents that is searchable. For the record, all of the supplements on this disc include subtitles in English, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Russian, Castilian, Swedish and Chinese.

The “Alien” section includes Charles de Lauzirika’s truly fantastic feature-length documentary “The Beast Within: Making ‘Alien’” and 27 additional “Enhancement Pod” featurettes. The “Enhancement Pods” are an all-new feature exclusive to Blu-ray containing deleted and extended interviews, screen tests, and blooper footage, some of which was originally recorded for the documentary-proper and some that was shot during production of the films. Unfortunately, Fox hasn’t seen fit to offer “Special Edition” versions of any of the documentaries that reinsert these “Pods”, but all is well because the featurettes can be played as one large chunk with the simple selection of an available “play all” from the menu.

“The Beast Within: Making ‘Alien’” (16x9 480p, approximately 2 hours 55 minutes) is a 9-part documentary that can be viewed either as a cohesive whole when “play all” is selected, or separately. The nine separate chapters include:

- “Star Beast: Developing the Story” (18 minutes 14 seconds). In this chapter Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett talk about the genesis of the script. O’Bannon talks about his disappointment with “Dark Star” (1974), a low-budget spoof of “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) that he made with Carpenter right out of film school, and how that premise morphed into the “Alien” script, which was originally called “Star Beast”. O’Bannon also talks about meeting H.R. Giger on the set of Alejandro Jodorowsky's aborted “Dune” project. Shusett and O’Bannon discuss finishing the script, how the title came about, and the difficulty in trying to get the film financed. They then switch gears and talk about the initial troubles at Brandywine, where Walter Hill tried to take the film away from them with a series of rewrites, and how the film eventually landed at 20th Century Fox under the guidance of Alan Ladd Jr., the man who green lit “Star Wars” (1977).

- “The Visualists: Direction and Design” (16 minutes 41 seconds). Quite expectedly this segments discusses the gathering of talents to create the look of the film. There is discussion on finding Ridley Scott and the realistic, genre-bending approach that came with him. We see some of his storyboards and learn that they were instrumental in getting Fox to double the budget. Dan O’Bannon talks about his push to let Giger design the creature, Scotts instant love of the artists work. Finally, they discuss how Ron Cobb and Chris Foss came to work on the film, and the duties that each performed.

- “Truckers in Space: Casting” (14 minutes 54 seconds). Ridley Scott, O’Bannon, Shusett and others talk about transforming the script – originally written with an all male cast in mind – to fit a female lead. Scott discusses finding Sigourney Weaver who made her feature-film debut in “Alien”. Weaver then talks about her audition and we see a glimpse her audition tape (which is available elsewhere in it’s entirety). The focus shifts away from Ripley to the rest of the cast and Scott’s insistence that he get mostly unknown actors to fill the remainder of the Nostromo crew, but unknowns whom he knew where extremely talented, capable and not in need of a whole lot of direction so he could focus primarily on the design and visuals.

- “Fear of the Unknown: Shepperton Studios, 1978” (24 minutes 3 seconds). This chapter is all about the actual shoot and includes a ton of behind-the-scenes footage and photos. The cast and crew reflect on the rushed, chaotic and often troubled production. Veronica Cartwright, Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver and John Hurt talk about the terribly claustrophobic working conditions and what it was like being on a muggy, smoke filled set for so many weeks. There’s also some really interesting material about Scott’s camerawork – the director shot nearly all of the handheld himself – and how that played into the role that cinematographer Derek Vanlint took on set. Scott’s working relationship with the actors is also touched upon.

- “The Darkest Reaches: Nostromo and Alien Planet” (17 minutes 28 seconds). This section is focused on the design of the sets. Scott wanted a contrast between the Alien world and the human world, so he gave Giger Carte Blanche over designing everything that had to do with the alien, while Ron Cobb and Chris Foss designed the interior and exterior of the Nostromo. The vision was too grand for their meager $8 million budget, so Scott turned to old school movie magic – mirrors, forced perspective, and child actors (his young sons) stepping in for adults in wide shots – to give the picture greater scope.

- “The Eight Passenger: Creature Design” (31 minutes 35 seconds). The first part of this chapter is a profile of H.R. Giger and how the various members of the cast and crew reacted to meeting him. This gives way to a discussion on the practicalities of many of the alien effects including the infamous Chestburster scene. Eventually the conversation shifts to the full-sized Alien, which was perfected by Carlo Rambaldi who was hot of the success of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), and the various iterations of the creatures design.

- “Future Tense: Editing and Music” (16 minutes 28 seconds). Various members of the cast and crew discuss the contributions of Terry Rawlings and Jerry Goldsmith. Rawlings – who was the sound editor on Scott’s debut feature “The Duellists” (1978) – talks about the power of editing (and pacing) especially in horror and the slow-building nature of “Alien”. There is also some interesting discussion about the trimming of certain scenes – a few of which appear in the 2003 director’s cut – so that the film came in at the required two hours. The interview with Goldsmith, talking about how the film, and I quote, “scared the shit out of him” when he first saw it, is awesome. The composer talks about creating themes for the film, and the clashes he had with the producers, director and studio about certain aspects of the score, including the troubles caused by his original main title theme that can be heard in the “Composer’s Original” isolated score track on disc one. Fascinating.

- “Outward Bound: Visual Effects” (18 minutes 52 seconds). Apparently – or so we learn in this chapter of the documentaryRidley Scott purposefully stalled the visual effects crew by changing designs and altering sketches. He did this so that he could personally oversee the model work and spaceship exterior shots, which originally were supposed to be shot alongside principal photography by Brian Johnson (who was prepping for “Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)). Scott’s meticulous nature is discussed along with a detailed look at how many of the effects shots were achieved.

- “A Nightmare Fulfilled: Reactions to the Film” (19 minutes 22 seconds). A disastrous 70mm preview for the Fox execs; bad sound at the first test screening in St. Louis; fainting ushers in a Dallas theater; walkouts and barfing audience members at Veronica Cartwright’s first chance to see the film. The previous eight chapters were full of conflict and intrigue and this final segment is no different. The cast and crew share their thoughts about and experiences with the films release, which was met with both praise and disgust. Dan O’Bannon – the lowly young writer who was involved in every aspect of the production, much to the chagrin of the producers and studio – recounts his emotional reaction to the film’s incredible success. Curiously, associate producer Ivor Powell makes a comment in the final minutes of the documentary about wanting to know where the aliens came from… which is, apparently, the plot of the soon-to-be released prequel… eerie, as “Beast Within” was shot almost eight years ago.

The “Enhancement Pods” featurettes (16x9 480p, approximately 1 hour 19 minutes) can also be viewed either separately or as a whole. The 27 separate featurettes for “The Beast Within” include:

- “Conceiving the Alien Lifecycle” (3 minutes 6 seconds). Dan O’Bannon talks about his creative process, and how he came to decide on the lifecycle of the creature, which is apparently at least somewhat based on the biology of a microscopic bug.

- “The Influence of Jodorowsky’s ‘Dune’” (2 minutes 6 seconds). Sylvain Despretz talks about how Jodorowsky’s, with his abandoned “Dune” adaptation, changed the face of science-fiction film’s by hiring Jean 'Moebius' Giraud, Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger to design, write and create that film. Without the failure of this particular “Dune” film, “Alien” might never have been made.

- “O’Bannon Working with Shusett” (3 minutes 6 seconds). In old interview, Dan O’Bannon, talks about writing “Alien” and how Shusett helped him define the creature. He reveals that the film is actually based on a script that O’Bannon had previously written called “Gremlins” (1984)… of no relation to the Joe Dante film of the same name –unfortunately.

- “Ridley Scott’s Epiphany” (2 minutes 28 seconds). This is another older interview, this time with Ridley Scott. Scott talks about seeing “Star Wars” (1977) and how that influenced his accepting of the “Alien” project.

- “Jon Finch Sets the Record Straight” (1 minute 49 seconds). Finch, who was originally cast as Kane, talks about why he left the film.

- “Finding the Right Ripley” (3 minutes 5 seconds). Producer Gordon Carroll talks about casting the Anthology’s protagonist, and being forced to decide between two women – Meyrl Streep and Sigourney Weaver. Weaver – in an interview recorded on the set of “Alien³” (shaved head and all) – talks about reading the script and her audition. Joss Whedon also talks about the Ripley character via an interview circa 1997.

- “Actors as Props” (1 minute 15 seconds). Production Designer Michael Seymour reminisces about the first day of shooting. He tells a story about Ridley Scott spending 2 and a half hours laying down track, blocking shots, getting the lighting just right, and all sort of other preparation in order to get a sequence, but only after doing all of this did Scott realize that he completely forgot about staging the actors.

- “Sigourney Weaver Learns the Ropes” (58 seconds). Sigourney Weaver talks about the importance of not looking at the camera.

- “The Functional Art of Ron Cobb” (1 minute 25 seconds). Sylvain Despretz provides a minor profile of art director Ron Cobb and his Nostromo set design.

- “Dailies: Parker and Brett Ad-lib” (7 minutes 59 seconds). This is rare never-before-seen raw footage between Yaphet Koto and Harry Dean Stanton, as they shoot the engine room scene.

- “That Used Future Look” (4 minutes 11 seconds). Michael Seymour, Ridley Scott, and Dan O’Bannon talk about creating the dirty, used look that was born from Scott’s realistic approach.

- “Bolaji Badejo Alien Movement Tests” (5 minutes 19 seconds). This includes various screen tests that were shot to see how the costume reacted to light, fit within the frame and so on.

- “Discovering Bolaji Badejo” (1 minute 57 seconds). Producer Ivor Powell talks about being tasked with finding a lanky model to play the Alien, and his eventual casting of Badejo.

- “Giger on Giger” (2 minutes 11 seconds). The artist talks about his upbringing and how that has affected his work.

- “The Disturbing Brilliance of H.R. Giger” (5 minutes 45 seconds). Sylvain Despretz, Richard Edlund, Alec Gillis and Dan O’Bannon talk about the unique qualities of Giger’s dark designs.

- “James Cameron Dissects ‘Alien’” (2 minutes 10 seconds). The “Aliens” director offers his thoughts on the first film, why it works; it’s lasting effect on cinema and the creature itself.

- “Cocoon of Love” (3 minutes 15 seconds). Tom Skerritt talks about a scene where Ripley finds Dallas cocooned in the bowls of the ship and how it became one of the most troublesome scenes of the shoot. Scott talks about why he cut the scene in his final cut.

