HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Aliens: 30th Anniversary Edition
HTS Overall Score:88
“It’s game over man, game over”! If you’re a fan of sci-fi, action, horror or any combination of the three than you’ve watching James Cameron’s “Aliens”. It was one of the defining movies of my childhood and scared the living SNOT out of me as a 6 year old kid watching over his brother’s shoulder when he should have been in bed (If you’ve read some of my reviews you’ll find out that I did that a LOT when I was a child, much to my mother’s chagrin). 35 (ish) years ago Ridley Scott rocked the world with his suspenseful sci-fi/horror film “Alien” that was sent a seismic ripple through film history. It was tense, minimalistic, and genuinely frightening back then (still is if you’re a fan of horror where the monster doesn’t show his face every 10 seconds and dole out gallons of blood). Probably considered one of the greatest films of its kind, “Alien” is only rivaled by its wildly different sequel, “Aliens” (directed by James Cameron, back when James Cameron wasn’t blinded by dreams of “Avatar” 2, 3 and 4). Instead of following up with the creature feature that involved a ferocious alien on the loose in cramped quarters, Cameron amped up the sequel to level 11 by including a gang of space marines, grenades, pulse rifles, one liners, Bill Paxton (who actually has the distinction for being the only actor alive who has been killed by an Alien, a Predator AND a Terminator), more Aliens than you could throw a stick at, and EXPLOSIONS!
When we left off from “Alien” Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) had escaped from the Nostromo with her life (and that of Jonesy the cat) only to float in hibernation sleep in her escape pod for 57 years. Over half a century after she left, she is picked up by a salvage ship and reawakened to find out that everything and everyone she had ever loved was dead. However, The Weyland-Yutani Corporation that she had worked for back then was still going strong and NOT happy that she had blown up a 43 million dollar spaceship, despite her rantings about the mysterious alien species they had encountered on LV 426. After warning the higher ups about the alien force on the planet, she is horrified to learn that LV 426 has been inhabited by colonists for over 20 years without incident. However, you can be pretty certain that well enough cannot be left alone, and a rogue scouting party encounters the same alien ship that the Nostromo did 57 years ago, unleashing hell on earth amongst the 70 colonist families.
After contact has been lost on the LV 426 base, the Corporation sends out a ship full of armed and ready Marines out to investigate, and they decide that Ripley is best suited to act as a consultant due to her previous experience with the supposed race of monsters. As guessed, things go from bad to worse, as the Marines are ambushed by dozens of the creatures, cutting off their only escape route and downing the drop ship. Now it’s up to the remaining survivors to hole up and survive the night, hopefully getting access to the second drop ship and getting off the planet before it’s too late. Oh, and doe the SMART thing for once by nuking the installation from orbit and leaving a crater the size of Nebraska behind.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=79498[/img]“Aliens” is probably my favorite film of the entire “Alien” franchise, even though “Alien” itself is only the BAREST fraction of a hair behind it. I guess it comes down to me tending to like the action oriented structure of the sequel. It has everything that made the 80s awesome. Guns, knives, grenades, flame throwers, and awesome characters. Bill Paxton as Private Hudson is simply phenomenal as the comedic relief for the series, and Paul Reiser is despicable as the slimy and sleazy corporate scumbag. Biehn is excellent in his role, but even the supporter characters and cheesy 80s one liners are awesome. Still, Sigourney Weaver RULES as Ellen Ripley. Whenever people mutter that women don’t have strong roles in film, I always point to this series as one of the best representation of a woman who is completely bad to the bone. She’s vulnerable, feminine, but oh so determined and just as powerful as any other character that you can imagine. The fact that she doesn’t have to be something she’s not, yet STILL is portrayed as confident, appealing (without being slutty) and completely awe inspiring says something about Weaver herself as well as the impeccable direction she had by both Ridley Scott and James Cameron.
The film has always been slightly divisive due to the fact that Cameron took the franchise in a completely different direction than “Alien”. While Ridley Scott was content to work at a slower pace and have the singular Alien in the shadows, Cameron wanted more aliens, more guns, just more more more to the extreme. Instead of feeling terror or the impending doom as the alien slips around the Nostromo, we have marines with guns, exploding grenades, and turret mounted machine guns that mow through hundreds of the beasts, AND a hive queen to battle at the end with a mecha suit. Still, no matter how over the top the sequel is, “Aliens” is still just as beloved as “Alien” and for good reason. It hits all the right buttons in all the right ways without making the original seem inferior or let it down in the slightest. It is a great evolution and the changes were necessary (in my opinion) to continue the franchise without becoming stale.
