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James Cameron
Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser
Writing Credits:
James Cameron, David Giler, Walter Hill

Ripley returns to fight multiple xenomorphs.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$10,052,042 on 1437 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby 4.1 (Theatrical Cut Only)
English Descriptive Audio
English Dolby 2.0
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
French DTS-HD HR 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 137 min. (Theatrical Edition)
154 min. (Extended Cut)
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 3/12/2024
Available Only Along with 4K UHD of Aliens

• Both 1986 Theatrical and 1990 Special Edition Cuts of the Film
• Audio Commentary with Director James Cameron, Producer Gale Ann Hurd, Alien Effects Creator Stan Winston, Visual Effects Supervisors Robert and Dennis Skotak, Miniature Effects Supervisor Pat McClung, and Actors Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn and Christopher Henn
• Final Theatrical Isolated Score (Theatrical Cut Only)
• Composer’s Original Isolated Score (Theatrical Cut Only)
• Deleted Footage Marker
• Introduction to Special Edition from James Cameron
• “The Inspiration and Design of Aliens” Featurette
• “Superior Firepower” Featurettes
• Enhancement Pods
• “Pre-Production” Galleries
• “Production” Galleries
• “Post-Production and Aftermath” Galleries
• Laserdisc Archives
• “Main Title Exploration” Reel
• 4 Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Aliens (2024 Remaster) [Blu-Ray] (1986)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 24, 2024)

Because this offers my fifth review of 1986’s Aliens, I’ll skip the usual movie discussion. If you’d like to check out my full thoughts, please click here.

To summarize, for decades I’ve viewed Aliens as probably my all-time favorite movie. 38 years and dozens of screenings later, it still packs the same punch I got in 1986. This becomes a truly great film that might well be the best action flick ever made.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/Audio A-/ Bonus A+

Aliens appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect a rendition of Aliens that came with superficial pleasures but not one that looked like film.

Apparently this image used AI to degrain the source and boost sharpness. This meant that delineation seemed strong on the surface but these elements tended not to seem especially natural.

The image got jacked up to create an artificial sense of definition. We don’t see detail from the actual film, as instead, we get AI-generated “detail” that never existed.

Again, in a superficial manner, this could look good. However, it simply felt wrong much of the time, mainly because it meant a movie from 1986 now looked like something shot 4K video in 2024. Very little softness appeared, and that contradicted the source.

Jagged edges and moiré effects provided no concerns, and I saw no signs of edge haloes. Source flaws also failed to appear.

As part of the aforementioned AI process, virtually all grain got removed and then replaced with a nearly imperceptible layer of fake grain. I don’t get the point of that – if you’re gonna zap all the grain, why pretend you retained some?

Grain elimination techniques have improved over the years, so Aliens only occasionally suffered from the waxy/plastic appearance that traditionally mars overly noise-reduced films. Nonetheless, the absence of actual grain became an issue.

As shot in the mid-80s, Aliens was an intensely grainy film. While I don’t mind attempts to tame the grain to a mild degree, its total removal meant an image that felt sterile and more like video than film.

Colors got reworked here to more closely fit James Cameron’s preferred orange and teal. These didn’t seem extreme, especially since the movie always featured a blue vibe, but they added to the sense that Aliens no longer looked like a project from 1986.

As altered, though, the colors looked positive. The disc displayed the hues as intended and they seemed appropriate within their orange and teal vein.

Blacks came across as deep and dense, while shadows brought good clarity – though again, too much clarity given the murk of the original photography. This image tended to feel awfully shiny ‘n’ perky.

And that’s just not Aliens. Apparently Cameron always hated how grainy the original looked, but the grain worked for the story. The grain gave the movie a sense of grittiness that suited the narrative.

This Blu-ray, however, just felt like a different beast, as it took a dark and ominous action flick and made it peppy and bright. I found enough positives here to give the disc a “C+”, but I remained displeased with how they mucked up the movie.

On the other hand, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Aliens barely showed its age, as it sounded very good for its era. The soundfield maintained a somewhat strong forward bias. Within the front, the movie boasted reasonably vivid imagery.

Music showed clear stereo separation and imaging, while effects seemed appropriately placed, and they blended together neatly. The surrounds kicked in with general reinforcement much of the time, but they added good pop to many of the action scenes, so they played an acceptably active role in the proceedings.

