Aliens: Extended Ultimate Edition DVD Review
PictureI now own four copies of Aliens in various guises, including the laserdisc, and the VHS box set when the movie was released in a black plastic alien carry case, and none of the prints have ever stunned with their quality. Shot on 35mm film and hard matted to 1.85:1 this print is probably as good as you will ever see. The colour palate is steel blues and greys with deep shadows on the desolate planet surface. The print itself is clean and free of intrusive dirt and scratches; it does however retain the graininess of all the other prints I have seen. This is particularly apparent in the scenes shot on the planets surface when the Colonial Marines first arrive; there is more grain than in a corn silo. Detail levels are low with the print tending towards softness; skin detail is lost as a result and looks flat and lifeless. Shadow detail also suffers due to poor contrast range.
To be fair most of these problems are accepted by Cameron in the commentary track. Part of the picture flaws are intentional, in order to provide a documentary handheld feel to the film, and part of it is down to his choice of film stock at the time, and the decision not to utilise a 2.35:1 format.
SoundWhat makes this Japanese R2 version of the film special is the outstanding DTS track. Both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS mixes are present. The DD track is a fine remaster of the original film, with expansive range, good focus and excellent front soundstage. It is fair to say that DD advocates will not be disappointed, that is until they listen to the DTS track. Awesome is a good word to describe it. The opening shots of Ripley's escape pod being found by the salvage crew, and the door being cut through with oxyacetylene torches is simply stunning. The DTS mix is noticeable richer, fuller and yes...louder. The soundstage escapes the confines of the viewing room, particularly the front where the effects channels are wider than bell bottomed trousers. Effects placement takes on a new precision, with extra detail on offer. The only reason a full 10/10 was not achieved was due to the dialogue tracks occasional lapse into muddiness, made all the more apparent by the rest of the channels clarity.
ExtrasIf there is any information, documentary or comment about the making of the movie Aliens than you will find it here on this two disc set. My review of both the English R2, and American R1 versions have been sent back, but from memory all the special features are present and correct, including the feature commentary tracks by the producers, and J.C himself (no not that J.C - James Cameron). They are all superb and I would refer you to the review of either of those editions for details. One problem does exist however, all the title headings are in Japanese which makes negotiating the menus a bit hit and miss.
VerdictAliens is a wonderful movie and I have little doubt that most readers will have at least one version on their bulging DVD shelves, if you don't then this is the version to go for as the DTS soundtrack is stunning. If, like me, you already own one or more versions the question is should you buy this for the DTS track alone. Well lets just say that I now have 5 versions of the film.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.94
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