- “Jerry Goldsmith Recalls ‘Alien’” (2 minutes 49 seconds). The composer talks about the purpose and structure of a feature film score. He comments that this particular film allowed him a bit of creative freedom, but ultimately his work was consistently clashing with the visuals and tone. Goldsmith is refreshingly candid about his original thoughts on the film.

- “Goldsmith on Silence” (3 minutes 7 seconds). As this featurette starts Jerry Goldsmith remarks, “I think, today, there’s an overuse of music in films.” The composer talks about the use of silence and the importance of subtle scoring and knowing when not to use music in scenes.

- “The Pros and Cons of Temp Tracks” (2 minutes 27 seconds). Powell, Scott and others discuss the clashing musical ideals between Goldsmith and Scott and how the latter preferred, to much contention of the former, a piece of place holder music from one of Goldsmith’s other scores.

- “Same-sex Relationships in Space” (1 minute 24 seconds). Ridley Scott talks about the subtle hints in the film about a sexual relationship between Dallas and Ripley, and later, Ripley and Lambert. He says he found the Ripley-Lambert subtext far more interesting and believable, but decided that neither subplots were needed in the final film so he removed both.

- “Toy Birds of Destruction” (59 seconds). Scott talks about a deleted sequence involving a pair of nodding birds that dipped in time with the self-destruct countdown.

- “Oscar Night Memories” (1 minute 39 seconds). Visual effects supervisor Brian Johnson talks about the surprise of “Alien” winning an Oscar over “1941” (1979).

- “Test Footage: Nostromo on Forklift” (51 seconds). Test footage of the Nostromo separating from its payload.

- “End of a Genre” (2 minutes 25 seconds). O’Bannon talks about being late to the monster-horror genre and how “Alien” is his “Chinatown” (1974). In his words, all monster movies made after “Alien” were sort of made irrelevant simply by the existence of the film, in the same way that “Chinatown” is the ultimate detective movie and that nothing else compares to Roman Polanski’s masterpiece.

- “First Impressions” (5 minutes 38 seconds). Many members from the casts and crews of the follow-up films in the franchise talk about the first time they saw “Alien”.

- “O’Bannon’s Fight for Credit” (5 minutes 56 seconds). I take back everything nice I ever said about Walter Hill. Screw “Johnny Handsome” (1989). The crap that Hill made poor Dan O’Bannon suffer through is despicable. In this featurette O’Bannon talks about the lawsuit he filed against Hill after the hack procuder/director tried to take sole credit for the “Alien” script.

The “Aliens” section includes another of Charles de Lauzirika’s truly fantastic feature-length documentaries called “Superior Firepower: Making ‘Aliens’” and 25 additional “Enhancement Pod” featurettes. The “Enhancement Pods” are an all-new feature exclusive to Blu-ray containing deleted and extended interviews, screen tests, and blooper footage, some of which was originally recorded for the documentary-proper and some that was shot during production of the films.

“Superior Firepower: Making ‘Aliens’” (16x9 480p, approximately 3 hours 6 minutes) is an 11-part documentary that can be viewed either as a cohesive whole when “play all” is selected, or separately. The eleven separate chapters include:

- “57 Years Later: Continuing the Story” (11 minutes 5 seconds). Producer Gordon Carroll talks about hiring James Cameron to write the script for an “Alien” sequel even though Fox really had no interest in doing one. Cameron was given directing duty after the success of “The Terminator” (1984) and quickly set about creating a film that honored the original without being a carbon copy

- “Building Better Worlds: From Concept to Construction” (13 minutes 29 seconds). Peter Lamont, one of the creative minds behind some of the more elaborate sets in the "James Bond" franchise (1962-2008), talks about his contributions to the film, which included the new cryo chambers, and how a lot of movie magic disguised their meager $18 million budget. Ron Cobb and Syd Mead talk about collaborating with James Cameron on designing the “Aliens” world.

- “Preparing for Battle: Casting and Characterization” (17 minutes). Producer Gale Anne Hurd talks about casting, with a focus on the Marines – Vasquez, Drake and Hudson especially. Lance Henriksen talks about creating the Bishop character and the difficulties in trying to follow in the footsteps of someone like Ian Holm. Cameron, Hurd and the cast – including Sigourney Weaver – talk about the brilliance in having the marines train together and build camaraderie, then forcing Weaver/Ripley into the mix after the fact. Fiction and reality blurred and she was viewed as an outsider both on set and off.

- “This Time, It’s War: Pinewood Studios, 1985” (19 minutes 39 seconds). Or, as it could be subtitled, “Tales from the Set” – there’s a lot of discussion about principal photography and the film’s bumpy start to the production. Cameron fired his original director of photography Dick Bush over creative differences, and replaced him with wunderkind Adrian Biddle whom he borrowed from Ridley Scott’s commercial production company. There is also some talk of Michael Biehn’s last minute casting. The crew, including creature effects coordinator Alec Gillis, talks rather openly about the tension on the set between the predominately British-crew and the oft-tyrannical director.

- “The Risk Always Lives: Weapons and Action” (15 minutes 12 seconds). John Richardson and armorer Simon Atherton talk about adapting practical, reliable blank-firing weapons into the futuristic creations designed by Syd Mead, Ron Cobb and James Cameron. Stunt coordinator Paul Weston and others talk about the stunts and the dangers of putting the actors in situations with real flamethrowers. The cast reflects on their thoughts on and relationships with guns. Rather disappointingly it seems that the genders were pretty expectedly divided on the topic – the men loved them, the women… not so much.

- “Bug Hunt: Creature Design” (16 minutes 23 seconds). Stan Winston, James Cameron, Alec Gillis and others talk about the new creature designs in “Aliens”. There is a lot of discussion about wanting to honor the original film while still improving on and creating unique versions of the Chestburster, Facehugger and full-grown Xenomorph for the sequel. Many of the designs were just slightly altered to add additional detail and greater articulation. The huge collection of test and behind-the-scenes footage in this chapter of the documentary are truly remarkable.

- “Two Orphans: Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn” (13 minutes 48 seconds). Weaver and Henn spent a number of weeks together towards the end of the shoot, long after the rest of the cast had left. They discuss the bond that grew between during visual effects photography. Carrie Henn talks about being directed by Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd talks about making sure that Henn wasn’t too frightened by the creature. Focus then shifts to Weaver and Ripley, her makeup, shooting the scene where Ripley rescues Newt, and the actress’s reaction to the prominent use of guns in the film.

- “Beauty and the Bitch: Power Loader vs. Queen Alien” (22 minutes 25 seconds). This chapter John Rosengrant, Stan Winston and many others from the creature and effects crew discuss the creation of the Alien Queen and the non-involvement of H.R. Giger. There is some talk of how they shot the Bishop death scene. Finally, they talk about creating the mech-suit and shooting the final battle between the Queen and Ripley in the loader.

- “The Final Countdown: Music, Editing and Sound” (15 minutes 31 seconds). Crunch time. Editor Ray Lovejoy, composer James Horner and sound editing crew were all under enormous pressure to do their part, but hyper-perfectionist James Cameron’s constant reshoots and re-edits made that a near-impossibility. Horner talks about being forced to write a score in less than six weeks without actually being able to see the film in it’s finished state, and the fallout (and subsequent reconciliation on “Titanic” (1997)) he had with Cameron over the chaotic working conditions. There is also some talk about the difficulty of compiling “Aliens” on film, in a world without computer-aided, nonlinear editing tools like AVID or Final Cut, and Cameron’s frequent notes and tweaks that almost destroyed the studios planned release window for the film.

- “The Power of Real Tech: Visual Effects” (27 minutes 47 seconds). Effects, effects, effects. More talk of design and the practicality of using rear projection, miniatures, models and so one to create some of the films more fantastical scenes. There’s a discussion on designing the colony, and shooting the scenes with the Sulaco, Drop Ship, APC and even the final battle between the Queen and the Power Loader. We learn about the pyrotechnics, forced perspective and over and under-cranking used to achieve many of these shots, and even get to see a lot of the BTS and test footage from these monumental achievements. There is also a really funny story about the visual effects crew being so good at their jobs that they actually tricked a couple of executives who were outraged when screening dailies, to see a massive, expensive set… which was actually just a well crafted miniature.

- “Aliens Unleashed: Reaction to the Film” (12 minutes 33 seconds). Much like the final chapter of the first documentary, this section provides a sort of parting thoughts for the cast and crew. They reflect on the promotional campaign, the joy they felt during its theatrical release, and the overwhelmingly positive reaction the film received from executives, critics and moviegoers. The surprise of the Oscar nomination for Sigourney Weaver is also touched upon.

The “Enhancement Pods” featurettes (16x9 480p, approximately 58 minutes) can also be viewed either separately or as a whole. The 25 separate featurettes for “Superior Firepower” include:

-“Without Sigourney Weaver” (1 minute 28 seconds). Producer David Giler talks about the original idea of making a sequel without Ripley and instead casting a male lead.

- “Origins of Acheron” (2 minutes 2 seconds). Cameron talks about the colonized planet and where it’s name comes from.

- “Building Hadley’s Hope” (3 minute 28 seconds). Peter Lamont talks about designing and constructing the colony on LV-426 and trying to make the look of the planet different than what was seen in “Alien”.

- “Cameron’s Design Philosophy” (2 minutes 23 seconds). The director talks about designing sets and costumes that make logical sense in the context of the script, that serves a purpose to the overall narrative of a film.

- “Finding an Unused Power Plant” (2 minutes 8 seconds). In a vintage interview, Peter Lamont talks about finding a location for the atmosphere generator, and how the Acton Power Plant became base of operations for the colony compound scenes in the film.

- “Cameron’s Military Interests” (1 minute 25 seconds). The director talks about his interest in the foot solider and their perceived fight with authority; he also discusses the possibilities of exploring future weaponry and technologies.

- “Working with Sigourney Weaver” (5 minutes 26 seconds). Biehn and Paxton talk about Weaver’s demeanor on set and how she embodied Ripley both on and off cameraGale Anne Hurd talks about Weaver’s pre-scene facial exercises.

- “The Importance of Being Bishop” (1 minute 28 seconds). Lance Henriksen talks about his audition and trying to the performances of other actors playing androids on film – primarily Ian Holm in “Alien” and Rutger Hauer in “Blade Runner” (1982).

- “Paul Reiser on Carter Burke” (1 minute 22 seconds). The actor discusses his character and trying to balance comedy with dramatic acting.

- “The Paxton/Cameron Connection” (2 minutes 18 seconds). Paxton talks about working with Cameron on “Galaxy of Terror” (1981), introducing the director to Michael Biehn, and being cast in “The Terminator” (1984).

