Alien Resurrection Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997

And in a few hours, it's gonna burst its way through your rib cage and you're gonna die. Any questions?
Who are you?
I'm the monster's mother.

It is 200 years since the events of "Alien 3". Weyland-Yutani, the infamous company, and LV-426, the former xenomorph breeding grounds, are but a distant memory. Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley is dead, having leapt to her death to stop an alien queen from burrowing out of her chest. Now, on the Auriga, a medical research vessel of United Systems Military, scientists have successfully cloned Ripley from a blood sample left at the penal colony where she died. However, the motives of USM are nowhere near altruistic. Under the orders of General Perez (veteran character actor Dan Hedaya), Dr. Wren (J.E. Freeman) quickly removes the alien queen gestating inside of her, raising it for the sole purpose of providing eggs to start his very own alien farm.

As far as I'm concerned, she's a meat by-product.

As for Ripley (Sigourney Weaver, taking home $11 million for reprising her role), she is no longer the do-good-motherhood heroine of Alien-films past. With her genetic make-up a scrambling of human and alien genes, she possesses great strength, acidic blood, and a sense of connection to the aliens. Yet at the same time, she is instinctively repulsed by the aliens and unsure of her purpose. Yes, the new Ripley may be physically superior, but she is also emotionally vulnerable.

The Auriga docks with the Betty, a beat-up pirate vessel delivering a cargo of unsuspecting human fodder in cryo. The rag-tag ruffian crew of the Betty is led by Elgyn (Michael Wincott), a former military man that's gone private enterprise. Johner (Ron Perlman of "The City of Lost Children" and "The Last Supper") is a trash-talkin', hard-drinkin' mercenary with no loyalties, no redeeming qualities, though he does get a few good lines. Vriess (Dominique Pinon, also of "The City of Lost Children") is the Betty's wheelchair-bound chief mechanic. And Annalee Call (Winona Ryder) is new mechanic on the Betty with a hidden agenda on board the Auriga.

Not long after the first aliens are hatched, the overconfidence of off-kilter USM scientist Gedimen (Brad Dourif, whose managed to play an off-kilter serial killer on every major sci-fi series-- "The X-Files", "Voyager", and "Babylon 5") allows the aliens to escape captivity. A bloodbath ensues, necessitating evacuation of the ship, leaving Ripley, the crew of the Betty, and Dr. Wren to find their own way off a ghost ship crawling with aliens. And so as the second act kicks in, our protagonists, with their diametrically-opposing motivations, must work together to reach the docking bay, in the vein of an interstellar "Poseidon Adventure" (with an underwater sequence to boot, only without Shelley Winters).

Who do I have to fuck to get off this boat?
I can get you off... but not off this boat.

This fourth film of the Alien franchise sat in development limbo since the audience ennui that greeted the third film-- that is, until it was greenlit on the strength of the script penned by Joss Whedon (who not only did an uncredited rewrite on "Speed", but also penned "Toy Story", "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", and executive-produces the TV series of the same name). Weaver, who thought she had little interest in the franchise after "Alien 3", was lured back by the new take on the Ripley character. And Jean-Pierre Jeunet, acclaimed arthouse French director (the moody and bleak "Delicatessen" and "The City of Lost Children"), was chosen to helm this fourth outing, a decision based on his striking dystopic visceral style.

I heard you ran into these things before. What happened?
I died.

And while "Alien Resurrection" is awash in Jeunet's nightmarish take on the Alien mythos, punctuated by some thrilling action sequences, and sufficiently horrific for those who like a good scare, this movie fails on the script. Though the premise of Ripley's character is intriguing, we are not given enough in the movie to firmly flesh out her character. If you recall in "Aliens", the theme of motherhood was central to the story and Ripley agonized with the fact that her daughter had grown up and died while she was in deep space. In that movie, it was very clear what Ripley wanted and it heightened the emotional resonance of the scenes between Ripley and Newt. In "Alien Resurrection", Ripley's drive is muddled and the scenes that are meant to convey her newfound internal conflict come out flat, almost laughable (such as her confrontation with the alien queen and the cheesy 'birth' of the new Alien species).

Kill... me...

Though "Alien Resurrection" is not the worst of the series, it is far from being the best. With a lack of any emotional hooks, it is at best a spacefaring disaster creature-feature. It is certainly interesting to watch, and you will be entertained, but as you leave the theater, you will wish that there was more.

What's the big deal?
Fuckin' waste of ammo... must be a chick thing.

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