Alien Resurrection (18)

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, Brad Dourif

The fourth Alien film seemed a highly unlikely prospect when Ellen Ripley took a swan dive into a fiery furnace at the end of Alien 3. However, a little thing like death never stood in the way of a successful movie franchise, hence this follow up, some 18 years after Ridley Scott's original shocker.
It isn't giving too much away to reveal that Ripley's DNA was scraped from the furnace and cloned. And so it came to pass that Ellen Ripley was reborn, as a sort of Dolly the sheep! Designated clone 8(you would think they would have taken more than 8 goes to get her right?) Ripley returns, only she isn't quite the woman she was. If you saw Alien 3 you will remember that Ripley has an alien queen growing inside her- hence her suicide. This new cloned Ripley is an intriguing character. Super strong and fit, mean and moody and acidic blood that sizzles.
As the film opens, a group of mad and ruthless scientists are trying to breed the aliens- not a good idea. When a group of space pirates arrive with a mysterious shipment, things take a nasty turn. Before you can say xenomorph, the aliens are loose and its every man or woman for themselves in an alien vs human battle.
French director Jeunet made the admired Delicatessen(which I haven't seen), that was said to be a visually stylish and shocking film. The script takes a facinating premise and develops the story into a cross between the first two films. We get the isolation of the stranded-in-space ship, but the raw action of the Jim Cameron Aliens movie. Sadly it isn't as scary is the first or as thrilling as the second, but Jeunet and scriptwriter Joss Whedon produce a worthy addition to the series.
Central and entirely essential is Sigourney Weaver. You might womder why a respected actress would want to return to an action role in a long running franchise, but she has a great role in this film. She is really a different character from the Ripley who runs around a lot and is not believed by anyone until its too late. She is much more like an action hero here. She doesn't chatter much, but what she does say is said with attitude. She gets a few one liners- all too common in Hollywood action films, but ultimately saves the day. She looks great in leather too. Weaver is very compelling and dominates the film.
Amongst the co-stars, Weaver is the biggest name and while she is fine and her scenes with Ripley are an interesting match of big verses little, compassion verses impassive, she is a little too elfin looking to be convincing with a blaster gun. Perlman and Dourif are experienced character actors, and Dourif in particular is very good as a particularly nutty scientist. One of the more alarming sights in the film is the hairiness of Dan Hedaya's shoulders and arms. Thankfully the alien gets to him before a good barber!
I find it hard to give a completely impartial opinion on Alien Resurrection as I am a big fan of the series and of Sigourney Weaver and Ripley. For many fans it is better than Alien 3, but behind the other two films, and I would have to concur. It is inevitable that a film series will lose its freshness. The aliens themselves are now so familiar. The introduction of a new hybrid alien was not all that successful in my opinion. It looked different and wasn't as menacing looking.
To be honest the second half of the film is weaker. Once the aliens are loose, the film becomes entirely predictable. Guess what happens to the bad guys? When the survivors escape and the cargo doors won't shut, is it due to a mechanical fault? However, joining the dots is quite fun, and the underwater chase and fight sequence was particularly well done. The space pirates are vaguely interesting, although I was glad Michael Wincott wasn't around for too long- a terrible over-actor. But if you are a fan like me, you'll go see Alien Resurrection anyway, and probably come out with a smile. Not bad. Not at all bad. 7/10.

November 1997

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