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4.0 out of 5 stars In Space - no one can hear you scream..., 31 Oct 2003
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This review is from: Alien Quadrilogy (9 Disc Complete Box Set) [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
Once every few years – cinema is graced with a truly groundbreaking film, perhaps it’s just new take on old ideas, perhaps it’s something unlike anything that’s ever been seen before, but either way settles into the public consciousness; creating heroes and villains that become icons for an age of cinema-goers. Alien was one such film – generating the definitive blueprint for the embattled horror heroine in Ripley and the definitive monster in the Alien – a creature designed by H.R. Giger to prey on the even the most remote of human subconscious fears.
This new box set sees the re-release of the first four films of the series. I say ‘first four’ as next year will see the release of the long-awaited Alien vs. Predator film, to be followed (if successful) by Alien ‘5’. Box sets by nature are tricky things – when buying one it’s always useful to be aware that the studio will most likely release another box set in years to come with yet more bonus features added – as is true in this case. For those of you who bought the Alien Legacy box set – my sympathy – as the new Alien Quadrilogy appears to have it all…
So what’s new?
Well, this time we have the directors cut of Alien – clocking in at 40 seconds shorter than the original, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were getting less value for money than the ‘79 release. However, Scott’s new cut works well – giving a nip and tuck here and there – trimming off some of the fat so to speak. For those of you who found some of the slower moments of the original hard to sit through – the new version should provide some welcome relief as whilst the air of tension and suspense is still maintained – the pace of the film is quicker. It is also worth noting that the new version also incorporates the much vaunted Dallas cocoon sequence – available only as a deleted scene on previous DVD editions. Whether it works in the final cut is a matter of personal opinion, but for this reviewer – whilst intrigued to see it, my belief is that if wasn’t deemed good enough to make the initial print – then there’s no reason it should really be in the new one. Hard-core fans of the series will no doubt be glad to see its reinsertion though.
The other big new addition is David Finchers work print of Alien 3. Whilst many films have scenes re-shot or removed from the final print – it is interesting to see how much was actually removed from Alien 3 – to put it mildly – there’s quite a bit. In some places it merely fleshes out the story – perhaps giving an image or a sound to an obvious suggestion in the original cut, but in others it gives an entertaining twist on the plot of the film – perhaps most notable of all is the revelation that in the original script the Alien was to be spawned from an Ox – indeed much of the footage was shot with prosthetics, but it was only when the director realised how difficult an ox was to train that they abandoned the concept and re-shot the footage with a dog instead.
In addition to this, Aliens & Alien Resurrection are both faithfully reproduced here – both have bonus features on the additional discs unseen before, but little that’s new is brought to the table. The films themselves are superb pieces of fiction – fascinating on many levels and equally gruesome. Alien and Alien 3 are both masterpieces of suspense and storytelling, Aliens is every action film fans wet dream and Resurrection, whilst by no means the best of the series, is certainly a vastly entertaining film.
Whether or not this box-set is either definitive or a ‘must buy’ remains to be seen, but for fans who have yet to buy any of the movies on DVD I recommend this highly. For those of us with the Alien Legacy box set – my advice is to wait – these editions will almost inevitably be re-released along with any or all of the newer instalments in the years to come.
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