Alien Resurrection
directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
(20th Century Fox, 1997)

The disappointment of the third movie in the Alien franchise didn't dampen my enthusiasm entirely. After all, Aliens bucked the Hollywood trend by proving that a sequel can surpass the original. So, while filmmakers lost their stride on their third outing, I thought they might get back in step for the fourth in the series.


Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) died in the previous movie, so viewers might wonder how she makes her return. Well, it involves cloning -- not to bring her back to life so much as the alien queen that had been gestating inside her when she died. (OK, the science is a little flimsy there, but let's just work with what we have.) So now we have aliens mutated with a touch of human, and a human mutated with a touch of alien. Will they be friends? You figure it out.

H.R. Giger's original alien design had a certain elegance to it, an organic flow that was as weirdly beautiful as it was deadly. That aesthetic is gone by No. 4; the new aliens are slimier, but cruder and blunter in appearance, and their motives -- formerly for the purpose of procreating -- seem now to be simple mayhem and death. A later hybrid creature is just stupid looking -- basically a big skeleton with sad, puppy dog eyes.

The best reason to watch this movie is Weaver, who does marvels with her role. She brings a distinctly feral attitude to the character, and the light in her eyes and the grin on her face can be downright unnerving at times.

As for Winona Ryder -- let's face it. Shoplifter, sure. Space pirate and terrorist? Not a chance. From beginning to end, she remains unconvincing.

The rest of the cast are two-dimensional at best. Blind military men, obsessed scientists, pirates on the edge of madness. No one strikes more than a single note with these characters, and I doubt you'll care if any of them live or die.

At this point, the same can be said of the franchise.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 25 January 2003

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