- Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
- November 26, 1997
Two hundred years after the events of Alien 3, in an effort to breed a new type of alien, Ellen Ripley is resurrected through cloning. But when the creatures she helped produce escape it is a fight for survival.
I think they should have left Ripley dead. I am not sure with who or how they would have replaced her but once a character falls into a vat of molten metal it is time to call it a day. You destroyed the body and it is obvious the actor had no interest in returning at that point. But we get Ripley back in the form of a clone. It is not a bad idea as resurrections go but the problem is Ripley more or less remembers everything that happened before because of genetic memory because her DNA is merged with the alien DNA. That whole bit struck me as lazy writing in an illogical expansion of the mythology that allowed for a fully functional adult character. The xenomorph having genetic memory makes sense (these are an organism we know nothing about) but getting bits of human memory encoded there too seems a bit nonsensical. I get the Alien taking on certain characteristics of the gestational host, but this seems like a bit much.
Having said that Alien Resurrection is not a bad monster killing movie. Once again the horror elements are missing. I gave up hope of ever seeing another horror-oriented Alien movie by this point and I still have given that up. Disney has never produced anything frightening and though future films would not be produced directly under House of Mouse, I do not see them doing anything like the ’79 film.
Alien Resurrection is also not as polished as any of its predecessors. The 90s were a low point in the visuals of science fiction film. This was just before the Star Wars prequels breathed new life into special effects. The original Star Wars films were game changers for science fiction. After they came out companies were willing to invest more money in the genre but more importantly they were wanting to do genre movies that looked better than they had before. There were one or two that came before it that were good looking, but they never sparked interest in studios to do anything that good looking on a regular basis. But as studios turned out more science-fiction films that never caught fire they started to pull back and at this point studios were not putting effort into effects. Just my theory.
But it is not a bad movie. In style it is a bit closer to a direct to video release of the era than it is a feature film, but it is still entertaining as a monster hunting actioner. The Aliens are a bit more creative than they were before and appear to be a bit more adaptive. The underwater alien is pretty cool and helps produce intense moments.
My long-term celebrity crush Winona Ryder shows up here as Call. Reportedly she took the role to not do another movie in a corset. She is probably the most talented of the bunch right behind Weaver. I enjoyed her performance here though I think the exposition when the truth about her character was revealed felt a little clunky and perhaps a bit lengthy.
We have Dan Hedaya as General Martin Perez an incompetent general conducting what are implied to be illegal experiments. I am not sure you can really go wrong with Dan Hedaya. He is just one of those consistently entertaining types. He even helps improve stuff he appears in. I think he was one of the more important reasons besides Schwarzenegger that the movie Commando worked but I am getting off track here.
Ripley is brought back as stated before through cloning. She is some kind of hybrid with traces of xenomorph DNA in her. She has acidic blood and black fingernails and is much colder with only fragmented memories. I think she should have just stepped away and the producers should have gone with a new character. One of the pluses with Ellen Ripley was that she was a working stiff going up against a system that cared nothing for her survival. More importantly she was merely human. Here she became superpowered. I think that changed lowered the stakes of the scenario. She was now on a better footing than she was before with her nemesis.
In my opinion this movie is notable for being one of the few Alien films where a significant chunk of the cast survives. How often does anybody survive these movies beyond three people. If you are lucky you might get an android to go with them. The xenomorphs were hyper efficient killing machines that required everything the characters had in order to be stopped. Sure they took out the nameless staff of the USM Auriga but beyond that the main cast was largely untouched in comparison to the three previous films. This made them less threatening as people should have been dropping left and right. Basically the idea is throwing a steak at a pursuing dog with the steaks being characters not intended to survive. These dogs really did not need steaks. They were easier to beat as indicated by a lower body count. Joss Whedon significantly declawed them in his script.
The story in Alien Resurrection is definitely more action oriented with the horror elements all but forgotten. Frights have been replaced with gore and bullets. If anything, there is more weird than there is fright. From Dan Hedaya’s death to the birth of the new type of Alien to that moment where the Ripley clone is getting tender with the hybrid there is plenty of weird. And who can forget when they walk into the room filled with failed Ripley clones. That was a WTF moment if there ever was one.
The story is not bad. They manage to generate some tension and a nice level of excitement and it is an engaging addition to the Alien franchise even if they make the threat less deadly. Alien Resurrection is a good film but unfortunately it was the end of the original iteration of Alien. Rather than continue the story, 20th Century Fox decided to create the mediocre Alien versus Predator followed by the abysmal Alien versus Predator Requiem. At some point I will get into those.
Alien Resurrection is an enjoyable science-fiction action romp. It is nothing too deep and can be a little pretentious at times when the characters expound but it is entertaining. While you do not necessarily have to watch it, it’s worth watching. You will enjoy it.