The Alien Anthology—20th Century Fox (Blu-ray)

Video: 4/5
Audio: 4.5/5
Extras: 5/5

"Alien Anthology" includes "Alien", "Aliens", "Alien 3" and "Alien Resurrection". "Alien": The terror begins when the crew of the spaceship Nostromo investigates a transmission from a desolate planet and makes a horrifying discovery - a life form that breeds within a human host. Now the crew must fight not only for its own survival, but for the survival of all mankind. "Aliens": In this action-packed sequel to "Alien", Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley, the only survivor from mankind's first encounter with the monstrous "Alien". Her account of the Alien and the fate of her crew are received with skepticism - until the mysterious disappearance of colonists on LV-426 leads her to join a team of high-tech colonial marines sent in to investigate. "Aliens 3" - Lt. Ripley is the lone survivor when her crippled spaceship crash lands on Fiorina 161, a bleak wastelands inhabited by former inmates of the planet's maximum security prison. Ripley's fears that an Alien was aboard her craft are confirmed when the mutilated bodies of ex-cons begin to mount. Without weapons or modern technology of any kind, Ripley must lead the men into battle against the terrifying creature. And soon she discovers a horrifying fact about her link with the Alien, a realization that may compel Ripley to try destroying not only the horrific creature, but herself as well. "Alien Resurrection": Ellen Ripley died fighting the perfect predator. Two hundred years and eight horrific experiments later, she's back. A group of scientists has cloned her - along with the alien queen inside her - hoping to breed the ultimate weapon. But the resurrected Ripley is full of surprises for her "creators," as are the aliens. And soon, a lot more than "all hell" breaks loose! To combat the creatures, Ripley must team up with a band of smugglers, including a mechanic named Call, who holds more than a few surprises of her own.

My scoring for the video reflects my overall rating for the four films together. But each has a different visual look that holds up different throughout this set. Alien has never looked better and is definitely the star attraction of this set. I owned the outstanding D-Theater release of this film previously and this is easily on par, if not slightly better than that. The sense of depth and dimension is really the most impressive thing about this transfer given the film’s age and fine detail still shines. Contrast is also excellent with deep blacks and plenty of shadow detail. For Aliens James Cameron went back and did a complete restoration including some new digital tricks to change the look of the typically soft and flat film. I can say it has never looked better. Dimension is the most obvious benefit but fine detail is also improved. Fine film grain is still present but the image lacks the drab and flat look previously crippling it. The other two films don’t look like they benefitted much from this new Blu-ray set. Both films are on the softer side with muted tones and so-so detail. I really wish Fox would have given these films the same level of treatment considering the cost of the box set and the popularity of the franchise. While they are still a step up from their DVD counterparts, they pale in comparison to the first two films visually. Fortunately all of them shine when it comes to soundtracks. All four films feature new 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks and all of them sound great. Sure Alien lacks some of the dynamics of the latter films, but it makes up for it in chilling sound design. Aliens sounds spectacular with great surround presence and plenty of punch and the latter films bring in more up to date sound designs that are aggressive and engaging.

I don’t think you’ll find a more feature rich boxset on Blu-ray. Fox went overboard with these and included everything from the previous DVD boxsets (which were already thorough) and added even more including longer documentaries and more behind the scenes features. The new interface is also quite slick with themed menus for each film and a crafty memory system that makes going from one disc to the other easier than ever. From feature commentaries, documentaries, making-of features and more, you won’t find a more complete look at this franchise.

How can you not recommend this? The first two films are two of the best sci-fi/horror films ever made and they’ve never looked or sounded better. The set as a whole is one of the best supplement packages ever produced on Blu-ray and a film lover’s wet dream. A must own for any film buff.

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