The “Alien Anthology” may have taken some time to come to Blu-ray Disc, but it has been worth the wait. We received the set directly from Fox so are able to give readers an early sneak peek. The films themselves are presented in both their theatrical versions and extended “special edition” versions, Even Alien3 comes in a half-hour longer version here, and they’ve gone to the trouble of re-recording bits of dialog and sound effects to clean up the audio from the restored portion to match the rest of the film. It is nice to have the choice to watch either cut of all four movies, and the SE version of the second film really adds depth to the story and the characters making a great film even better .

Studio: 20th Century Fox
Year: 2010
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Run time: 552 minutes
Rating: R

Audio: DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Disc Spec: 6 BD50
Region: A

The look and feel of the new “A Nightmare On Elm Street” is impeccable, but that’s what you would expect from Michael Bay who excels at the bells and whistles of movie magic. He’s now known for taking old Hollywood Horror classics and updating them, but unfortunately the updates suffer beyond its look. Instead were given stale acting by a bland cast who you’d expect to find prancing around Twilight. They sleepwalk through their lines with innate boredom you just want Freddy to spring up and gut them already. Unfortunately, he rarely shows up. The teens aren’t the only ones mumbling their lines, the adults are just as bad. Acting isn’t a requirement to be in a Michael Bay film, you just have to look good, after all that’s what sells movie tickets right? Even if you appear lifeless on screen.

Kyle Gallner who plays the male lead Quentin Smith manages to ad a bit of a depth to his performance where none is seen anywhere else. He just might have a long acting career ahead of him. The heroine, Rooney Mara plays the role with the same zero intensity throughout and during her fight sequence in attempting to conquer Freddy you fight yourself from nodding off. Had the film focused more on the dream sequences and horror instead of the waffly romantic cliches and generic family relations this could’ve been a real winner.

It is sad to think of all those dead teenagers in the past Nightmare On Elm Street films. They were played by ambitious, talented young actors, some of them now in their 40s, who survived grueling auditions for the honor of being slashed by Freddy. Some of them are now successful: Johnny Depp, for example.

The bigger tragedy of this film is where are the scares? The moments where Freddy Krueger does show up you barely bat an eyelash. He comes and goes so quickly you wonder if you just missed him. This might be why the filmmakers thought let’s make Freddy a former pedophile when he was alive to ad those chills that seem to be missing throughout. The problem is it focuses more on this than anything else becoming a tired mystery who-dun-it.

But forget about the plot, the actors and the director. What you really require to make a new “Nightmare on Elm Street” are these three off-the-shelf sound effects: 1. A sudden, loud clanging noise mixed with a musical chord. 2. Snicker-snack sounds, which Freddy Krueger’s steel finger claws make every time they are seen. 3. A voice deepener, to drop Freddy’s speaking voice to an ominous level.

On top of that, you need your sudden cuts, your lighting from below, your thump-thump-thumps and of course a dog that barks at something unseen in the night, so that your teenage heroine can go out on the lawn in bare feet and flimsy PJs and call “Rufus! Rufus! Here, boy!” You know in your bones that Rufus is now checking into Doggie Heaven.
Movie Content: 8/10

Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/MPEG-4 with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The video transfers are clearly superior to the DVDs that came before them with rich detail, nicely saturated colors and deep blacks. H.R. Geiger’s creepy organic art on the derelict alien ship in the first film has never looked so detailed and powerful and you can practically count the pores on young Sigourney Weaver’s face. There are still minor instances of murky blacks, some ringing and softness here and there due to mild use of noise reduction, but overall, the transfers are pristine, considering the age of the films. The first two films, though the earliest, look the most improved here – no surprise considering they have been painstakingly remastered at 4K resolution for this release. Only “Aliens” is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 – nearly filling a standard 16:9 screen with letterbox at the top and bottom. The rest of the films are presented in a CinemaScope 2.35:1 aspect.
Video Quality: 9.5/10

