ALIEN Resurrection

THREE GUYS AND… A MOVIE

series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson

“ALIEN Resurrection”

written by Dominick Cappello

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POSITIVE:

“Alien 3” (1992) was a unsatisfactory finale to the saga, so Twentieth Century Fox made one last attempt to properly conclude the story of Ellen Ripley and the Xenomorphs. This fourth entry in the series was written by geek hero Joss Whedon and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Aboard the U.S.M. Auriga, scientists have cloned Sigourney Weaver. Brad Dourif plays Gediman, one of the surgeons who removes the Alien Queen embryo from Ripley’s torso. Yes, just like time travel, using cloning as a plot device is a bit far fetched, but sine this is a science-fiction film, I will allow for some latitude. Weyland-Yutani has gone under, so it is now the United Systems Military who plan to weaponize the aliens. Ripley hasn’t regained all of her faculties yet, but she isn’t too impressed with their plans. The U.S.M needs hosts for the aliens after the Queen grows to full size. General Perez, played by Dan Hedaya, contracts space pirates to hijack persons in cryo-sleep. The pirates travel in a dingy ship called the Betty. Their leader is Elgyn, played by Michael Wincott. Yes, he is that villain from “The Crow” (1994) with the scratchy voice. Prominent members of his crew are Call, played by Winona Ryder, and Johner, played by Ron “Hellboy” Pearlman. Johner is definitely a bully and the most fun character.

It is clear that General Perez and Elgyn are old buddies, so the pirates are allowed to remain aboard the Auriga for a few days of rest and relaxation. They encounter Ripley while she shoots hoops. She rebuffs Johner’s advances. Ripley 2.0 has a short temper and kicks the shit out of the pirates. If that wasn’t enough, she makes a three point shot over her shoulder. Evidently, Ron Pearlman flipped out when Sigourney Weaver made this shot for real. But, Ripley did get struck in the face with a dumbbell and bleeds acid because there has been genetic crossing between her and the alien. I don’t fully understand the science, but it probably doesn’t matter. Her acid blood, however, is nowhere near as potent as the aliens’. After her display on the basketball court, she is referred to by Gediman as a predator. Foreshadowing?

Gediman oversees the development of the aliens, who were again created by the team of Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr.. Call knows who Ripley is and sneaks into her holding cell to kill her, only to discover that the alien has already been removed. There is some implied sexual tension between them, but it’s all just a tease. Nothing ever happens. Dr. Wren, played by J.E. Freeman, detains Call and the rest of the pirates. When they realize that they’re going to be executed, the pirates fight back, killing several soldiers and taking Dr. Wren captive. Simultaneously, the aliens make their escape. They gang up on the runt of the litter, killing it so that its acid blood will eat through the bottom of their cage. They flee and take Gediman with them. An alarm sounds and almost all of the soldiers evacuate the Auriga. General Perez has a somewhat comical death scene. An alien bites him in the back of his skull and he feels around for a piece of his brain.

The pirates are all by their lonesome. Elgyn wanders off, something you should never do in a monster movie, and gets killed. Then, Ripley arrives and shoots an alien in the mouth with a shotgun. Even though Call protests, Ripley is allowed to join the group. The Auriga is now on autopilot, heading back to Earth. The plan is to blow the ship up after they escape. While searching the Auriga for a shortcut back to the Betty, Ripley encounters seven previous failed attempts to clone her. The most disturbing scene in the entire movie. One of the horribly deformed clones is still alive, so Ripley puts her out of her misery with a flame-thrower. Johner refers to it as a waste of ammo. They also find Purvis, played by Leland Orser, that guy who had a memorable freak-out scene in “Seven” (1995). He was part of the cargo that the pirates delivered to be used as hosts. He still has a chest-burster inside of him, so they decide to take him with them even though the odds of helping him are slim to none.

