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Review 4 of 4
With Alien 3 closing the story arc of the Alien trilogy, this film begins with a fresh slate. The Alien films have always been a director's series but in this film it was the writing that ultimately killed it. Resurrection tries to be too many things at once. It has a very artistic and dynamic visual style, but cardboard characters. It has a very overt sense of humor, but it is all done in a very juvenile manner. Much of the maturity and restraint of the previous three films is thrown out in favor of a more comic book style. The cinematography and set design is gorgeous to the point of decadence. Sigourney Weaver has been given an interesting character to play and does it with a strange sense of detachment that lends more depth to the proceedings than the script ever could. Thinking back, the first three films all had very solid overall stories and well developed characters while Resurrection has a very solid concept but can't seem to build a coherent movie around it. If you follow the overall themes of the series with the first, second and third being birth, life, and death respectively that leaves Resurrection on shaky thematic ground. Since this is Alien: RESURRECTION obviously the filmmakers wished for rebirth to be the theme, but somehow it never quite works. The characters are basically action movie clichés, and the action sequences of the movie are hopelessly contrived. Why does the Alien always stop to snarl before it attacks giving people just enough time to shoot it? Alien 3 did not have this problem and it reinforced how dangerous the creature really was. Resurrection turns the Aliens into monsters from a B-movie. Very few scenes in the film are particularly memorable. Sure, the underwater chase is a nice bit of action derring-do, but there's no real sense of danger...except for the supporting characters you barely know who get killed in the reverse order they appear in the credits. Two fantastic scenes that I wish there were more of in the film are the doctor's examination of the Aliens where he "plays" with them. Now that was a scene of inspired genius. The other scene was when Ripley wakes up in her circular chamber. It is interesting to note that neither of these scenes have any dialogue, because the dialogue is pretty atrocious. Ron Pearlman is always fun to watch and makes a good comic duo with Dominique Pinon, but Winona Ryder absolutely kills this movie with her nonperformance. The effects look less realistic this time out and the score at times seems to try too hard to emulate the second and third films with Goldsmith's original Alien theme being used on several occasions. The film is a brilliant exercise in dynamic visuals but the story really does not go anywhere. Unlike the first three films this one does not take itself seriously at all so the danger level becomes nonexistent. I believe Jean-Pierre Jeunet was an excellent choice for a director but the script served him very badly. This is an interesting film to watch for an interesting scene here and there but not in the same league as the previous films.
Although it's got major flaws and some plot holes, I find myself liking Alien Resurrection a lot. First of all, I'm a sucker for horror and sci-fi movies. Second, I LOVE the Alien series, although Alien³ was a bit offbeat in the action department. Third, Sigourney Weaver is incredibly menacing as a cloned Ripley. She's always great to see on screen but this was truly something to behold. and last but not least, I loved the storyline, how they brought the genetic aspect so cleverly. It was truly a new twist on the series, although I wouldn't qualify A:R as a REAL episode in the Alien series but rather a new begining. Jean-Pierre Jeunet did a great job in bringing his fantastic style to Hollywood. The creatures were cool and scary although I wish we had seen more of the Queen; we still had the horrific Newborn which was truly demonic. Anyway, despite it's flaws, it's still a great film, although it will never be a classic like Alien and Aliens are. Now if only there could be a fifth one with a better script, more character development and more firepower.
The Auteurist Perspective - The most unorthodox way of viewing this
picture is as a kind of formalist exercise. Jean-Pierre Jeunet has
talked about his desire to make a film tailored exactly to the format
of a Hollywood action movie, even going so far as to count the number
of cuts and camera set-ups in the blockbusters he watched for research.
Everything in the movie may be taking place within quotation marks, as
in the melodramas of Douglas Sirk or, more obliquely, Gus van Sant's
'Psycho'. The film wants to be both an archetypal big sci-fi action
movie whilst simultaneously a pastiche of the form. The gorgeously
overblown shot of Ripley and Call standing amid the clouds at the
film's close certainly suggests a playful tweaking of blockbuster
bombast. However, the 'Alien' series may not be the most appropriate
place for this experiment; the series is far more defined by spaces and
silences than by frenetic action of the Bruckheimer variety. Even James
Cameron's 'Aliens' is surprisingly slow in its build-up; by contrast,
Resurrection's relentless pace becomes oddly monotonous and the film
loses the distinctive texture Jeunet brings to it.
