James Cameron takes the helm from Ridley Scott, bringing his own directing style to the continuing saga of Ellen Ripley (Weaver), whose escape pod is finally recovered from space after more than 50 years adrift. She learns that the planet she so fears has been colonized. But suddenly, contact with the colonists is lost, and Ripley is asked to join a group of Colonial Marines on a mission back to the planet. (Suzanne Hodges)
Housed inside the Alien Anthology Six-Disc Ultimate Collection box, and slipped part way inside a picture book, "Aliens" is available to view either as the 1986 theatrical version (02:17:14) or the 1990 Special Edition (02:34:26). Special features include the 2003 commentary by Ridley Scott and The Cast And Crew; the final theatrical isolated score (1986 version only); composer's original isolated score (1986 version only); 16 deleted scenes; and MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience With Weyland-Yutani Datastream. Disc Five in the set is Making The Alien Anthology, and it features over 12 hours of documentaries, including "Superior Firepower: Making Aliens" (SD 11:05) and "Enhancement Pods" (SD 58:31) for "Aliens." Disc Six is "The Alien Anthology Archives," and it includes Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production And Aftermath for the film "Aliens." Featured are screen tests, storyboard archives, portrait galleries, deleted scenes, poster galleries, trailers, and TV spots. On the "Anthology" section of Disc Six there is the Alien Evolution (2001 Original TV Version), Alien Evolution (2003 Alien Re-Edit), The Alien Saga, Aliens 3D Attraction, Aliens In The Basement: The Bob Burns Collection, Parodies, Dark Horse Still Gallery, and Patches And Logos Gallery. Also included is a MU-TH-UR Mode Viewer's Guide booklet.
The last "Aliens" DVD reviewed was part of the "Alien Quadriloy" in Issue 81. The anamorphically enhanced picture (the only entry in the series shot in 1.85:1) appeared to be the same as the DVD picture reviewed in Issue 33. Images were sharp and could be very nicely detailed, with excellent facial and clothing textures by DVD standards. Much of the picture is dark in nature, but contrast and shadow delineation was well balanced. The picture exhibited somewhat dated fidelity, at times looking even older than Alien, and could have a soft character. There was a bit of grain inherent in the source element, but no obvious scratches or dirt. Occasional pixel breakup or shimmering was noticed, but only for a moment at a time. You'd be hard-pressed to find any distracting edge enhancement. This all-new 4K master and 1080p AVC Blu-ray Disc version has resulted in a finely grained pristine picture, with exceptional clarity compared to the previous DVD. Resolution is finely rendered throughout, down to every brushstroke of the makeup on Sigourney Weaver's face. Every thread of clothing is displayed perfectly, as well as complex object textures. The Alien creature is incredibly detailed in texture and density. The color palette is perfectly natural, and the contrast between human hues and the other grayish blue and black hues of the space environment, ships, and creatures is dramatic. Contrast is superb, with revealing shadow delineation, which enhances the darkly lit harsh environments. Outer space vistas are spectacularly rendered and dimensional. Blacks are solid and nicely defined, with satisfying dimensionality. Fleshtone hues are naturally rendered and provide life-infused color in the otherwise sterile-machinery-focused cinematography. Colors can be vivid and bold with rich hues. The orange fire from incinerator units is warmly hued. The is a remarkable picture, with impressive resolution and dimensional impact that is the definitive reference for this science fiction classic. (Gary Reber)
The "Aliens" Dolby® Digital remastered soundtrack reviewed in Issue 33 delivered a full scale aggressive holosonic® soundfield experience when all the channels were fully engaged. The Dolby Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack on the DVD reviewed in Issue 81 appeared to be the same as that for the previous DVD release. This presentation excelled in terms of soundstage delivery, particularly with regard to aggressive spatial engagement. Deep bass was powerful at times, with prominent .1 LFE channel activity. The fidelity, however, was somewhat dated, and subtle background hiss could occasionally be noticed. The dynamic and prominent nature of the audio could sometimes be perceived as being a little strident. This Blu-ray Disc version's sound has been remastered and encoded in the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel format. The enhanced refinement in fidelity, clarity, low-level resolution, and spatiality are evident, and the bass extension in the .1 LFE channel is extended to sub-25 Hz impact. Surround envelopment is holosonic®, aggressively dimensional, and powerful. At times all channels put out extreme SPL energy. The panning of sound effects is quite effective, with gunfire punchuating the rear-channel surround loudspeakers and massive brutal explosions filling the soundfield. The sound is dynamic as well, with remarkable low-level resolution of atmospheric sounds and Foley. The James Horner music score is eerie and haunting, providing an intense mysterious presence, with a wide and deep soundstage presence that extends into the surrounds. Dialogue is effectively integrated spatially, with bleed from the center channel to the left and right front channels. This is a powerfully dynamic soundtrack that effectively delivers a sense of enveloping immersion and dimensionality that dramatically enhances the excitement and terror. (Gary Reber)