What really is there left to say about a 40-year-old movie that is universally viewed as one of the greatest genre features in the history of cinema? First terrifying audiences in 1979, Ridley Scott’s Alien has now received a new release to celebrate the film’s 40th anniversary. But is this a new release that’s worth your time and pennies, or is this simply yet another cash-grab?
To skim over the key plot points, Alien centres on the doomed crew of the Nostromo. Why are they doomed, you humour us and ask? Why, that’s because this on-its-way-back-to-Earth ship picks up a distress signal from a nearby moon that’s soon to threaten their very existence. You see, before you know it, our crew are soon being offed by a sinister, stalking otherworldly creature that is as clinical as they come.
We’re sure you’re well, well aware of that above paragraph – not to mention the breathtaking performances of Sigourney Weaver and Co., the exquisite, atmospheric tension conjured up by Sir Ridley and his team, the chilling score by Jerry Goldsmith, and all of the rest of Alien’s ins and outs – so what you’re likely more concerned about is what makes this new release of a famed classic any different from the countless other releases of Alien seen over the past 40 years.
The key standout pleaser of this 40th birthday celebration is hands-down the fact that Alien is now the latest movie to be given the swanky Ultra HD 4K treatment. For some older features, giving them a 4K clean-up doesn’t always work that well; at times only serving to highlight certain issues and making said film look extremely dated. Luckily, Alien is a movie that looks utterly breathtaking in 4K. Whether it’s adding to the eerie atmosphere of the numerous dark and pants-filling corners of this masterclass of sci-fi horror, or simply adding a new sheen and crispness to the space ‘n’ stars-set terror of Alien, this 4K transfer looks jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Elsewhere, this new release gives viewers that chance to watch either the original 1979 theatrical cut of the feature or Ridley Scott’s 2003 director’s cut. To be honest, there’s no key changes between each cut, with Scott’s 2003 take actually running slightly shorter than the theatrical cut. And yes, both cuts get the 4K treatment, not to mention the ’79 cut giving viewers the option between two versions of the movie’s iconic score.
One other new addition that’s been saved for this release is a brand new audio commentary from Ridley Scott and some of the film’s key cast and crew. This chat track isn’t massively different from the 1999 commentary that’s also included, but both offer a fascinating look behind the curtain at how one of the greatest genre pictures in history was put together and how its legacy has lasted for all of these years.
Sure, you may have various other releases of this absolute juggernaut of cinema, but Alien really has never looked better or more terrifying. Whether you pick this up or not will depend on whether you deem the new UHD transfer of this classic as important. If you’re a 4K junkie, though, this one is most certainly a must-have.
Special Features: New audio commentary from cast and crew / 1999 audio commentary from Ridley Scott / 1979 theatrical cut and 2003 director’s cut of the movie / Two versions of the theatrical score / Deletes scenes
ALIEN – 4OTH ANNIVERSARY EDITION / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: RIDLEY SCOTT / SCREENPLAY: DAN O’BANNON / STARRING: SIGOURNEY WEAVER, TOM SKERRITT, VERONICA CARTWRIGHT, HARRY DEAN STANTON, JOHN HURT, IAN HOLM / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 22ND