Fox Home Entertainment presents
Alien Nation: Ultimate Movie Collection (1994-1997)
“I tell ya, these people got no respect for human life.”- Detective Matthew Sikes (Gary Graham)
Stars: Gary Graham, Eric Pierpoint
Other Stars: Scott Patterson, Lauren Woodland, Michele Scarabelli
Director: Kenneth Johnson
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations)
Run Time: 07h:33m:37s
Release Date: 2008-04-15
DVD ReviewWay back in 1988, Fox unleashed the film Alien Nation in theaters, and it was a modest hit, considering its small budget. Thanks to home video, the film became a cult classic and spawned a short-lived TV series of the same name. Despite its failure, there was enough of a fan base to warrant a series of TV movies that continued the legacy of human Detective Matthew Sikes (Gary Graham) and his alien partner, Detective Samuel “George” Francisco (Eric Pierpoint). Now, Fox has made all five of these TV movies available in one nice package, with the DVD set, Alien Nation: Ultimate Movie Collection.
The fist disc contains the movie, Alien Nation: Dark Horizon. Originally airing on October 25, 1994, this film picks up right where the TV series finale left off. Susan (Michele Scarabelli) and Emily Francisco (Lauren Woodland) find themselves exposed to a virus that is designed to eliminate all of the Newcomers. When a signal from the crashed Newcomer ship reaches a Tenctonese slave ship, they send Ahpossno (Scott Patterson) to Los Angeles to investigate the status of the missing slaves. This is very engaging material, especially with the introduction of the Ahpossno character, which Sikes is instantly skeptical about. It’s this dynamic that really powers this first TV movie, as fans are given more to be happy about than simply a reunion of their beloved series characters.
Disc 2 is a flipper disc, with Side A containing Alien Nation: Body and Soul, which aired nearly a year later, on October 10, 1995. In this one, we meet a girl who is seemingly half-human and half-Newcomer. It seems that someone wants this girl, and a giant Newcomer whom she has a connection with, dead. The story here is actually slightly more engaging than that of Dark Horizon, thanks, in great part, to the subplot involving Sikes and Cathy, his Newcomer girlfriend. The exploration of the dynamics involved in their human/alien relationship adds a great deal to the proceedings.
On Side B, we find Alien Nation: Millennium, which aired on January 2, 1996, and focuses on the rapidly approaching new year of 2000. It also focuses on the Tenctonese faith, which makes things a bit more preachy than we’ve come to expect from the franchise. This is also a film that doesn’t hold up very well today, thanks to the Y2K storyline. Things get good again when we get to Side A of Disc 3, where Alien Nation: The Enemy Within resides. This showed up on TV first on November 12, 1996, and is a further exploration of the Newcomers’ world, but it sets itself apart from similar stories, in that nearly every character, both new and old, are completely fleshed out. This particular film also serves as a strong allegory to racial stereotypes in todays, all-human society, making it the most “important” of the Alien Nation films.
The final film, Alien Nation: The Udara Legacy aired originally on July 29, 1997, and can be found on Side B of Disc 3 and was actually shot back-to-back with The Enemy Within. While this isn’t as satisfying as that picture, this movie does finally offer fans of the franchise the closure they’ve longed for since the TV series was cancelled. The storyline is another heavily-political one, but the best elements involve the revelation of some deep secrets within the Francisco family. The wonderful final two TV movies in the series are a rare example of a fan base being rewarded for their loyalty with some aforementioned closure involving characters they loved for nearly a decade.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: All five films are presented in their original full frame aspect ratios, and the overall quality slightly varies from film to film. Still, these movies wear their 90s TV movie origins on their sleeves, in that everything, from the sets to the special effects make it obvious as to just how small the productions’ budgets were. Images are detailed for the most part, but there’s quite a bit of softness at times. The color scheme is nothing spectacular either, and there’s even some bleeding that rears its ugly head.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
|DS 2.0||English, Spanish||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: Each movie has a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track, and, while none of the mixes are anything spectacular, they do their job thanks to well-balanced sound effects and crisp, clear dialogue.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 100 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
5 Feature/Episode commentaries by Executive producer and director, Kenneth Johnson
- Gag Reel
- Still Galleries
Disc 1 also features The Making of Alien Nation: Dark Horizon, which has Johnson giving us a 22-minute look at numerous behind-the-scenes aspects of the film. There’s also a funny, eight-minute gag reel and some still galleries.
Disc 2 houses The Making of Alien Nation: Body and Soul and The Making of Alien Nation: Millennium which are another 22 and 19 minutes, respectively, of behind-the-scenes footage from Johnson. Another pair of gag reels (13 minutes, total) and more still galleries are here as well.
Disc 3, Side A, contains A Family Gathering: The Director and Actors Look Back on Alien Nation. This is a 25-minute piece, whose title says it all. Also here are more still galleries. On Side B, we find another of Johnson’s behind-the-scenes tours with the 23-minute The Making of Alien Nation: The Enemy Within and even more still galleries.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsThere are plenty of sci-fi franchises with cult followings, but none is as unique a story as Alien Nation. Few of these, if any, has started as a feature film, became a TV series, then spawned a whopping five TV movies. All of the latter have finally been compiled in one nice DVD set in the form of Fox’s Alien Nation: Ultimate Movie Collection. The audio and video quality is a slight improvement over broadcast quality, but we do get some nice extras that are sure to please the franchises’ rabid following.
Chuck Aliaga 2008-10-10