The audio mix is presented in DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio lossless track. Each film gets the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 treatment (the first two films’ theatrical cuts are also available in Dolby Digital 2.0 and 4.1 channel mixes). Sound is excellent overall, though perhaps not quite as bombastic as one might expect from such action-heavy titles. It seems like more should be coming from behind us at times, and the low bass rumble of the weapon fire and explosions is lacking ever so slightly in deep extended bass. But these are fairly minor criticisms as the sound is clean, imaging is precise, and dialog is clear and articulate throughout.
Audio Quality: 9.5/10

Special Features

Disc One: Alien
1979 Theatrical Version
2003 Director’s Cut with Ridley Scott Introduction
Audio commentaries:
Director Ridley Scott, writer Dan O’Bannon, executive producer Ronald Shusett, editor Terry Rawlings, and actors Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton and John Hurt
Ridley Scott (on theatrical cut only)
Final theatrical isolated score by Jerry Goldsmith
Composer’s original isolated score by Jerry Goldsmith
Deleted and extended scenes
MU-TH-UR Mode interactive experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream

Disc Two: Aliens
1986 Theatrical Version
1991 Special Edition with James Cameron introduction
Audio commentary by director James Cameron, producer Gale Anne Hurd, alien effects creator Stan Winston, visual effects supervisors Robert Skotak and Dennis Skotak, miniature effects supervisor Pat McClung, and actors Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn and Christopher Henn
Final theatrical isolated score by James Horner
Composer’s original isolated score by James Horner
Deleted and extended scenes
MU-TH-UR Mode interactive experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream

Disc Three: Alien3
1992 Theatrical Version
2003 Special Edition (Restored Workprint Version)
Audio commentary by cinematographer Alex Thomson, B.S.C., editor Terry Rawlings, alien effects designers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., visual effects producer Richard Edlund, A.S.C., and actors Paul McGann and Lance Henriksen
Final theatrical isolated score by Elliot Goldenthal
Deleted and extended scenes
MU-TH-UR Mode interactive experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream

Disc Four: Alien Resurrection
1997 Theatrical Version
2003 Special Edition with Jean-Pierre Jeunet introduction
Audio commentary by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, editor Herve Schneid, A.C.E., alien effects creators Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., visual effects supervisor Pitof, conceptual artist Sylvain Despretz, and actors Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon and Leland Orser
Final theatrical isolated score by John Frizzell
Deleted and extended scenes
MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream

Disc Five: Making the Anthology
The Beast Within: Making Alien
Star Beast: Developing the Story
The Visualists: Direction and Design
Truckers in Space: Casting
Fear of the Unknown: Shepperton Studios, 1978
The Darkest Reaches: Nostromo and Alien Planet
The Eighth Passenger: Creature Design
Future Tense: Editing and Music
Outward Bound: Visual Effects
A Nightmare Fulfilled: Reaction to the Film
Enhancement Pods
Superior Firepower: Making Aliens
57 Years Later: Continuing the Story
Building Better Worlds: From Concept to Construction
Preparing for Battle: Casting and Characterization
This Time It’s War: Pinewood Studios, 1985
The Risk Always Lives: Weapons and Action
Bug Hunt: Creature Design
Beauty and the Bitch: Power Loader vs. Queen Alien
Two Orphans: Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn
The Final Countdown: Music, Editing and Sound
The Power of Real Tech: Visual Effects
Aliens Unleashed: Reaction to the Film
Enhancement Pods
Wreckage and Rage: Making Alien3
Development Hell: Concluding the Story
Tales of the Wooden Planet: Vincent Ward’s Vision
Stasis Interrupted: David Fincher’s Vision
Xeno-Erotic: H.R. Giger’s Redesign
The Color of Blood: Pinewood Studios, 1991
Adaptive Organism: Creature Design
The Downward Spiral: Creative Differences
Where the Sun Burns Cold: Fox Studios, L.A. 1992
Optical Fury: Visual Effects
Requiem for a Scream: Music, Editing and Sound
Post-Mortem: Reaction to the Film
Enhancement Pods
One Step Beyond: Making Alien Resurrection
From the Ashes: Reviving the Story
French Twist: Direction and Design
Under the Skin: Casting and Characterization
Death from Below: Fox Studios, Los Angeles, 1996
In the Zone: The Basketball Scene
Unnatural Mutation: Creature Design
Genetic Composition: Music
Virtual Aliens: Computer Generated Imagery
A Matter of Scale: Miniature Photography
Critical Juncture: Reaction to the Film
Enhancement Pods
MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience to Access and Control Enhancement Pods

