Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece Alien celebrates it’s 40th anniversary this year, and we get the pressies with a new 4K Ultra HD release. But should you hug it tight, or jettison it into space?
The story: The Nostromo starfreighter is partway into returning to Earth when its seven-person (plus one cat) crew is awoken prematurely. A distress beacon has been picked up, and they are duty-bound to investigate. When they do, they discover a seemingly derelict spacecraft that ends up being anything but…
Ridley Scott’s Alien is one of a handful of science fiction films that has influenced most subsequent entries to the genre, yet it’s also very much a horror film, complete with genuine jump scares. Tense and claustrophobic, the movie is also cautiously paced – which all the while just adds to the tension. Great news for fans is that both the original 1979 cinema release and the 2003 director’s cut are featured on this exciting 4K new release.
“You… are… my lucky star…”
The 4K disc: If you’re in a hurry, here goes: this looks simply magnificent. If you’ve time to read on, please do. The original theatrical cut of Alien has been given new life, starting with a 4K scan of the original negative last year and finished with a restoration and HDR treatment that was supervised by Ridley Scott. All of this has worked wonders for the film, from the hitherto unseen detail to the way that the HDR (HDR+ if your equipment supports it) adds to proceedings – the extra piercing glow of spotlights, the deeper yet not detail-crushing blacks – to the (mostly) fine, almost imperceptible grain. Regarding the latter, only a couple of shots exhibit really noticeable grain, and we’re suspecting there must be a valid technical reason for this, considering how good the rest looks. The Director’s Cut works via seamless braniching, and the extra footage from this appears to be upscaled 2K. Anyway, the original theatrical cut remains the best, at least in our opinion, and – again – it looks magnificent here.
As for audio, sadly the extra bucks to construct a Dolby Atmos or DTS-X sound mix weren’t spent, so the existing DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix has been used. Alternatively, the 1979 version also has a 4.1 mix that replicates the original cinematic experience. The 5.1 mix is as good as it ever was, but does sound a little thin at times. That being said, the subwoofer springs to life at appropriate junctures – such as outside shots of the Nostromo – and is generally anything but timid.
This release comes as a single 4K disc only, however great news is that this doesn’t mean that we don’t get any extras. Two commentaries are featured, with Scott flying solo on the 1979 version, plus a 2003 one from the director and several cast members – Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright – plus some crew. Composer Jerry Goldsmith’s score is as much a contributor to the Alien experience as any other part, and here we get the 1979 version’s score in isolated form, along with his original version. Rounding things out are a small seleciton of deleted and extended scenes.
Release date: April 24, 2019
Format: 4K Ultra HD
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton
Want to know what to get next? Check out STACK‘s 4K Ultra HD specifications guide.