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Blu Ray Re-releasing: How it Can Be Done,
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This review is from: Alien Anthology [Blu-ray]  [6 Disc Set] (Blu-ray)
Note: The review below is of the original 6 disc version of the Alien Anthology blu-ray set, not the re-released 4 disc version (Amazon list the same reviews for both versions). If you want all the available extras, you need the 6 disc version.
This boxset of the 4 Alien films to date, complete until Ridley Scott's planned prequel is filmed and rightfully ignoring the Alien vs Predator cash-ins, sets a new high standard for film re-releasing. Other studios should take note: if they want to continue to take our money for yet more re-releases of films we own several times over, this is the standard of reissue they need to reach.
Not only are the films presented in their best ever home video versions due to the hi-def transfers, but every single extra from previous single-film and box set releases is included along with many worthwhile new ones. Each film is present in the original cinema version along with a director's cut (or new studio cut in the case of Alien 3 given the fact David Fincher has disowned the film) and only in the case of Alien Resurrection is the new version a token change (a couple of unimportant minutes put back in). Tweaks have been made to clean up various issues - original actors have re-recorded lost dialogue from Alien 3 for example, and it looks like some technical issues have been fixed on the older films too - you can no longer see Lance Henriksen's real body under the floor when he's supposed to be ripped in two at the end of Aliens for example. An illustration of how much care has gone into this set for die hard move buffs: not only has each film got an isolated music score audio track, but it's got a separate "composer's cut" alternative, original version of the score before it was edited down to the final version.
The Blu-ray discs also have a so far unique search feature : click on something of interest while playing the films and your player keeps the Anthology menu when you swap discs to the extras, and you'll then be taken to the appropriate behind the scenes feature. This is useful as there are around 60 hours of behind the scenes extras (I'll believe the blurb - I've not timed it all!).
So the trimmings of the box set are top class, what about the films and does the step up from DVD make it worth buying them again? Thankfully they look great. Alien is over 30 years old now and shows it a little, but given the limitations of the original film stock, this version looks fabulous. There's normal film grain which is fairly especially obvious in the bright scenes, but flesh tones are good and details are bright and clear. Aliens is also presented in a "natural film" version with some grain, but I'd rather see that than an overly-cleaned up, artificially smooth looking print. Alien 3, ironically for a film with such a troubled production, is presented with beautiful clarity and the newest film, Alien Resurrection, looks fabulous too.
So, this set shows what studios can do with classic re-releases: picture quality can be brilliant, care can be taken with restoration of the films, and extra features can be both lengthy and innovative (e.g. with the cross-disc bookmarking). There's no excuse then for lazy, poor value double-dipping as films make their way to Blu-ray: as other's have noted, let's hope for example that New Line learn their lessons from the horrible first Blu-ray release of The Lord Of The Rings films and produce something close to the quality of The Alien Anthology with their second attempt.
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Showing 1-10 of 39 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Nov 2010 15:27:55 GMT
Great review. Can I add that in terms of blu ra transfer Alien is probably the most noteably improved and the 2003 version of Alien3 is a vast improvement on the original. it actually makes more sense
In reply to an earlier post on 14 Nov 2010 23:43:40 GMT
Mr. M. Godding says:
Just so everyone know's, there's 2 prequels planned.
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Nov 2010 17:09:21 GMT
P. MALAKUL says:
Can anyone tell me what region is this set?
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Nov 2010 15:59:48 GMT
Thanks for that, now I know to look out for these and seek anymore news.
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Nov 2010 06:59:02 GMT
Alien...why has it less information in the frame? Does anybody know? Is it a mastering failure or does Ridley Scott authorize to zoom into the picture?
Scroll down and look at the different screenshots...Compare No. 1 & No. 4!!!
Posted on 27 Dec 2010 19:57:10 GMT
Mr. Stewart Ayers says:
Thanks for commenting on the grain/restoration, I think Alien would be less impactful if it were too polished.
Great review! :-D
Posted on 25 Jan 2011 10:35:59 GMT
Ian Davenport says:
Just as a footnote, Ridley Scott's new movie "Prometheus" is now not going to be an Alien prequel, so this set can be considered complete. At least until the inevitable reboot.
In reply to an earlier post on 17 Mar 2011 05:42:14 GMT
Dave H. says:
Just a note for anyone considering buying the set, you may not receive the digipak version. There is now a amaray version of the set (ie standard plastic box), so you may get that.
Just something to bear in mind.
Posted on 15 Apr 2011 18:58:39 BDT
Leandro H. Volpe says:
Do you know if this is region free? Will it play in an US PS3? Are there any spanish subtitles? Thanks!