The aliens flooded several compartments, forcing Ripley and company underwater. In “Aliens” (1986), an alien emerged from the water to capture Newt, but because of modern technology, this film allowed for the aliens to be seen swimming. But, the CGI is a tad dodgy. After escaping from the underwater ambush, Dr. Wren shoots Call. A betrayal that wasn’t too hard to predict. Call survives because she is an android. A second generation android, designed by other androids to be more human. Ripley knows what it’s like to be an outsider, so she bonds with Call. They alter the original plan, speeding up the Auriga so that it will crash. The aliens then capture Ripley and bring her to their nest. There, she sees that the Queen has also evolved from the genetic crossing. It now has a womb and gives birth to a revolting yellow creature, referred to by the filmmakers as the “Newborn.” The Newborn doesn’t identify the Queen as its mother, so it rips her face off and identifies with Ripley instead. Gediman is still alive, being kept in a cocoon. The Newborn doesn’t like him either and bites his head off.

The pirates make in back to the Betty. Dr. Wren is waiting for them and takes Call hostage. Purvis sacrifices himself and the chest-burster bursts out of his chest and through the skull of Dr. Wren. Pretty dumb, but also sort of cool. Ripley makes it back to the Betty, but the Newborn snuck aboard. Ripley uses her acid blood to create a small hole in a window, which the Newborn gets sucked out off. Such a gruesome death. The Auriga crashes into Earth, killing all of the aliens on board. There is no real closure for Ripley, but the door is perhaps still open for Sigourney Weaver to return to the franchise. “Alien Resurrection” is like a survival-horror video game. A lot more enjoyable to watch than “Alien 3” was.

– Dr. Jelly

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INDIFFERENT:

“Alien Resurrection” wasn’t a particularly gory movie, but it was still somewhat gross. Either you can tolerate lots of gooey alien slime and sludge or you can’t. Joss Whedon’s original screenplay focused on the pirate characters, perhaps a precursor to his “Firefly” series, but the studio insisted that he bring back Sigourney Weaver as Lt. Ellen Ripley. With a total lack of options, he resorted to cloning. Maybe the story wasn’t as compelling as it needed to be after rewrites, but the creature effects and visuals were serviceable. The music was by John Frizzell. It was decent, but far from memorable. In my own humble opinion, it was the weakest score in the whole “Alien” quadrilogy.

The special addition has a different opening. It starts with a close-up of what looks like an alien, but turns out to just be a bug. It’s a terrible intro and needed to be cut. I always enjoy director’s commentaries, but Jean-Pierre Jeunet has such a thick accent, I can barely understand him. One moment in the special addition that adds a lot of character is when Ripley takes some sort of a picture association test. She is shown a picture of a little blonde girl. She smiles, then sheds a few tears. Even though she hasn’t fully regained her memories, she was clearly reminded of Newt. Other than this touching moment, I cannot really recommend the special addition. Stick with the theatrical release. I mean, that quip about Weyland-Yutani being bought out by Wal-Mart is so lame.

Both versions of the movie have a random soldier getting frozen by liquid nitrogen. After the release of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991), every science-fiction movie for the next decade needed to have a scene like this for some reason. Michael Wincott was the first of the pirates to be killed. This was perhaps a mistake, similar to how quickly Charles Dance was killed off in “Alien 3.” Michael Wincott was my favorite of the pirates besides Ron Pearlman. Sure, John Hurt was the first to be killed in “Alien” (1979), but there were still plenty of interesting characters to focus on afterwards. Not so much in “Alien Resurrection.”

Sigourney Weaver’s performance in this film was polarizing. Some were dissatisfied that she was playing Ripley #8 instead of the real Lt. Ellen Ripley. As an actor, it has to be boring to play the same character over and over again. I’m sure that Bruce Willis grew to hate Detective John McClane over time. Sigourney Weaver decided to be an artist and create a brand new character, who shared personality traits with someone from the past. That may not have been exactly what audiences wanted, but how lazy would it have been on the part of Sigourney Weaver and the filmmakers for Ripley #8 to be exactly like Ellen Ripley? It was just so odd to have an actor return to a franchise, but not as the same character. Unless you’re Lance Henriksen, who’s played three different characters in the franchise. That’s why it was mistake to cut the scene where Ripley #8 was reminded of Newt. It would have made the audience care about this new character. They would have known that the real Ripley was in there somewhere.

Winona Ryder was likely cast to make the film more appealing to younger audiences, but I don’t how much she helped. But, I will give her kudos for filming the underwater scenes despite of her real life fear of drowning. Ron Pearlman was really the best addition to the cast. He seems at home in this universe and hosted many TV specials leading up to the film’s release.

