What's new
Signup for GameFly to rent the newest 4k UHD movies!

Neil Middlemiss

Premium
Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2001
Messages
5,330
Real Name
Neil Middlemiss
Aliens, one of the finest examples of film sequels, remains an exhilarating, magnificent display of directorial excellence, screenplay genius, and exemplary production design and performance. Writer/Director James Cameron, still new on the scene when he wrote his original treatment for this sequel, knew where he wanted to take the follow-up and executed that vision (following standard script evolutions from that treatment) with unrelenting precision. Serving as an allegory of the Vietnam War, with Colonial Marines armed with “superior firepower” bested by an enemy on their terrain, is a descent into disaster with a thread of hopefulness as Ripley leads the ragged remnants of the armed forces and the young girl they find who survived the xenomorph onslaught as they fight for survival.
It’s a landmark film. How many science-fiction, action horror movies have garnered seven Academy Award nominations, including for Best Actress, Best Score, Best Editing, Best Sound, and Best Art...

Continue reading...
 
Last edited by a moderator:

JohnRice

Bounded In a Nutshell
Premium
Ambassador
HW Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2000
Messages
18,935
Location
A Mile High
Real Name
John
Wow Neil. Epic review. In brief, I can relate to the impact this film had on you. I had very much the same reaction to, of all things, Fiddler on the Roof, when I was 7 years old. It just opened my eyes to a world outside the Northern Colorado bubble I grew up in, and the power of film. Still, I'm quite certain I haven't seen it 200 times. ;)
 

Walter Kittel

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 28, 1998
Messages
9,831
Nice review as always. I am somewhat in agreement regarding the grittier theatrical presentation, at least that is my vague recollection; but I am still looking forward to the new release. (Not having viewed the UHD I will be curious to see how it plays in terms of presentation.)


My first experience with the film was on a Friday evening at the Galleria on the West side of Houston. The film was playing on the largest screen with a fully packed auditorium of around 500 patrons. Two things I still recall...

People were actually running up the aisles to go to the rest room, so as not to miss any more of the film then was necessary.

During the med lab sequence (before Hicks opens the ceiling panel) you could literally hear a pin drop in the theater as everyone was on edge. Complete silence in a theater of 500 viewers.

It was a great theatrical experience. I've seen the film countless times over the years but it still works exceptionally well (as does Ridley Scott's Alien.)

- Walter.
 

JoshZ

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 26, 2012
Messages
2,335
Location
Boston
Real Name
Joshua Zyber
I'm still waiting for Amazon for so much as to notify me of an expected shipping date.

Neil, a question from your review. You said: "The colors appear right, with Cameron’s favored electric blue right from the opening moments appearing as I remember them. Flesh tones are natural."

Does this mean that the colors have been adjusted since the last Blu-ray? Are you able to compare? Because from about the point the marines land on LV-426, that disc was almost entirely teal and orange, with almost no other colors for the rest of the movie.
 

Clay_E

Second Unit
Joined
Nov 11, 2004
Messages
286
I'm still waiting for Amazon for so much as to notify me of an expected shipping date.
Yeah, same here. My pre-order from Walmart got stuck in the shipping process (whatever that means), so they had to cancel that order, but it's now showing as "Sold Out", which is the case at both Amazon and DeepDiscount as well. And Target and B&N aren't even carrying it. I did place an order with Amazon, so hopefully it'll show up one of these days, but I'm not hopeful.
 

Neil Middlemiss

Premium
Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2001
Messages
5,330
Real Name
Neil Middlemiss
I'm still waiting for Amazon for so much as to notify me of an expected shipping date.

Neil, a question from your review. You said: "The colors appear right, with Cameron’s favored electric blue right from the opening moments appearing as I remember them. Flesh tones are natural."

