After the interesting trainwreck that was Alien 3, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Alien Resurrection. According to a lot of fans of the franchis,e Resurrection is definitively the worst of the Sigourney Weaver films, an opinion that is consistently strengthened every time Joss Whedon, who wrote the script, is asked about it.
Whedon has never been one to stand by his screenplays when he feels that it has been cannibalized by a director. Such was the case with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film, as well as Resurrection. It’s almost as if he doesn’t know how Hollywood film-making works; he may have written the script, but that doesn’t give him any ownership over the film: that belongs to the director and the star. Right, that’s the Whedon bit out of the way, now on to the film itself.
It may be an extremely unpopular opinion, but I enjoyed Alien Resurrection. I know, sacrilege, but my enjoyment is entirely to do with the fact that, before I watched the third and fourth films, I lowered my expectations to the point that if either film was coherent, I would be pleasantly surprised.
Resurrection is the most on-the-nose silly film in the series, a good choice since three films with an overly serious and dread-filled outlook had become repetitive. It’s about as whimsical as this series would get – not surprising, considering director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s next film would be the iconically quirky Amelie. Resurrection showcases one of the best aspects of the series: a new director (preferably one with a personal vision unlike that off the previous one) can put their own mark on the series. Alien was pure Ridley Scott, so much so that James Cameron new he had to think of a new approach for Aliens. That’s where Alien 3 falls down: David Fincher would go on to one of the greatest directors on the planet with a visual style all his own, but most of his style is in embryonic form in this threequel.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a strange choice by anyone’s standards. It’s his first English-language film, but he seems right at home with the Freudian nightmare/sadomasochism inherent to the series monsters. The action isn’t bad either: the underwater sequence is pretty great, and the xenomorphs actually think tactically rather than with brute force. Sigourney Weaver is awesome as Ripley 8 and, like her character, seems rejuvenated without the OG Ripley’s baggage. Having her be a clone of the heroine while also possessing xenomorph DNA is a much-needed new spin on the character, even if the basketball scene is still stupid as hell.
Alien Resurrection could have been a really great film, but there is something in the story that really bothers me. Perhaps you can help me out. The plan of the big bad company men is to clone Ripley in order to clone the Queen Xenomorph inside her. That’s fine. With that done, the Queen lays face-hugger eggs and puts them in twelve humans, therefore creating the Xenomorphs that pursue Ripley and crew Not Firefly through the space station. The problem is the white Alien.
When Ripley comes face to face with the cloned Queen, Brad Dourif’s mad scientist (who is being kept alive for purely expositional reasons) informs Ripley that the joining of their the Queen and her DNA means that the Queen can only give birth once. If that’s the case, then where did the dozen face-huggers come from? That’s birth, anyone who has seen Aliens knows that. I feel like I’m missing something obvious here, perhaps the explanation is in the director’s cut. Help me out, dear readers, because I refuse to debase myself with that.
It can’t hold a candle to the first two films but that’s not much of a criticism – more just a cinematic truth. But Alien Resurrection is a fine, sometimes extremely enjoyable, film if your standards are set low enough; and after Alien 3 they will be.
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By Kevin Boyle
Header Image: Consequence of Sound