A review coming up of Alien Resurrection just as soon as I make this shot…
Alien Resurrection is almost a complete failure. As I noted in my previous review, even Alien 3 has something to offer, whereas this is just a mixture of bad ideas hung around a bad story.
What do you do when your main character sacrifices herself at the end of your last movie? You clone her is what you do. Bizarrely it’s some two hundred years after Alien 3, and quite why the Weyland-Yutani corporation (Think if Apple moved into the Space race) is so interested in the alien species after all this time is a mystery to me. They’re present in the first three films, but at least it makes sense there, given they’re all set in a (relatively) brief timeframe. But two hundred years later? You’d think at some point they would just give up.
So they’ve cloned poor Ellen Ripley, but most importantly they’ve cloned the alien that was gestating inside her during the course of Alien 3. During the process she’s imbued with some alien DNA, including acid blood and previously unheard of Basketball skills. Reportedly Sigourney Weaver was keen on the idea of playing Ripley as a clone, and I admit the idea does have great possibilities, at least from a character standpoint. This film isn’t it though, and the overly jokey tone doesn’t do much to convince the idea was a good one at all. Weaver is fine as she always is though, and is ably supported by a colourful cast of characters. You have Ron Perlman, Brad Dourif, Dan Hedaya, Michael Wincott, Leland “That guy!” Orser and French favourite Dominique Pinon. The weak link here, as she often is, is Winona Ryder. She has this Pixie look about her as if she’s just walked off the set of the most twee Indie comedy ever (Possibly something with Zoey Deschanel) and the script doesn’t do her any favours either.
Ah the script. What can we say about that? To hear Joss Whedon talk about it it’s a brilliant script ruined by people who just didn’t get his writing. He might be right, but I doubt it. He does make the point that while he intended his lines to play out one way, they play out completely differently because of a Director and Actors who simply couldn’t get a grasp on his material. It’s nice to see that Whedon is grown up enough to blame everyone but himself for the film’s shortcomings (He also made the same excuse with the first X-Men film, which he famously rewrote). To be fair to Whedon for one moment, the story of Alien Resurrection does seem more like something that was forced onto him than something he thought up with alone, and had Whedon been asked to think up a new way to continue the Alien saga from scratch, it’s hard to imagine this is what he’ d come up with.
It’s not totally fair to blame Whedon of course. Like the much troubled Alien 3 it’s hard to imagine this film as ever coming out as good. It doesn’t help that Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet clearly wasn’t the man to helm the film. If Whedon was right about his script, then it probably wasn’t wise to have a man who’s second language is English as your Director. One thing you can say about the Alien saga is that they always used Directors who could make visually arresting films. The same is true of Jeunet (Watch any of his French films) but not here. His film should be visually impressive at least, but his sensibilities go against how the films looked. It’s all grime and shadows, here it’s bright colours and an over abundance of CGI. Honestly I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the film is like a bad piece of fan-fiction, made by people who loved the other films but didn’t understand what made them great.
So that concludes our look at the Alien saga, sadly with a whimper rather than a bang. It’s always good to revisit them though, and in the case of Alien 3 it’s nice to be pleasantly surprised by a once maligned film.
Up Next: Alien rip off Galaxy of Terror!