Discs Are Rated
review by Ren C.
Starring Sigourney Weaver
Story by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett
Directed by Ridley Scott
Retail Price: $29.98 (also available as part of the
Alien Legacy box set)
Features: Audio Commentary by Ridley Scott, Deleted
Scenes, Artwork and Photo Galleries, Original Storyboards,
Isolated Original Score, Alternate Music Track, Theatrical
Trailers, Interactive Menus, Scene Selection, DVD-ROM
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), Languages:
English 5.1 Surround, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby
Surround, Subtitles: English, Spanish
Alien is generally regarded as one of the sci-fi/ horror
genre classics. Sadly, upon watching the movie for the
first time, I think that my expectations may have been set
too high. The movie opens onboard the Nostromo, a
deep-space vessel with a crew of seven. The crew is
awakened suddenly from an almost cryogenic sleep for reasons
unknown to them. They soon realize that they are receiving
a distress call from a far-off planet. They set out to
investigate, and make a most interesting discovery.
There is an alien life form on the planet, and it is
unlike anything that they had ever seen. There is much
controversy amongst the crew regarding what to do about the
life form, but soon enough, the alien takes things into its
own hands. From here, it is a battle between the crew, and
the rapidly spreading alien population.
It is also this opportunity that allows Ripley (Sigourney
Weaver), the crew's second officer to emerge into her own,
as the leader and the driving force behind the crew.
However, within this lies one of my biggest problems with
the movie, the lack of character development. I felt that I
learned virtually nothing about the main characters,
including Ripley and Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt). It
seemed like these were characters that were used mainly to
advance the plot rather than to become characters in their
own right. As I mentioned earlier, my expectations were set
high when watching the movie, as I expected it to be more
like the horror movies that I am generally accustomed to
i.e. "Scream". However, I would classify it less as a
horror movie, or even a sci-fi movie then a suspense movie.
The plot definitely takes some time to get going, which can
be a very big change from the movies of today. Upon repeat
viewings, it becomes less distracting but upon repeat
viewings, the viewer can take more time to appreciate all
the buildup that is used.
For a movie from 1979, this movie looks incredible.
Having the THX logo, I would expect nothing less, but it is
still amazing as to how good the video actually looks. The
movie shows very little of its age, and easily looks as
though it could be released in theaters today without a
beat. This is a very dark movie, and it shows very well.
The colors are very deep, and very rich.
Again, with the THX logo, I tend to expect greatness, and
I am not disappointed here either. From the very tinny
sounds within the ship, to the rich, affecting score, all
the sounds come through with clarity, and make it sound as
if you are aboard the Nostromo with the crew. Especially
compelling are the "breathing" sound effects throughout the
movie, which can literally send chills up your spine.
This is one of those purchases that was largely made for
the features, and in that respect, I certainly wasn't
First up is the feature-length commentary with director
Ridley Scott. This is a very informative commentary, with
Scott speaking at length about the making of the movie, the
construction of scenes, and any number of other things.
Also different from most commentaries is the fact that this
one has its own chapter index, for the viewer that wishes to
jump to one of Scott's specific anecdotes. Definitely a
commentary that enhances the movie, and made me appreciate
the movie that much more.
Next is the series of deleted scenes that are included.
There are ten scenes in all, each with a description of what
the scene is about, where it would have been in the movie,
and why it was dropped. Many of these scenes are character
development, which would have been very interesting had they
been left in the movie. The most notable of the deleted
scenes is the "cocoon" scene, which gave a more in-depth
look at the alien life cycle. This scene includes
commentary from Scott.
Also included is a very extensive series of artwork and
photo galleries. Included in this very extensive section
are subsections of conceptual art, storyboards, production
photos, and promotional art and photos. I especially enjoy
when photos of promotional art is included, as it gives me a
deeper sense of how the movie's marketing plan developed and
eventually came to fruition.
Next are two separate isolated audio tracks that are
really quite different in nature. The first is the isolated
audio of the original film score by Jerry Goldsmith, and the
score is very appropriate for a movie of this type, almost
haunting at times. The other is very unique, a track of
alternate music, and production sound directly from the film
set. It is nothing short of amazing that this has survived
for this long, and it is definitely an interesting listen.
There are two outtakes included, which differ from the
deleted scenes because they are much more raw in nature, and
would arguably have added much less to the film than the
deleted scenes. In the case of one of the outtakes, it also
would have violated a previously established plot point.
Wrapping up the special features are two trailers and a
pair of TV spots, all of which are great for their sheer
nostalgia value. These ads all seemingly differ from those
of today in that they reveal almost nothing of the movie,
while still building the hype for the movie.
There are also a couple of interesting Easter eggs hidden
within the special features, but I'll let you all discover
those for yourselves.
Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the great
booklet included with the movie. I love special features on
the disc itself, but I also think very highly of the studios
that take the time to develop a booklet with more
information. The booklet includes cast bios and a message
from Ridley Scott, and is a considerable step up from the
one-sheet insert with chapter stops that most movies
I wasn't overly thrilled with this movie the first time I
saw it, but after a repeat viewing and a commentary, it
definitely grew on me. If you're expecting a horror/ sci-fi
movie along today's lines, you'll be disappointed, but if
you're looking for a suspense movie, this one definitely
fits the bill. If you're a supplements buff, this one also
holds up there. If you like the movie and don't own it on
DVD, definitely buy it. You won't be disappointed.
Otherwise, a rental is in order, and the features may push
it over the edge for you. Mild recommendation.
(3.5/5, NOT included in
NOT an average)