on June 22, 2012
Okay, so the first Alien is the best. It always was and always will be. Aliens was an excellent sequel with high tension, drama, action, and Bill Paxton, and the really charming scene where Apone and Hicks are watching with fascination as Ripley straps into the loader, grabs a big carton, and says, "Where do you want it?" Apone (with a beautiful grin, and cigar in his fingers), "Bay 12, please." Alien 3 may have lacked the overall power of the first two, but there we see a truly grief-stricken Ripley, one ready at last to give her own life.
What makes Resurrection pay off for me is Sigourney Weaver's acting. This Ripley is a trip! She speaks in a sly, wink-wink manner, but can as easily rip your head off. Her senses are heightened, and she tears it up on the court. This hybrid Ripley, part-human/part-alien, has red acid for blood, already sees the impending doom, and seems rather amused by it all.
I find it entertaining, sly, even philosophical. Definitely worth a long look.
What people forget when they respond to this film is that Alien 3 shut down the series, very deliberately and very conclusively. Not only did Ripley die, but the driving concerns of the series that were set up in the first film had been addressed. So there was nowhere to go but in a radically new direction, and that's what Jean-Pierre Jeunet did. While the first films used the aliens and the technological context in which they appeared to address the question what makes us specifically human, this new contribution to the series is more interested in the question of a possible "post-human" future.
In Alien the enemy was not really the monster. The monster's unique method of reproduction merely served to highlight the "human condition": that we are vulnerable, that our bodies are ill-equipped for survival except in the most congenial of circumstances, that they are subject to violation by organic and inorganic forces outside of us. The idea of being "violated" through the mouth and "impregnated" by a monster is horrible, but that possibility serves to highlight our dependency upon science and technology in order to stay alive (even her on Earth), and our increasing "alienation" through technology from the natural world and from the evolutionary struggle for survival. Ash (the robot scientist) and Mother (the artificially intelligent computer that kept them alive and gave instructions) and the Company (that treats human life as expendible) were the real enemies of Alien. Ripley was a hero because she didn't think scientific fact and material gain trump human empathy (her concern for a cat) and human interests.
Aliens takes the same ideas and the same basic storyline and expands it: more military, more weapons, a girl and a sensitive soldier instead of a cat, but ends on a familiar note. Ripley ejects the threat out of the airlock and is able to escape with her body and her principles intact. This relatively optimistic resolution of both the first and the second film is what Fincher's third film rejected, by impregnating Ripley and killing off the girl and the boyfriend during the opening credits. This time the issue is raised onto a theological plane and the question is whether we can find meaning in a universe where not only are there alien forces beyond our control that can destroy us but that, as a general rule even if there are exceptions, we humans either can't seem to help ourselves or don't much care as we harm others for our own gain. Ripley seems to find meaning in her final act of destroying the alien and herself, thus saving humanity from the careless greed that would use such a monster without regard to the human consequences. With that act, while not all questions the series raises are completely resolved, the series seems to reach a logical end, having adressed gender, reproduction, humanity, science, technology, war, all in the context of defining the human over and against those alien forces that threaten constantly to overwhelm humanity.
With Alien Resurrection, the series starts again, but in a new direction. Sigourney Weaver is no longer playing Ripley, but an Alien/Human cloned hybrid who somehow remembers something of her former incarnation but no longer possesses the same kind of horror of the alien. In fact what horrifies her most are images of her own creation, visions of the technological process that brought her into being. Whereas the first three films aimed for a certain kind of realism, Alien Resurrection verges on the surrealistic nightmare landscape of Jeunet's The City of Lost Children and Delicatessen. What we see may seem silly or strange or skewed, but I think that is because we are intended to get a skewed, or post-human, vision of the human attempt to control the monster, that would seem strange and absurd through the eyes of the no-longer quite human Ripley and the android Call (Winona Rider).
Admittedly, this is a brief and undeveloped defense of the film - and in this brief form it is probably guilty of over-intellectualizing the films, and "forgetting" that the primary appeal of these films is not "intellectual" but visceral -- but I hope it suggests another perspective: that rather than think Alien Resurrection is a failure because it doesn't live up to the terms of the series as Ridley Scott set them up, we should consider the possibility that a "resurrection" of the series may require a reworking of its basic assumptions and style. I admit to being heavily influenced in my opinions about this film by Stephen Mulhall's excellent little book On Film - while I disagree with some details of his account, I think his general approach to thinking about the Alien series as a whole is quite intelligent and compelling.)
on May 11, 2000
Different is good. The horror is packed in a different way, but very effective.
on October 3, 2004
My title may seem slightly paradoxical in the wake of AVP and after Alien 3, but AVP doesn't count and Alien 3 was actually a decent, underrated film: Alien Ressurection is not.
