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Alien: The Director's Cut (15)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Includes theatrical cut and director's cut. Director’s introduction to 2004 version of the film. Ridley Scott and crew commentary on theatrical version. 2 pre-production featurettes. First draft screenplay. 2 pre-production galleries. Art of Alien – screentest footage – Weaver’s screentest with optional Scott commentary. Art of Alien featurette – Truckers in Space. 4 Art of Alien galleries (approx. 160 pages). 2 Art of Alien portrait galleries. Production documentary – Fear of the Unknown: Shepperton Studios, 1978. Production gallery featurette – The Darkest Reaches: Nostromo and Alien Planet. 15 production galleries (approx 326 pages). Documentary – The Eighth Passenger: Creature Design. 6 sets of Alien galleries (approx 158 pages). Chestburster gallery – H.R. Geiger’s eorkshop – photo archive (approx. 23 pages). Multi-angle segment – chestburster scene Post-production documentary – Future Tense: Music and Editing. 7 deleted scenes. Featurette – Outward Bound: Visual Effects. Featurette – A Nightmare Fulfilled: Reaction to the Film. 5 galleries (approx. 126 pages).

IT'S been 24 years since audiences were first warned that, 'in space, no one can hear you scream', yet while many have tried to imitate and advance the genre, few have come close to matching the sheer brilliance of Alien, Ridley Scott's peerless slice of science fiction horror.

And while James Cameron took the story into more gung-ho, pumped-up territory, Scott's claustophobic potboiler remains a masterclass in sustained suspense, which is as beautiful to behold as it is, at times, gut-wrenching.

The director's cut, while actually about 17 seconds shorter than the original, has been tweaked, tightened, cleaned up and enhanced, with a few new scenes to keep the purists happy.

But while they are reason enough to see it, few should deny themselves the opportunity of seeing the film on the Big Screen, either for the first time, or as a reminder of how awe-inspiring it was first time around.

Make no mistake, this is a classic and it is back where it belongs, where the epic scale of the sets and the overall look of the movie can fully be appreciated.

The story, of course, is the stuff of cinema legend. The rescue crew of the Nostromo are awoken from hyper-sleep after receiving a distress call from a remote planet.

The crew in question is comprised of Tom Skerritt, Yaphet Kotto, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Veronica Cartwright and, oh yes, the little-known Sigourney Weaver.

Upon investigation, they unwittingly bring an alien back to the Nostomo with them, which, after bursting from Hurt's chest over breakfast, begins efficiently picking off the rest of them, one by one.

It's a simple enough premise, but in Scott's capable hands, it became an expertly-crafted descent into terror; and one which, two years after Star Wars, made people fear the mysteries of the universe once more.

Of the new scenes, Ripley's discovery of her cocooned captain and former ship mates, as she tries to escape, is especially effective, but the rest are probably too small to be noticed.

The real reason for seeing it again is the chance to enjoy the sheer scale of the movie, while also relishing the old-fashioned approach to tension building.

For, while most modern movies revel in their ability to show-it-all and leave nothing to the imagination, Scott's feels all the more terrifying for its decision to take things slow, and never reveal too much.

In fact, we're not afforded a proper look at HR Giger's creation until the end, by which time our imaginations have gone into overdrive.

Sure, some of it looks a little dated, particularly during scenes of the crew using onboard computers, but I defy you not to be impressed by the space-ships and planets, or to raise a guilty smile, as Hurt's Officer Kane requests that pre-sleep breakfast, or Skerritt's captain goes hunting the beast in the ventilation pipes.

In just about every department, Alien proves itself to be a director's cut above the rest - screaming is fun, once again!

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