Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Prepping for Promethus: Alien Anthology

As Prometheus goes into full release, we look at the essential study material: Alien Anthology Blu-ray box set.

The Alien franchise truly represents a mixed bag, and is a great study in the joy and hazard of employing four different directors to make your films.  While this comment might invoke memories of similar franchises (Rocky, Harry Potter, Star Trek), the lesson learned with Alien is univeral to Hollywood: employ the best people to tell your tale, have the greatest standards, or stay home and let someone else take the job.  Such is the same for The Alien Anthology Blu-ray: it's one of the best box releases of the past few years, with enough supplements to thoroughly prep you for Prometheus.  But be warned: the set's special features and menus out-perform the films in almost every manner.  If you're interested in Prometheus, this set is the only thing you'll need to wow and amaze your friends with useless trivia as you wait in line outside the theatre.

For those of you who have seen the Prometheus trailers but have no idea what this or the series in general is about, here's a keen synopsis of the first four films:
Humans discover large-sized aliens (Xenomorphs) with acid for blood
Xenomorphs kill or impregnate humans to grow more Xenomorphs
Humans think they can control Xenomorphs but get killed anyways
Ellen Ripley kills all Xenomorphs.  

The movies follow this basic premise throughout each incarnation, which features different directors and new actors to play the Red Shirts, with the exception of Weaver.  She's beautfiul, talented, and a badass with a grenade launcher or heavy machinery.  Set in the not-too-distant future, the series has this wonderful used look to it: there's grease and steam-punk, dirt and grime, and no one gets along unlike the idealistic Star Trek.  And unlike its predecessors, Alien 3 & Alien Resurrection pale in comparison, boasting cheap-looking sets, cheaper special effects, and poor dialogue.  Although audience reaction has been similarly mixed, no one can deny the impressive release of Anthology, which is on par with Matrix Ultimate and the 70th Anniversary Casablanca.  Spread out over 6 discs, the series boasts an impressive array of features, including:

  • Theatrical and Extended Editions (originally released as part of the 2003 Alien Quadrilogy)
  • New motion menus
  • All features that appeared on Quadrilogy, including Easter Eggs and the LaserDisc supplements
  • Audio Commentary for the theatrical editions
  • 60 hours of special features, including 12,000 photos from the shoots
There's seriously so much to display here that it would take up too much room to do so.  While delving into Alien 3 and Resurrection might seem like a tedious exercise, it's always interesting to learn how the origins of films developed and where they sometimes go wrong. 

You have a couple of choices when it comes to purchasing this set: as you can see, the US version is nice, there's also an impressive release from the UK featuring a steelbook with the facehugger on the cover.  There's also a really nice set from that features the set with an illuminated egg. If you're looking for cheaper options, there's always the secondary market to get these items used.

No matter what path you decide to take, be sure to prep for Prometheus by checking out this essential set.