First of all, this film should never have been made. The Alien series was quite rightly a trilogy, not a tetrology or quadrilogy or whatever they're calling it. The series was neatly wrapped up and there was no reason to bring it back, certainly not for this mess. The strong protagonist from the first 3, Ellen Ripley, is not back. Instead we have a cloned version fond of snippy, out-of place dialogue. Instead of a strong supporting cast we have cariactures like "The noble black man who heroically but rashly gives his life" (however this character can be seen in Alien and Alien 3 as well, played by Yaphet Kotto and Charles S. Dutton, respectively), the muscle man Johnner (although I must be honest, he was clearly the most interesting and likeable character) and a thoroughly awful Winona Ryder, acting poorly in every scene requiring the slightest hint of emotion.
The characters who get the worst treatment are the aliens. Originally a menacing jet-black insect-like creature that was not a creature to be trifled with, we now have these poorly-animated (although admittedly better than in Alien 3) boring animals that don't evoke any interest. The new alien introduced in the latter half of the film is grotesque but little else.
There are a few positives: Ron Perlman's character Johnner is fun, the underwater sequence is handled quite well as long as you're able to beleive that all the characters could hold their breath for 2 minutes plus. One scene features a character yelling another character's name in warning, at which point he looks up, knowing the end has come. But when I'm naming individual scenes as a movie's high point, you know things aren't going well.
As far as the new edition versus the theatrical release, there's very little new material, and most of it inconsequential. However, while the new title sequence is still a little disgusting, it's better than the "mass of goo" title sequence in the original
New Version: 4/10
Theatrical Release: 3.5/10
on August 5, 1999
Of the four ALIEN films, this has to be my least favourite.What bugged me the most were the gaping inaccuracies: None of it madeany sense!
And even if you could ignore all that, what about the acting? Everyone played a stereotypical character, except for Winona Ryder, who played her usual, whiny, stock character, and I kept thinking that if there were anyone not suited to be in an ALIEN film, she would be the one. Still, I have to admit, Sigourney Weaver played a different sort of Ripley, which showed off a bit more of her range, and I was pretty impressed with her naive, bad-attitude self. Unfortunately, that was the only bright spot. The other three films focused so much on the human characteristics that set the human race apart from the aliens, but RESURRECTION missed that point entirely. I guess having a clone and a robot as the main characters detracts too much from that theme.
I can't even say much for the action sequences, which were supposed to be so much different from anything else on the screen. Ooh, an underwater scene. (Yawn.) Aliens popping out of floors. (Deja vu!) And instead of trying to actually scare us with the aliens, the director used buckets and buckets of blood that were supposed to provide us with the horror. Remember how claustrophobic the first movie was? How about the sense of helplessness in the second movie, or the desperation in the third? That's horror. It gets under your skin, not all over your clothes.
Each of the ALIEN movies set out to reset the standard of movies of its type, and each one -- including ALIEN 3 -- did so. RESURRECTION is just a hodgepodge of the main elements of the previous films, but done much less successfully than the others. Even if you don't compare this movie to the other three, it's still a failure, because it's nearly impossible to care for any of the characters. Do yourself a favor, if you love the ALIEN series, and skip this one. Just pretend like it doesn't even exist.
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.
on May 20, 2004
This movie had a lot of problems.
1) Characters. The whole band of merry criminals was completely uninteresting. In Alien, the crew was very absorbing and each character was unique and well drawn. In Aliens, the Marines were terrific - interesting, entertaining, sympathetic. Even Alien 3 had some good characters in the prison inmates. Alien Resurrection however is just a collection of generic cliches. I never cared about any of them at all, and even found them slightly annoying at times. They were utterly one dimensional, I've seen those exact characters in countless low budget movies, they had no uniqueness, they might as well have just put them in a can labelled "Purina Alien Chow". Winona Ryder's character, though she at least had a modicum of depth, really belonged in a Lifetime Movie of the Week. She didn't add anything to this film.
2) Action. The action in this movie wasn't even slightly believable, starting with the shootout between the criminals and the soldiers aboard the ship. At very short range, every soldier is killed and not a single criminal even wounded. Ripley escaped from certain doom on several ocassions - I never felt as if she was in any peril at all. Then the action kept coming to a dead stop just when things were getting interesting. For instance, when everyone is in a huge hurry to get off the ship, Ripley decides to stop and wipe out a room full of failed clones. Truly one of those "Aw, you gotta be kidding me" moments.