Audio quality was relatively good. Dialogue varied from natural and distinct to somewhat thick and muddy, but most of the speech seemed positive, and I detected very few problems due to edginess or intelligibility.

Effects also came across as pretty crisp and vivid, and they showed reasonable bass response that was fairly tight and bold. The score came across as clean and vivid for the most part, and those elements also demonstrated nice dynamics.

I noticed very little distortion in this firm package. Ultimately, I really liked this mix and thought it held up well over the years.

How did this 2024 Blu-ray compare to the original BD from 2010? Audio felt very similar, if not identical.

Visuals became a different matter, as the 2024 disc offered a much more “cleaned up” version of the film. Indeed, I felt like I needed to apologize to the 2010 disc for my criticisms of its grain reduction.

To be sure, that disc did knock down grain in a semi-substantial manner, but as I looked at the 2010 BD again, I realized it still showed a pretty good level of grain much of the time. Some scenes – like the Marines’ initial foray into the LV-426 facility – used noise reduction more than others, but the film nonetheless offered a reasonable layer of grain much of the time.

Because Aliens was always an intensely grainy movie, the noise reduction of the 2010 disc came as a shock to the system. Now that I’ve seen a version that displays more extreme grain removal, the 2010 looks pretty darned good.

Really, the 2010 simply resembled film much than the perky ‘n’ shiny 2024 version. Yes, the 2010 often seemed “softer” than the 2024, but that related to the latter’s use of AI to artificially boost delineation, not because it offered real sharpness.

Indeed, as I understand it, both the 2010 and 2024 discs came from the same scan. The 2024 release didn’t receive a new transfer.

As such, the only differences came from the work done to the image in 2024, and I found virtually all of those changes to damage the movie. Whatever superficial positives one can find from the 2024 edition, it simply doesn’t offer a presentation that resembles the film as created in the mid-1980s.

Though not without its own issues, this left the 2010 Aliens as the superior release. Go for the 2024 if you want Aliens to “look modern” but opt for 2010 if you want Aliens to bear a decent resemblance to the movie as released.

Found on the Blu-ray itself, we can watch either the 1986 theatrical version (2:17:15) of Aliens or the 1990 Special Edition Cut (2:34:28). Which edition offers the superior rendition?

In my opinion, it's a toss-up, though I like the majority of the additions to Aliens. We learn bits and pieces that add nuance to the characters, and Ripley becomes an even more well developed persona.

I do think the early scenes in the colony on LV-426 should’ve stayed out of the film. These bits seem redundant - they don't tell us anything we won't learn soon enough - and they substantially reduce the suspense and mystery of the story.

These scenes seem so unnecessary - and damaging, in my opinion - that I'm not sure why Cameron even filmed them, much less reinserted them into the movie. Perhaps he thought that we would feel more empathy toward the colonists and toward Newt if we saw how they lived prior to the alien attack.

Cameron was wrong. This cut doesn't alter my feelings about the colonists one iota, mainly because the movie isn't about them.

Their fate exists as nothing more than a plot device to get Ripley and the Marines onto the planet. I like the scenes for historical value, but to be truthful, I usually skip past that chapter when I watch the SE cut.

Ultimately, both versions work well, but I prefer the theatrical film. Largely that’s because I don’t like the shots on the colony, but the other sequences slow down the movie somewhat as well.

The theatrical cut seems tighter and better paced. Some of the Special Edition footage helps flesh out the story a little better, but the theatrical cut packs the stronger punch.

We find an audio commentary with director James Cameron, producer Gale Ann Hurd, alien effects creator Stan Winston, visual effects supervisors Robert and Dennis Skotak, miniature effects supervisor Pat McClung, and actors Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn and Christopher Henn.

A complex compilation of sources, only Cameron sits alone for his discussion. Hurd and Winston unite for their chat, while the Henn children are together for their moments.

The Skotek brothers join up with McClung, and in a very happy choice, the four remaining actors – Biehn, Paxton, Henriksen, and Goldstein – sit together for their examination of the film.

Although I enjoyed the 2003 commentary on the Alien Blu-ray, it didn’t quite live up to expectations. I’m pleased to report that this Aliens track gave me what I anticipated and more than that.

Not surprisingly, Cameron dominates the piece, and he really delivers the goods. The director touches on a variety of fascinating topics.

Cameron gets into how he arrived on the project, the development of the script and allusions to real world events, dealing with a visual universe created by someone else, his choice of aspect ratio, character and situation backstory, choosing how to pare down the film for its original theatrical release, and tons more. Cameron fills his time with consistently interesting notes that give us a very informative experience.

