Alien: Resurrection is hands down one of the weirdest films I have seen in quite some time. With the recent release of Alien: Covenant, many Cinema! fans including myself, have been revisiting the previous installments into the Alien Franchise. I’ve seen Alien and Aliens so many times, they’re familiar to me and I know exactly what to expect from them. Ridley Scott’s Alien is an extraordinary masterpiece, that changed the science fiction horror genre forever, and it is by far my favorite of the franchise. James Cameron’s Aliens is no doubt a very different film from Alien but it is widely regarded as one of the greatest sequels of all time. The third film in the Alien cannon directed by David Fincher, is a film I have seen before but have had very little memory of. Upon revisiting Alien 3, I thought it was simply okay. There’s some good stuff in Alien 3, the dog alien is something new and different, Charles Dance now of Game of Thrones fame is great as Ripley’s love interest Clemens, and the prison planet Fury 161 offers an intriguing setting. Don’t get me wrong the film has it’s problems but I think there’s a lot of unearned hate for the movie simply because the characters from Aliens are not present in Alien 3. Bottom line I enjoy the Alien films, some are obviously better than others, but overall in my opinion it is a pretty solid franchise. I even really appreciate Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel, another film that I think gets a lot of unearned hate from Cinema! fans. I thought Alien: Covenant was a excellent follow up to Prometheus and I am excited to see where Ridley Scott takes the franchise from this point forward, but that is for a rant for some other time.
The main thing I take away after my Alien movie binge, is just how strange and outlandish Alien: Resurrection really is. I thought I have seen this one before, but after revisiting I am not sure I have. This film takes place a mere two hundred years after Alien 3 (yes two hundred years) in which an organization known as The United Systems Military is breeding xenomorphs on a spaceship known as the USM Auriga for reasons never fully explained. One may ask how this organization is breeding a species last seen two hundred years ago, well, the logical answer is by cloning Ellen Ripley using blood samples found on Fury 161 before her death at the end of Alien 3. Since Ripley had a xenomorph queen inside her for the entirety of Alien 3, The United Systems Military is able to clone Ripley and extract the queen xenomorph to further breed the species. And if this movie doesn’t already seem kind of out there, it get even further out there.. because of the xenomorph DNA inside her, the Ripley clone known as Ripley 8 is experiencing super strength, acidic blood, and a sort of odd connection with the xenomorphs on board the USM Auriga. We are later introduced to a group of mercenaries making a delivery to the Auriga, once on board with Ripley 8 the inevitable happens as the xenomorphs escape their cages and the horror ensues. Ripley 8 and the group of mercenaries have to come together and stop the xenomorphs and Auriga from reaching its homebase.. Earth. You would think someone would remember such a crazy premise but yet I had no recollection.
It was to my surprise that this movie is directed by french director Jean-Pierre Jeunet probably most known for his film Amelie and written by Joss Whedon (yes Joss Whedon) famous for his work on The Avengers, Serenity, and one of my favorites The Cabin in the Woods. Sigourney Weaver returns to the franchise to play Ripley’s clone, Winona Ryder plays Call an android in the group of mercenaries, and Ron Perlman one of my absolute favorite actors is in this movie. So this film definitely has a significant amount of talent behind it, it is a wonder how the final product came to be the way it is. Some of the performances in Alien: Resurrection are just awkward and out of place. There is one leader in The United Systems Military, General Perez, who is so absolutely outrageous in his acting it is almost laughable. It would seem some actors’ performances lead me to believe they think the are in a slapstick comedy, while it does not match the overall tone of the film. Tone, is in my opinion is this movie’s biggest downfall. The first three Alien movies are tonally generally pretty dark and serious, Alien: Resurrection at times seems to be trying to follow that tone while at other times being blatantly goofy. Almost all of the performances in the film feel too over the top including Sigourney Weaver’s who plays her role so oddly sexual stroking people’s faces without reason and saying some uncomfortably awkward dialog.
Part of me wants to say there had to be a lot of studio interference on a big franchise film like this and maybe that is the reason. Whatever the reason may be there is some downright strange things going on in this movie. For example, there is a basketball scene in this movie, in which Ripley 8 is bouncing a ball around, doing tricks, and dunking on Ron Perlman. The scene feels out of place, takes way too long, and serves what purpose? To show that xenomorph DNA makes you good at basketball? I mean it’s just weird. Also there is a scene where Ripley and the group of mercenaries find some sort of lab where the USM guys did their cloning experiments and inside they find some crazy body horror stuff going on with deformed Ripley clones inside. In which Ripley 8 then decides to burn them alive with a flame thrower, since you know it’s the humane thing to do. Another example of the weirdness is one of the mercenaries, Christie, has the ability to bounce bullets off of things with incredible accuracy. On not one but two separate occasions in the film the group is in a dire situation and saved by Christie shooting his gun at the wall, bouncing the bullets off the wall, and then hitting his target. This film is just filled with things that either do not make sense or is laughably bad. Also Wynona Ryder was an odd choice to play the synthetic in the film. The Alien franchise has had such iconic androids through the years, and Call simply does quite not reach expectations set by previous androids such as Bishop and it could be due to Winona Ryder’s performance.
Towards the end of the movie is when it starts to get real crazy. Ripley 8 finds herself in the xenomorph nest on the Auriga and the xenomorph queen due to the DNA mixing with Ripley has developed a more human womb in which it is able to give birth without laying the eggs so synonymous with the Alien franchise. The alien queen then gives birth to what has become known as the Newborn, a xenomorph human hybrid. The Newborn has a less than impressive human/xenomorph creature design adding to the lunacy of the whole situation. The Newborn kills the alien queen that just gave birth to it and then shares an awkward embrace with Ripley implying that the Newborn thinks that the Ripley clone is its mother. If that’s not crazy enough the way that Ripley kills the creature surely is, splashing some of her acidic blood on the window of the spaceship Ripley pushes the Newborn into the melted hole sucking the hybrid into space in the most epically gory way possible.
However with all of its problems, Alien: Resurrection is not all bad. Brad Dourif, the great character actor of such genre films like Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies, The Exorcist III, and the Child’s Play franchise play one of the scientists in this movie. I found his character Gediman to be one of the highlights of the film. Leland Orser also has a small role in Alien: Resurrection, even though he barely has a speaking role in the film he’s great and everyone should see his movie Faults directed by Riley Stearns. Another thing I thought was a highlight of Alien: Resurrection was the look of the xenomorphs. The xenomorphs in this film look pretty badass, particularly in the scenes with them in their glass cages as Gediman looks on. I know I said earlier that the Newborn alien design left much to be desired but I loved the look of the xenomorph in this movie. They looked so gooey and monstrous in Alien: Resurrection which is something that can’t exactly be seen in the other films. There was also some decent action scenes in there, including an underwater scene involving a xenomorph. There is no doubt this movie is one of the missteps in the Alien franchise, and in all honesty it probably ranks on the bottom of my list (excluding the AVP movies) but I would say it is worth the revisit if you haven’t already if not to simply marvel at how weird it is. Seriously like how did this movie get made?