Made in 1997, Alien Resurrection once again stars Sigourney Weaver returning to play Ripley. This time French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is at the helm with Joss Whedon (creator of TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel) providing the basis for the film’s screenplay.
Right then, so after lifting my head from the table after watching Alien3 totally ruin the potential for a tremendous sequel to Aliens, I fearfully found my hand hovering over the play button of Alien: Resurrection wondering if I should watch it or just let the franchise die with Alien3. After all I would advise any fan of the franchise to stop watching after Aliens so should I take my own advice and not only refuse to watch Alien: Resurrection but to also refuse to acknowledge that like Alien3 that it even exists?? No, I thought, I am a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel so if Joss Whedon is involved then surely it must be better than Alien3, right??
So what’s the dealio this time around??
Set 200 years after the events of Alien3 and Ripley’s death (spoiler I guess) on Fury 161, a group of scientists acting under the direction of the United Systems Military onboard the USM Auriga have been conduction cloning experiments and have managed to recreate Ripley (Weaver) and the Alien Queen that was inside her. Whilst they only want the alien they decide to keep her alive and discover that the cloning process has resulted in her genetic code getting a little mixed up with the alien, giving her enhanced strength, genetic memories of the original Ripley and her blood also has acidic properties.
Whilst Ripley is in her cell, a group of mercenaries arrive with humans that are used to breed aliens after the Queen grows to maturity. The mercenaries are allowed to remain onboard for a few days, during which time some of the aliens are able to break out of their confinement cells and quickly release the others.
With the military personnel all but evacuated the mercenaries (who include Ron Pearlman, Winona Rider, and Michael Wincott) are left with no other option than to team up with Ripley, a remaining soldier, and a scientist as they all attempt to make it back to their own ship before the aliens track them down and kill them all.
The word “Resurrection” is certainly appropriate because not only has Ripley been resurrected but also the film makers are trying to resurrect the Alien franchise, see the title is clever isn’t it??
After the very poor Alien3 it seemed that the Alien franchise was effectively dead in the water, however, studios can rarely allow formerly successful films to die quietly. They either give them a reboot with a new cast or they simply do yet another sequel. In this case the fourth film is not a reboot it is another sequel. Sigourney Weaver once again steps into the role of Ripley, and gets to play her a little bit differently this time. As a human/alien hybrid Ripley is truly as hard-as-nails and more than capable of dealing with the aliens that she has a strange connection with. She is strong, unpredictable but seems to be retaining some of her humanity as the rest of the cast are picked off like mint imperials after a curry (that was a poor analogy and I am sorry for it).
Personally I would have preferred it is she had forsaken her humanity and run with the aliens rather than the humans but that would have been a difficult thing to do well and the film couldn't even get its basic plot right so how would it have fared with one that was more complex??
As far as the film itself is concerned it is basically the same plot to Aliens except it is onboard a ship rather than a planet. The aliens stalk the mercenaries who travel through various areas of the ship in order to get back to their own vessel that fortunately no one else has taken in the evacuation. The marines that were onboard the ship all flee when the aliens escape their cells so we don’t have another set of marines taking on the aliens, because you know that would be cool, no it is a collection of ragtag mercenaries trying to escape to their own ship, rather than simply jumping into an escape pod.
Like Alien3 this films problems are numerous and leave plot holes large enough for an alien queen to nest in (that analogy was better I think).
Just picking off a few, answer me this, why have the military had to clone Ripley to get the alien life-form, why not just return to LV-426, we don’t know the derelict was destroyed so why do they need Ripley, did they even try returning to planet??
In one of the cuts (I can’t remember if it is the Original or Director’s Cut) of Alien3 the alien actually bursts out of Ripley’s chest as she is falling and she grips it to stop it escaping as she plunges into…molten metal, I think it was, so I’m not entirely sure how its genetic material got spliced into hers or how they even recovered genetic material from a prison facility that existed two centuries beforehand. Unless I suppose they were both recovered from the metal itself which is a possibility, but they never answer the question of where it came from. Also, the military know that the aliens have concentrated acid for blood so why don’t they put them in cages that are acid-proof?? Or have the cages on the outside of the ship so if the aliens do escape the only place that they can possibly go is into the void of space?? Two hundred years on from where we last saw Ripley, why is the best way to incubate an alien still within a living human host?? Why can’t they use animals?? Or a synthetic human or an artificial environment?? Using twelve innocent civilians to incubate alien creatures and allowing them to die horribly is not exactly going to get them sympathy when the aliens start munching on them.
Now Alien3 established that the incubation time for different aliens varies, the one inside Kane in Alien seemed to incubate and emerge very quickly. Whereas the one in Ripley in Alien3 took much longer, I suppose this could have been because it is a queen, but that is just speculation. In Alien: Resurrection the survivors come across a guy who has an alien within him which for some reason has not emerged at the same time as the others, they take him along with them hoping the scientist can remove the alien later on because doesn't that seem like the smart things to do.
This leads me to one of my biggest gripes of the film. Remember John Hurt in Alien when the alien started to erupt from him?? How he started violently choking, before screaming and writhing in agony as the alien parasite tore through his rib cage leaving him to die an excruciating death?? Well, here the guy who the alien is inside, feels the alien is about to emerge so he races over to the scientist (the scientist is evil – because aren’t they always) being shot as bunch of times, beats seven shades of shit out of said scientist before knocking him to the floor and holding his chest up against him so the alien can erupt through his chest and through the scientist’s head. Yep, you read that right. That is a thing that happens. An alien rips through his chest, and he is able to absorb shit-loads of gunfire, beat a man, then hold him up so the alien can kill them both…do I even need to go on??
The second biggest problem is the ending, now, you remember that I said Ripley has genetic material from the alien within her, well, actually try and guess what I am about to write next…yep, it turns out the alien queen got a dose of her genetic material too. So initially she produces eggs, which lead to the facehuggers and then the normal aliens, however, she also grows or develops or mutates a human reproductive system so she now has a womb. Within the Queen is a new type of alien creature, that has been grown from both the Queen’s alien DNA and Ripley’s human DNA, creating a true hybrid. The hybrid promptly kills the alien Queen, decides Ripley is its real mother and then gets killed by being sucked out into space about ten minutes later rendering the question of why it was included it in the story unanswered.
Joss Whedon has had successes with Buffy, Angel and his directorial debut Serenity but here the film based on his screenplay is still not even close to being as good as either the original Alien film or its sequel Aliens. However, it is an improvement on Alien3. I am a fan of Ron Pearlman so was happy to see him here but whilst the premise is interesting the film is completely unoriginal and following an established pattern of: heroes need to get from A to B with various nasty things trying to stop them.
On the plus side Sigourney Weaver once again reprises the role of Ripley and gets to play her with the edge of one of the aliens, but, the story itself is nothing special. However, I think the best thing about the film are the appearance of the aliens themselves. In my opinion they have never looked more realistic, they have visible breath, their vocal sounds are varied, and the audience actually get to have a good look at them when there in the cages which really we have never been able to do before. I guess that could be considered a good or a bad thing, I like it, and gave me a chance to see the aliens in all their glory. Although the days when they were terrifying have long since departed, in this film to see an alien, and you shrug and go, yep, that’s an alien that you are no longer terrified of.
My Thumb has moved from Down upwards but this is just a shadow of the former glory this franchise once had and it pains me that a franchise with so much potential ends like this, so my Thumb is going to end being Horizontal
4/10 - Yes it is better than Alien3 but that wasn’t going to be hard. Still, it is a below average film and just goes to show that film makers should quit whilst they are ahead and stop trying to resurrect the dead.