Alien: Resurrection (1997)
AKA Alien 4
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman, Gary Dourdan, Michael Wincott, Kim Flowers, Dan Hedaya, J.E. Freeman, Brad Dourif, Raymond Cruz, Leland Orser, Carolyn Campbell
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
On the general scale:
On the B-Movie scale:
OK, hear me out. I know that Alien: Resurrection is a total piece of shit, and you know it too. What I didn’t know was that watching this 15 years and a shitload of B-Movies later, I would actually get a kick out of Alien: Resurrection. It’s still shitty, but there’s a lot to like about the film if you’re able to completely divorce yourself from the idea that this is a part of a franchise that you love. That’s simply the only way to enjoy this one, and really, they’ve already done the heavy lifting for you. Ripley died at the end of Alien³, and the somber, horrific tone of the series died along with her. Alien: Resurrection is a cash-in movie grasping at straws to create another moneymaker in a successful series, but damn if it isn’t a fun B-movie too.
Alien: Resurrection opens with some evil scientists cloning Ripley, and while they were at it, they whipped up a big batch of cheese balls… and the alien queen growing inside her. Due to some flawed
logic cloning practices, Ripley is now something of a hybrid, gaining some of the alien’s curious traits such as acidic blood and superhuman strength. The real goal was to get the queen and start doing the bio-research the entire series has hinted at, but the scientist’s master plan hinges on some cargo being delivered by a bunch of space pirates led by Ron Perlman, and when they arrive shit starts to go down.
Remember those things from Alien called story, pacing and atmosphere? Forget all knowledge you have of them because those memories will only turn on you as the film progresses. While Alien: Resurrection does feature some great spaceship atmosphere that I fully enjoyed, it’s nothing compared to any of the previous films because the spaceship is quite generic. It’s still a fun place to explore, but this is more of a variation on established spaceship ideas instead of anything that’s going to ignite your imagination. The pacing of the film is also wildly uneven, ready and willing to start and stop on a dime. And the story… man, it’s just so over the top and ridiculous.
But, the thing about watching Alien: Resurrection this time around was that none of its faults really bothered me. I knew going in it was a piece of shit, so I expected nothing and got a wealth of B-movie moments in return. I actively remembered the shit that angered me so much when I initially saw this movie, but instead of scoffing in disgust I laughed my ass off. It’s quite liberating to release the anger inside and just have a good time. The key to achieving Alien: Resurrection nirvana is in shifting your mental perception so that you’re watching the film as if it were an issue of Marvel’s What If? series. What if they cloned Ripley, and she also freakishly gained some of the alien’s powers, and then she had sex with the alien queen that she hosted, and then we got a French guy with no experience in horror or genre films to make it? 15 years ago, I wanted no part of this, but now I’ll gladly take it.
Speaking of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, I have to wonder what all the involved parties were thinking hiring him as the director. I’ve only seen one of his other films, Amelie, and he made that directly after Alien: Resurrection so I have no clue what the execs saw in his previous two films (Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children) to have him make his American début on an Alien film. For all intents and purposes, he seems to do an admirable job with the material he’s given, except for some really awful moments involving a lot of quick cutting between extreme close-ups during action scenes which makes it nearly impossible to know what’s going on. The rest of the camera work is pretty good though, with lots of sweeping, moving shots that reminds me a lot of Sam Raimi’s early work on The Evil Dead films.
The characters of Alien: Resurrection are also better than you’d expect. The overall group is much better than what we were given in Alien 3, and while none of them are especially likable, they are a lot of fun to watch on-screen. Ron Perlman is deliciously over the top, and it’s fun to wonder whether it’s his acting or the alien’s acidic blood that’s chewing up all those holes in the sets. Winona Ryder is Winona Ryder, which is to say that she’s not that great, but for some reason I still like her and I welcomed her here, even if she was miscast and a colossal leap down from the last android in the series: Lance Henrikson’s Bishop. However, her character does have one of the most hilarious moments of the film when she confesses to Ripley that she hates herself. While it makes no sense whatsoever to create a self-hating robot, I love that somewhere, somehow, some android manufacturer in the future is creating artificial life so complete that they come with their own neuroses.
