Blu-ray Review: Aliens - 30th Anniversary Edition

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To commemorate the 30th anniversary of director James Cameron's sci-fi action classic Aliens, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has taken the easy way out. Porting over the same audio/video and some of the extras presentation from the previously available Alien Anthology Blu-ray box set, the only thing new about the Aliens: 30th Anniversary Edition is the packaging and print materials. Oh, and a streaming-only featurette. That's right, Fox apparently didn't want to press a new disc so the only collector's bait, a featurette called "The Inspiration and Design of Aliens," requires of the submission of an included Digital HD code to view. (My code didn't work, so I haven't yet seen the new featurette.) 

The movie itself needs no defense. Cameron expanded the claustrophobic setting of Ridley Scott's equally-classic 1979 Alien, giving it a more epic feel. Sigourney Weaver defied every established convention in movie-awards history by scoring an Oscar nomination for her repeat portrayal of Ellen Ripley. How many actresses can claim such an honor for an action-oriented role? Set 57 years in the future, Ripley is discovered in the craft she used to escape from the Nostromo at the conclusion of the original film. Talk about rude awakenings—she's yanked out of cryosleep and informed that LV-426, the remote planetary body upon which the aliens were first discovered, has been colonized by humans. 
rsz_img0035_rgb.jpg What ensues is a heavy artillery-fueled blast of suspenseful fun. For many, this sequel is actually regarded as superior to the original. With the addition of a bunch of gung-ho Marines (including Michael Biehn as Corporal Hicks and Bill Paxton as Private Hudson), plus a resourceful little girl on LV-426 named Newt (Carrie Henn), the expanded palette of Aliens makes it a totally different beast than its predecessor. It's a highly rare occasion when two different directors craft classics that are so different, yet based on the same basic premise. And the late H.R. Giger's alien designs are, as always throughout this on-going franchise, absolutely indispensable. But you know that already. If you're a fan of the series, get the Anthology boxset if you haven't bit the bullet yet. 
rsz_aliens_glamourskew_g1_rgb.jpg All the Alien films, including Aliens, look great in the Anthology set and since this is the same disc, the audio/visual presentation is identical. So are the special features, which include the original 1986 theatrical cut and the '91 extended cut, Cameron's introduction, deleted scenes, and a multi-participant audio commentary. The featurettes that were found on a separate disc in the Anthology set (and the brand new one) are hosted on Fox's website and can be accessed for a limited number of viewings for a limited time. Look, this is quite frankly a terrible format for delivering supplemental content to purchasers. Again, forget it and get the box set.

The packaging includes the print materials which are the only true exclusives to this set: an array of postcards and a mini comic book reprint. My advice is to avoid supporting this double-dip and only buy releases that include the supplements on the physical disc.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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