Rated R for monster violence, and for language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=79506[/img]This disc is basically the EXACT same disc as the one in the Anthology, Quadrilogy and the single disc released a few times back over the last couple of years. The video encode is the exact same one, but that is not a bad thing. Back when the Anthology was released this remastering was a bit more divisive than the differences between “Alien” and this movie, as James Cameron personally oversaw the transfer and tweaked things ever so slightly. The movie has been given a lightly cooler look with some teal over tones added, but the big thing was the fact that Cameron and crew made the bold statement of cleaning up the heavy HEAVY grain that the movie had always sported with some DNR (digital noise reduction). “Aliens” has ALWAYS been a very grainy film, but the DVD had always been a bit noisy as well, which made it look like the worst of the 4 films on DVD. This new remaster takes away a lot of the gain and noise with DNR, but not ALL of it. There’s still a nice layer of healthy grain in the mix, but every once in a while you can see that there’s been some smoothness added to the film, and while it’s nowhere NEAR the effect of “Predator: Ultimate Hunter edition” (which is a nightmare), purists may be ever so slightly peeved at said smoothness that crops up. Still, blacks are deep and inky, and the detail is simply phenomenal. It’s not 100% perfect, but it is leaps and bounds better than anything seen before on home video and it’s a great looking disc.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=79514[/img]The disc sports the same 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix (as well as the original 4.1 mix in lossy Dolby Digital, and the 2.0 night listening track in Dolby Digital as well) that are on all the other versions of the movie out there, and this same mix is just as top notch as ever. The remastering for the video wasn’t the only effort going on, as the 5.1 mix is clean and clear as can be, with amazing vocals and crisp dialog throughout. The action is always fast and frenetic, coming from all angles as the aliens shriek in anger while the pulse rifles blast off in every direction. LFE is tight and powerful, and while the movie is not mixed like modern films where every second of the movie is a bass attack, it still is full of a LOT of powerful moments. The footsteps of the mech mover that Ripley uses throbs with weight and power, adding probably one of the most impactful LFE moments of the entire film.
• NEW The Inspiration and Design of Aliens featurette
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Superior Firepower: Making Aliens
• Superior Firepower: Making Aliens Enhancement
• Pre-Production Galleries
- The Art of Aliens
- Gateway Station and Colony
- Vehicles and Weapons
- Cast Portrait Gallery
• Deleted Scene Montage
“Aliens” is one of the most iconic 80s films of all time, and for good reason. It’s a blast from beginning to end, and the director’s extended cut is just that much better (the disc has both version on it). Now most people already know that, and are really reading the review to find out WHY they should get this particular edition. In that case I will have to say “it depends”. For those of you who already have the Anthology edition, or the Quadrilogy, or the single disc version (whichever one of the 4 repackagings of that that you have), then this might be a bit dicey. This is a collector’s edition that’s for sure, but the extra incentives are more physical than anything added on the disc. The Anthology is great if you want the most special features and the most bang for your buck, but this version adds a never before seen special features, but ironically it is a streaming only item, and not physically on the disc. HOWEVER, the set comes with a thick chipboard box with the artwork on it, as well as a comic book AND a set of laminated cards of the set. While it’s not THAT much different from the standalones out there, it IS the best version available (unless you want the 5th and 6th discs of the Anthology edition, which contain a ton of other extras too). So ironically I’m not sure I can recommend this edition to EVERY viewer out there. It will come down to what is important to you, or if you don’t want the 3rd and 4th film in the franchise. The collectors will most likely want this edition though, because Even I’m willing to go out and buy this version just for the cool chipboard case and the extra cards included, but I’m a physical swag nut who has to have all of those goodies. More minimalist people may already have the single disc edition, or be happy with the barebones “Quadrilogy” set, but as I said. It depends on what you’re interested in. Still one of the best movies out there in the genre, and a must buy in one form or another.
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Paul Rieser
Directed by: James Cameron
Written by: James Cameron, David Giler
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DD 4.1, English DD 2.0, French, German DTS 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 137 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 13th, 2016
Buy Aliens Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Good Watch
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