As for the others, they certainly occupy their moments well, and it’s probably the most fun to hear the four actors who sit together. They exhibit a nice sense of camaraderie and toss out a lot of entertaining anecdotes.

The actors reflect on their experiences and give us a good sense of working on the film. They even take a few good-natured jabs at their control-freak director in this light and loose chat.

The Henn siblings only pop up occasionally. Christopher offers only about five words, but given the very small nature of his role, that doesn’t come as a surprise. Carrie gives us a few nice remarks such as the movie line her friends quoted for years – much to her annoyance.

While the Skoteks and McClurg mostly focus on effects, they do so in a clear manner and help us get a good feel for the film’s technical elements. Hurd and Winston also pair nicely as they go over a mix of topics. They cover production concerns as well as the expected notes about Winston’s adaptation of HR Giger’s original alien designs.

Of particular interest are Hurd’s notes about all the tensions between her and Cameron and the British crew, as apparently the Limeys didn’t give them much respect. In the end, I feel exceedingly pleased with this outstanding commentary, as it fleshes out Aliens in a highly educational and enjoyable manner.

Also alongside the theatrical version, two Isolated Score options appear. You can examine the “Final Theatrical Isolated Score” or the “Composer’s Original Isolated Score”. Both come with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and are nice options for fans of movie music.

As we shift to Disc Two, Superior Firepower: Making Aliens provides a collection of 11 separate featurettes. When viewed together via “Play All”, these span a total of three hours, four minutes, 59 seconds.

First comes 57 Years Later: Continuing the Story. In this 11-minute, five-second program, we hear from director James Cameron, executive producer David Giler, producer Gale Anne Hurd, and actor Sigourney Weaver.

They cover the sequel’s path to the screen, how Cameron came on board, and how Weaver returned. It’s a fairly rudimentary program, and Cameron covers some of the topics better in his commentary, but “Later” sets the stage reasonably well.

Next we get Building Better Worlds: From Concept to Construction. It runs 13 minutes, 29 seconds and offers comments from Hurd, conceptual artists Syd Mead and Ron Cobb, and production designer Peter Lamont.

They go into the designs for some of the movie’s visual elements like the Sulaco and the drop ship, and they also discuss the execution of those materials. The show seems a little dry at times, but it covers the topic efficiently and gives us an idea what the designers wanted to do.

Preparing for Battle: Casting and Characterization fills 17 minutes. It includes statements from Hurd, Lamont, UK casting director Mary Selway, stunt coordinator Paul Weston, and actors Weaver, Jenette Goldstein, Mark Rolston, Carrie and Christopher Henn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Al Matthews, William Hope, and Paul Reiser.

We learn about some elements of casting and hear from the actors how they got their roles and what training they went through before the start of production. The show doesn’t seem scintillating, but it conveys the details in a fairly compelling way.

After this we head to This Time It’s War: Pinewood Studios, 1985. It runs 19 minutes, 39 seconds and presents remarks from special effects supervisor John Richardson, Hurd, alien effects creator Stan Winston, Giler, actors Michael Biehn, Henriksen, Weaver, Goldstein, Carrie Henn, Paxton, Jay Benedict and Rolston, miniature effects supervisor Pat McClung, senior special effects technician Joss Williams, makeup supervisor Peter Robb-King, and creature effects coordinators Alec Gillis, John Rosengrant, and Shane Mahan.

While the first three featurettes seemed informative, they lacked much oomph. “War” makes up for that with its juicy tale of issues on the set.

We hear about all sorts of problems. First Cameron clashes with the original director of photography and then Biehn replaces the actor initially cast as Hicks.

(If you want to find out that performer’s identity, you’ll not get it here. However, that information comes out during the “Power of Real Tech” featurette later.)

Many additional pressures occur on the set, and all this leads to many spats and conflicts between the Americans and the British crew. It’s a tight and lively featurette with lots of great stories and some cool footage as well.

Of particular interest is the bit when Cameron exhibits his irritation at a prop operator. So far, “War” offers easily the strongest featurette.

The next featurette is called The Risk Always Lives: Weapons and Action and lasts 15 minutes., 12 seconds. It includes information from Hurd, Richardson, armorer Simon Atherton, Weston, Weaver, Paxton, Biehn, Goldstein, Matthews, Rolston and Henriksen.