Sigourney Weaver stated publicly that she made “Alien Resurrection” to prevent an “Alien vs. Predator” film. Well, you can only delay the inevitable. That film was released in 2004 and served as a prequel to the “Alien” saga. Then, Ridley Scott made “Prometheus” (2012) to be the official prequel, so “Alien vs. Predator” is no longer canon. Sigourney Weaver would never have appeared in an “Alien vs. Predator,” but maybe she would be in a film directed by Ridley Scott that tied all of the story threads together? Fingers crossed.

– Dr. Rochester

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NEGATIVE:

The “Resurrection” sub-title usually means that a franchise is already dead. One of the visual effects supervisors was Pitof. Yes, that is actually someone’s name. He would go on to direct “Catwoman” (2004) with Halle Berry. Good lord. That tells you all you really need to know about this abomination. Who else was part of the brain trust? The director of “Amélie” (2001). Because when I think science-fiction and horror, I surely think of “Amélie.” The writer was the criminally overrated Joss Whedon. I’m not tween girl or a creepy middle aged man, so I was never a fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997 – 2003). I have a life, so I don’t pretend that “Firefly” (2002 – 2003) was a good show. Don’t even get me started on “The Avengers” (2012). Shawarma? Suck my balls.

The Ellen Ripley clone is left on the floor of her holding cell in giant plastic bag. I suppose that her emerging from the sac was symbolic of childbirth or some such nonsense. Sigourney Weaver isn’t really playing Ellen Ripley. She’s playing Ripley #8, who has acid blood, a bullshit psychic link with the aliens, and an overall affinity towards the aliens. So, Sigourney Weaver is back, but not as the character we as the audience identified with for three films. Which begs the question, why bring her back if she’s not going to be playing the character we want? She likes the aliens now? Ripley likes the aliens? Heresy. I would rather that she stayed dead as appose to returning as a unlikable, cheap carbon copy. She’s just too damn weird in this movie. I can’t root for her character at all.

There is a bunch of silly crap throughout this entire movie. The super-computer running the Auriga is “FATHER.” The computer aboard the Nostromo in first film was “MOTHER.” Father? Mother? What’s the point? I don’t think that is even remotely clever. The United Systems Military has bizarre security in which individuals breath on keypads to unlock doors. Again, what’s the point? Does anybody remember “Demolition Man” (1993)? In that movie, retinal scans were required, so Wesley Snipes gauged people’s eyes out so to escape from prison. That was cool. Breathing on locks is most definitely not.

Speaking of silly crap, what in the holy hell was up with Brad Dourif trying to kiss an alien? That freaked me out. Man, French people shouldn’t be allowed to direct. Also, I would be uncomfortable being alone in a room with Brad Dourif. Jean-Pierre Jeunet choose very odd angles to shoot the action beats from. This was painfully obvious to me when Ripley chokes Dr. Wren and during the basketball scene scuffle. Action should not be shot in extreme close-ups.

I’ve mentioned before how James Cameron’s “Aliens” added to the mythology, teaching us more about the life cycle of the Xenomorphs. All “Alien Resurrection” added was the “Newborn.” Worst monster ever. This thing was nasty, but not in a good way. It was yellow. A yellow monster? It walked awkwardly, like it was on stilts. It had sunken in, sad, puppy dog eyes. A weird pointy little nose and the back of its head was melded to its shoulders. Would any kid want an action figure of this monstrosity? It wasn’t a monster, it was a monstrosity. Believe it or not, this “Newborn” could have looked even worse. Originally, it had a enormous genitals sticking out of its abdomen. What a relief that per studio orders, the genitals were digitally removed during post-production. Big yellow genitals? Man, French people shouldn’t be allowed to direct.

One of the many ridiculous things about the climax of this awful movie was our appalling heroes crashing a giant fucking spaceship into Earth so to protect the planet from the aliens. Did you guys see the crater made by the collision? The impact was more devastating than the asteroid that wiped out the fucking dinosaurs. Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder caused way more damage to Earth than the fucking aliens ever could. I was thinking that maybe the special edition had to be better. The assembly cut of “Alien 3” was a slight improvement, but the director’s cut of “Alien Resurrection” is even shittier than the theatrical release. The only thing worse is the sense of impending doom, knowing that one day I will have to review “Alien vs. Predator” (2004).

– Dr. Frisbee

Author: Marvin Mercer

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