Alien : Special Edition
Fox // R // $29.95
Review by Chuck Arrington | posted June 25, 2000
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Graphical Version
ALIEN

Synopsis:

In the silence of space the USS Nostromo glides effortlessly through the velvet black of the cosmos. Her captain & crew all unaware of the danger that looms on the horizon. An emergency beacon's call is received by the ship's master computer-"Mother", & The Nostromo once on its way to Earth is now re-routed to a planet known only as LV-426. Once orbit is achieved & the planetary conditions are assessed, a landing party is dispatched to determine the origin of the call & to assist whomever they may. While surveying the area, they come across a derelict spaceship of curious design. As they continue to investigate, they find themselves in the cavernous interior of the ship. One crewmember, Kane, is assigned the task of descending into the bowels of the vessel to further examine & identify the contents of the ship. While there he stumbles through an electro-static energy field & displaces something that looks remarkably like a leathery egg or something. Apparently sentient, the "egg's" contents begin to stir & in an instant, the "egg" explodes & it's contents, a creature of some sort attaches itself to Kane's faceplate. Slowly, yet definitely burning it's way through his mask & latching onto his face. Aware of Kane's predicament, they rush him back to the Nostromo where, against all safety protocols, Kane is brought onto the ship & placed in quarantine in the ship's sickbay. If this were all there was to the story, that would have made a pretty awesome story in & if itself. However, what has already happened is nothing at all compared to the events that will very soon unfold. Something darker & more hideous than all of their combined fears has boarded the Nostromo. Something against which, there is no defense. Part Old Dark House & part great great Sci-Fi, Alien is the benchmark against which all similar films in the genre are measured against.

Audio:

The audio as presented on this newly remastered edition is simply marvelous! The 5.1 Dolby Digital platform is amazing. The surrounds are given incredible treatment & create the perfect atmosphere needed to aurally propel this film. The sub…purrrrs! With the hum of the Nostromo's engines throughout most of the film, you are treated to a level of audio intensity that draws you fully into the film. I owned the film in both the initially released $63 pan & scan version & subsequently the widescreen VHS special edition. Each were very nicely produced but lacked both the audio & video intensity that I was looking for. Never had the chance to check out the LD version of Alien, but was told it was pretty good. Having this film on Disc however (DVD) is a great improvement on both of my previous copies of this film. I have to say, that I am simply floored by the audio content of the film. I cannot leave the audio portion without discussing Ridley Scott's commentary! Easily one of the very best commentaries I have ever heard, Scott propels the film into a whole other level. Going into the details of miniatures & kids used in certain scenes to achieve the proper scale needed for a particular element, Scott mesmerizes you with his enormous wealth of information regarding a film that is 21 years old! While I love Alien & can watch it over & again, I have a heightened sense of appreciation in listening to the commentary while watching the film. Awesome stuff!

Video:

The clarity of this anamorphically enhanced transfer is startling! I looked keenly at the film & found maybe one or two areas where there was a light shimmer or a millisecond of pixellation. The colors were true, Blacks were deep & rich & the flesh tones were accurate. The print itself is outstanding! This is the kind of treatment all DVD titles should receive. I have to say I was really floored by the quality of this presentation. Fox outdid themselves with Alien & indeed the entire Alien Legacy boxed set. The Menus are another point of accolade for Fox. When the disc starts, immediately after the FBI warnings, the image breaks up & it appears as though you are receiving a transmission from "Mother". Then (and here's the really cool part!) you are taken into the bowels of the Nostromo where you can access every point of interest on the disc! Each selection opens up another level of the innards of the Nostromo resulting in an incredible menu design that adds even more flavor to an already intensely well crafted disc!

Extras:

Loaded disc alert! In addition to the commentary & the menus, the disc also boasts 10 deleted scenes (From the laser disc edition). All of the scenes are great & more in line with the tone of the novel. Original artwork & storyboard drawings from Ridley Scott & H.R.Geiger, an alternate music track, isolated original score & the trailers for Alien, Aliens,Alien3 and Alien Resurrection. For the DVD-ROM user, there is also a screen saver & web links. All in all, this disc is reference level on every front, not the least being its extras. My favorite extras had to be the deleted scenes. It's like watching the movie with a window into the circumstances that set up certain scenes. Having read the book, they lent a great amount of novelty as I could actually see some of the things the author had included that never made it to the final print. (Namely, the cocoon sequence between Ripley & Dallas)

Overall:

This is my absolute favorite entry in the Alien franchise. It's perfect blend of psychological terror, classic horror and Science Fiction is incredible. I have never seen another sci-fi/horror film done as well as Alien. It's good old-fashioned storytelling wrapped up in a cloak of incredible action & drama! Definitely a keeper!



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