Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Alien Resurrection (1997) Review

Alien Resurrection
The bitch just keeps coming back

As I’m going back to watch all the Alien movies over again, I notice that my views on them are mostly unchanged from my early childhood. Alien is still a deeply scary and haunting thriller. Aliens is still an intense and wildly entertaining action ride. And Alien 3 is still the deeply flawed but emotionally strong experience it was before. But there’s something odd about Alien Resurrection. It has everything in it that I remember from watching it many times before, but this time around there I had a different feeling and reaction to it, and it wasn’t good.

Plot Synopsis: It’s been 200 years since the end of Alien 3, and the Weyland-Yutani Corporation has stopped its schemes to capture the iconic alien after being bought out (and of course after Ripley effectively wiped them out). But now a military contingent has found traces of Ripley’s DNA on Fiorina 161 where she died, and clones her in an attempt to recreate the alien queen inside of her. After the queen is extracted, the new Ripley is confined to a holding cell but there’s something different about her. She seems to have gained a bit of the alien’s DNA and displays a few of their characteristics such as the acid blood. Soon, a group of mercenaries arrives on the ship with their “cargo” to be used to give birth to the queen’s babies. As an act of hospitality, the military allow the mercenaries to stay on the ship for a while and get comfortable with the new surroundings. But, as is the case with these situations, the aliens escape from their holding cells and another bug hunt begins.


I used to like Resurrection a lot as a kid; it was fun, there were a lot of aliens and gore, and it had some neat ideas. After viewing it now from a more mature perspective, most of the stuff I liked before hasn’t aged well. French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet creates this as a black comedy/comic book of sorts, and the tone just doesn’t feel right. The gore, for instance, is just so over the top that it’s distracting and pulls you out of the moment. I mean, the first three movies were bloody, but they weren’t THIS bloody. There's also an element of some dark humor that defuses any kind of tension that the scenes would've normally had. Jeunet obviously wanted to create a visually interesting and dynamic film here, but there are moments where he seems to be trying too hard. There's a lot of spiraling camera movements and an overdone chest-burster scene near the end that don't feel like they belong in this movie.

Kudos must go to Sigourney Weaver for making this revamped version of Ripley completely new and different but at the same time evoking some of the characteristics that were present in the "real" Ripley. She gives her voice a sarcastic edge and tone that makes the most out of the sometimes cheesy dialogue. Winona Ryder, however, looks really out of place and uncomfortable as Call, the newest member of the mercenary crew. Her attempts at acting tough and forceful feel really awkward and it's just a big case of miscasting. All of the other characters feel like caricatures, in contrast to the realistically portrayed characters of the previous three. Not to mention that some of their weapons are laughably cartoonish (for an Alien movie at least), like two concealed pistols on wrist mechanisms and a shotgun hidden in a thermos.


And the aliens, well, are pretty much the same as they've always been (although much more slimy here). They do show a few moments of increased intelligence however, such as their clever means of escaping their cells. There were quite a few moments though where it was incredibly obvious that the crew decided to use CGI (and bad CGI at that) aliens instead of men in suits, such as in the underwater battle. There's also a new hybrid alien that shows up at the very end, courtesy of Ripley contributing some of her DNA to the alien queen. The design for this hybrid is very strange, even stranger than the normal warriors, but oddly it doesn't instill the same kind of fear. It's just not a very intimidating or scary monster when you think about it, despite the overly gory mess it makes of its victims. It also has one of the most ludicrous deaths I've ever seen in a movie, which seems to make it seem that the beast is completely made of jelly, including its bones.

On this latest viewing, I did notice many leaps of logic that the plot had to make in order for it to continue (or even start up). For instance, if Ripley and the alien have separate DNA, then how could they clone the alien from only traces of Ripley? Even so, the chest-burster had already come out of her at the end of Alien 3. The whole cloning concept reeks of rushed thought and is an unnecessary reason to bring back a dead character (maybe even the franchise). There's also a scene where one character seemingly disappears and the others are road blocked, only to have the former character reappear to open the door from the other side. It's like they gained Jason Voorhees-like teleporting abilities in the afterlife.

Maybe if you’re looking for a cheesy B movie that doesn't take itself seriously then you might have a fun time with Alien Resurrection. All other viewers should look elsewhere.


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