- “Becoming Vasquez” (1 minute 8 seconds). Jenette Goldstein talks about her character and the prep work that went into becoming the most badass space marine in the film.

- “On Set: Infiltrating the Colony” (3 minutes 13 seconds). This is some very interesting vintage footage of Cameron directing the actors on the set of the film.

- “Props: Personal Light Unit” (38 seconds). Armorer Simon Atherton and Jenette Goldstein give a quick demo of the PLU.

- “Simon Atherton Talks Weapons” (2 minutes 1 second). Just as the title states, the armorer discusses designing the futuristic, and fully functional, weapons seen in the film.

- “Praising Stan Winston” (1 minute 41 seconds). The cast and crew provide a profile of Stan 'The Man' Winston. Gale Anne Hurd details how she and Cameron met and formed a personal as well as professional relationship with the special effects wizard.

- “Test Footage: Chestburster” (1 minute 21 seconds). The effects crew tests the articulated Chestburster.

- “Fighting the Facehugger” (1 minute 18 seconds). Michael Biehn talks about Ripley, Hick and Hudson’s fight with the Facehugger and says that it’s his most memorable experience on set.

- “Test Footage: Facehugger” (7 minutes 29 seconds). The effects crew talks about the new design for the Facehugger and we see a long demo reel of the crew working on bringing it to life via test footage.

- “Stan Winston’s Challenge” (1 minute 48 seconds). Winston talks about his draw to film. He admits that he usually dislikes being involved in sequels but wanted very badly to work with Cameron again.

- “Test Footage: Queen Alien” (4 minutes 49 seconds). This is old camcorder footage of Cameron and the effects crew testing the Queen, putting the creature through various scenarios.

- “Stan Winston’s Legacy” (2 minutes 37 seconds).Richard Landon and John Rosengrant talk about the brilliance of their boss.

- “Cameron’s Cutting Edge” (1 minute 33 seconds). James Cameron speaks to the power of editing and pacing.

- “Sigourney Weaver’s Triumph” (1 minute 39 seconds). Bill Paxton talks about Sigourney Weaver’s power as an actress and her Academy Award nomination as Ripley in “Aliens”.

- “Re-Enlisting with Cameron” (1 minute 25 seconds). Tom Woodruff talks about working with the director on “The Terminator”, the amount of work that was to be expected of him on “Aliens”, and how, in the end, it was all worth it.

- “From Producer to Stunt Double” (2 minutes 31 seconds). Gale Anne Hurd talks about putting on Jenette Goldstein’s costume and doing the close up of Vasquez shooting the Alien with a handgun.

The “Alien³” section includes “Wreckage and Rage: Making ‘Alien³”, a feature-length documentary by Charles de Lauzirika, along with an additional 29 “Enhancement Pod” featurettes. The “Enhancement Pods” are an all-new feature exclusive to Blu-ray containing deleted and extended interviews, screen tests, and blooper footage, some of which was originally recorded for the documentary-proper and some that was shot during production of the films.

Fox notoriously re-cut this documentary on the Quadrilogy boxset to remove any footage that they thought cast the studio in a poor light, which resulted in the director removing his name from the credits (instead crediting the documentary to Frederick Garvin – as in Dan Akroyd’s male prostitute character seen on “Saturday Night Live” (1975-Present)). Thankfully, for this new Blu-ray edition Lauzirika’s name has been restored to the credits of “Wreckage and Rage” ((16x9 480p, approximately 3 hours), and with it, the documentary’s runtime now clocks in at the original length. The 11-part documentary can be viewed either as a cohesive whole when “play all” is selected, or separately. The individual chapters include:

- “Development Hell: Concluding the Story” (17 minutes 42 seconds). David Giler, Gordon Carroll and original director Renny Harlin talk about the original concepts for the third entry into the “Alien” series. There’s some really interesting stuff about an early David Twohy script (which apparently turned into his “Riddick” franchise (2000-2004)), the possibility of the “Aliens” cast returning for a sequel directed by James Cameron, and the general lack of direction that the film had in the beginning stages. The topic shifts to Renny Harlin’s departure and the hiring of Vincent Ward, who rewrote the script and expanded the story. Everyone was very excited by the prospect of a Ward-directed “Alien³”, or so you gather from the way the production crew discuss what could have been. Some of Ward’s artwork is shown and it seems like it would have been… interesting. Ward’s departure is mentioned, as is the hiring of David Fincher.

- “Tales of the Wooden Planet: Vincent Ward’s Vision” (13 minutes 11 seconds). More talk of what could have been, with a focus on Ward’s wooden “planet” and his original story about Ripley meeting a monastic order of ludditian monks living in space. The concept art and ideas that Ward discusses are interesting, even if I’m not sure that it would have been a better film than what we got.

- “Stasis Interrupted: David Fincher’s Vision” (14 minutes 13 seconds). Production Executive Jon Landau talks about David Fincher being hired without a finished script and the difficulties that the director faced from the outset. Sigourney Weaver talks about meeting the director and her immense love for him right from the moment that she heard his thoughts on a bald Ripley. Fincher’s ideas are discussed, as are the rewrites of Vincent Ward’s script, which were so terrible that it prompted the production to shutdown. Basically, the producers were putting the “cart before the horse” and Fincher never really had a chance. Michael Biehn talks about the death of his character – and the fight to keep his likeness out of the movie. The conversation shifts to Walter Hill and David Giler’s new script and the conflict between the producers/writers and the director, who was being constantly being undermined.

- “Xeno-Erotic: H.R. Giger’s Redesign” (10 minutes 20 seconds). Originally, Fincher had wanted H.R. Giger to come back and design the film new Alien – from the Bambiburster stages to the more doglike full-grown thing. Of course, like so much of what the director wanted to do with “Alien³”, the producers and the studio got in the way and those plans fell through. Giger talks about his designs (and shows off his sketches) and why he and Fox eventually parted ways. Alec Gillis and the creature effects crew talk about the day that Gigers input stopped coming.

- “The Color of Blood: Pinewood Studios, 1991” (23 minutes 42 seconds). Where Ridley Scott and James Cameron had the freedom and ability to be obsessively meticulous during the shooting of their films, “Alien³” director David Fincher was rushed by executive producer Ezra Swerdlow to go, go, go and not stop to get things right. He and Fincher clashed over this and production almost shutdown many times because of it. To make matters worse, the film’s original cinematographer, “Blade Runner” legend Jordan Cronenweth, had to leave the production to do his worsening Parkinson’s. His replacement, Alex Thompson, tried best to capture the look that Fincher wanted but fell short in many cases, simply because Thompson, who came from the old school, couldn’t imagine what the director was foreseeing. The famous corridor chase sequence is touched upon, as is Steadicam operator Peter Robinson’s unique camera flip move.

- “Adaptive Organism: Creature Design” (20 minutes 58 seconds). Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff talk about abandoned concepts and proposed creature effects, including a “super-Facehugger”, which implanted the Queen inside Ripley, and the infamous bambiburster and Oxburster sequences all of which ended up deleted from the final cut. Richard Edlund and others talks about the concepts and creatures as well. The most interesting aspect of this chapter is that it features a ton of test footage and dailies. For what it’s worth, both of the sequences can be seen, partly, in the Workprint Version of the film. The discussion then switches to the crash-effected Bishop and how that was achieved, again with test footage documenting the wealth of problems that they had with the puppet.

- “The Downward Spiral: Creative Differences” (14 minutes 55 seconds). As the film falls apart the cast and crew is forced to take sides, and while most of the actors side with director David Fincher, the crew, who find Fincher unpleasant, over-demanding and callous, either abandon the project or side with the producers. They reflect on the brilliance (madness) of the then 28-year old, and talk about the trouble brewing between Walter Hill, David Giler and David Fincher that eventually bubbled over affecting everyone on set. This chapter kind of devolves into a blame game, and quite expectedly the producers – Ezra Swerdlow and GiIer in particular – focus primarily on the faults of Fincher and a young Fox executive named Jon Landau (who went on to produce “Avatar” (2009)… for what that’s worth). Unfortunately, Fincher didn’t participate in this documentary (and is only seen in BTS footage) so he can’t counter what is being said… it’s all very one sided and kind of telling in a way because of that.

- “Optical Fury: Visual Effects” (24 minutes 4 seconds). Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff, Richard Edlund and others discuss the use of the new much more agile Alien puppet, the use of miniatures, and generally provides an overview of the effects work. The opening scenes with the EEV crash, the corridor chase sequence, and many other key effects heavy moments are dissected by the crew. They talk about what they are most happy with, how technology has changed today, and what they think they might have done differently looking back, and briefly discuss the early use of CGI in the film.

- “Where the Sun Burns Cold: Fox Studios L.A., 1992” (17 minutes 33 seconds). In the final days of the troubled production Fox began to take drastic measures, like shipping the entire production back to the States. As Ezra Swerdlow states, “We didn’t wrap. We just stopped shooting.” The film started without a script and ended without a finish product. Full of massive holes, with a need for re-shoots – on top of final shoots for the climax – and a slew of other problems led Fox to send Fincher to editing room where he, along with Terry Rawlings, produced a bloated 3 hour version of the film that Giler, Carroll, Swerdlow, Landau and the Fox executive reported hated. In large part, this version is included on the Blu-ray in the Special Edition Workprint, and honestly, yes it’s flawed, but it’s still a better film that the theatrical version that the suits cooked up. There’s a lot of talk about the dissatisfaction with grotesque nature of Fincher’s 3-hour cut, the meetings after meetings after meetings about what needed to be shot, what needed to be re-shot and what needed to be cut from the film. There’s a discussion of the problems with the re-shoots, the fight between Fincher and the executives over the ending (basically, Queenburster or no Queenburster) and the clashing of wills that stalled the production even more.

- “Requiem for a Scream: Music, Editing and Sound” (14 minutes 53 seconds). Composer Elliot Goldenthal talks about how he came to work for Fincher and scoring “Alien³” in general. He says that it was a difficult job, especially trying to follow in the footsteps of Goldsmith and Horner. Sound Editors Gary Gerlich and Gregory Gerlich talk about finding the right balance between score and sound effects, creating wet-wound Foley effects and how the original mix of the film had such low bass that it disturbed moviegoers. Goldenthal and the Gerlich brothers talk about the tension between the score and sound edits. There is also a tiny bit of discussion about the disappearance of Fincher in the 11th hour (during the L.A. Riots no less) and the roll that meant Terry Rawlings took in finishing the film.

