Synopsis: 200 years after her death, Ellen Ripley is revived as a powerful human/Alien hybrid clone who must continue her war against the Aliens. (Source)
Alien: Resurrection is hands down the most delightfully bizarre entry in the Alien franchise. I can totally understand a lot of purists’ outright hate for the film due to its wildly different (and non-scary) take on the source material, but I say its pretty cool because of that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a perfect film by any stretch, but it’s a thoroughly fun two hours of creature-driven midnight entertainment, with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen, City of Lost Children) bringing his much welcomed art house sensibilities to what could’ve been a very generic, run-of-the-mill sci-fi actioneer.
At this point in the series, Alien: Resurrection is really reaching to keep its story going, thrusting heroine Ripley into the future for the second time (200 years to be exact), albeit this time as a clone. Since she was impregnated with a queen alien at the end of the previous installment, the US military has brought her back with the hopes of extracting her “baby” and turning the offspring into a viable weapon (I know, obviously bad idea). Throw in some space mercenaries delivering kidnapped humans and some demented scientists and you’ve got the perfect setting for an eccentric and wild story that’s essentially a mix of Alien’s gorgeous art direction/visual style with the action elements of Aliens.
Ultimately, what keeps the film fun is that it doesn’t try to be a rehash of its predecessors, instead injecting new life into the franchise with some memorably quirky characters and clever new ideas. It’s refreshing to see Ripley actually become half alien (due to the cloning process), giving us a new side to her that we’ve never seen; and while her character and most everybody else acts erratically (most times to a fault), it makes the film that much crazier. Dominique Pinion and Ron Perlman are always amazing in anything they do, and the same goes here; they’re trademark Juenet’s characters with strongly defined physical characteristics and larger-than-life, cartoonish personas. Winona Ryder is the most out of her element, but despite her there to fill the “pretty face” quotient, she’s fun to watch. Fan favorite Brad Dourif has some of the film’s most ridiculous lines (“beautiful, beautiful little baby”), eliciting a couple of laugh-out-loud moments of hilarity. As far as the monsters go, there’s a deliberate focus on the gore and slime this time out, and Resurrection can boast perhaps the most gross-out moments of any Alien film, with some pretty inventive deaths in tow as well (that alien/human hybrid scene is pretty disgusting). Along the way, there are also some pretty original action scenes (including one underwater sequence), and the ending finally brings Ripley somewhere new.
Resurrection’s most obvious flaw however, is easily its conflicted nature, due to the fact that it’s the work of two very distinct and singular creative forces at the start of their careers. Working from a script by Joss Whedon, director Jean-Pierre Juenet’s more cartoonish tonal motifs are always at odds with the action and adventure of Whedon’s script, and to the dismay of many Alien fans, the bleak atmosphere of the first three films is nowhere to be found. As such, Juenet’s more off-color wit also has a hard time mixing with Whedon’s more dry, cynical dialogue and it’s weird hearing the characters in the film deliver trademark Whedon-speak without their usual tongue-in-cheek deliveries. Overall though, I quite like the dissimilarity of the two dissonant voices, and it creates a one-of-a-kind, genre bending adventure despite not being completely cohesive or being what anyone really wanted. On a fun sidetone, the film was totally a testing ground for what would later flourish in Whedon’s much-loved original creations, such as space western Firefly, with the film’s ragtag group of mercs and even Ripley’s Buffy/River Tam-like attitude eliciting more than just a passing resemblance to the beloved series.
While Alien: Resurrection can in no way hold up to Alien or Aliens, that doesn’t mean that it’s dull or uninspired. There’s still genuine artistry behind it, with every frame being absolutely gorgeous and full of beauty whether it be the costumes, production design or Darius Khondji’s green-hued cinematography. You gotta love all the non-CGI creature effects too, as they definitely piled on the yuck. On top of it all, there are a myriad of quirky, memorable characters that prevent the film from ever getting boring, and if you go in with the right intentions (a good time and nothing more), Alien: Resurrection will deliver — especially late at night with a group of friends.
Crome Rating: 3.5/5