Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Sigourney Weaver/Ripley clone
The military is up to no good. They clone Ripley (Weaver) in order to remove the Queen alien that she had inside of her when she died, they slap some facehuggers on a couple of innocent people to impregnate them and they eventually attempt to control the alien species. Of course, the aliens get loose and wreak havoc not only on the personnel but also on a rag-tag team of mercenaries that were "kicking it" in the ship for a few nights. Fun ensues…mmm…not for me.
What do you get when you cross a standard storyline, a midget on a wheelchair and a goofy approach by the director? Well, it’s not a REAL Alien sequel that’s fer sure. Yes, the film might start off with a space ship traveling across the screen like in the previous three entries. Yes, they might have Ripley say Newt’s “monster” line (for what reason again?) and yes, the ship’s computer might be called “Father” (an ode to the Muther CPU in the first one), but don’t be fooled because this flick has nothing to do with the "Alien" series. The Alien trilogy (and I stress TRILOGY) is one of the best (if not the best) sci-fi/horror series on the block. But this unnecessary (and unwanted by me) sequel is a freaking mess.
Everything works against this flick. The script itself is fairly weak but it’s mostly the director’s vision that turned me off. Mixing a very generic “paper thin characters trapped on a ship with monster” plot with a campy, over the top, Terry Gilliam wannabe approach didn’t work for me at all, especially not as an "Alien" sequel. The choice of casting also goes hand in hand with the wacky directing. Gone are the realistic characters from the three previous films, replaced by quirky cartoons. I mean the parts are super thin to begin with, but how about hiring people that will appeal to the audience? Not here. The characters are as involving as a fat chick showing off her flab. We get Ron Perlman (Johner) acting like a monkey and an a-hole. We get Winona Rider (Call) whining all the time and forgetting how to act. We get a midget on a wheelchair (Vriess) who just won't fucking die and we get Dan Hedaya (Perez) and his hairy shoulders playing Nick Tortelli in space. All of the characters constantly bicker and that's usually when you will see the bad acting ooze all over the place. The only side character that I dug was Elegyn (Wincott) and that’s because the actor has enough charisma to carry a thinly written part. Too bad Jeunet spotted Wincott’s appeal and checked him out early. I also appreciated Kim Flowers (Hillard), but not because of her non-existent part, but mostly for that g-string butt shot she shows off early on…thanks babe.
The film takes away all of the mystery the aliens retained through 3 films and reduces the creatures to "Jurassic Park" rejects in all of their CGI glory. You want to see aliens talk amongst themselves? You want to see drama between an Alien Queen and her new born? Then you’re at the right place. Personally I didn’t want any of that crap. I wanted the aliens to stay in the background like in the previous films and let the characters be the stars of the show.
The film is also filled with putrid dialogue and has one plot turn that really pissed me off. A certain character sacrifices himself so another one can live. That’s all fine and dandy but the thing is that the guy should’ve survived! He falls in the water with a DEAD alien grabbing onto his feet! All he had to do was swim back up and get back onto the ladder! He didn’t and disappeared from the rest of the film. How can that be??? The guy is so BADASS! I guess the bad writing killed him.
On a positive note, Sigourney Weaver gets to have fun with the part. The Ripley clone has some alien in her so it gives Weaver the chance to be sexy, menacing and just plain weird. If you guys are expecting the same good ol' Ripley then add another notch onto your disappointment bedpost. The film does have one action set piece that’s pretty gnarly and that’s the underwater sequence where characters are swimming away with aliens on their tail. The scene is fun, tense and well directed. Unfortunately, that’s the only scene that came through for me. Jeunet revels in showing off his “freak show” scenes and to be fair they are quite interesting. The scene where Ripley encounters her sisters is very gross and powerful. The scenes in which Ripley mingles with her alien friends are also odd and daring. But unfortunately those scenes belong in another movie. What the film really needed was a strong storyline and more importantly...strong characters. Here, it feels like a B-movie that takes time-outs to be eccentric.