- “Post-Mortem: Reaction to the Film” (8 minutes 24 seconds). The cast, crew, Renny Harlin, and Vincent Ward share their thoughts on the film. Many of them feel that it’s a decent, but incredibly flawed compromise of a film, which I don’t disagree with. There are some great ideas in “Alien³” and the style and design is definitely intriguing, but those damn executives and bone-headed producers robbed audiences of what could have been a great movie, and not just an extremely interesting, mildly entertaining mistake.

The “Enhancement Pods” featurettes (16x9 480p, approximately 1 hour 14 minutes) can also be viewed either separately or as a whole. The 25 separate featurettes for “Wreckage and Rage” include:

- “Renny Harlin Quits” (1 minute 49 seconds). Renny Harlin, the original director of “Alien³” talks about leaving the film in frustrated disappointment.

- “Explaining the Wooden Planet” (2 minutes 45 seconds). Martin Asbury, Pat McClung and David Giler talk about Vincent Ward’s idea of the medieval wooden planet. Bob Ringwood talks about the original story and the latent homoerotism of the concept.

- “Ezra Swerdlow’s Concerns” (1 minute 10 seconds). The executive producer talks about the mess of a script that he was handed the day he arrived on set.

- “Intimidating Baldies” (2 minutes). Danny Webb and Paul McGann talk about the way people treat you when you’re bald. McGann recounts that he was constantly pulled over because he look like a skinhead.

- “Roaming the Fury 161 Set” (4 minutes 1 second). An old videotaped tour of the empty “Alien³” prison set, backed by excerpts from Elliot Goldenthal’s score.

- “The Art of Storyboarding” (2 minutes 33 seconds). Storyboard artists Martin Asbury talks about the concept of storyboarding and its role in moviemaking. Asbury’s art is showcased.

- “Hick’s Alternate Future” (1 minute 56 seconds). Michael Biehn talks about how Hicks added another dimension to the Ripley character, and how he thought Hicks should have died in the third film.

- “Costuming for Character” (1 minute 38 seconds). Bob Ringwood talks about his approach in creating costumes for characters and actors and the purpose of the costume designer in the production of a film.

- “On Set: Filing the Alien’s POV” (2 minutes 26 seconds). In this vintage BTS footage we see Fincher conversing with the Steadicam operator during the shooting of the corridor chase sequence.

- “Head Casting with Charles Dutton” (2 minutes 53 seconds). This featurette contains vintage footage with Alec Gillis and Dutton, explaining the plaster-cast process and the application of the head cast for the Dillon character.

- “On Set: Filming the Oxburster” (3 minutes 12 seconds). And still more BTS material; this time Gillis and crew shoot the Oxburster scene, which was later removed from the film (and reinserted for the 2003 Special Edition).

- “Sausage-Motivated Alien Whippet” (2 minutes 3 seconds). An interviewer talks to the owner of the Whippet that played the Alien for a scene of the film.

- “Fincher’s Alienation” (3 minutes 42 seconds). Various members of the cast and crew discuss the troubles between David Fincher, Jon Landau and the studio. They discuss the success and freedom that Fincher was used to and the hellish working conditions.

- “Lance Henriksen Returns in Style” (1 minute 21 seconds). Henriksen talks about his decision to reprise his role and return to the franchise, which he admits he did out of loyalty to Walter Hill.

- “Sucking up to Fincher” (6 minutes 32 seconds). The cast and crew discuss the greatness of the then-young David Fincher. His experience and expertise was clear from the get go, with loads of visual style, and even on his first studio production, he seemed to understand the medium of film better than most.

- “Detailing the EEV Miniature” (1 minute 28 seconds). David Jones talks about the materials used to create the full-size EEV and how they were translated into scaled details on the miniature model.

- “Matte Painting Memories” (8 minutes 3 seconds). Paul Lasaine discusses the use and creation of the few matte paintings featured prominently in the opening of the film. He also shows off some of his artwork. Lasaine also talks about compositing matte work without the use of digital tools.

- “How to Make Alien Acid Saliva” (1 minute 12 seconds). Model shop supervisor David Jones talks about using acetone and Styrofoam to create the acid saliva effect featured in the opening scene.

- “The Sulaco’s Cameo” (1 minute 7 seconds). Paul McGann talks about bringing back the Sulaco model, which had fallen into the hands of a collector in the six years since “Aliens” wrapped, for the film’s opening sequence.

- “The Weaver Wagger” (2 minutes 28 seconds). David Jones talks about achieving the falling effect featured in the Ripley death scene.

- “Bald Cap Blues” (2 minute 42 seconds). Greg Cannom talks about being brought back twice– for a photo shoot and the new ending – to work on Weaver’s baldhead makeup effects.

- “Bragging Rights” (1 minute 3 seconds). Peter Robb-King talks about an American technician who had worked on the film for 10 days during L.A. shoot that was walking around Hollywood taking credit for the make up on the whole film.

- “Stealing Sigourney’s Top” (56 seconds). Greg Cannom talks about wanting to take the Chestburster tanktop that Weaver wore on the last day of shooting.

- “Creating the Alien Sounds from Scratch” (2 minutes 25 seconds). The Gerlich Brothers talk about not wanting to use the sounds effects from the first two films, and creating new Foley effects.

- “Dangerous Location Recording” (1 minute 49 seconds). The Gerlich’s return to talk about putting their assistant in compromising positions to get the sounds that they needed for the film.

- “Painful Low End Frequencies” (46 seconds). Again, the Gerlich’s talk about the sound – in particular the deep low-end bass that was filtered out of the track.

- “The Power of Silence“ (3 minutes 15 seconds). Finally, the Gerlich’s talk about the importance of knowing when to use and not use sound, as well as the subtle changes in volume and power that can manipulate the audience.

- “Ripley’s Evolution” (2 minutes 14 seconds). Sigourney Weaver talks about the evolution and growth of the Ripley character throughout the first three films.

- “Mixed Reactions” (4 minutes 19 seconds). Many of the cast and crew from the other films in the franchise (and would-be writer/director Vincent Ward) share their thoughts and feelings on the third film. Some loved it, others… not so much.

The “Alien Resurrection” section includes the last of Charles de Lauzirika’s feature-length documentaries, titled “One Step Beyond: Making ‘Alien Resurrection’”, along with an additional 26 “Enhancement Pod” featurettes. The final film’s documentary is certainly decent, but it’s a bit dull in all honesty. The other three documentaries are masterpieces unto themselves, and are captivatingly interesting, even when the film they cover – urm, “Alien³” – wasn’t particularly good. “Resurrection” on the other hand isn’t a respectable enough film, and yet, conversely it isn’t such a horrible catastrophe, that it needs, nor warrants three hours of discussion.

“One Step Beyond: Making ‘Alien Resurrection’” (16x9 480p, approximately 2 hours 55 minutes) is a 10-part documentary that can be viewed either as a cohesive whole when “play all” is selected, or separately. The ten separate chapters include:

- “From the Ashes: Reviving the Story” (10 minutes 10 seconds). No one wanted to make “Alien³” and that turned out to be as close to a disaster as possible without actually being one… or so I think. Apparently, that’s the story here; Joss Whedon talks about being approached to revive the franchise by a studio executive and writing his original script without Ripley – which they hated. David Giler talks about not wanting to make another "Alien" film, a sentiment shared with Walter Hill and Sigourney Weaver. Whedon talks about deciding on the cloning and rebirth aspect of the film, and Winona Ryder and Weaver use words like amazing and brilliant to describe the first draft.

- “French Twist: Direction and Design” (26 minutes 9 seconds). Alec Gillis joins the fray to add to a discussion about the quest to find a unique director – and how the short list included the name Danny Boyle. The conversation shifts to deciding on Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and the prospects of having a director with such a twisted, artistic vision. Continuing with the general “why bother” attitude of the rest of the interviewee’s, Jeunet talks about initially thinking that he wasn’t the right fit for the franchise. Cinematographer Darius Khondji talks about collaborating with the director and what it’s like to work with someone who has such a visual mind and understanding of what he wants too see through the lens. Bob Ringwood talks about creating the costumes for the Betty crew based on some primal sketches drawn by Jeunet. Finally, this chapter concludes with a lot of talk about Jeunet’s auteur sensibilities clashing with the Hollywood system.

- “Under the Skin: Casting and Characterization” (12 minutes 45 seconds). Jeunet was pretty much given free reign in casting his film. He talks about the reasons for some of his casting choices, the actors talk about getting cast in those parts, and then the conversation turns to how these actors molded their characters into something similar (or, in a few cases, drastically different) than what was written in the script.

- “Death from Below: Fox Studios Los Angeles, 1996” (31 minutes 36 seconds). Focusing entirely on what is probably the film’s most memorable sequence – the underwater chase – and working backwards, forwards and in all manner of directions (including standing still – this section devotes it’s runtime to the laborious, often troublesome shooting of the film big action sequence.

- “In the Zone: the Basketball Scene” (6 minutes 43 seconds). This extremely short segment of the documentary dissects another of the film’s big action sequences, this time the fight between Ripley and the Betty crew. Yawn.

- “Unnatural Mutation: Creature Design” (26 minutes 21 seconds). Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff and Sigourney Weaver talk about working on the franchise together for such a long time, and then Gillis and Woodruff talk about the process of collaborating with the writer and director in creating the new designs. This chapter includes a lot of talk about the design and creation of the swimming “warrior” aliens, the new eggs, the aborted Ripley-hybrid clones and finally the hideous newborn.

- “Genetic Composition: Music” (13 minutes 10 seconds). John Frizzell talks about scoring “Alien Resurrection”, including how he came to work on the film (which was one of his first feature film projects). Frizzell talks about how overwhelmed he initially felt when he realized that he was going to be compared to the like of Goldsmith and Horner, shaping the “musical arc” of the score, and mixing and finding a balanced between a more traditional choral-based score and the nontraditional synthesizer-created, tonal “effects” that he experimented with.

- Virtual Aliens: Computer Generated Imagery” (9 minutes 53 seconds). “Resurrection” came out at a point in the CG lifecycle where many films had begun to heavily rely on the technology. Jeunet’s vision, and the compromised budget, however necessitated that the film balance its effects between CG, matte paintings and model work. The crew talks about the selection process, how many scenes were CG enhanced, and the international collaboration between New York, L.A., French and Taiwanese based companies needed to create the films computer effects.