3) Suspense. In the earlier movies one was on the edge of their seat wondering how in the world the characters would get away from the aliens. Sure you knew Sigourney Weaver would probably survive, but that never really crossed your mind while watching because the movies were so well done. Not so here. It's just formulaic - you know the aliens are going to chase these folks around for a while and then everything will be alright. There's no real feeling that these folks are in much danger because you don't really care if they die or not.
Overall, this movie is not a worthy sequel to the other films. Even Alien 3 was much better than this - it had loads of atmoshpere, characters that one cared about, and you actually felt as if they were in extreme danger. The reason I give this movie 2 stars is because some of the special effects were good, especially the scene where the alien chases some guys into an escape pod. The swimming aliens were cool as well, that's about all this movie has going for it: A couple of cool special effects scenes.
on May 29, 2002
First the good
In this Chapter of the Alien Saga Ripley has been cloned (along with the queen) from blood samples found on Fiorina 161. She survives the surgery to remove the queen but in the process of the cloning her genetics have been crossed along with the aliens. Now a group of smugglers bring in a human cargo to be impregnated. Call (Ryder) is sent to Kill Ripley before the queen can come out, but she is too late. The rest of the movie contains the typical Aliens terrorizing the group of smugglers. It is a Good movie .It has excellent graphics and I think Ryder does a good acting job.
Now the bad
In Alien Resurrection the gore goes way over the limit. And cursing is almost in every sentence. For this reason I do tend to watch the other alien movies more. The scientists are a little too unreal in acting. Now for the worst part of all there is a new creature that is half human and half Alien and this thing is DEMONIC looking. This thing has slime covered pale skin, human skull, no tail, a taste for blood and a whole lot more that is indescribably grotesque.
Alien Resurrection is good but I recommend that you make sure the little ones are nowhere near the TV when these Nightmarish creatures are on.
on August 27, 2006
Every Alien installment has had a new director at the helm, also bringing about a new style for the series. While Ridley Scott made a more clastrophobic sci-fi horror, James Cameron went all out and made a big combat movie and David Fincher made a more bleaker film which looked better and more "arty". After that film's failure, people thought the series was doomed and wrote it off until a 4th Alien film was announced with Jean-Pierre Jeunet at the helm, director of Delicatessen, City of Lost Children and the later film Amelie. So is it good? Heh...nope. Is there any redeeming quality to it at all? Well let's just say this: you know the film's in trouble when you actually have to think what was good about it.
200 years after the events of Alien3, the ship Auriga has been secretly cloning Lieutenant Ripley who died with an Alien queen inside her. Well after several failures, they finally successfully cloned her, who happens to be carrying an Alien queen. Using live people for guinea pigs, they get them "impregnated" with the alien. But of course aliens don't like being caged so they manage to escape so it's up to Ripley and the crew of the ship Betty to get out of the ship.
One thing that was always great about this series was its emphasis on the presence of the aliens rather than full blown shots, which then helped the film when there wasn't any gore, allowing your imagination to go into overdrive. That all changed with this film since people are dispatched in really gruesome ways including one alien who has an unfortunate encounter involving a window. Instead of being a great sci-fi horror film, it turned into a generic splatterhouse movie. While it is a new direction, the over-the-topness of it just kills it.
The set design and the look of the film though was starting to get better, relying on dim corridors and small lighting, much like the first film. And an action scene involving an underwater set is quite thrilling and the aliens certainly never looked better. But ultimately these are kind of superficial since a great scary experience like Alien or a blast like Aliens is sorely missing here. And while she is a cutie, Winona Ryder was severely miscast here.
Should you watch it? Oh man I have no clue what to say. I guess it's for curiousity purposes only but don't think you're going to see an Alien/Aliens experience here. It's not even an Alien3.
on September 24, 2002
Okay, one of these face-grabber things attaches itself to you, knocks you out, shoves a tube down your throat and drops an embryo. Soon, the face-grabber falls off and you revive. You walk around just fine for a few days, then the embryo (somewhat larger) bursts out of your stomach, which kills you, and the embryo scoots and squeals away to kill everyone else on your spaceship or planet or whatever.
My question, Officer Ripley, is: If you only serve as a temporary host for an embryo, which originates, grows and bursts out as a completely separate organism, then what makes anyone think that cloning YOU will ALSO produce one of the parasite organisms?
I once asked Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee if she ever felt guilty about receiving automatic salary increases (unless congress acts to avoid them), and she just looked at me with a blank stare. I would expect that same sort of reaction from the screenwriter who came up with THIS premise.