Impressively housed on London’s South Bank the London Film Museum recently played host to a preview of the Blu-ray release of the four Alien films, and with the highly polished Alien Anthology Blu-ray set out on shelves on the 25th of October I wanted to give you an idea of what you’ll be enjoying when you pick up the box set.
You know the films, I’m sure. Two outright classics, one curious debut feature from one of the biggest directors working today and an enjoyable, though heavily flawed, final flourish for the one time Star Beast make up this series, and the legacy of Alien proves as indestructible as the savage monster itself.
Before I dive in I have to say that I’ve not yet had my hands on a copy of the box set, and I hope to be able to post my full review sometime in the future, so I was only given a brief look at the films and their copious extra features but I have to say my initial thoughts of ‘I’ve got the Quadrilogy sitting at home – do I need another set of Alien discs?’ were answered as soon as the first disc was fired up, and the familiar Weyland-Yutani logo fizzled up on screen.
The fact is, when done right, the transfer to Blu-ray can enhance the quality of picture and sound to such a degree that you won’t want to see the film any other way. This is true for the Alien films, whose new high definition clarity and depth of colour and ear pounding sound mix impressed me more than so many wasteful transfers I’ve seen recently. These are films I’ve seen over and over and after seeing a few scenes of the Blu-rays I couldn’t wait to watch them again in this new format.
Rather than bumping up the audio and visual quality of the films and repackaging them with the same extras as their previous releases there is a huge amount of new material for the eager Alien fanatic to immerse themselves into and there’s a neat way of accessing them too, which I’ll get onto later. We were teased with a look at some of the new extras, which includes the full story behind the curious case of Alien 3 among interviews and featurettes dealing with all aspects of each film’s production. It’s a comprehensive set, one that I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into, and to make that experience a little more exciting there’s a new way of peeking behind the curtain.
One of the major features is the MU-TH-UR mode, which is an intriguing way of experiencing the plethora of extras and delving deeper into the film as you’re watching it. Accessed via the main menu each film can be watched with the option of learning more about the specific scene on screen, with information, video clips, images etc, accessible during the movie. Some people may not want to continuously skip back and forth between the extras and the film itself so MU-TH-UR mode has a method of allowing you to select certain ‘tags’ relevant to what you’re viewing.
Plucking an example from the ether, if you are watching the infamous chest-burster scene and want to know more (in true Starship Troopers style) you could look at the tags available, which would include John Hurt, Chest-Burster, etc etc, then in Aliens you wanted to know more about the Alien Queen you could select the tags you wanted and these choices would be stored up so that when you came to put one of the two discs of extras you can watch all of the special features associated with your choices.
It’s great in theory and worked well in practise, allowing easy navigation through an almost intimidating range of extras. Here’s how it works.
As I said, I’ve not yet sat down with the discs myself, but I was extremely impressed with what I saw, and it looks as though there’s now a decent way to enjoy the extensive special features box sets of this nature are bundled with. Extras aside these films may vary in quality but they look better than ever, and until Ridley Scott returns to the Space Jockey this is the best way to enjoy the complete set.
Here’s the trailer for the Alien Anthology,