Good-looking Aliens


Remember when James Cameron was simply considered a great filmmaker as opposed to a caricature of Hollywood who also uses the film industry to promote his agendas? I ask you to recall films like The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Abyss and one of my personal favorites, Aliens. Via these films, Cameron demonstrated his prowess at maximizing small budgets, advancing digital visual effects (with the support of ILM), telling compelling stories and engaging a movie-going audience. He also helped refine the validity of the Director’s Cut of a motion picture through special edition releases of most of his films. Let’s take Aliens, for example. Not only is this film this a fantastic representation of the rare occasion when a sequel film matches or even surpasses the quality of the original, but it also demonstrates a filmmaker’s respect for his predecessor by effectively extending the original storyline of the Alien universe while further developing existing and new characters and plot points. The practical special effects created for Aliens were top notch, the direction, casting and acting were spot on and the creature design (courtesy of H.R. Giger) and execution were completely believable, all culminating in an effective suspense/horror/action film. When this film was released as a special edition laserdisc box set in 1991 (along with Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking Alien), Cameron convinced 20th Century Fox to allow him to insert almost 20 minutes of excised footage back into the film to create his preferred director’s cut. What a treat for fans of the film.

Alien and Aliens Laserdisc Box Sets

Alien and Aliens Laserdisc Box Sets

I actually saw Aliens a couple of weeks before its official release date during the summer of 1986. May father’s construction company had a contract with AMC Theaters to build multiplex movie houses throughout Florida. I worked for him during my high school summer breaks. We finished the AMC Seminole 8 at the Seminole Mall in early July and were treated to an exclusive screening of Fox’s biggest summer release as a reward for completing the project on-time and on-budget. I have vivid memories of the screening; I thought it was the best “scary” movie I had ever seen and recall it strengthening my interest in filmmaking and the burgeoning home theater market.

In 2003 Fox released an incredible  9-disc DVD box set entitled Alien Quadrillogy that represents the ultimate collection of all four Alien films along with all of the behind-the-scenes production materials available for each. This is a fantastic collection and has provided me with days and days of entertainment and enlightenment. But, like their laserdiscs counterparts became over 10 years ago, DVDs are so last decade to me.

Alien Quadrilogy DVD Box Set

Alien Quadrilogy DVD Box Set

So you can imagine my delight when I read about a complete Blu-ray collection of the films in the works. As it turns out, the box set will first be available in the UK on October 25. No doubt it will be coming to the US for the holiday buying season. But with some recent concerns about certain 20th Century Fox catalog titles receiving less-than-stellar HD digital film transfers (see my post about the Predator Blu-ray), and James Cameron’s comments about using grain-removal processes to improve the look of Aliens, some of us in the film appreciation and home theater communities had some concerns. Well, folks, there’s good news. Several home theater and multimedia Websites have published screen captures of the Aliens Blu-ray presentation and things are looking just fine. Check out the following sample 1080p stills from the Aliens Blu-ray to see for yourself. Now let’s hope that The Abyss will be getting the same star treatment soon.

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