Disc Six: The Anthology Archives
Alien
Pre-Production
First Draft Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon
Ridleygrams: Original Thumbnails and Notes
Storyboard Archive
The Art of Alien: Conceptual Art Portfolio
Sigourney Weaver Screen Tests with Select Director Commentary
Cast Portrait Gallery
Production
The Chestbuster: Multi-Angle Sequence with Commentary
Video Graphics Gallery
Production Image Galleries
Continuity Polaroids
The Sets of Alien
H.R. Giger’s Workshop Gallery
Post-Production and Aftermath
Additional Deleted Scenes
Image & Poster Galleries
Experience in Terror
Special Collector’s Edition LaserDisc Archive
The Alien Legacy
American Cinematheque: Ridley Scott Q&A
Trailers & TV Spots
Aliens
Pre-Production
Original Treatment by James Cameron
Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Videomatics with Commentary
Storyboard Archive
The Art of Aliens: Image Galleries
Cast Portrait Gallery
Production
Production Image Galleries
Continuity Polaroids
Weapons and Vehicles
Stan Winston’s Workshop
Colonial Marine Helmet Cameras
Video Graphics Gallery
Weyland-Yutani Inquest: Nostromo Dossiers
Post-Production and Aftermath
Deleted Scene: Burke Cocooned
Deleted Scene Montage
Image Galleries
Special Collector’s Edition LaserDisc Archive
Main Title Exploration
Aliens: Ride at the Speed of Fright
Trailers & TV Spots
Alien3
Pre-Production
Storyboard Archive
The Art of Arceon
The Art of Fiorina
Production
Furnace Construction: Time-Lapse Sequence
EEV Bioscan: Multi-Angle Vignette with Commentary
Production Image Galleries
A.D.I.’s Workshop
Post-Production and Aftermath
Visual Effects Gallery
Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive
Alien3 Advance Featurette
The Making of Alien3 Promotional Featurette
Trailers & TV Spots
Alien Resurrection
Pre-Production
First Draft Screenplay by Joss Whedon
Test Footage: A.D.I. Creature Shop with Commentary
Test Footage: Costumes, Hair and Makeup
Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Rehearsals
Storyboard Archive
The Marc Caro Portfolio: Character Designs
The Art of Resurrection: Image Galleries
Production
Production Image Galleries
A.D.I.’s Workshop
Post-Production and Aftermath
Visual Effects Gallery
Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive
HBO First Look: The Making of Alien Resurrection
Alien Resurrection Promotional Featurette
Trailers & TV Spots
Anthology
Two Versions of Alien Evolution
The Alien Saga
Patches and Logos Gallery
Aliens 3D Attraction Scripts and Gallery
Aliens in the Basement: The Bob Burns Collection
Parodies
Dark Horse Cover Gallery
Patches and Logos Gallery
MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience

Special Features: 10/10

Final Thoughts

The “Alien Anthology” is the new standard for content volume, value, and for the time, love, and care that went into its production. Putting this set together took years and a heck of a lot of work. It is award-worthy. The special features alone are worth a 15 out of 10. If you are a fan of the “Alien” franchise, you owe it to yourself to check this anthology out on Blu-ray.
Overall Rating: 9/10