Fox // 1997 // 108 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Chief Justice Sean McGinnis (Retired) // June 6th, 1999
Witness the resurrection.
While not measuring up to either of the first two installments of the Alien series, this one clearly bests Alien 3 in nearly every way.
Again, the video quality of this disc is superb. I really hope this is a sign of things to come from Fox and their supposed commitment to anamorphic presentations on their discs. The colors are extremely deep and blacks are very solid. The disc exhibits virtually none of the irritating inconsistencies of some other DVD's. Really quite a good video presentation.
The story, written by Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, while not nearly as good as either of the first two installments of the Alien Legacy, is clearly better than Alien 3. In this installment, 200 years into the future from where we left off at the end of Alien 3, the US Military is cloning both Ripley and the spawning evil inside her from blood samples left at the penal colony after her death in Alien 3. A side effect is that Ripley has gained some of the alien DNA through a mistake and she has assumed some of their traits such as an acute sense of smell, incredible strength and coordination, an accelerated healing rate and acidic blood. Naturally the government's experiment goes wrong and all hell breaks loose.
The acting here was not too bad either. I actually enjoyed Sigourney Weaver's struggle with how to portray her character. I found her portrayal fairly believable. As usual, I enjoyed watching Winona Ryder do her thing, if only for the eye candy factor. This was certainly not one of her better performances, and probably one of her worst judgment calls to date. I can understand her desire to act with a three time academy award nominated actress (Weaver) but to jump in on a fourth installment in a series that was going downhill with a largely unknown (in America) director was a bit of a risk. I also dug Ron Perlman's performance, but I usually do enjoy his characterizations. Overall I would have to say the acting was decent but not spectacular.
The audio here is as strong as the rest of the series in terms of its transfer to disc. If you read my review of Alien 3, you know how I felt about the audio on that disc. The problems there were not with the transfer, but with the original mixing and editing. This disc sounds pretty good with strong effects usage and good localization. Overall it was a strong presentation.
Especially when compared with its brothers, this disc really lacked in extras. It included trailers for all the Alien installments and a three-minute behind the scenes featurette but that was all. Too bad considering the outstanding treatment received by Alien and to a lesser degree Aliens.
This movie is far from one of my favorite science fiction films, but it didn't suck either. If you are a fan of the Alien saga you will want to own this disc because this is about as good a presentation as this film will see for a long time if not ever. However, if you saw this one in the theaters and were not impressed, then don't bother because there is nothing extra here to warrant a purchase.
Acquitted on all counts except extras.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Production Featurette
* Behind the Scenes Footage
* Interviews with Cast and Crew
* Theatrical Trailer