Does this mean that the colors have been adjusted since the last Blu-ray? Are you able to compare? Because from about the point the marines land on LV-426, that disc was almost entirely teal and orange, with almost no other colors for the rest of the movie.
I'm away from home at the moment so can't do the comparison until Friday at the earliest, but will do just that. I can say outside of a teal-ish-ness to the interior of the APC after the first encounter with the Aliens ("Hey, hey look. The Sarge and Deitrich aren't dead, man. Their signs are real low, but they ain't dead."), my main point of reference for both the blue and the red I spoke of in my review is the first landing on LV-426 as they exit the APC and approach the facility in the rain, and then the attack and retreat with the sequence bathed in red. On the 4K digital stream neither were as I remembered the colors to be (not as strong), but the UHD of the Special Edition was much better and what I was hoping I'd see. But I'll pull out all the DVD and Blu-ray copies I own (and there are embarrassingly many) when I get home to see how they compare.
 

Bartman

Supporting Actor
Joined
Aug 5, 2017
Messages
786
Real Name
Trevor Bartram
It's disappointing the streaming version doesn't match the disc version in the areas described, was it intentionally dumbed down? How about the regular Blu-ray, was that dumbed down? I don't have a 4K player for fear of another upgrade cycle (VHS, laserdisc, DVD, Blu-ray). I've just watched the 2014 Blu-ray. The story surpasses any other concerns, so answers to these questions will determine if I ever stream it. Is there an explanation of the AI SW & how it's able to remove grain without sacrificing detail or creating artifacts, that is truly amazing?
 

JoshZ

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 26, 2012
Messages
2,335
Location
Boston
Real Name
Joshua Zyber
Is there an explanation of the AI SW & how it's able to remove grain without sacrificing detail or creating artifacts, that is truly amazing?

I'm sure it's built off a similar process to what was done with the film for the Blu-ray master in 2010. Lowry Digital had special software that was able to remove grain without affecting picture detail. I believe it would sample portions of adjacent frames to estimate what the picture underneath the grain should look like. Then, after the real grain was removed, a new (much finer) layer of artificial grain was added to give the picture a little bit of texture.
 

Bartman

Supporting Actor
Joined
Aug 5, 2017
Messages
786
Real Name
Trevor Bartram
I'm sure it's built off a similar process to what was done with the film for the Blu-ray master in 2010. Lowry Digital had special software that was able to remove grain without affecting picture detail. I believe it would sample portions of adjacent frames to estimate what the picture underneath the grain should look like. Then, after the real grain was removed, a new (much finer) layer of artificial grain was added to give the picture a little bit of texture.
OK, if grain is completely decorrelated frame to frame, I understand how this could work. Pixels and/or groups of pixels are either static or have common velocities frame to frame, the grain does not, & that is used to define a true picture element vs grain. Does that mean a pixel compromising grain is deleted & a new pixel created from surrounding pixels?
Where this was used previously I'd heard of velocity problems. With faster processors this has become less of a problem?
Interesting that the grain is completely removed then artificial grain added back, a bit counterintuitive unless they tried partial removal & it didn't 'look' good.
Certainly the early Bond movies processed by Lowry Digital have an artificial (comic book) look about them. Cheers!
 

Noel Aguirre

Supporter
Joined
Nov 28, 2011
Messages
1,591
Location
New York City
Real Name
noel
Aliens to me in a theater yielded an experience only surpassed by Apocalypse Now. A brilliant film. And I am psyched after reading this excellent review (thanks!) and now have to get this!
 

JohnRice

Bounded In a Nutshell
Premium
Ambassador
HW Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2000
Messages
18,935
Location
A Mile High
Real Name
John
I'm sure it's built off a similar process to what was done with the film for the Blu-ray master in 2010. Lowry Digital had special software that was able to remove grain without affecting picture detail. I believe it would sample portions of adjacent frames to estimate what the picture underneath the grain should look like. Then, after the real grain was removed, a new (much finer) layer of artificial grain was added to give the picture a little bit of texture.

OK, if grain is completely decorrelated frame to frame, I understand how this could work. Pixels and/or groups of pixels are either static or have common velocities frame to frame, the grain does not, & that is used to define a true picture element vs grain. Does that mean a pixel compromising grain is deleted & a new pixel created from surrounding pixels?
Where this was used previously I'd heard of velocity problems. With faster processors this has become less of a problem?
Interesting that the grain is completely removed then artificial grain added back, a bit counterintuitive unless they tried partial removal & it didn't 'look' good.
Certainly the early Bond movies processed by Lowry Digital have an artificial (comic book) look about them. Cheers!
Noise reduction today is an entirely different beast from what it was in 2010.