- “A Matter of Scale: Miniature Photography” (22 minutes 50 seconds). The crew talks about the reliance on trusted miniature technology, as opposed to CGI, to create all of the ship effects, simply because miniatures were better fit at the time for the massive, complex shots of the ship exteriors. Sylvain Despretz, Erik Henry and others talk about designing, fabricating and shooting the miniature shots – including the various iterations of the two main ships seen in the film. The second half of this chapter discusses the films cinematography and the miniature crew’s difficult task of matching the unique look of the practical photography – which was color and contrast affected by the incredibly distinctive ENR process.

- “Critical Juncture: Reaction to the Film” (14 minutes 28 seconds). In the final chapter of the final documentary the cast and crew provide their parting thoughts on working on the film and whether or not they are satisfied with the final product. The responses are interesting – from Jeunet’s overly enthusiastic pontificating, to a more than a few tame hems-and-haws, and even a couple sentiments that the film is a technically a marvel, wonderful to look at, and a great spectacle, but that it remains emotionally disconnected, needless and narratively flawed.

The “Enhancement Pods” featurettes (16x9 480p, approximately 1 hour 15 minutes) can also be viewed either separately or as a whole. The 26 separate featurettes for “One Step Beyond” include:

- “Costuming the Betty Crew” (1 minute 23 seconds). Bob Ringwood briefly talks about costuming characters and communicating the core of a character to the audience through costume quirks.

- “Intentionally Uncomfortable Costumes” (1 minute 48 seconds). Bob Ringwood talks about manipulating actor’s performances through his costumes, which he might make just too short, or too tight to make the actor feel uncomfortable and awkward.

- “Creating Ripley’s New Look” (3 minutes 20 seconds). Bob Ringwood discusses his original concept for Ripley’s costume, which “echoed” the alien. Weaver reportedly hated the idea, and so he gave her a new “fencing” look. Bob Ringwood then incorporated the original Ripley look into another character because he didn’t want to waste a “good idea”.

- “Downsizing the Design” (2 minutes). Concept artist Sylvain Despretz talks about budget cuts coming to the art department first, and an abandoned “green house” sequence that appeared in the original script.

- “Dueling Design Sensibilities” (1 minute 55 seconds). Despretz talks about Jeunet and production designer Nigel Phelps clashing in style on set. Phelps was more interesting in a clean, unified look, while Jeunet had a great affection for the haphazard and dirty design of the original.

- “Breaking the Language Barrier” (4 minutes 41 seconds). The cast and crew reflect on Jeunet’s lack of English-speaking ability when working on the film, and the difficulties working through an interpreter.

- “The Storyboard Bible” (1 minute 21 seconds). Visual effects supervisor Erik Henry talks about Jeunet’s “bible”, which contained the entire film, almost shot for shot, in storyboard form, and just how faithful the crew remained to the original boards.

- “Preparing For Action” (2 minutes 50 seconds). Visual effects cinematographer Conrad W. Hall talks about collaboration needed for the action sequences, and the fact that, while most of te film was heavily storyboarded, the action scenes were not.

- “Winona Ryder Answers the Call” (2 minutes 10 seconds). Ryder talks about getting cast in the film and her love of sci-fi films in general.

- “Surviving the Shoot” (4 minutes 12 seconds). A tight schedule and a tight budget made the massive action-adventure film a tough shoot. The cast and crew talk about the uncomfortable smoky, hot sets that made filming an unusual experience, a flu bug that hit the cast and a toxic combination of chemicals that caused a total shutdown of production for half a day while Hazmat cleared the area.

- “Swimming with Aliens” (2 minutes 26 seconds). Sigourney Weaver talks about bringing out the alien side of the Ripley character during the underwater scenes; Tom Woodruff discusses creating the effects in close collaboration with Weaver.

- “The Art of Slime” (2 minutes 29 seconds). Alec Gillis talks about the use of slime with the alien suit and effects and the skeletal, sliming and imposing quality that the slime gives off.

- “The Cloning Process” (4 minutes 46 seconds). Tom Woodruff showcases the six previous cloning attempts, talks about the process, and the reasoning and development in creating the look of the failed clones.

- “Considering Giger’s Legacy” (3 minutes 4 seconds). Director Jeunet talks about wanting to bring back H.R. Giger to design the creature and Fox’s hesitance (near ignorant reluctance) in doing so. Concept artist Sylvain Despretz talks about keeping Giger’s designs alive even though the artist and studio were at odds with each other.

- “Newborn Dick Removal” (1 minute 45 seconds). Visual effects supervisor Erik Henry talks about shooting the alien newborn from a certain angle, which created the illusion of a rather large… well, you know.

- “The Evolution of the Alien” (4 minutes 12 seconds). In a really interesting interview, Sylvain Despretz talks about the failure of “Resurrection” in evolving the look of the Alien, and how part of the brilliance in Cameron and Fincher’s visions was their almost logical progression (Cameron’s Queen, Fincher’s Guard Dog) in creating a new element of the creature mythos.

- “Designing the Newborn” (1 minute 36 seconds). Despretz discusses another of the films unfortunate failures – the grotesque, “creature from the black lagoon” known as the newborn. The concept art of the original design – which stuck to the Giger design with some interesting, but not terrible diversions – shows just how cool the newborn could have been.

- “Becoming a Film Composer” (1 minute 36 seconds). John Frizzell talks about how he became interested in music, and how he transitioned from musician to film composer.

- “The Burden of Temp Music” (1 minute 59 seconds). Frizzell reveals that he convinced Jeunet to let him create the temp score using his original synthesizer demos, and how that helped him in the end.

- “Animating Underwater Aliens” (3 minutes 14 seconds). Erik Henry talks about combining CG with the alien’s first underwater scene, the difficulties that presented, and the final concept, which they based on the movements of a sea iguana.

- “VFX: Knifing Ripley’s Hand” (2 minutes 12 seconds). Digital supervisor Antoine Durr provides a step-by-step demonstration in how they achieved the scene where Ripley drives a knife through her had (basically, composites, CG and smart editing).

- “VFX: Shooting Miniatures” (1 minute 23 seconds). Miniature fabricator Ian Hunter talks about using scale to make the miniature shots more realistic and lifelike.

- “Abandoning the Bug Opening” (4 minute 10 seconds). Erik Henry, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Sylvain Despretz discuss the origins and design of the alternate “slow zoom out” opening, which was later cut from the film (and then reinserted into the 2003 special edition).

- “Ending After Ending After Ending” (5 minutes 28 seconds). Darius Khondji, Erik Henry, Sylvain Despretz and Jean-Pierre Jeunet talk about the various proposed endings on the film, most of which ended on Earth (the 2003 Special Edition includes on of these). The budget kept Jeunet and most of the others opposed to this idea, which is why the theatrical version ends the way it does – on the ship. Jeunet admits that the theatrical ending is too close to the finales of both “Alien” and “Aliens” but feels that, given the choice between an fulfilling Earth-based ending and the one in the film, the repetitive result is cleaner.

- “Remembering the Premiere” (2 minutes 1 second). Visual effects supervisor Pitrof reflects on the 800-attendant Paris premiere, which was, in short, a disaster.

- “Future Franchise Directions” (7 minutes 2 seconds). Members of the casts and crews of the various “Alien” films talk about the possibilities for the franchise. I don’t know what funnier – that the universal sentiment between all is that the films decreased in quality at an exponential rate, that Jon Landau’s segment where he talks about “Alien 5” is met with a decidedly sinister downturn in the score, or that the answer to the question of “sequel” is, apparently with the news of Scott’s new films, actually “prequel”.

DISC SIX: The Anthology Archives

As if the previous five discs weren’t in-depth enough, disc six, dubbed the “Anthology Archives” serves as a dumping ground for hours upon hours of additional bonus material including documentaries, TV specials, featurettes, deleted scenes, art and photo galleries, trailers, TV spots, parodies, screenplays for some of the films (delivered via text), and even a complete recreation of the Laserdisc Special Editions of “Alien” and “Aliens”. Each film gets it’s own subheading, while the “Alien Anthology” takes the fifth and final place on the menu. For the record, all of the applicable supplements on this disc include subtitles in English, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Russian, Castilian, Swedish and Chinese.

The “Alien” section includes three submenus – “Pre-Production”, “Production”, and “Post-Production and Aftermath”.

“‘Alien’: Pre-Production” includes a screenplay, pre-visualization artwork and storyboards, conceptual art, screen tests and a portrait gallery. I’ve included a more detailed look at the contents of this section below:

Kicking things off we have “First Draft Screenplay” by Dan O’Bannon (1080p, 185 pages). The first draft of O’Bannon’s “Alien” screenplay is presented in its entirety, along with a lengthy introduction penned by the writer in 2003 detailing the film’s long journey to production.

A collection of concept art, called “Ridley-grams” (1080p, 264 images), is fascinating stuff. The extensive gallery of these images is preceded by this text: “Formally trained at the Royal College of Art, director Ridley Scott drew an impressive series of 2x3 inch thumbnails, along with detailed notes presented here in their entirety. So impressed was 20th Century Fox that the studio doubled Scott’s budget from $4.2 million to $8.4 million.”

The “Storyboard Archive” (1080p) contains Ridley Scott’s original storyboards for 6 key moments of the film, including:

- Awakening (58 images)
- Landing (59 images)
- Expedition (79 images)
- Breach (130 images)
- Narcissus (45 images)
- Special Photographic Effects (138 images).

“The Art of ‘Alien’: Conceptual Art Portfolio” (1080p) is an art gallery of concept drawings prepared for the film by it’s four main “visualists”:

- Ron Cobb (57 images)
- Chris Foss (48 images)
- H.R. Giger (44 images)
- Jean 'Moebius' Giraud (11 images).

Sigourney Weaver Screen Tests” include five screen tests (16x9 480p, approximately 7 minutes) with the actress as Ripley. The first three screen tests also include optional audio commentary by director Ridley Scott:

- “Badgering Parker” (1 minute 16 seconds).
- “Corridor’s & Cocoon’s” (2 minutes 35 seconds).
- “Signing Off” (51 seconds).
- “Planning” (1 minute 52 seconds).
- “Ripley & Dallas” (1 minute 40 seconds).

The “Cast Portrait Gallery” (1080p, 29 images) includes cast headshots and stills featuring Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright, Ian Holm and Tom Skerritt.

“‘Alien’: Production” includes a multi-angle comparison, video footage gallery and extensive photo galleries:
The Chestburster scene-comparison (16x9 480p, 5 minutes 26 seconds) offers a three-option toggle between the “A” camera, “B” camera, and a two-camera composite comparison of the pivotal scene; any of these three angles can be viewed with or without optional audio commentary from director Ridley Scott.

