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The Alien Quadrilogy

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The Alien Quadrilogy
1979-2003 (2003) - 20th Century Fox

review by Bill Hunt, Editor of The Digital Bits

Overall Rating: A

Film and Disc Ratings: See Review Text

9 discs included in fold-out Digipak packaging with slipcase and liner notes booklet


Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Encoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround


You think you've seen it all when it comes to the Alien films. You think you know it all. Forget all that. You haven't really seen anything, and you know nothing. But that's about to change.

The Alien Quadrilogy is a 9-disc treasure trove for fans of the Alien franchise. You're going to find things on these discs that you never knew existed - outtake footage, on-set footage, test footage, set construction photos and video, alternate camera angles of moments you know from the films, deleted scenes including moments you never knew about, candid production photos, pieces of artwork that have been hidden away for decades, vintage interview segments, brand new interviews with almost everyone you can imagine, stories you've never heard... you name it. The sheer volume of previously unseen material here is going to astound you. If you've been thinking that this set was going to be packed with recycled material, you're in for a shock. And if you think I'm exaggerating, you're in for an even bigger surprise.

I know there's one thing you Alien fans are going to want to know right away... can you sell your 4-disc Alien Legacy DVD box set on eBay if you buy the Quadrilogy? Here's the deal... extras from the Legacy DVDs that haven't been carried over to this new set include Ridley Scott's audio commentary track (new commentary with the director has been recorded), Jerry Goldsmith's isolated score (permission wasn't given to reuse it here), the alternate music and production audio track, and the Easter eggs featuring the alien life-cycle and Nostromo crew bios (all omitted for disc space). That was all on the original Alien: 25th Anniversary Special Edition DVD, so if any of that is important to you, you'll probably want to hang on to the disc. The EPK featurettes from the previous DVDs of Alien³ and Alien Resurrection are also missing. The good news is you won't miss them with all the content for those films on the Quadrilogy.

I should also say up front that two previously produced documentaries have not been included here - The Alien Legacy, which was briefly available as a mail-in bonus disc with the Legacy box set, and AMC's The Alien Saga. Fox had originally planned to include The Alien Legacy on Disc Nine, but ultimately had to leave it out for disc space reasons (you can still find it on eBay occasionally). The Alien Saga was never planned for this set, but the good news is that it's currently available on DVD from Image Entertainment, and includes a few vintage featurettes and additional screen test footage (you can read our review of it here). While both of these documentaries are good, much (if not all) of the material presented in them is also available in The Alien Quadrilogy in far greater detail.

Simply put, The Alien Quadrilogy is a home run for fans of this franchise. DVD producer Charles de Lauzirika and his production team have put over a year's worth of effort into this 9-disc box set, and every bit of it shows. This is one of the most comprehensive special editions ever attempted, ranking alongside New Line's Lord of the Rings: Extended Editions among the best DVDs released to date.

Still, The Alien Quadrilogy isn't quite the perfect special edition treatment of these films that it could have been (and almost was). There is one area where this set is lacking... the documentary treatment of Alien³. You should know that of the four directors involved in these films, only David Fincher declined to participate in the Quadrilogy production. So you will not find new interviews with him about Alien³, nor will you find audio commentary with him. That's disappointing, but it's unfortunately unavoidable and certainly not unexpected, so you can't really count it against this impressive release. The one real flaw in this box set has more to do with what Fox allowed (or rather disallowed) to be included on the Alien³ supplement disc. We'll address this more later in the review.

In any case, if The Alien Quadrilogy isn't perfect, it's awfully close. Flat out, I'll say it right now... if you're a fan of these films, The Alien Quadrilogy is going to floor you. You will be impressed by what these nine discs have to offer - more than fourty-four hours of gritty, grimy and often blood-spattered Alien entertainment.

So let's take a closer look at this set, film by film and disc by disc.

On to Disc One

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