Of all the films in the series, the biggest concern with the upcoming “Alien Anthology” Blu-ray set was by far James Cameron’s “Aliens”, the film I wouldn’t call the best ever made but the one I’m proud to call my single favourite film of all time.
Having undergone a re-release in 2003, Ridley Scott’s “Alien” got a major restoration job then so its DVD transfer in the best-selling “Alien Quadrilogy” boxset was similarly impressive. Similarly Scott himself has shown strong work with Blu-ray transfers of his catalogue titles like “Kingdom of Heaven,” “Black Hawk Down” and “Blade Runner”. His involvement in the Blu-ray transfer of “Alien” was a given and thus it comes as no surprise that it’ll look great on Blu-ray.
Cameron on the other hand hasn’t been so involved in the format, so there was no guarantee of his supervision. “Aliens” was shot on a film type that didn’t take off and resulted in a lot of grain and a sickly pale purple lighting motif in various scenes – all of which made it a very soft-looking and muted film visually.
Panic truly set in around July when Fox released the second Blu-ray version of 80’s sci-fi action hit “Predator”. Slammed for delivering a grainy print the first time around, this new transfer went too extreme the other way – stripping out all the grain and in the process removing much of the fine detail which made many of the faces look waxen.
Hope finally shone forth the other week when Cameron himself revealed in an interview that he’d supervised a remastering of “Aliens” for the Blu-ray release and that the changes and adjustments they made would make it look better than it ever has before, even better than the theatrical release.
Well now the proof has emerged with the first screen caps from the Blu-ray release showing up on AVS Forum and demonstrating a major improvement in color, contrast, fine detail, etc. to the point the film looks almost brand new. Certainly this seems like it will be a reference quality disc in terms of demonstrating how good 80’s films can look on the format given the proper time, money and care with a restoration.
I’ve cut out some shots from the screen capture comparisons, click on any of them to see the caps in full size and how they compare. These below though should give you a clue as to the color, contrast and, to some extent, the detail differences. The boxset hits stores on October 26th.