Alien 40th Anniversary Edition 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 239, May 2019

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-66)
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117 / 116
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Ridley Scott
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DTS HD Lossless 5.1, DTS HD Lossless 4.1
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In space no one can hear you scream. The terrifying sci-fi adventure, "Alien," celebrates 40 years with an all-new 4K Ultra HD master. In the film that birthed the wildly successful "Alien" franchise, the crew of the deep space tug Nostromo awaken from stasis during a voyage home to Earth when their ship’s computer detects what is believed to be an alien distress signal coming from the desolate nearby moon, LV-426. While investigating, one of the crew, Kane (Hurt), is attacked by an alien creature that latches to his face, and he is rushed back to the Nostromo to receive medical treatment. Ripley (Weaver), the ship’s warrant officer, advises against Kane’s return due to quarantine regulations—but her orders are ignored by Ash (Holm), bringing the Nostromo under threat from a mysterious, extraterrestrial apex predator with violent and lethal survival instincts. (Gary Reber)

Special features include the 1979 Theatrical Version;
the 2003 Director’s Cut; 2003 Audio Commentary by Ridley Scott and the Cast & Crew; 1999 Audio Commentary by Ridley Scott (1979 Theatrical Version Only); the Final Theatrical Isolated Score—Dolby Digital 5.1 (1979 Theatrical Version Only); the Composer’s Original Isolated Score—Dolby Digital 5.1 (1979 Theatrical Version Only); seven deleted scenes (06:39) and a Movies Anywhere digital code.

"Alien" has been reviewed, first a LaserDisc in Issue 1, with the picture exhibiting noise and artifacts, then in Issue 33, as an anamorphic-enhanced THX® digital mastered version, which exhibited increased vertical and horizontal resolution, refined contrast and shadow delineation, improved color fidelity, and superior visual information in the darkest scenes. The aspect ratio was precisely framed at 2.35:1. This became the new reference. This was followed by a 2003 remastered, digitally-restored Blu-ray Disc™, which in all aspects of visual quality was the best that "Alien" had ever looked. Compared to the "Alien Director's Cut," the original appeared to exhibit a bit more grain structure, and thus, the imagery was less clear and precise. The "Alien Director's Cut" was reviewed in Issue 81 as an anamorphic-enhanced 2.35:1-framed DVD as part of the "Alien Quadrilogy." While the DVD looked fantastic (for a DVD), the D-VHS D-Theater picture offered an astounding amount of detail that bettered the DVD with even greater depth and clarity. Minute details were much more apparent and revealing of textures on the Nostromo, facial features, and other textures. Details in the shadows were also better revealed. Color saturation was also more true on the D-VHS, while appearing slightly faded on the DVD by comparison. The occasional scenes with minor edge enhancement on the DVD appeared to be completely clean on the D-VHS.

The all-new 4K master and 1080p AVC Blu-ray Disc version of "Alien" and "Alien Director's Cut" in 2010 resulted in a finely grained pristine picture with exceptional clarity compared to any previous releases.

According to 20th Century Fox, the film was restored in 4K in 2018 by 20th Century Fox at Company 3/Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, supervised by Ridley Scott and Pam Dery, and the 4K scans were done [sic] at EFilm.

The full benefit of the 4K master, enhanced with HDR contrast, is now the new reference for both versions of the film in 2.35:1 Key areas of clarity, detail, and shadow delineation, as well as color saturation, are remarkable. Fine resolution is apparent throughout, exhibiting structural details of the Nostromo in both interior set shots and exterior miniature model shots. The Alien creature is fabulously detailed in texture and density. Contrast is superb, with revealing shadow delineation, which enhances the darkly lit claustrophobic tight spaces and hallways on the Nostromo. Blacks are solid and nicely defined, with satisfying dimensionality. Lighting effects benefit from greater intensity. Fleshtones are naturally rendered and provide life-infused color into the otherwise stark, grayish-blue interiors and exterior cinematography. A few moments here and there reveal vivid colors, such as blood red during John Hurt's chest-bursting scene, lighting and instrument effects, and orange fire from incinerator units. Overall, the picture quality improvements over the past 4K mastered Blu-ray make this, without question, the definitive reference-quality version that fans have always hoped to experience. This is a must for collectors. (Gary Reber)

The "Alien" soundtrack is apparently the same soundtrack from the previous Blu-ray encoded in the DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel format. The soundtrack still sounds compressed and sounds dated. The surrounds have been electronically enhanced, but they still are at subtle, inconsequential levels. Low-end content is perceived better, and there seems to be a refinement in spatial articulation, but the .1 LFE presence is still inconsequential. The fidelity is certainly dated, and some distortion is to be expected. The soundstage tends to be conservative in nature, but with the enhanced surrounds provides an adequately compelling sense of holosonic® spaciousness throughout. The low end is inherently reserved and weak. Overall, the enhanced refinement in fidelity, clarity, low-level resolution, and spatiality are evident, but .1 LFE impact is virtually nonexistent and distortion is heard throughout. The sound is inferior to the subsequent three films' sonics, always sounding dimensionally and dynamically reserved. Still, this is the best rendering of the "Alien" sonics. (Gary Reber)