The disc comes with the following audio options – English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, English language DTS 5.1 Surround Sound, Spanish language Dolby Digital Surround Sound and French language Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Optional subtitles are included in English and Spanish and English closed captioning is also present.
Just like the video, we're treated to a very nice presentation here as well. The DTS track edges out the Dolby Digital mix with, not surprisingly, slightly stronger bass, but both mixes deliver the goods. The film benefits from a fairly aggressive sound-scape and if your receiver is up to the task, you should find either of the surround sound mixes very pleasing indeed. The action scenes have got a lot of directional effects worked in that heighten the action and tension but the dialogue and score always remain nice and clear. Levels are well balanced, everything is very even keeled and sounds like it should sound. The gunshots sound nice and brash, and are quite startling in some spots, and the noises that the Aliens and Predators make in the movie also come through with a sufficient amount of 'eeew.'
In addition to both the theatrical cut of the film and the un-rated cut of the film (and the optional on screen indicator that shows you what footage in the un-rated version is new), disc one also contains two commentary tracks, both of which play over top of the theatrical version of the movie only.
The first commentary features director Paul W. S. Anderson and performers Lance Henriksen and Sanna Lathan. This is a reasonably interesting talk as we get to hear about the making of the movie from the side of the director and from the side of those who spent their time in front of the camera. Henriksen is an interesting guy and it would have been cool to give him a solo track, especially considering his history with the franchise but either way, there's enough information packed into this discussion to make for a worthwhile time killer. Anderson talks about some of the issues he ran up against trying to get the film made as well as some of the technical limitations that worked against him during the process, while Henriksen and Lathan talk about their characters a bit and some of the ordeals that they went through as performers with this movie.
The second commentary is with Visual Effects Supervisor John Bruno and Creature Effects Designers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr.. It won't be surprising to anyone that this discussion is considerably more technical in nature as it pertains mainly to the special effects work that was done for the film as well as the pre-production process leading up to the actual work being started. The three technicians talk about their respective work on the movie, how certain shots and sequences required specific details to be nailed down exactly as needed and the role that technology played in helping them along the way.
The bulk of the supplements are found on the second disc in the set.
First up is the Pre-Production section, where we find a documentary entitled AVP – The Beginning (with Branching Video that allows you to go more in depth with some of the points that this piece touches on). This starts with a brief overview of the franchise and where the idea came from. They talk about the comic books and the spin offs though interviews with Anderson, and a few of the other people who worked on the film. There's a lot of great artwork used in this documentary and some very cool behind the scenes footage in here as well. One of the more interesting aspects of this documentary was the explanation of how much work went into puppeteering the creatures and some of the remote controls used for the animatronic effects bits. Anderson ties his film into the continuity of the two original franchises nicely towards the end, where he explains where this movie falls into place between the other films in the series. This documentary runs for roughly twenty-six minutes in length.
ADI Workshop is up next, and it's a seven minute compilation of raw effects footage. We see some of the puppets in action as well as some of the guys suited up in Predator garb without the additional digital effects to tie it all in as seamlessly to the movie as we see in the finished version. This makes for an interesting comparison and it's kind of neat to see the monsters in their unfinished form.
Rounding out the extra features in the Pre-Production section are extensive still galleries containing concept art and storyboards.
The Production section begins with a second documentary called AVP Production that is a look at the sets that the movie was shot on, including the ship, and some solid on set behind the scenes footage. Most of the main cast members are interviewed here and they give their take on the making of the movie, and it's interesting to see via the behind the scenes footage where the green screens where used in the movie. There's some raw footage and test footage found in here, as well as plenty of shots of Anderson directing his cast on the set. Again, there's some raw effects shots in here and some interesting footage that shows how some of the battle sequences were filmed and there are also some interesting framing demonstrations shown in the dailies. The highlight of this one? Seeing how the effects technicians had to constantly apply jelly to the aliens to keep them shiny and gooey looking. This bad boy clocks in at almost an hour and five minutes in length and does a pretty amazing job of showing us what life was like on the set of the movie.
Also in the Production section are three sequences that show how specific parts of the movie were shot. Miniature Whaling Station shows us the miniatures were built and then later destroyed by John Bruno and his team of technicians – it runs just over seven minutes. Facehuggers And Eggs gives us a peek at Anderson working with the creature effects designers. There's some nice behind the scenes footage that shows us how a lot of the alien effects were done, and how fingers were used to create the weird crawling effect of the legs of the facehuggers. This segment runs for about fifteen minutes. Trouble At The Mouth Of The Tunnel shows us, in just under four minutes, how the scene where the whaling village catches fire was done.
Post-Production contains two features. The first is a Visual Effects Breakdown that shows us rough CGI that was then tweaked into the final effects that we see in the film. This does a nice job of demonstrating the various phases that the effects work had to go through from start to finish and it contains interviews with a lot of the people who helped it through the process. It covers not only individual effects but some of the larger scale ones as well, including some of the battles. This runs for about half an hour in length.
The second segment in this section is a collection of Deleted Scenes that comes with optional commentary from Paul W. S. Anderson. There are three scenes in here, The Sister (twenty five seconds of dialogue from the plane ride to the location), Miller Gets Caught (forty seconds, Miller getting cornered by a pair of aliens), and Love Scene (forty eight seconds of a more intimate moment that takes place once the attack is underway in the temple). Anderson's commentary simply explains why these scenes where chopped, and how he feels about them.
Licensing the Franchise is the last section and it looks at the history of the AVP franchise outside of the movie world. The first part of this is Aliens vs Predator the Comic Book and it examines the successful Dark Horse Comics series by way of interviews with some of the creative talent involved in making them. There's some nice art from the comics in here and it's interesting to hear the creators explain their take on the series. This runs for about twelve minutes.
Monsters in Miniature by Todd McFarlane is an interview with the man who brought the toys to stores through his Movie Maniacs line. At roughly fourteen minutes in length, this gives Todd a chance to explain his take on what is required to make cool toys, and his own personal philosophy on how he makes that happen, as well as what he liked about licensing the characters.
The last section is Marketing. This starts off with the HBO Special that aired around the time that the film was to hit theaters. This runs for about thirteen minutes in length and while it is very promotional in nature, some nice behind the scenes and effects footage can be found in here as well as a couple of interesting interviews.
Rounding out this section are three different theatrical trailers for the feature, a trailer for the Alien Quadrilogy, and a trailer for the Planet Of The Apes 35th Anniversary DVD.
The whole thing is wrapped up in some stylish animated menus and of course, chapter stops are included for both cuts of the movie.
Edited to add - though the review copy didn't come with one, it has been reported that the retail version of this release does come with a comic book insert that reprints three stories from the Dark Horse Comics Aliens Vs. Predator series.
Fox has done an excellent job on this release – everything earns top marks from the audio to the video to the plentiful and interesting extra features – but the added footage doesn't raise the feature itself above mediocrity. AVP: Aliens Vs. Predator – Un-rated Director's Cut isn't a horrible movie, it just isn't a particularly good one and didn't come anywhere close to the potential that it had. That being said, Fox has put so much into the supplements here that it'll take you hours to go through it all and if you were a fan of the film, you'll be all over this set. Recommended for genre fans, a solid rental for everyone else.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.