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The F*ckin Black Sheep: Alien Resurrection (1997)

04.28.2016by: Ryan Doom

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Alien Resurrection

Alien Resurrection (1997)
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

“It’s a pretty damn entertaining ride with a fine cast and its own sense of style.”

So Alien Day was a few days ago and that gives me the perfect excuse to revisit…well… a selection from the bloody franchise. Now surely I’m not shocking a single living soul by stating that ALIEN and ALIENS remain true science fiction classics. The former works as an expert exercise in horror. The latter works as a perfected exercise in action. And both flicks had directors who changed the movie business in more ways than one. As for the other sequels that followed…

Actually, I still dig ALIEN 3 quite a bit despite its flaws (man, can you imagine if David Fincher had made that movie a few years later?). That leaves the (so far) fourth ALIEN film, ALIEN RESURRECTION, as the one that receives the most shit. It deserves some, sure, but it isn’t justified to label the thing garbage. Not even close.

Alien Resurrection, Weaver

Revisiting ALIEN RESURRECTION, the first thing I noticed was the style of French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (who went on to make the Oscar-nominated AMELIE). If anything, the movie looks and plays like pseudo-Terry Gilliam, complete with odd angles, weird visuals, and a level of quirky weirdness that the rest of the franchise never had. It’s too bad Jeunet’s style only lasts about an hour as the film goes into full action mode, which isn’t a bad thing because if anything ALIEN RESURRECTION sure as f*ck isn’t boring. That’s partly due to Jeunet’s direction, partly due to Joss Whedon’s script (his trademark witty banter is on display as well as his knack for including lots of characters). Thankfully, ALIEN has remained a hard R franchise, and Jeunet really brings the gore in ALIEN RESURRECTION, letting the blood, guts, and brains spatter freely. It’s not exactly classy as the other films were, but then again, at least Jeunet was able to do his own thing.  

But let’s face it. ALIEN RESURRECTION remains the Sigourney Weaver show, as it rightfully should be. It’s always been her baby. In case you skipped this adventure, I’ll sum it up quickly. Two hundred years after Ripley’s death, she’s been brought back as a clone. Actually, she's part Ripley, part alien. She’s living out her existence as your basic lab rat for a bunch of scientist who, of course, don’t fully understand what they’re in for. Then a crew of space pirates (for lack of a better term)show up and deliver humans who’ll be used as hosts for the aliens. Obviously, things don't go according to plan: the aliens escape, and the blood starts to flow. Now that crew is an interesting bunch. The criminally underused Michael Wincott leads the gang that includes the mysterious Call (Winona Ryder), Johner (Ron Perlman), Christie (future CSI druggie Gary Dourdan), and wheelchair bound Vriess (Dominique Pinon). Also in the cast is the man with the hairiest shoulders in cinema, Dan Hedaya, and Chucky himself, Brad Dourif.  

ALIEN RESURRECTION has some badass moments and some that are just bad. Ok, the standout bad comes during that whole basketball scene. Basketball? Why? Even though Weaver actually made that backwards shot, the scene is too silly…bordering on downright goofy. And if the movie is set 200 years into the future, why hasn’t any of the technology (including cigarettes and basketball) changed? Come on; give us a few futuristic items at least. The film does bring us some great “alien” moments, specifically when they escape by working together. Team work! However, moments later when the alien pushes a button with its expandable mouth it’s…eh…pretty weak stuff. This is 1997 CGI and some of the aliens look really, really fake.

The badass moments? The best: the underwater sequence where Ripley and company swim for their lives while getting chased by aliens. Did I mention it takes place underwater? Even better, watching Ron Perlman underwater taking an alien out via propelled grenade. That sequence rules. ALIEN RESURRECTION is funny, too, and I suspect Whedon was behind the humor, like when the ponytailed scientist (the great Dourif) mocks the locked up alien and basically makes out with it behind glass. Or when Perlman shoots that spider that scares him. Pretty funny.

Now from a franchise point of view, no one with a brain would claim ALIEN RESURRECTION is the best of the bunch. No f*cking way. It’s without a doubt the weakest. With that said, it’s certainly not garbage. In fact, watching it in context and skipping any comparison to the masterpieces, it’s a pretty damn entertaining ride with a fine cast and its own sense of style.





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