I’m sure Alien: Resurrection isn’t what Ridley Scott or James Cameron had in mind when they made allusions to scientists using the aliens for their own purposes, but I am an absolute sucker for stories involving megalomaniacal corporations doing wildly dangerous shit in the name of the almighty dollar. Not to mention how much I love movies that feature aborted fetuses in giant test tubes, and Alien: Resurrection has some killer aborted fetuses. Straight to the heart, man, I can’t fight the power that their twisted, fucked up bodies hold over me. Oh, and let’s not forget the first scene in the series featuring the aliens communicating with one another! Being the one-track minded killers they are, it’s an argument and I instantly imagined them with LA Cholo voices saying shit like, “What’d you say, fool?,” “Get him, Holmes!” and “That’s what I thought!” There’s many different audio tracks on this Blu-ray set, but where’s that one? Hit me up for the next box set, 20th Century Fox, I’m available.
Sure, Alien: Resurrection is a total abomination for the Alien franchise, but do yourself a favor: get over it and have a good time. It really does feature some impressive FX work and set design, and you can’t argue with the amount of insanity and pure ridiculousness on display here. The CG aliens are far superior to their counterparts in Alien 3, and they really didn’t bother me at all. I’d rather they weren’t there, but who cares, most of the movie is classic “dude in a suit” stuff anyway, so it’s not a big deal. Fuck the haters, Alien: Resurrection is a fun thrill ride of trash.
Well, I’m glad something good came out of this pile. It just goes toward proving my theory that no matter how terrible (or good) an action is, it will have both good and bad consequences.
This is true, although I’m still trying to figure out what the good consequences of the Star Wars prequels were. One of these days when medical technology reaches a certain level, I’ll have to explore deleting my memory of those just so the urge to rail against them doesn’t continue to crop up. Perhaps the prequels will eventually lead to someone inventing this technology specifically for this purpose. So I guess what I’m saying is that there’s no time limit on good consequences.
Anyway, yeah, I was so sideswiped by this movie actually being enjoyable. I never saw that coming.
I also love a film with aborted foetuses in giant plastic cylinders. This film is still pretty decent as an Alien movie – it’s damn sight better than AvP:R. Loved Ron Perlman, hated Winona (like you I just find her annoying as all hell) and thought Brad Dourif should have been in an Alien movie well before now. That dude is a F.R.E.A.K.
Can’t wait till you assess the AvP films….
Yeah, Brad Dourif was great. He’s so wild. I’m glad you and Stephen are looking forward to me reviewing the AVP films, because I’m soooo not looking forward to that. But it’ll be fun… maybe.
C’mon man, what’s not to love about Aliens tearing the crap out of Predators…. LOL!!! 😉
Let me know what you watch them (the AvP films), I’d love to contribute to a review of them parallel to your own…
OK, I’ll try and give you a heads up. It won’t be for a short while as I’m going to do the Predator movies first.
Great review Will. I was initially disappointed by Alien 4, then I hated it, now, in light of some very poor AvP films it looks far better than it did on release. I’m not sure Jeunet was the right director and I hate the ending but there’s enough of a appeal throughout the film to merit at least one viewing. It is, however, a long way behind Alien 1, 2 and 3.
…okay, you’ve inspired me. I’ve had the Alien Quadrilogy on blu-ray for a while. I’ve only watched the first three but it is time to endure part 4 once again.
I hated it right from the get-go and never saw it since; I was so surprised and happy to actually enjoy it this time around. I don’t think Jeunet was the right director either, but he does give the film an interesting look. The ending with the hybrid? Yeah, it’s pretty dumb, but I’ve always loved the way he dies. I can’t even think of the other films when I watch this one, otherwise my rage comes out. I will say that I had a lot more fun watching this than watching Alien 3, although I think 3 is better.
Yeah, give it a go with the right mindset and I think you’ll enjoy it!