James Cameron’s Aliens picks up where the original Alien left off, only it’s 57 years later due to the problematic nature of interstellar space travel and hypersleep technology. The Company dumbly decides to colonise the planet discovered in the original Alien. When those colonists disappear, the Colonial Marines are sent in with the only person with any first-hand experience of dealing with the xenomorph, Ellen Ripley. Awesomely frightening gun battles ensue.
This film, like Alien before it, probably doesn’t need any set up. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out on what is one of the best alien shoot-em-up movies in history, with excellent performances by the ass-kicking Sigourney Weaver, the cool Michael Biehn, the unexpected Paul Reiser, Bill Paxton, and Lance Hendriksen. This is another fully-loaded double DVD set, as is befitting one of the best action movies ever made. In addition to the 1986 theatrical cut, which is the one I’ll be watching, it contains the 1991 Director’s Cut with 20 minutes of restored footage, full-length commentaries by basically the entire cast and crew for both editions of the movie (the list of people is literally two full lines of tiny type on the back of the DVD case), an introduction from James Cameron, multiple behind-the-scenes featurettes, still photos, and the original story treatment by Terminator Titanic himself, James Cameron.
I’m a little shocked that the Director’s Cut was originally assembled in 1991. I’d thought that Director’s Cuts were a more recent phenomenon, but I guess I was wrong. I’m sure the fact that I was nine or ten years old in 1991 limits my recall (making it less than Total Recall, ahaha), so if someone knows better than I when the Director’s Cut came into vogue, please fill in the details below.
The DVD is impeccable, as is to be expected. I can’t express just how awesome the animated menus are for these DVDs. The look great and completely fit in with the movie’s feel. The sound is great, as expected, and the film looks good. Not amazing, and not as good as Alien, but very good.
One issue with this transfer is that, for some reason, it’s grainier than the Alien transfer was. That’s not a knock on the DVD, but more than likely a reflection of the relatively brighter lighting Cameron used, especially in the earlier scenes of Ripley at the space station and the troop transport. It’s harder to make and keep brighter footage clean, no matter how much care you put into restoring the film. It looks better when the scenes are darker, but it’s still a little fuzzy. I blame James Cameron.
If you’re a fan of Aliens, this is probably the edition you want if you don’t already have the Quadrilogy or the Alien Legacy DVD boxed sets. One great touch is that the backing of each DVD, the part with all the information about the release on it, isn’t actually the back of the DVD. It’s a printed slip sheet that you can peel off so as to have a better-looking DVD case. It’s a nice little touch, but the little things are important when you want to assemble a great-looking wall of movies.
I wish more studios would show the same care in putting together their collector’s edition DVDs. Fox is up there with Criterion, in my opinion, when it comes to putting out a great, fully-loaded DVD. I’m not an easy person to please, but Fox generally does the job.