Alien 40th Anniversary 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray Review

Ridley Scott‘s Alien is the classic of classic sci-fi horror films. When the Nostromo, towing a refinery through deep space, intercepts a distress call from an alien world, they unwittingly take on a passenger they’d really rather not have. The film is remarkable for the lived-in feel of its sets, the naturalism of its performances, and Hans Rudi Giger‘s iconic eyeless, slavering biomechanoid monster. Spawning a multi-decade multimedia franchise replete with crossovers, there’s still little in the genre to truly top it. Finding its horror in the incredibly disturbing violations of the victims’ bodies, compounded by the paranoia of living in a heartless dystopian corporate future that sees its working class protagonists as expendable, the film is still a sensational experience forty years later.

The mastering of the film for the Blu-ray Alien Anthology set was a massive, staggering upgrade from all prior standard definition releases, but there were still some misgivings about the slightly revised colour timing. It wasn’t quite quite as revisionist as James Cameron’s teal and orange remastering of the sequel, but it wasn’t quite the best Blu-ray had to offer, and the shadows were a little crushed even for a movie as dark as Alien. Have no fear, the 4K mastering exploits the wider dynamic dynamic range of the 4K format, and you’ll notice little things in the shadows you’ve almost certainly never seen before. In terms of actual resolution, it’s fair to say that given the film’s age and grainy style, you really shouldn’t expect a huge increase in detail. The grain isn’t scrubbed (bravo!), but doesn’t always look completely film-like. That said, this 4K edition is the best the film has ever looked on home media by a country light-year.

The features include:

  • Both versions of the film seamlessly branched (the “director’s cut” segments aren’t in native 4K)
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1sound
  • 2003 audio commentary with Ridley Scott, the cast and the crew
  • 1999 audio commentary by Ridley Scott
  • Final theatrical isolated score (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Composer’s original isolated score (a reconstruction of Jerry Goldsmith’s original intended soundtrack) (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Deleted scenes

It’s been issued on so many different formats that if you’re reading this site you’ve probably owned (or currently own) multiple copies. Prepare to own another one!  If you’ve never seen it, firstly: Shame on you, and secondly: This is one of the best science fiction films ever made, so see it now. If you’re a fan of the film (or if you’ve never seen it) and you have a 4K television or projector and player, this is the version to get. Just get it already.