Here’s my review of the last “proper” Alien film. Watching the series back, I was reminded of how much I liked the first two and even found certain things to enjoy in the last two. It’s cemented my fandom of the Alien series. Thing is, where do I go after this? There is only pain to come with the AVP films but I’m a completionist, so I may just have to hunt them down anyway. Oh, and also review the Predator films. You can just fucking tell I’m unemployed, can’t you?
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
From a financial standpoint, the answer is obvious, but from an artistic stance the question “Why?” overpowers anything Alien: Resurrection brings to the party. This film did not need to exist. Fair enough, Alien 3 was a bit of a damp squib to go out on, but still- all the important shit happened. Ripley died. That was it- nothing more needed to be said. It was a downer, but the Alien films have never been all sunshine and rainbows. Was this meant to kick off a whole new bunch of films? If so, how? I suppose it’s darkly coincidental Resurrection was actually the death knell for the franchise, but hey, I’m in danger of coming across as a chin-stroking ponce, so let’s review this mother!
“Hey, son, I’ll give ya my authorization code. It’s E-A-T, M-E.”
So, it’s 200 years after the events of Alien 3 and we rejoin Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) after she recovers from her apparently mild case of death by fucking hot molten lead. However, this Ripley is a clone, made by scientists who show no regard for morals and/or ethics and who have also been breeding and experimenting on the Alien species. A ragtag bunch of sort-of space pirates, including the hulking Johner (Ron Perlman) and the impish Call (Winona Ryder) arrive just in time for the alien experimentation to predictably blow up in everyone’s faces. Now it’s up to Ripley 8 and the crew to stop the hungry, hungry Aliens from arriving on Earth. The plot’s enjoyable until the third act and has a much better story focus than Alien 3. Sigourney Weaver’s decent, but her being in it feels like fan service. Having said that, it is interesting to see her not be the out-and-out goodie we’ve come to know her as and play with an new, morally ambiguous element not present in the previous installments. Ron Perlman is here to gruffly say one-liners and look like he’s carved from a particularly pissed-off cliff face, which he does admirably. I’m not sure about Winona Ryder’s inclusion. She’s perfectly alright and, as the film charmingly puts it, “severely fuckable” but I just don’t think there was much need for her unique brand of wide-eyed Disney-esque empathy. This is an Alien film after all. Quick mention of Brad Dourif as Dr. Gediman, if only for the (thankfully) screen separated Alien kiss scene.
Resurrection certainly looks like an Alien film. The film goes back with the classic dark, grimy spaceships and it works. Whilst Alien 3 was a nice departure (at least in regards to setting) it’s good to see Resurrection return to the series hallmarks. Whilst I’m not sure about another Alien redesign and certainly not a fan of the eggs getting a make-over, the Alien effects are the best in the series and still hold up fairly well today. It’s great to see them properly in motion, rather than having to rely on quick shots so as not to give away the fact that it’s a tall man with thin arms in a rubber suit. The underwater scene is especially impressive in this respect.
Crucially, Resurrection doesn’t feel like an Alien film. Part of the reason is Joss Whedon’s sub-par script, crowbarring in some of his trademark snarky, snappy dialogue into a series that isn’t exactly known for comic relief. I love the guy, but this isn’t his best work. The choice of director is an odd one too, with French quirkmaster Jean-Pierre Jeunet taking the helm. Much like Ryder, these talents are great, but not a fit for the Alien mythos, at least in my awesome opinion.
As faggy as this sounds, the Alien films to me have always been about the side-by-side evolution of Ripley and the Aliens. Whereas Ripley’s changes were all internal and emotional, the Aliens’ were all external and physiological. Having a Ripley clone relearn who she is stops all this dead which is a real shame. There’s a flash of the old Ripley when
she’s naked in that sack thing at the beginning and you can totally see some nip action she stumbles across all her failed clone attempts, but it’s not enough. The third act is really quite poor and whilst I get what they tried to do, it’s just ridiculous. Without being too spoileriffic- it’s the fucking eyes that get me. Just way too silly. Even for a film about slimy, two-mouthed, acid-blooded aliens.
“Ellen Ripley died trying to wipe this species out. For all intents and purposes, she succeeded.”
So yeah, Alien: Resurrection. It’s OK in the same way Alien 3 was. There are a few good bits/good ideas (I love the scene with the captives held over the eggs, it’s bloody creepy) but it’s a frustrating experience. It is more entertaining than Alien 3, but doesn’t feel as kosher as Fincher’s did. It’s not terrible, but nowhere near as good as the first two films.