Alien: Resurrection Movie Review
Schlocky humour, a cyberpunkish touch, no Weyland-Yutani & Ripley as a clone. 20th Century Fox went all out to destroy the legacy of this franchise.
Genre: Action / Horror / Science Fiction
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, Gary Dourdan, Dominique Pinon, Raymond Cruz, Kim Flowers, Michael Wincott & Brad Dourif.
Run Time: 109 min.
US Release: 26 November 1997
UK Release: 28 November 1997
German Release: 27 November 1997
It’s “Throwback Thursday” and I am moving forward with my review series of the Alien franchise. With my last review, for Alien3, all the way back in 2020, it is time to finish this string of analyses with the worst of the bunch - Alien: Resurrection! One of the biggest Hollywood travesties, it is staggering how the studio execs green-lit this project. Disrespecting the character of Ripley, just like the baffling trashy story, Jeunet managed to drive this franchise into the ground. It took fourteen years and Scott himself, to revive it!
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
200 years after Ripley sacrificed herself for the sake of humanity, she is resurrected through genetic cloning, to extract the alien queen from within her. Inadvertently, her DNA is fused with that of the queen, turning her into a powerful human/alien hybrid. Her erstwhile employers long gone, it is the military who wants to train the aliens for combat purposes, until they escape. Now Ripley must fight deadly hordes of monsters once again, preventing them from reaching Earth! But can she be trusted?
The script was written by Joss Whedon, who impressed 20th Century Fox with his previous work, but was not the right person for this project! Today, he disowns his screenplay, as in his eyes Jeunet took his script and did everything wrong that could have been done wrong. While it is true that the penned dialogues don’t really mesh well with the delivery, had Whedon had its way with Alien: Resurrection, it would have been more of a light-hearted comedy, which is also NOT what this franchise is!
It isn’t simply the script though, which turned this fourth instalment into the pile of crap it is. Initially planned to have Newt as the clone, since Ripley’s body was destroyed at the end of the last movie - a fresh idea I would have welcomed! - the studio bosses felt like Weaver was the anchor of the film series. So, Whedon was asked to rewrite the plot, as well as, to come up with an idea of how Ripley could have been cloned. The final explanation is absurd and incoherent. Worse is how the Weyland-Yutani corporation was scrapped from the final picture, deserving much better after having been such an integral part of this world.
The atmosphere of the narrative doesn’t suit the previous flicks. Alien3 indeed approached the franchise in a completely different light, adding aspects of the fantasy genre, however, the general tone of the series was kept. Resurrection, on the other hand, feels like a mix of cyberpunk a-la Fifth Element, merged with the ambience of Blade Runner, plus the wit of Firefly. It simply doesn’t go well together, feeling dysfunctional!
The dialogues are no better. As already mentioned, the script developed was meant for a different type of movie. We are left with characters over-dramatically shouting around for no reason, while spewing Whedony quips, plus one-liners at each other, in a semi-serious tone.
The one thing I never understood, is why everyone was talking and acting with heavy sexual undertones. From the scientist, portrayed by Brad Dourif, who was clearly getting off at seeing the fully grown Xenomorphs caged, to Sigourney Weaver touching or caressing everyone. It is really weird to watch, with most of the cast doing a mixed job.
Sigourney Weaver, who previously stated that she wouldn’t return to this sci-fi world, was compelled by Whedon’s storyboards. She felt that playing a clone of Ripley with alien DNA in her, gave her the chance to reinvent the character, exploring different personality traits that were not seen before. She also kept her allegiance vague, making her untrustworthy to the audience. Generally, Weaver did a fantastic job at portraying this beloves persona new!
Winona Ryder, on the other hand, was simply terrible as the android Call. She over-acted in a lot of the scenes, coming off as a childish brat, rather than a sophisticated piece of machinery. Call herself, is not the most likeable personality, yet that is also true for all previous robotic characters, Bishop being the only one who caught sympathy points at the end of Aliens. An exciting facet was the role reversal, of the android and Ripley. While in the previous flicks it was the cybernetic organism that was untrustworthy, here it is Ripley.
Ron Perlman plays by far my favourite character. Johner is a mean-spirited space pirate, with a big mouth, as well as a happy trigger finger. Completely over-the-top and ridiculous, it is Perlman’s personality that gives him the scoundrel charm. Sadly, it is a character that doesn’t fit into this scenario no matter what.
The cinematography, while not always perfect, has a few redeeming aspects that I really did appreciate! Among some of the visually, most horrific shots, is the sequence in the clone room. That whole scene is terrifying on another level! The effects of dark-lit, empty hallways are used to build magnificent tension and the beautifully shot underwater scene, is simply gorgeous! However, Jeunet’s pulpy background always resurfaces, leaving some sour-tasting marks on the camera work. Be it the hyperactive quick pans/zooms, or the desaturated imagery similar to La Cité des Enfants Perdus; his previous directed picture.
The effects also varied in quality, while puppets, animatronics and costumes for the different aliens looked great, the computer-generated Xenomorphs felt unrealistic, especially in movement. The design of the Newborn is possibly the most horribly, disgusting thing I ever saw, a total failure in my opinion! However, the make-up plus prosthetics for Ripley 7 are marvellous to look at and simultaneously disturbing.
The music, composed by John Frizzel, is really action-heavy, though sadly too loud for the film's benefit. It dominates during dramatic scenes, overbearing any scary moments.
Verdict: Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s take on the third Alien sequel, is a total disaster. Granted most of the decisions were already made for him, he was simply following orders. Nevertheless, his pulp, cyberpunk-ish fingerprints are all over the final product, a tone that clashes with the previous instalments. While a lot of the failures can be traced back to the wrong writer, wrong director and partially wrong cast, Resurrection also offers terrific ideas that are simply unsettling. The clone room, which made the humans look more monstrous than the Xenomorphs, is one of my favourite scenes! The queen's nest was visually stunning and the idea of the Newborn (a terrifying cross-breed between Xeno and human) is great, yet executed poorly in design! The cinematography was acceptable, the colour-grading, nonetheless, terrible. I dislike this fourth feature, which gets a 4.0 out of 10.
Do you agree with my review? Or are you a fan of this instalment? Leave a comment to let me know. Thank you so much for reading, please subscribe if you like my content.