No comparison whatsoever.

These days, noise reduction can be accomplished using an "AI" type of process that's probably too complicated to explain. I only understand it conceptually, anyway. I just know I have used it, and the results are remarkable. Yes, you can still overdo it, but the real thing is you can virtually eliminate noise (including grain) with little to zero of the old type of artifacts.
 

Neil Middlemiss

Premium
Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2001
Messages
5,330
Real Name
Neil Middlemiss
I'm still waiting for Amazon for so much as to notify me of an expected shipping date.

Neil, a question from your review. You said: "The colors appear right, with Cameron’s favored electric blue right from the opening moments appearing as I remember them. Flesh tones are natural."

Does this mean that the colors have been adjusted since the last Blu-ray? Are you able to compare? Because from about the point the marines land on LV-426, that disc was almost entirely teal and orange, with almost no other colors for the rest of the movie.
@JoshZ - I am back home and was able to do a comparison between three different releases. I looked at three scenes in three versions of the film the film. The opening scene where the Narcissus is intercepted, the sequences where the Marines first disembark from the APC, and the scene after the first battle where the Marines barely make it out alive in the APC ("I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.").

I watched these on the Alien Quadrilogy 9-Disc DVD set (with the special editions of each movie - awesome set). The Alien Egg Blu-ray edition that I picked up at the 2010 Comic-Con), and the new UHD release. Here's what I noticed.

The Electric blue opening sequence with the Narcissus is similar, color-wise. The DVD's black levels bleed more but the Blu and UHD are better defined (as you might expect).

The sequence with the Marines first landing and deploying to the North entrance of the facility is where it's most interesting. The DVD and the UHD are the most alike (color-wise, definition is night and day). The color has a blue hint but more of a lean toward grey, whereas the Blu-ray is a little greener in color (and likely where complaints of teal come from). But they aren't seismically different. They are grades on the same scale. I was surprised at how similar all three were and how aligned with the DVD this moment was on the UHD. When they get inside, the same differences apply, with the Blu-ray leaning toward the green/grey with the DVD and UHD leaning toward the blue/grey. The white of the horizontal hallway lights is a little whiter (and I do mean a shade whiter) in the UHD version.

The sequence with the embattled team discusses their next move following casualties, the colors are quite similar, but again, I'd say the DVD and UHD are closer, but all three have a little green with the blue but doesn't seem out of place.

I hope that helps.

I will also say that the Blu-ray's grain structure was finer than I remembered and the level of detail and clarity excellent for the format. The UHD may best all previous versions on those fronts, but seeing a stronger amount of grain was comforting. I suspect I'll watch the UHD version from now on, but I also believe I'll pop in previous releases from time to time to honor my earlier experiences watching the film).
 

DanH1972

Second Unit
Joined
Apr 26, 2014
Messages
429
Location
Colorado
Real Name
Dan
It's disappointing the streaming version doesn't match the disc version in the areas described, was it intentionally dumbed down? How about the regular Blu-ray, was that dumbed down? I don't have a 4K player for fear of another upgrade cycle (VHS, laserdisc, DVD, Blu-ray). I've just watched the 2014 Blu-ray. The story surpasses any other concerns, so answers to these questions will determine if I ever stream it. Is there an explanation of the AI SW & how it's able to remove grain without sacrificing detail or creating artifacts, that is truly amazing?
The lack of a decent bitrate tends to dumb down film and TV releases all by itself. Then there are some streaming companies that insist on further manipulation of the soundtracks to appease the masses and their lower end sound systems.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Sign up for our newsletter

and receive essential news, curated deals, and much more







You will only receive emails from us. We will never sell or distribute your email address to third party companies at any time.

Latest Articles

Forum statistics

Threads
357,307
Messages
5,135,221
Members
144,346
Latest member
Yashavi46
Recent bookmarks
0
Top