A “Video Graphics” gallery (4x3 480i, 5 minutes 31 seconds) offers a continuous loop – presented in full-screen – of the Nostromo’s computer graphics and displays seen throughout the film.

The “Production Image Galleries” (1080p) is a series of photo galleries that contain wonderful pictures of the production taken by photographer Bob Penn. These include 9 smaller gallery collections:

- The Nostromo (41 images)
- Egg Chamber (23 images)
- Kane’s Fate (46 images)
- Brett’s Death & MU-TH-UR (29 images)
- Ash (10 images)
- Parker & Lambert’s Deaths (23 images)
- Cocooned (14 images)
- The Narcissus (50 images)
- Filming in Progress (25 images)

“Continuity Polaroid’s” (1080p, 99 images) is another photo gallery. This album is preceded by the following text: “Because films are often shot out of sequence over long periods of time, Polaroid’s are taken of sets, prop placement, hair and make-up details and other on-set minutiae in order to minimize continuity errors when those disparate shots are edited together. On ‘Alien’ the Continuity Polaroids were the responsibility of script supervisor Kay Fenton.”

“The Sets of ‘Alien’” (1080p, 217 images) is a large photo gallery containing pictures from the various sets featured in the film. Interspersed title cards expand on further details within the photographs.

Finally, the “Production” section concludes with “H.R. Giger’s Workshop” (1080p, 23 images), another photo gallery, with a focus, unsurprisingly, on the artwork of the creature designer. Interspersed title cards provide context and expand on further details within the photographs.

“‘Alien’: Post-Production and Aftermath” includes additional deleted scenes, more image galleries, an original EPK featurette for the film from 1979, a complete recreation of the 1992 Laserdisc supplements, a documentary, a Q&A interview with the director and, finally, the trailers and TV spots for “Alien”. I’ve included a more detailed look at the contents of this section below:

7 deleted scenes (16x9 480p) – in addition to the six scenes reintegrated into the 2003 Special Edition Director’s Cut, and available on the “Alien” blu-ray disc – are included. These scenes are preceded by the following text: “The following scenes were not restored to the “Alien” Director’s Cut due to Ridley Scott’s wishes or because of missing elements lost since 1979. However, the scenes presented here have been completely remastered and re-edited under the director’s supervision. Some deleted scenes originally under consideration for inclusion in the 2003 Director’s Cut are presented in 5.1 Surround Sound”. These scenes include:

- Kane in the Morning” (2 minutes 20 seconds). As he’s the first one to rise, Kane makes coffee.
- “The Derelict” (3 minutes 32 seconds). Dallas, Lambert and Kane explore the derelict ship. Interestingly, in this deletion, Captain Dallas wants to turn back before they actually enter, but Kane insists that they “must go on”.
- “Kane’s Condition” (2 minutes 13 seconds, in 5.1 Dolby Digital). Lambert and Ash talk about what they could do for Kane. Ash runs some tests while the rest of the crew enters the infirmary to inquire about their shipmate. Finally, when he arrives, Dallas tells everyone to get back to work.
- “Repairs Interrupted” (1 minute 44 seconds, in 5.1 Dolby Digital). Parker and Brett rant while working on the ship, slowing down the repair time. Ripley intervenes.
- “Regrouping” (3 minutes 3 seconds). The crew talks about what they should do with the escaped Chestburster. Their talk escalates into an argument, and then Ash proposes a solution.
- “Ripley Soothes Lambert” (1 minute 51 seconds, in 5.1 Dolby Digital). Ripley consoles a distraught Lambert. This scene is one of the few remainders of the rewritten lesbian subplot between the two characters, and was one of the only scenes filmed before Scott cut it completely.
- “Airlock Sequence” (1 minute 50 seconds). Ripley, Lambert and Parker try to eject the creature from the airlock.

The catchall “Image Galleries” (1080p) contains no less than six additional photo albums featuring photos from various elements of the film’s post-production. These include:

- Inside the Model Shop (222 images)
- Visual Effects (154 images)
- Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive (92 images)
- Poster Explorations (30 images)
- Premiere (32 images)
- After Party (25 images)

“Experience in Terror” (4x3 480i, 7 minutes 10 seconds) in a dated promotional EPK featurette for “Alien”, all the way from the theatrical release in 1979. Complete with shipload of film clips, a terrible voiceover, hammy interviews and more, this think looks terrible and sounds worse from a technical standpoint, but it is kind of cheesy funny… if a bit long.

The sprawling “Laserdisc Archives”, a collection of text, video, photos and artwork galleries, beings with this text:

“Take a trip down memory lane and experience an artifact of optical video history: Ridley Scott’s Special Widescreen Collector’s Edition Laserdisc of ‘Alien’. The value-added features and supplements of this 1992 Laserdisc release are faithfully recreated in their entirety. The bonus material section of the ‘Alien’ Laserdisc was divided into linear chapter stops, as was the standard for the format. Here (on Blu-ray) you have the option to navigate the material sequentially or access individual selections by selecting a chapter number from the table of contents.

Note that some chapters contain video material interspersed within the stills. Please also note: because of advancements from their original presentation to Blu-ray technology, resolution and clarity will vary from element to element.” The full table of contents for the “Laserdisc Archives” reveals:

- Chapter 1: Intro/Table of Contents (7 pages; text)
- Chapter 2: The Screenplay (196 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 3: The Director (15 pages; text and images. 1 video branching pod). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. In an interview (480i, 6 minutes 29 seconds) with Don Shay of Cineflex Magazine, Ridley Scott talks about his initial involvement with “Alien” during pre-production.
- Chapter 4: H.R. Giger (30 pages; text and images. 1 video branching pod). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. In an interview (480i, 1 minutes 51 seconds) with Giger associate Mia Bonzanigo, Ridley Scott reflects on his initial involvement with H.R. Giger.
- Chapter 5: The “Alien” Production Unit (30 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 6: Casting (36 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 7: Introduction / Nostromo Exterior (64 pages; text and images. 2 video branching pods). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. In a compilation of special effects footage (480i, 56 seconds), we see the refinery section being towed by the Nostromo in unprecedented detail, and in rare production footage (480i, 58 seconds) Ridley Scott directs the landing shots of the Nostromo miniature.
- Chapter 8: Nostromo Interior (145 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 9: Costume Design and Props (65 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 10: The Planet (30 pages; text and images. 1 video branching pod). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. In rare production footage (480i, 47 seconds) we see the construction of the planet surface under the supervision of H.R. Giger.
- Chapter 11: Derelict Exterior (43 pages; text and images. 3 video branching pods.) The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. In rare production footage (480i, 20 seconds), sculptor Peter Voysey is seen at work on the derelict model, and then (480i, 32 seconds) H.R. Giger is shown working on model while it is being tested on the sound stage.
- Chapter 12: Derelict Interior (87 pages; text and images. 4 video branching pods). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. In rare production footage (480i, 1 minute 9 seconds) Voysey and Giger are shown working on the space jockey sculpture, and then (480i, 17 seconds) Ridley Scott’s sons take the place of the actors for the wide shots of the creature and chamber, Giger works on the perfecting the set design (480i, 29 seconds), we get of the set in more detail (480i, 20 seconds), and finally, we see footage of how the smoke and laser scene was set up.
- Chapter 13: The Egg (21 pages; text and images. 2 video branching pods). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. In rare production footage (480i, 32 seconds) Giger creates a prototype egg and painting the finished product. In an outtake (480i, 39 seconds) a crewmember operates the egg and we see Kane’s point of view.
- Chapter 14: The Facehugger (36 pages; text and images. 5 video branching pods.) The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. In an early form of scene deconstruction we are granted access to the unedited original lengths of three shots that make up a quick insert. These include Shot #1 (480i, 11 seconds), Shot #2 (480i, 36 seconds) and Shot #3 (480i, 13 seconds). Also in rare production footage (480i, 49 seconds) the Facehugger is prepared for placement on John Hurt’s face. Finally, Giger is seen working on the Facehugger mold (480i, 17 seconds).
- Chapter 15: The Chestburster (39 pages; text and images. 2 video branching pods). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. Test footage (480i, 26 seconds) of the mechanism and table mask that were used to create the famous scene and production footage (480i, 24 seconds) of the crew shooting the Chestburster close up are included.
- Chapter 16: The Alien (115 pages; text and images. 8 video branching pods). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. We get a glimpse at rare production footage (480i, 40 seconds) of Giger fine-turning the full-grown creature and Giger working on the model (480i, 1 minute 30 seconds). These is also test footage (480i, 2 minutes 3 seconds) showing off the final mechanics for the Alien head, a compilation montage (480i, 36 seconds) of the design and creation of Bolaji Badejo’s Alien costume, production footage (480i, 59 seconds) of the preparation and filming of Brett’s death scene, outtakes (480i, 49 seconds) for unused footage for Lambert’s confrontation with the alien, and production footage (480i, 20 seconds) and outtakes (480i, 1 minute 23 seconds) of the Alien’s fall from the shuttle hatch.
- Chapter 17: Editing and Music (65 pages; text and images. 9 video branching pods). The nine video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. These include “Lambert Confronts Ripley” (480i, 1 minute 41 seconds), “Kane’s Condition” (480i, 2 minute 18 seconds), “Ripley and Parker” (480i, 1 minute 17 seconds), “Planning the Search” (480i, 2 minutes 59 seconds), “A Quick Glimpse” (480i, 50 seconds), “Ripley Reassures Lambert” (480i, 1 minute 39 seconds), “Airlock Sequence, Part I” (480i, 1 minute 4 seconds), “Airlock Sequence, Part II” (480i, 1 minute 50 seconds) and finally, “Cocoon Sequence” (480i, 5 minute 46 seconds), which also includes an interview with Ridley Scott about editing and reason for deleting scenes.
- Chapter 18: Theatrical Release (67 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 19: Promotion (42 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 20: Closing Commentary (5 pages; text and images. 1 video branching pod). In the video (480i, 2 minutes 51 seconds), Scott is interviewed about his thoughts on terror, horror films and where he thinks “Alien’ stands as a genre picture.
- Chapter 21: The “Alien Art Gallery (130 pages; images)
- Chapter 22: Laserdisc Production Credits and Bibliography (11 pages; text)

“The ‘Alien’ Legacy” (4x3 480i, 1 hour 6 minutes 53 seconds) is a retrospective documentary on the making of the “Alien”, featuring interviews with a majority of the key players from the production of the film. Originally created for the 1999 Legacy DVD boxset, the piece is a bit dated now, and seems especially eclipsed by the incredible “The Beast Within: Making ‘Alien’” by Charles de Lauzirika found on disc five. Still, it’s nice that Fox has it included for the completionist’s sake.

