Although some folks didnít really like ALIEN RESURRECTION, I have to count myself amongst those who did. Sure, it isnít the film classic that either ALIEN or ALIENS were, but it isnít as downbeat as ALIEN3. ALIEN RESURRECTION is much more of a popcorn movie than its predecessors- with a definite bent towards being a funhouse ride. This fourth entry in the series sets out to frighten, thrill and amuse its audience with its combination of grotesqueries, action and black humor- succeeding marvelously in those areas. ALIEN RESURRECTION is also the slickest movie of the bunch, with a decidedly commercial appeal that should have resurrected the money making franchise for Fox. After seeing ALIEN RESURRECTION for the first time, I personally was ready for a fifth installment.
As for ALIEN RESURRECTION itself, the film opens two hundred years after the events depicted in ALIEN3. Technology has progressed to the point where scientists have been able to clone a fully-grown Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), along with the alien queen embryo that was inside of her at the time of her death. Although considered a "meat byproduct" of the experiment that garners the military their ultimate biological weapon, the new Ellen Ripley isnít exactly the woman she once was. An intermingling of human and alien genes has allowed Ripley to retain some aspects of the memories of her previous life, but the alien genes have also made her something of a predator in her own right. Incredibly strong and resilient, with alien fast reflexes the new Ripley is indeed an even greater force to be reckoned with.
The upgraded Ripley certainly has her work cut out for her, when the militaryís little experiment goes sour, and all of the recently bred aliens manage to escape from the confines of the space station laboratory in which theyíve been nurtured. After all of the soldiers evacuate the station; it is up to Ripley to guide the remaining humans to the safety of their craft, while fending off a hostile alien assault. I have to admit, I love Sigourney Weaver as the new and improved Ellen Ripley- there is just something wonderfully off kilter about her performance, which has one cheering for her and afraid of her- all at the same time. The cast of ALIEN RESURRECTION also features Winona Ryder, Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman, Gary Dourdan, Michael Wincott, Kim Flowers, Dan Hedaya, J.E. Freeman and Brad Dourif.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made ALIEN RESURRECTION available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The DVD menus offer the option of watching either the original theatrical cut of ALIEN RESURRECTION or an eight minute longer special edition version of the film, which features a different opening sequence, additional character development and a modified ending. ALIEN RESURRECTION looked absolutely terrific when it was released as part of the ALIEN LEGACY COLLECTION and the presentation has been somewhat improved for the ALIEN QUADRILOGY. The movieís cinematography and lighting is a bit stylized, but the image proves to be very sharp and rather highly defined. Color reproduction seems a bit stronger this time out, although the stylized touches do skew the hues in a few places. Blacks appear totally accurate and the whites are clean and completely stable. Shadow detail is excellent and the picture has a truly dimensional quality. Digital compression artifacts are always well camouflaged.
ALIEN RESURRECTION features 5.1 channel soundtracks that come in both the Dolby Digital and DTS formats. Since ALIEN RESURRECTION is the newest film, it is not surprising that it sports the best sounding soundtrack of the series. Created in the digital era, ALIEN RESURRECTION has the most aggressive and impressive mix of the bunch. Additionally, the sound design is high on atmosphere and creating realistic acoustic spaces for the filmís locations. Channel separation is excellent, with clean panning of sounds throughout the soundstage. Surrounds are very well deployed for ambient and active sound effects, while the forward soundstage packs a lot of firepower. The bass channel is deep and certain to shake the deck plating of any space station. Dialogue is always completely intelligible and is reproduced with a highly natural timbre. Music is full-bodied and sonically pleasing. The differences between Dolby Digital and DTS arenít overly dramatic, but DTS does have a slight edge in terms of sonic warmth and character. A Spanish language track is also provided, as are English and Spanish subtitles.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as an excellent array of supplemental materials. Supplements specific to ALIEN RESURRECTION are spread across discs seven and eight of the nine-disc ALIEN QUADRILOGY set. Disc seven, the movie disc, contains a running audio commentary track with director Jean-Pierre Juenet, editor HervŤ Schneid, creature effects artists Tom Woodruff, Jr. and Alec Gillis, visual effects supervisor Pitof, conceptual artist Sylvain Desperetz, and actors Ron Pearlman, Dominigue Pinon and Leland Orser. This proves to be a fairly enjoyably commentary track, with a good mix of technical information and humorous anecdotes. Director Jean-Pierre Juenet also introduces the special edition version of ALIEN QUADRILOGY, making it clear that this is not a directorís cut of the film. Other disc five supplements include the ability to watch the special edition of ALIEN RESURRECTION with the additional material identified, as well as checking out said footage independently of the film.
On disc eight, one will find the bulk of the supplemental programming. There are thirteen separate featurettes, which when combined through the play all option totals up into an impressive three plus hour documentary entitled - One Step Beyond: The Making of Alien Resurrection. There is a wealth of great material contained in this extensive documentary, although again, it is made up primarily of interviews with the cast and crew- both new and from the time of the filmís production. One of the highlights is the section on how the filmís exceedingly difficult underwater sequence was shot. Other materials on disc eight include Joss Whedon's original first draft screenplay, extensive still galleries of storyboards, production photos, designs and other conceptual artwork.
As someone who enjoyed ALIEN RESURRECTION, I am glad to have all of the bells and whistles that Fox has chosen to include with in their ALIEN QUADRILOGY release of the film. The movie is visually interesting, has plenty of action and features a really terrific performance by Sigourney Weaver. Additionally, ALIEN RESURRECTION looks and sounds terrific, besting its initial DVD release by an appreciable margin. With all the supplemental materials, as well as the alternate cut of the film- this version of ALIEN RESURRECTION is the one fans will want to own. With all the work Fox put in for ALIEN, ALIENS, ALIEN3 and ALIEN RESURRECTION- the ALIEN QUADRILOGY is absolutely positively recommended.
The nine-disc ALIEN QUADRILOGY featuring ALIEN, ALIENS, ALIEN3 & ALIEN RESURRECTION, plus all the supplemental material is available for an SRP of $99.98.
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