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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - November, 2010

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"Aliens" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-november-2010-alien-anthology

Synopsis

57 years have passed since the events of Alien and Ripley has been floating through space in hyper-sleep the entire time.  She is rescued and immediately accused of destroying the Nostromo without cause.  No one will believe her story about the alien creature.  Meanwhile a terraformer on LV-426 discovers the ancient shipwreck and becomes infected with the monster.  All contact is lost with the colony.  A company man, Carter Burke (Reiser) and a marine combat unit are sent to rescue the colonists.  They arrive to discover the human population cocooned in an alien nest and being used as breeding hosts for more creatures.  The marines are quickly dispatched by dozens of monsters leaving only Ripley, a little girl named Newt (Henn), and a few marines as survivors.  With the help of the android Bishop (Henrikson), they manage to escape from the colony just before their fusion reactor goes critical.  In a final showdown, the alien queen gets on board the mother ship and has an epic battle with Ripley before finally being ejected into space.

Specifications

  • 20th Century Fox
  • 1986, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 7 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec:  AVC @ 26 Mbps
  • English, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring:  Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser, Bill Paxton
  • Directed by James Cameron
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

There are some films that can produce a response similar to a good roller coaster ride.  Aliens is one of those films.  It made my heart race, and my breathing quicken; it’s that intense.  The action is pretty much non-stop for over two hours.  I’ve seen this movie many times including at its release in 1986 and I still break out in a cold sweat during the sequence when Ripley goes into the alien nest to save Newt.  There aren’t many rides better than this one, lemme tell ya’.  James Cameron is in full blockbuster mode with some of his best direction, even compared to more recent work.  Sigourney Weaver as Lt. Ripley is the ultimate survivor as the shows the marines a thing or two about fighting.  The marines are the quintessential Hollywood jarheads; completely over-the-top.  Bill Paxton comes out with some choice lines as he laments on how little time he has left in the corps.  It’s too bad he meets an unfortunate end.  Paul Reiser plays the ultimate corporate slimeball, Carter Burke.  His desire to capture the alien to earn the ultimate percentage is pure evil personified.  For me, this film has no negatives.  It’s my favorite of the four and gets my highest recommendation.

Technical

I encountered the same glitch with this disc as I did with Alien.  When the film begins, the aspect ratio is zoomed to only the upper left quadrant.  Pressing Top Menu then Play solves the problem.  This happened in my Oppo BDP-83 with the latest firmware.  From my Internet research I learned this issue does not occur on other players.

Like Alien, the image is reference quality.  Detail is razor-sharp and color meets my definition of perfect – natural all the way.  Contrast is amazingly deep with fantastic shadow detail and bright punchy highlights.  Even the darkest scenes are perfectly rendered with no hint of crushing or murkiness.  There is nothing to suggest this film is 24 years old except the youth of the actors.  This truly is as good as it gets.  If you want a better picture, you’ll need a holodeck.

Audio was better than Alien but still short of stupendous.  Detail and clarity were excellent but again the surrounds and sub were under-utilized.  All the action took place on an extremely wide and deep front sound stage.  I was never really enveloped with sound.  There are lots of opportunities given the fast-paced action but I found myself a little wanting.  The music is awesome with a pounding score that really gets the juices flowing.  James Horner had very little time to write for Aliens so he adapted material from the second and third Star Trek films as well as borrowing a little from Khachaturian’s Gayane Ballet Suite; superb.

Extras

This disc contains both the theatrical version and the 1991 director’s cut of the film.  The bonus features are shared by the entire Alien Anthology set.  To see my comments, please check out my review of Alien a few pages back.