We learn a little about the design of the weapons and get a nice feel for the execution of the action sequences, especially in regard to various dangers. The actors prove especially useful here as they offer many interesting stories about the shoot. It’s a good featurette that illuminates the topic nicely.

Bug Hunt: Creature Design provides a 16-minute, 23-second featurette. It delivers statements from Stan Winston, James Cameron, Alec Gillis, Jenette Goldstein, John Richardson, Michael Biehn and creature effects coordinators Tom Woodruff Jr., Richard Landon, Shane Mahan, and John Rosengrant.

As one might expect, “Hunt” concentrates on the creation of the flick’s critters. We get excellent discussions of the new takes on the chestburster, the facehugger, and the warrior alien. The featurette offers a rich and elaborate examination of these elements.

Next we find Two Orphans: Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn takes 13 minutes, 48 seconds. We hear from Weaver, Carrie Henn, Hurd, Peter Robb-King, Biehn and Weston. We learn a little about the relationship between Henn and Weaver as well as some memories from the then-young actress.

Weaver covers some of the challenges she encountered, and again, the excellent behind the scenes footage helps make the program more memorable. It seems a little general at times, but it nonetheless includes many useful notes.

Beauty and the Bitch: Power Loader Vs. Alien Queen. It goes for 22 minutes, 25 seconds and includes information from Rosengrant, Winston, Landon, Woodruff, Hurd, Mahan, Henriksen, McClung, Joss Williams, Weaver and Richardson.

It examines the design and creation of both the alien queen and the power loader as well as the Bishop puppet attacked by the queen. As with “Bug Hunt”, the featurette presents a nicely full and detailed look at these elements.

The program benefits from much great archival video that depicts all the work. It’s a solid reel.

Called The Final Countdown: Music, Editing and Sound, the next featurette runs 15 minutes, 31 seconds. It gives us interviews with composer James Horner, Hurd, Cameron and chief dubbing mixer Graham Hartstone.

Despite the title, much of the entire program discusses the score. This interacts with the other elements, as the rushed editing affected Horner’s work, but he dominates the piece. It’s a compelling examination of all the pressures on the composer and the interaction of the score with the other bits.

The Power of Real Tech: Visual Effects lasts 27 minutes, 47 seconds. It presents statements from Hurd, visual effects supervisors Robert and Dennis Skotek, Pat McClung, Peter Lamont and John Richardson.

This piece gets into the miniatures and other ways used to create the alien planet, the vehicles and various visual elements not discussed elsewhere. It’s an informative program that fleshes out the area nicely.

Finally, Aliens Unleashed: Reactions to the Film takes 12 minutes, 33 seconds. It offers information from Woodruff, Hurd, Henriksen, Paxton, Biehn, Carrie Henn, Rolston, Cameron, Giler, Richardson, Robb-King, Gillis, and Goldstein.

They discuss the film’s public reception as well as their own reactions to the flick. They then offer some valedictory statements about its lasting impression. The program gets a little puffy and laudatory at times, but the tales of personal feelings offer some good notes.

Adjacent to this, we get 25 Enhancement Pods. These offer “supplemental video pieces”.

They fill a total of 58 minutes, 31 seconds, and include notes from David Giler, Gale Anne Hurd, James Cameron, Peter Lamont, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser, Jenette Goldstein, Simon Atherton, Stan Winston, Richard Landon, John Rosengrant, Shane Mahan, and Tom Woodruff, Jr.

Across these components, we learn about the possibility of continuing the franchise without Ripley, the film’s planet design, locations and the creation of its sets, character subjects, cast and performances, props, creature effects, and editing. In addition to the comments, we get shots from the set and some test footage.

While good, the “Pods” don’t quite excel. I like them, but I can’t claim that they’re consistently fascinating – or even much more than just generally enjoyable. Still, as a massive Aliens fan, I’m happy to get all the additional information I can find, even when that material is mediocre.

We get a lot of text materials under three domains. Pre-Production includes a fascinating “Original Treatment” from Cameron (98 screens) as well as “Multi-Angle Videomatics”.

Those allow you to view the actual videomatic or a videomatic/final shot comparison, and this three-minute, 13-second reel comes with optional commentary from miniature effects supervisor Pat McClung. We get a good look at effects planning here.

More stills arrive in the “Storyboard Archive”, where we find 181 drawings. “The Art of Aliens” also brings concept art under three domains: “Gateway Station and Colony” (6 frames), “Vehicles and Weapons” (35) and “Aliens” (5).