“American Cinematique: Ridley Scott Q&A” (4x3 480i, 15 minutes 40 seconds) is an featurette, focusing on an interview with the director recorded at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles on September 14, 2001, after a special screening of “Alien”.

Finally, there are 2 theatrical trailers and 2 TV spots for “Alien” included:

- Theatrical teaser (16x9 480p, 48 seconds).
- Theatrical trailer (16x9 480p, 1 minutes 58 seconds).
- TV spot: Egg (4x3 480i, 31 seconds).
- TV spot: Now Playing (4x3 480i, 11 seconds).

The “Aliens” section includes three submenus – “Pre-Production”, “Production”, and “Post-Production and Aftermath”.

“‘Aliens’: Pre-Production” includes a screenplay treatment, pre-visualization “videomatics” and storyboards, conceptual art, and a portrait gallery. I’ve included a more detailed look at the contents of this section below:

The “Original Treatment” by James Cameron (1080p, 82 pages) is included in its entirety. Not exactly a screenplay, but much too long to be a treatment, this is a Cameron “scriptment” trough-and-through. This thing is an easy read, and has far more screen direction than dialogue… which is what you’d expect from him, really.

“Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Videomatics” (480i, 3 minutes 23 seconds) are rough video storyboards. Cameron realized that he could better communicate his vision with storyboards that moved – which we now call animatics and they are usually done on a computer. Of course, because “Aliens” was shot in 1985, and that technology didn’t exist, Cameron shot these rough plates with a camcorder; they can be viewed with or without optional audio commentary from Miniature Effects Supervisor Pat McClung.

Next, the “Storyboard Archive” (1080p, 155 images) is a massive photo gallery of, well, what else but the original storyboards for “Aliens”. Similarly, “The Art of Aliens” (1080p) is another photo gallery, with three sub-albums including:

- Gateway Station and Colony (6 images)
- Vehicles and Weapons (34 images)
- Aliens (5 images)

Finally, a cast portrait gallery (1080p, 72 images) includes stills of James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Carrie Henn and others.

The “‘Aliens’: Production” section includes extensive photo galleries and a video footage gallery:

The “Production Image Galleries” (1080p) is a series of photo galleries that contain wonderful pictures of the production taken by the set photographer. These include 9 smaller gallery collections:

- Preparation for Filming (22 images)
- The Narcissus (8 images)
- Gateway Station (20 images)
- Colony Life (10 images)
- The Sulaco (108 images)
- Arrival on Acheon (134 images)
- Main Colony Complex (70 images)
- Ripley Rescues Newt (83 images)
- Final Battle and Epilogue (79 images)

The films “Continuity Polaroids” (1080p, 251 images) are listed in another photo gallery. Finally, we get two more galleries – “Weapons and Vehicles” (1080p, 69 images) and “Stan Winston's Workshop” (60 images).

Hidden behind a menu simply named “Footage” (16x9 480p) is a kind of dumping ground for all of the video graphics and camera footage seen in the film. This includes a montage of the raw footage from the “Colonial Marine Helmet Cameras” (5 minutes 1 second), a “Video Graphics Gallery” (4 minutes 4 seconds), and a closer look at the “Weyland-Yutani Inquest: Nostromo Dossiers” (3 minutes 35 seconds).

“‘Aliens’: Post-Production and Aftermath” includes additional deleted scenes, more image galleries, 2 featurettes, a complete recreation of the 1991 Laserdisc supplements, and, finally, the trailers and TV spots for “Aliens”. I’ve included a more detailed look at the contents of this section below:

There are two sections of deleted scenes. The first, called “Burke Cocooned” (16x9 480p, 1 minute 31 seconds) is a single deletion – the long awaited, much requested scene in which Ripley finds the conniving Carter Burke cocooned in the atmosphere processor, awaiting his slow and painful death. A “Deleted Scene Montage” (16x9 480p, 4 minutes 7 seconds) is preceded by this text: “This collection of scene extensions and omitted moments represents the remainder of deleted scenes not appearing in either the theatrical version or the Special Edition.”

The catchall “Image Galleries” (1080p) contains no less than four additional galleries featuring photos from various elements of the film’s post-production. These include:

- Visual Effects (239 images)
- Music Recordings (10 images)
- Premiere (7 images)
- Special Shoot (27 images)

The sprawling “Laserdisc Archives”, a collection of text, video and photos and artwork galleries, beings with this text: “Take a trip down memory lane and experience an artifact of optical video history: James Cameron's Special Edition Laserdisc of ‘Aliens’. The value-added features and supplements of this 1991 Laserdisc release are faithfully recreated in their entirety.

The bonus material section of the ‘Aliens’ Laserdisc was divided into linear chapter stops, as was the standard for the format. Here (on blu-ray) you have the option to navigate the material sequentially or access individual selections by selecting a chapter number from the table of contents. Note that some chapters contain video material interspersed within the stills. Please also note: because of advancements from their original presentation to blu-ray technology, resolution and clarity will vary from element to element.” The full table of contents for the “Laserdisc Archives” reveals:

- Chapter 1: Introduction (3 pages; text)
- Chapter 2: Table of Contents (4 pages; text)
- Chapter 3: Writer/Director James Cameron (12 pages; text and images. 1 video branching pod). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. In an interview (480i, 9 minutes 31 seconds) with Don Shay of Cineflex Magazine, circa 1986, James Cameron talks about his approach in writing and directing “Aliens”.
- Chapter 4: The Screenplay (147 pages; text and 2 images)
- Chapter 5: The Aliens Crew (26 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 6: Casting (47 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 7: Production – Introduction (2 pages; text)
- Chapter 8: The Narcissus (18 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 9: Gateway Station (41 pages; text and images. 1 video branching pod). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. One of the most complicated shots (480i, 29 seconds) in the film involved the dissolve to the opening pan of the Earth, stars, and the gateway station all completed in camera.
- Chapter 10: Alien Landscape (11 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 11: The Jorden Tractor (63 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 12: The Sulaco (95 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 13: The Drop-Ship (121 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 14: The Colonial Marines (29 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 15: Marine Weaponry (50 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 16: The Armored Personnel Carrier [APC] (45 pages; text and images. 1 video branching pod). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. Footage (480i, 14 seconds) of the APC miniature dropping it’s mechanized rear gin turret.
- Chapter 17: The Colony (158 pages; text and images. 2 video branching pods). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. Production footage (480i, 14 seconds) of the 1/6th scale model of Hadley’s Hope, and the 1/6th scale model of the air processor (480i, 26 seconds) used in close-ups.
- Chapter 18: Facehuggers (33 pages; text and images. 1 video branching pod). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. A member of Stan Winton’s crew explains (480i, 59 seconds) the face-hugger “pull-toy” that was designed by James Cameron so that he could get a specific shot.
- Chapter 19: The Alien Nest (29 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 20: The Chestburster (12 pages; text and images. 2 video branching pods). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. In production footage (480i, 19 seconds) a member of Stan Winston’s crew sculpts one of the Chestbursters, and, later (480i, 1 minute 11 seconds) tests the other, more articulated, Chestburster.
- Chapter 21: The Aliens (41 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 22: The Queen (70 pages; text and images. 3 video branching pods). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. James Cameron directs (480i, 2 minutes 11 seconds) members of Stan Winston’s crew as they manipulate both a mock up of the queen, and later the power-loader. Stan Winston’s crew sculpts the miniature Queen (1 minute 23 seconds) and full-size Queen (480i, 52 seconds) body and head.
- Chapter 23: The Power-Loader (31 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 24: Replicas of Bishop and Newt (27 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 25: The Power-Loader vs. Queen Battle (41 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 26: Editing and Music (10 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 27: Theatrical Release (34 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 28: Promotion (4 pages; text and images)
- Chapter 29: The Restoration (3 pages; text)
- Chapter 30: Closing Commentary (3 pages; text and images. 1 video branching pod). The branching video segments are selectable at related intervals with the push of the enter button. In an interview (480i, 3 minutes 15 seconds) with Don Shay of Cineflex Magazine, circa 1986, James Cameron talks about the significance of dreams and the ending to the film.
- Chapter 31: Bibliography and Laserdisc Production Credits (7 pages; text)

A featurette showcasing many of the main title sequences considered for the film (which were ultimately not used) can be found under the title “Main Title Exploration” (16x9 480p, 2 minutes 55 seconds).

Another curious featurette, titled “Aliens: Ride at the Speed of Fright” (480i, 8 minutes 16 seconds) is best explained by the text that precedes it: “‘Aliens: Ride at the Speed of Fright’ was an Iwerks Entertainment attraction at Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco. Presented here is the introductory video that preceded this ride simulation. What follows is the simulation video itself.”

Finally, there are 4 trailers and 1 TV spot for “Aliens” included:

- Teaser trailer (4x3 480i, 1 minute 51 seconds)
- Theatrical trailer (4x3 480i, 1 minute 51 seconds)
- "Domestic" theatrical trailer (16x9 480p, 35 seconds)
- "International" theatrical trailer (16x9 480p, 32 seconds)
- TV spot: Now Playing (4x3 480i, 32 seconds)

The “Aliens3” section includes three submenus – “Pre-Production”, “Production”, and “Post-Production and Aftermath”.

“‘Alien³’: Pre-Production” includes storyboards and conceptual art. I’ve included a more detailed look at the contents of this section below:

The “Storyboard Archive” (1080p) is a massive pre-visualization gallery, including:

- The Crash (87 images)
- Burning the Dead (109 images)
- An Inmate Gets Diced (49 images)
- Bishop's Revelation (120 images)
- Clemens & Andrews Killed (64 images)
- The Plan Fails (99 images)
- Human Bait (169 images)
- The Leadworks (29 images)
- Finale [Theatrical Version] (136 images)
- Alternate Ending (210 images)

“The Art of Arceon” (1080p) is a conceptual art gallery with:

- EEV (12 images)
- Arceon: The Wooden Planet (47 images)
- Alien Mutations (20 images)

“The Art of Fiorina” (1080p) is another conceptual art gallery containing:

- Exterior: Fiorina "Fury" 161 (6 images)
- Interior: Mineral Ore Refinery (30 images)

“Alien³: Production” includes a featurette, a multi-angle comparison, and even more photo galleries:

“Furnace Construction: Time-Lapse Sequence” (16x9 480p, 4 minutes 35 seconds) is a featurette showing the construction of one of the film massive set pieces, backed by excerpts from Elliot Goldenthal’s score.

