Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Release Date: November 26th, 1997 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman, Michael Wincott, Dan Hedaya, Brad Dourif, Raymond Cruz, Leland Orser
ith credits that include a script by Joss Whedon (penning eventual TV series “Firefly,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Dollhouse”), direction by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amelie,” “Delicatessen”), and co-producing by Sigourney Weaver herself (one would think she’d become more protective of her Academy Award-nominated role over time), “Alien: Resurrection” had a reasonable amount of potential, even though the storyline stubbornly refuses to do away with anchor Ripley. It seems that despite a wealth of interest in the aliens themselves, 20th Century Fox didn’t have faith in telling a new tale that didn’t somehow incorporate a tired persona – one that was even resolutely killed off in the previous entry. And so, this fourth chapter again fails to live up to the staggeringly high standards of “Alien” and “Aliens.”
Finally, after countless scripts attempted to implicate a human army utilizing xenomorphs as bioweapons, “Alien: Resurrection” sees the United Systems Military smuggling human cargo specifically for impregnating with the unforgettable, highly lethal, banana-headed, perpetually drooling monsters of the series. Although Lt. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) didn’t survive the catastrophe on the prison colony of Fury 161, 200 years have passed, providing time for scientists to experiment with cloning her – solely for the alien queen that was inside of her. As a result, clone #8 has an exact physical likeness to Ripley, along with scattered memories, but a few characteristics of the mixed DNA – such as slightly acidic blood, increased reflexes, and incredible strength.
As anticipated, the aliens escape their holdings to wreak havoc on the unwitting soldiers and scientists. But the band of space pirates that delivered the human guinea pigs are made of tougher stuff, refusing to give up without a fight – Captain Elgyn (Michael Wincott), pilot Sabra (Kim Flowers), mechanic Vriess (Dominique Pinon), all-around thug Johner (Ron Perlman), weapons man Christie (Gary Dourdan), and newcomer Call (Winona Ryder) plan on surviving the ordeal. Racing to their vessel “Betty,” separated by hundreds of yards of treacherous, alien-filled terrain, the outmatched group must also contend with a double-crossing researcher and a collision course with Earth.
The environment is just as creepy, lightless, and humid as before, filled with dark corridors and slimy structures. Underwater locations, massive spaceship pathways, and an even gooier hive establish new battlegrounds for similar terrors. Although the setting is appropriate, recycling the same successes of the haunted-house-in-space experienced in “Alien,” it’s once again the story that so devastatingly crushes this project. Outside of a few new monstrosities, the plot is entirely uninspired. The characters are just as hostile as in “Alien 3” and Ripley is so overconfident and dramatic that she no longer feels like a believably vulnerable human.
Huge contrivances, surprises that are stupider than they are unexpected (particularly with Call), and stale dialogue work against the only redeeming factor: the visuals. Some unimpressive computer graphics hinder the presentation, but thankfully, the aliens themselves are almost entirely models and animatronics. The human-alien hybrid “newborn” creature adds a dose of silliness to the otherwise bleak occurrences, but the gore and grotesqueries should delight horror fans and those curious enough to see another title from this rapidly deteriorating franchise.
– Mike Massie