A “Cast Portrait Gallery” includes 62 screens. Note that each still frame section includes text pages along with images to get to those totals, and that will continue to be true for the rest of the disc.

As we shift to Production, “Production Image Galleries” breaks into nine subdomains, with a total of 550 frames. These depict the on-set photography of Bob Penn.

More snapshots appear under “Continuity Polaroids” (273), “Weapons and Vehicles” (70), “Stan Winston’s Workshop” (61). “Footage” then splits into three video areas: “Colonial Marine Helmet Cameras” (5:08), “Video Graphics Gallery” (4:05) and “Weyland-Yutani Inquest: Nostromo Dossiers” (3:37). All are good, but I especially like the ability to take a closer look at the Nostromo bios.

As noted on the menu, the “Video Graphics Gallery” and “Inquest” segments loop continuously. If for some perverse reason you leave it alone, “Gallery” will rerun for 13 hours, 43 minutes, 55 seconds and “Inquest” for 12:08:20 before they finally stop.

For the final domain, Post-Production and Aftermath starts with more “footage”. We get “Deleted Scene: Burke Cocooned” (1:31) as well as “Deleted Scene Montage” (4:08).

“Cocooned” adds only a few seconds to the segment in which Ripley seeks Newt. As the title implies, it offers a look at Burke’s fate and that makes it intriguing.

The “Montage” provides seven short snippets left out of the extended cut, though don’t expect 248 seconds of new material. The compilation provides shots from the final film to place the additions in context. Nothing crucial emerges, but we find some interesting clips.

“Image Galleries” breaks into four subtopics: “Visual Effects” (256), “Music Recordings” (10), “Premiere” (6) and “Special Shoot” (27). The last one offers a collection of publicity photos and it merits a look just to see Cameron’s ridiculous outfit.

Finally, “Miscellaneous” splits into three more areas, with “Laserdisc Archives” as the dominant one. It divides into 31 chapters that offer between two stills and 147 elements for a total of 1211 frames.

Most of that comes from text, but we also get plenty of photos as well as some video pieces. Of particular interest, “Writer/Director James Cameron” comes with a nine-minute, 31-second excerpt from a 1986 interview, and “Closing Commentary” brings another three minutes, 15-seconds from this chat.

“Colony” offers two short behind the scenes segments that last 0:21 and 0:26, respectively. “Facehuggers” shows us a 59-second look at the mechanics of those creatures.

In the same vein “Chestburster” displays 19 seconds of puppet sculpting and 52 seconds of construction. A few segments also show brief looks at final film to illustrate the work we see.

All of this adds up to a treasure trove of Aliens material. Some of it becomes redundant, as we get a good chunk of this info in other domains. Still, I feel pleased to get access to the full laserdisc package of extras.

Main Title Explorations provides a three-minute, one-second compilation that shows alternate possibilities for the film’s opening text. It becomes an intriguing glimpse of these variations.

We also get four trailers. This domain includes “teaser”, “theatrical”, “domestic” and “international”.

New to the 2024 Blu-ray, we find the The Inspiration and Design of Aliens. It goes for 30 minutes, 54 seconds and gives us fresh notes from Cameron.

The program looks at Cameron’s impressions of Alien, how he got the gig and its development, casting, design choices, set creation, stunts, themes, costumes and weapons, and general thoughts. Cameron seems invested in this discussion and he gives us a solid look at the different topics, even if – inevitably – some of the material repeats what we know from elsewhere.

The 2024 Blu-ray drops one feature from the prior discs: an “interactive mode” that essentially acted as a trivia track. While it came with some good information, it lacked terrific execution and I suspect we get all the same information elsewhere here, so I don’t mourn its absence.

For some time now, I’ve regarded Aliens as my favorite film. A virtually flawless action flick, it provides a tremendous thrill ride bolstered by unusually strong story telling and acting. The Blu-ray features very good sound and a strong roster of supplements but picture quality looks problematic. I’ll keep this disc for its bonus materials but in the future, I’ll watch the superior 2010 Blu-ray.

Note that as of March 2024, this Blu-ray version of Aliens only comes as part of a package with the film’s 4K UHD edition. Normally I don’t review discs that don’t enjoy solo releases, but I suspect some fans may buy the 4K just for this BD so I figured it deserved its own write-up.

To rate this film, visit the original review of ALIENS

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main