Did Jeunet even want to do an Alien sequel? I doubt it. He goes out of his way to do the total opposite of what the three previous films established. The acting is very over-the-top, where in the three other ones, it was realistic. There’s a lot of campy humor in this film, as opposed to the previous three installments. The gore is almost on a “Peter Jackson” level; very big and wet, where in the other films it was realistic. And the characters are the least interesting things about this movie, where in the three previous films they were first in line. I respect the ballsy move here but when you do a sequel to a long established franchise there are some guidelines that you should follow in order to keep with the feel of the previous entries. Here Jeunet ignores all that and in the process ignores the true Alien fans. Resurrection should never have happened...
This one has to be the goriest of all the "Alien" movies. Bloody surgery scene, a guy picking his brain out of his wounded head, a chestburster going through a guy’s chest and another person’s head at the same time. We also get a frozen guy breaking into pieces, disgusting cloning errors, a crushed head, a chewed-on head and a half human / half alien monster who looks like a bunch of “Frosted Flakes” come to life. Lots of syrup here. On an effects level, the CGI makes this flick look like a Star Trek episode. I missed the model work the three other films had.
Sigourney Weaver (Ripley clone) gets to have a good emotional scene and play with her Ripley persona. She gives the best performance in the film by far. Not only is Winona Ryder’s (Call) character boring but she also is boring. Very wooden and unconvincing. Ron Perlman (Johner) overacts when he yells and his unlikable character got on my nerves half the time. He does have a few funny lines though and is at times amusing. Michael Wincott (Elgyn) can play a tree and be interesting. He’s just too kool. Kim Flowers (Hillard) has a great ass and comes through in her emotional minute …not much of a part. Gary Dourdan (Christie) looks the badass part but he also tends to overact when he yells. Again not much of a part.
Leland Orser (Pervis) has made a career out of playing the hysterical dude ("Seven" anyone?) here he does it well…again. Dominique Pilon (Vriess) annoyed the shite out of me and NO, not because he’s a midget in a wheelchair but mostly because his character didn’t appeal to me and slowed the movie down. Brad Dourif (Gediman) is always "fun times", here he does weird again and brings in a few laughs. J.E. Freeman (Renn) plays the token backstabber and has his share of bad acting scenes. Uneven. Dan Hedaya (General Perez) is a good character actor but the last place I wanted to see him was in an Alien sequel. Raymond Cruz (Distephano) doesn’t have much to do but hold a gun. Although his speech about androids reeked of bad acting.
T & A
Kim Flowers shows her beautiful butt cheeks courtesy of a G-string and the ladies get a pumped up Gary Dourdan looking like a man and a half.
Jeunet goes all out on the style. Lots of fade to blacks/ fade in, lots of zany shots (the shot with the camera entering the man’s mouth is nuts), he steals a shot from "Aliens" (the door opens slowly to reveal the crew) and slaps the occasional shot-strobe lights in there. What made the first three Alien flicks good was that the directing supported the story and the characters. Here, the over-the-top camera tricks feel like a desperate attempt to cover up an empty script.
An adequate score that supports its whacked out scenes properly.
Maybe if you’re not a die-hard Alien fan, you might like this movie more than I did. The movie does have some good ideas. For example, the scene with the tied up dudes and the alien eggs in front of them is pretty scary. Or the kickarse underwater sequence. But since I followed the series like a religion; I couldn’t help to be let-down by Jeunet’s total disregard for the feel and class of the previous entries. I would have appreciated the film more if it hadn't been called "Alien 4", that’s fer sure. But sequel or not, it doesn’t change the fact that this film has poor characters, hammy acting, no scares and a dumbarse ending. Pack up your bags Jeunet, take your freaks with you and stay away from the "Alie"n series. Another sequel like this might damage its rep.
Joss Whedon of “Buffy” fame wrote the script.
Ron Perlman almost drowned while filming the underwater scene. At one point, when trying to surface, he hit his head on a sprinkler on the ceiling, knocking himself out. He was rescued by film crewmembers at the scene.