WARNING: FULL SPOILERS
Many fans of the Alien Franchise looked at Alien 3 as the abomination of the series. That’s probably the Newt-Hicks-Bishop fanboys talking…and I should know, I was one of them. But while Alien 3 had it’s problems, it had some intriguing aspects and it was clearly an Alien film.
There was absolutely nothing intriguing about Alien: Resurrection. Except for how bad it was.
Alien: Resurrection was not only a bad Alien film, it was a horrible movie. The tone was completely off from the rest of the Alien films, unwisely taking a more comedic turn. Everything that was subtle in the series was made awkwardly obvious by that tone, the over the top performances and a pedestrian storyline.
This Is Funny?
Sigourney Weaver managed to return two hundred years after Ellen Ripley’s death in Alien 3 due to a classic science fiction cliche: Cloning. Hoping to harness the Aliens as weapons once again, rogue scientists brought her back for the Queen Alien inside her. As they lost control of the situation, a very different Ripley was the only hope to stop the Alien menace.
“Menace.” It’s strange mentioning that, as Resurrection was nearly devoid of the trait. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and writer Joss Whedon decided to infuse a dark comedic tone. It was an odd decision since the other films had funny moments but were usually devoid of humor.
This decision wouldn’t have been so strange if the humor worked. It rarely did, and it only made the characters look dumb since they weren’t taking the Alien threat seriously. If they couldn’t take things seriously, why should we? While Alien 3 might have alienated audiences with its very dark tone, but Resurrection did the same by getting rid of any menace.
The story was pedestrian, only serving as an excuse for Ripley to face the Aliens once again. People were trapped on a ship with multiple killer aliens. There was no originality other than the clone Ripley acting…different (More on this later). There was no reason for this movie to exist other than a quick cash in on the Alien name.
Resurrection was also an incredibly ugly movie. Jeunet directed Amelie, a brilliant film with amazing use of color and visuals. There was no trace of that here. Granted, the Alien Franchise had never been particularly colorful, but there were often stunning visuals. Everything seemed to be brown in Resurrection, creating a static environment. There was no derelict ship from Alien or massive atmosphere processor from Aliens…all we got were nearly identical brown and black corridors.
Tom Woodruff, Jr. and Alec Gillis did great work with the practical Aliens, but the C.G.I. creations were pretty bad. The biggest cinematic crime though? The Newborn. The creature had a weird and often lumbering design that never scared you. The sleek and scary Aliens were made secondary to this abomination, destroying the third act’s tension.
Who The Hell Are These People?
The normally great Weaver gave a very strange performance in Resurrection. She seemed to relish taking a new spin on a familiar character, but she fluctuated from awkwardly over the top to lackadaisical. There were moments that came close to being good, such as Ripley’s discovery of her other clones, but even those end up failing due to her performance and the odd tone of the movie.
Weaver had always wanted to “make love” to an Alien and she gets the chance here. But like many other aspects of Resurrection, it was so poorly handled that it came off as silly. There were always subtle sexual themes in the Alien Franchise, but this movie shoved them in your face to groan-inducing effect.
The cast was either horribly miscast or just plain bad. Dan Hedaya was inappropriately laughable as a military general, Brad Dourif chewed the scenery as scientist Gediman, and Ron Perlman grunted his way through the movie as pirate Johner. J.E. Freeman barely registered as head scientist Wren, which was especially frustrated because he was the chief human antagonist. You would never confuse Wren with Ash or Carter Burke.
Tragically, Winona Ryder’s Call was the biggest disappointment of the cast. The character, an independent synthetic that was aware of Ripley’s past with the Aliens, was a wasted opportunity. In addition to pouting through much of the film, there was nothing to the character. Resurrection did very little when her true nature was revealed, making the twist pointless.
In general, none of the characters stuck with you. Johner and his fellow pirates could have been something interesting, but they were all one note caricatures that weren’t particularly likable. When they started going down, you didn’t care much like the prisoners from Alien 3.
Alien: Resurrection was a brutal disappointment. The weird tone mangled the narrative and terrible characters were simply fodder for the Aliens. This was a stunningly terrible experience and was easily the worst of the franchise. Looking back, this movie killed the franchise.
Well, until Ridley Scott decided to come back…
SCORE: 2 OUT OF 10