Oop, life got in the way for me getting these things out before Alien: Covenant came out, and before saw it as well. Oh well, i can’t do anything about the past but i can do something about the future and the future is always now.
Alien: Resurrection certainly carries around a reputation that’s hard to shake off, like a bad smell. Joss Whedon certainly dislikes it, almost to the point of disowning the thing. While i certainly know how a director can take what you wrote and change it (despite everything being what you wrote) into something you don’t recognise, i can’t say that Whedon is completely free from guilt here.
As all of his idiosyncrasies are evident in the movie we have before us, and the writing is kinda weak in a few areas.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
200 years isn’t enough for humanity to forget the Aliens, and it certainly isn’t enough time for them to not do stupid things in order to get them back. One giant explosion ensues.
Sigourney Weaver much like she had with Alien ³ functions as co-producer on this one, and i wonder if her involvement in this had something to do with the matriarchal themes present within the series. Alien perverted natural birth with the creature’s life cycle, with Ripley being the sole survivor a crew of mostly men, Aliens had Ripley triumphing over her fears while gaining her motherhood back along with the introduction of the alien queen, and Alien ³ has Ripley taking control in a heavily male dominated environment.
Alien: Resurrection explores and progresses those ideas to their most logical end, with Ripley becoming mother to a new hive of creatures with unexpected results. Credit must be given for this series to remain thematically consistent; as given how many different writers and directors have worked on the franchise it easily could have spiraled off into other directions.
Visually the movie is quite slimy, and while it doesn’t live up to the rotting splendor on display in Alien ³ it does evoke Alien successfully.
The performers are all game for the project and it helps (a bit) to iron out some of the film’s flaws; Ron Pearlman is memorably gruff and funny, and winona ryder does her usual strong-willed wide-eyed routine to good effect.
So lets talk about Whedon and how this movie’s execution really doesn’t suit his writing style at all. Again as i stated above all of Whedon’s idiosyncrasies are here in Alien: Resurrection; there’s the fast witty dialog, focus strong female characters, and the crew of the Betty can be viewed as a proto-Firefly experiment in deep space chemistry. All of this is fine in theory, but add in french director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and you get a rather toxic combination.
Jeunet attempts to craft a movie with the same foreboding and creepy atmosphere that Alien achieves. The visuals are dark and slimy, John Frizzell’s ominous music is almost omnipresent, and the whole affair is presented with a deadly seriousness. This results in a film where the tones are all over the place, with the biggest example being Ripley finding her seven other clones ; as scenes going from joke to horror to joke again need to be handled with the utmost care in order to not feel forced.
Jeunet has the talent to be funny and whimsical, but combining City of Lost Children‘s visuals with Alien‘s body horror is not a path to success. Speaking of visuals, Jeunet has a habit of sticking wide-angle lenses in people’s faces, making for some unpleasantly bizarre action sequences when quick cutting and undercranking the frame rate are added for jarring effect.
However Whedon doesn’t escape blame here, despite creating an interesting situation for Ripley to find herself in he fails to do anything really interesting with it. Almost no internal conflict is apparent with Ripley now being half Alien, as she jumps at the chances to escape them, blows one away while dismissing it, and bonds with Ryder’s Call very quickly. The newborn is also a very interesting twist but it’s gone almost as quickly as it arrives.
Lastly, Weaver’s take on this new Ripely is rather uneven; she has some great dialog and her physical performance adds feline movements with a predator’s patience that’s a natural fit for the character, however there are times when it comes off as very forced. Like Weaver is channeling a sex kitten instead of an eldrich abomination.
Alien Resurrection thematically fits in quite nicely with the rest of the series, however tonally it is deaf and blind Whedon’s snappy dialog combined with Jeunet’s foreboding visuals mix create a potent dissonance.
Easily the weakest of the original 4 movies, and as of right now the nadir of the Alien franchise.
OUT OF FIVE