I’ve Reviewed The Alien Anthology Box-Set

On newsagent shelves across the UK today is the latest issue of DVD and Blu-ray Review. You’ll know it’s the issue I’m talking about if it has a nice big image of the Alien alien on the cover and not, say, Kiefer Sutherland. In fact, I’ve put the exact right cover in this post, so you can’t really be too mistaken. Can you?

The big headline on the cover reads Alien Resurrected, and the lead feature inside is a two-part response to Fox’s new Alien Anthology Blu-ray set.

The first part recounts the history of the series, from Alien up to date. The second part is filled with quotes from Blu-ray producer Charles de Lauzirika and looks to explain just why the new Anthology box set is a must-buy. It’s this second part that’s written by me.

Now, there’s an online embargo that prevents me from reviewing the discs here, just yet. But I don’t think anybody can stop me from quoting the odd bit of my DVD and Blu-ray Review article. Go buy the magazine for the whole thing, but here’s a semi-random sampling of what I have written:

De Lauzirika says the real reason to care about a Blu-ray is its “superior video and sound”, and he’s made sure to deliver both. Thankfully, we’re talking less about neurotic George Lucas levels of endless tinkering, more subtle edge-sharpening. De Lauzirika even managed to sweet-talk James Cameron, at the time busy fiddling around with a little project called Avatar, into taking some time off personally to oversee the project.

There’s been extensive work on Alien3, too, most specifically on its audio track. As de Lauzirika explains, “People said the sound was bad, and it was, but we had the best we could muster at the time. This time we did a whole new mix bringing back some of the actors to re-loop their dialogue. Lance Henriksen came back, Charles Dance came back, so a lot of the stuff that was really muddy and you couldn’t make out the first time – a lot of the lines where you hear it’s just blowing fans – that’s now been cleaned up.”

The official count is that there are now more than 60 hours of special features – which, when considering the various cuts of all four movies, makes for a heaving package. According to de Lauzirika, however, this is something of a rarity  - in today’s climate, budgets for the production of extra features are suffering from shrinkage.

The notorious behind-the-scenes expose on Alien 3 has finally been released in an uncensored form. De Lauzirika admits that only a couple of the interview subjects were “brutally honest” but there’s more to this doc than talking heads. Amongst the previously unseen footage are several shots of Fincher on set, visibly frustrated and, in one shot verbalising it. We get to see the director get up from his canvas chair, grab a mic and declared “It’s amazing to me that Fox is the number one studio in the country because they’re all such a bunch of morons”.

It gets even better and way geekier outside of the main documentaries. De Lauzirika has included more than four hours of supplementary segments under the title of “enhancement pods”. These are interviews and behind-the-scenes pieces that play like deleted, or in a few cases, extended scenes from the documentaries. Where the main thrust has been covered so well in the chief docs, the pods wander into more estoric territory. “We’ve really raided the archives to bring out every last scrap of cool stuff for this release”, Lauzirika asserts.

The box hits the street on October 25th in the UK, 26th in the US. It’s great. For more on why – and to find out more about what is on there, and why – you might just want to pop up by WH Smith in the next few weeks.

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