The “EEV Bioscan: Multi-Angle Vignette” (16x9 480p, 2 minute 2 second) is a multi-angle comparison, and includes optional audio commentary from Alien Effects Designer Alec Gillis.

The “Production Image Galleries” (1080p) is a series of photo galleries that contain pictures of the production. These include 8 smaller gallery collections:

- Preparing to Film (22 images)
- Crash Landing (87 images)
- Honoring the Dead (92 images)
- The Alien Strikes (16 images)
- The Death of Clemens and Andrews (90 images)
- Capture and Escape (41 images)
- Leadworks Trap (92 images)
- Final Confrontation (32 images)

Finally, “A.D.I.'s Workshop” (1080p, 185 images) is a photo gallery of the film’s alien creature effects created by Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis’ Amalgamated Dynamics Incorporated, a company they formed after they split from Stan Winston, whom they had worked under on “Aliens”.

“‘Alien³’: Post-Production and Aftermath” includes additional image galleries, two featurettes, and, finally, the trailers and TV spots for “Alien³”. I’ve included a more detailed look at the contents of this section below:

The two final photo galleries for this film are a “Visual Effects Gallery” (1080p, 133 images) and a “Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive” (1080p, 72 images).

Moving on we find “Alien³ – Advance Featurette” (4x3 480i, 2 minutes 56 seconds). It’s a run-of-the-mill EPK featurette at the time production. It’s chintzy, gimmicky and probably gives a way too much of the plot without telling anyone what the film is actually, really about.

The “Making of Alien³” (4x3 480i, 23 minutes 24 seconds) is a gigantic piece of junk not worth your time. It’s a half-hour HBO First-Look featurette full film clips; plot recap and not much talk about the actual making of the film. Sigourney Weaver, who has grown somewhat critical of the third film in later years, comes off terrible as she talks about the brilliance of the picture and how she thinks it’s the best one (notice that when she’s introduced the graphic prominently notes her producer credit).

Lastly, finishing off this section are 5 Trailers (16x9 480p) and 7 TV spots (4x3 480i) for “Alien³”. These include:

- Theatrical trailer A (1 minute 5 seconds)
- Theatrical trailer B (1 minute 11 seconds)
- Theatrical trailer C (1 minute 6 seconds)
- Theatrical trailer D (1 minute 11 seconds)
- Theatrical trailer E (34 seconds)
- TV spot: Face-to-Face (31 seconds)
- TV spot: 3 Times (16 seconds)
- TV spot: Theaters Everywhere (16 seconds)
- TV spot: Review (17 seconds)
- TV spot: Three (32 seconds)
- TV spot: A True Knockout (31 seconds)
- TV spot: Galaxy Review (32 seconds)

The “Alien Resurrection” section includes three submenus – “Pre-Production”, “Production”, and “Post-Production and Aftermath”.

“‘Alien Resurrection’: Pre-Production” includes a screenplay, test footage and multi-angle pre-visualization featurettes, storyboards, and art and image galleries. I’ve included a more detailed look at the contents of this section below:

The “First Draft Screenplay” by Joss Whedon (1080p, 225 pages) is a chore, but an interesting on that’s for sure. At a massively gargantuan 225 page screenplay – which, the law of screenplay writing would say means a ridiculous 225-minute runtime if filmed as written – it’s typically Whedonesque. Overlong, but pithy exchanges of dialogue, overdeveloped plot arcs; still very, very interesting and like the other films… very nice of Fox to have provided these. As an added bonus the screenplay often includes storyboard thumbnails in the left column.

2 featurettes – “Test Footage: A.D.I. Creature Shop” (16x9 480p, 9 minutes 51 seconds) and “Test Footage: Costumes, Hair and Make-Up” (16x9 480p, 4 minutes 40 seconds) – play more like demo reels for the films financiers than anything else.

“Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Rehearsals” (16x9 480p, 2 minutes 52 seconds) is a featurette that can be played with either the original rehearsal audio or the final film audio at the toggle of the audio button. Like the other comparisons on the other films, this provides an interesting look at how scenes develop and head in new directions from script to screen.

The “Storyboard Archive” (1080p) is a positively huge pre-visualization gallery of 8 sequences from the film:

- Experiment on the Auriga (179 images)
- The Betty Arrives (73 images)
- Aliens Escape (215 images)
- Survivors Regroup (215 images)
- Underwater Ambush (154 images)
- Ladder Fight (155 images)
- Queen's Hive (80 images)
- The Newborn (142 images)

“The Marc Caro Portfolio: Character Designs” (1080p, 22 images) is a gallery of character-centric concept art.

Finally, “The Art of Resurrection” (1080p) is another gigantic conceptual art gallery, including:

- Title Designs (32 images)
- Ship Designs (99 images)
- Prop Designs (54 images)
- Clone Designs (30 images)
- Costume Designs (42 images)
- Alien Designs (32 images)
- Earth Designs (6 images)

The “‘Alien Resurrection’: Production” section includes extensive photo galleries. The “Production Image Galleries” (1080p) is a series of photo galleries that contain pictures of the production. These include 9 smaller gallery collections:

- Production Props: Weapons (14 images)
- Extracting the Queen (36 images)
- The Betty Arrives (37 images)
- Aliens Escape (58 images)
- The Clone Horrors (13 images)
- Underwater Attack (40 images)
- The Queen's Nest (20 images)
- Falling to Earth (57 images)
- On Earth (6 images)

“A.D.I.'s Workshop” (1080p, 162 images) is a photo gallery of the film’s alien creature effects created by Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis’ Amalgamated Dynamics Incorporated, a company they formed after they split from Stan Winston, whom they had worked under on “Aliens”.

“‘Alien Resurrection’: Post-Production and Aftermath” includes additional image galleries, 2 featurettes, and, finally, trailers and TV spots for the film. I’ve included a more detailed look at the contents of this section below:

The two final photo galleries for this film are the “Visual Effects Gallery” (1080p, 132 images) and “Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive (1080p, 38 images).

“HBO First Look: The Making of ‘Alien Resurrection’” (4x3 480i, 25 minutes 40 seconds) is your typical HBO commercial… I mean “making of” featurette. Like the other films, “Resurrection” doesn’t need this fluffy promo featurette – especially not, considering it has some four hours of behind-the-scenes documentary material on disc five.

Even more worthless is the bluntly titled “Alien Resurrection" promotional featurette (4x3 480i, 3 minutes 56 seconds), which tells you right in the title that it’s skippable crap. It’s basically four minutes of films clips.

Lastly, finishing off this section are 2 Trailers (16x9 480p) and 4 TV spots (4x3 480i) for “Alien Resurrection”. These include:

- Teaser trailer (2 minutes 26 seconds)
- Theatrical trailer (1 minute 13 seconds)
- TV spot: Now Playing (32 seconds)
- TV spot: Scream (33 seconds)
- TV spot: Host (32 seconds)
- TV spot: Scream Cutdown (17 seconds)

Under the “Alien Anthology” heading you’ll find a collection of miscellaneous documentaries, featurettes, art and photo galleries, and parodies. I’ve included a more detailed look at the contents of this section below:

2 Versions of the “Alien Evolution” documentary; choose between the “Original TV Version” (16x9 480p, 48 minutes 48 seconds) that was created for British television in 2001, or a longer “Alien Re-edit Version” (16x9 480p, 64 minutes 33 seconds) created specifically for a 2-Disc DVD release of “Alien” that never materialized (and was later folded into the 2003 Quadrilogy). The original TV documentary provides an overview of the four films in the “Alien” franchise, while the “Re-Edit” focuses solely on the first film, with newer and longer interviews not seen in the original TV cut.

“The Alien Saga” (4x3 480i 1 hour 42 minutes 2 seconds) is yet another retrospective documentary that focuses on the four films as a whole. Originally produced for television in 2002, the documentary, narrated by John Hurt, takes viewers from conception of the first film through the production of its three sequels. It includes interviews with Sigourney Weaver, James Cameron, Dan O’Bannon, Ridley Scott and others. In reality both “Saga” and “Evolution” are pretty solid pieces in their own right and actually contain some footage not found in the Lauzirika documentaries (although the stories and overall sentiments do overlap), so I wouldn’t say that you should totally discount either of them.

“Aliens 3D Attraction” (1080p) includes two sub-entries: a complete “Script” (52 pages) and an art gallery of “Conceptual Art” (31 images).

“Aliens in the Basement: The Bob Burns Collection” (16x9 480p, 16 minutes 54 seconds) is a featurette that looks at superfan Bob Burns and his colossal collection of memorabilia from “Alien”, “Aliens”, “Alien³” and “Alien Resurrection”. This guy must have the largest collection of “Alien” related paraphernalia ever amassed by a single collector.

Under “Parodies” you’ll find two quick parody clips: one from episode 7 of the six season of “Family Guy” called “Peter’s Daughter” (4x3 480i, 32 seconds) – The Queen berates Ripley and Newt –and John Hurt’s “not again” Chestburster cameo (16x9 480p, 1 minute 47 seconds) from “Spaceballs” (1987).

Finally, two more image galleries (1080p) are included:

- “Dark Horse Still Gallery” (234 pages)
- “Patches and Logos Gallery” (15 images)

Lastly, the Anthology disc’s “Credits” (1080p, 23 pages) finish off the supplements.

Packaging

20th Century Fox has produced an incredibly handsome package for the “Alien Anthology”. The six-disc set is housed inside an attractive, sturdy 22-page booklet that slides into an outer cardboard box. Each disc slides into a sleeve on a selected page in the book; a plot synopsis and artwork for that particular film appears on the opposing page. A 14-page “MU-TH-UR” booklet is also included, detailing the disc contents. The booklet even features an introductory letter from director Ridley Scott, in which he welcomes buyers to the new Blu-ray edition of the “Anthology”. Finally, a “Disc Unbound” inserts further explains the unique way that the discs and supplements are connected by BD-J (Blu-ray Java) technology.

Overall

Despite two middling films (and two amazing ones) and two less than perfect video transfers (and two incredible presentations), the “Alien Anthology” is a Must Own. Why… because of the exquisite restorations on “Alien” and “Aliens”, the more than worthy lossless DTS-HD audio tracks on all of the films, and an absolutely remarkable supplemental package that is beyond absorbing. The “Alien Anthology” is not just one of the best Blu-ray releases of the year – it is, without a doubt, one of the greatest releases on the format to date.

The Film: B Video: B+ Audio: A- Extras: A+ Overall: A+

 


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