The Whedonite Perspective - The problems with the script are mostly additions or changes to Joss Whedon's original (which is available online). Whedon rightly made Ripley's resurrection the backbone for the story, finding new things to do with a character many believed had reached the end of her life, both literally and creatively. He also carefully fleshed out the supporting characters just enough to keep them interesting. There are small problems even in his original script - Purviss is sidelined when his predicament demands imaginative exploration, and the narrative is more linear than you'd expect from this writer. But it's the feeble alterations that damage the film - reducing characters like Hillard (in particular) to cyphers, changing the ending so the audience never gets to see earth (the only place, as Whedon instinctively understood, that the climax could possibly take place), and removing a lot of the texture of the setting, like the marijuana fields. 'I'm a stranger here myself' should have been one of the great closing lines in movie history, up there with 'Tomorrow is another day' and 'Shut up and deal', but the dialogue (Whedon's great strength) is mangled by a director working in his second language, and who seems to be paying more attention to the lighting anyway.
The Cynical Perspective - The 'Alien' series is, by this point, a cash cow that everyone involved wants to milk until it bleeds. 'Alien3' ended Ripley's story with an unflinching finality that 'Resurrection' can only cheapen, no matter how good it is. The hiring of a cult french director is a sop to the critics who lionise Scott and Fincher's contributions - and whilst prior instalments were filmed in England, this production was mounted in LA, for the convenience of everyone involved. It wouldn't do to make too much of an effort on what is, after all, the latest sausage on the string. The suits' only concern is the opening weekend; hence Winona, shoehorned in just in case Sigourney's box office draw is waning.
The Aesthetic Perspective - John Frizzell's score is the fourth classic in a row for the series; both lushly romantic and queasily menacing, it gives the film its own distinctive flavour. The production design is bold and distinctive, with perhaps a hint of playful parody (the sickly green light, the mad scientist outfits, the giant glass jars in the lab); the film looks like a comic strip version of its predecessors. Some of the direction is highly effective - the underwater sequence is devastatingly beautiful. The problem is the slightly over-ripe grotesquerie Jeunet brings out in the material, particularly in the way the cast is shot (Dominique Pinon looks like a malevolent garden gnome, Dan Hedaya resembles a sweaty gendarme). It sits uneasily with the straightforward disaster movie plot. The biggest miscalculation on the production front, however, is the Newborn. The thinking behind it - to give it an expressive face and thus complicate Ripley's (and our) emotional response to it - is sound enough, but it doesn't really come off in the finished creature, which looks like moldy old tissues clinging to a pipe-cleaner frame. Whedon's original conception of a white, red-veined alien of the traditional design might have worked more effectively, although even that might not have survived the aesthetic indignity of its impossible demise, getting sucked into space as a string of alien linguine.
Alien Resurrection was released about six months after I graduated from
high school, and at the time I wasn't very familiar with the series. I
took my first film class about six months later, at which point I
learned to really appreciate the great films and filmmakers, and one of
the first things I learned was that the first three Alien films are
spectacular achievements of science fiction cinema and the third sequel
is a sad, ridiculous mess. This happens all too often with sequels and
yes, part four is not yet another amazingly impressive Alien film, but
come on, it's not THAT bad.
I watched it last night for the first time in almost ten years, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It's strange that I liked it so much, because it shows all the signs of a botched, modernized sequel of a series that should have been left alone long ago. The characters, most of all, are almost all goofy caricatures with preposterous dialogue and routine motivations, and some just don't belong at all. Personally I am a pretty big fan of Winona Ryder, but only in roles that suit her, and she has had a lengthy list of roles that suit her, but Annallee Call in Alien Resurrection is just not one of them. Too often she comes off as a tough talking teenager in this movie and it just gets hard to take her character seriously. She's like Ja Rule in Half Past Dead, but less ridiculous.
Then again, this could just have been a result of her starring alongside Sigourney Weaver, and that woman is just awesome. Dan Hedaya is suitably over-the-top in his role as the gleefully neurotic General Perez, and I have to admit that I was curious to see the performance of Gary Dourdan as Christie. Lately I've been watching countless hours of CSI on DVD, and it's amazing to see how different his role is in this movie from the most serious role he would play later in that show. I prefer the later performance, myself.
The resurrection implied in the title refers to Ripley being borough back to life 200 years after her death for the purpose of creating one of the alien queens, and then breeding the animals for twisted scientific purposes. They decide to keep Ripley alive for observation after surgically removing the alien from her chest, only to discover that she and the aliens are clearly more than they are prepared to handle. There is a negligible subplot involving a group of shady characters headed by the wonderfully sinister Michael Wincott as a Frank Elgyn, who promises his men won't start trouble or get into any fights if they are allowed to stay on board for a few days and nights.
I also have to mention Ron Perlman, who just has a face for this kind of movie. Probably most recognizable lately as Hellboy, this has to be one of the least appreciated actors of the last few decades. In just over 20 years he has acted in more than 150 films and TV shows, and at the time of this writing he has 18 projects in the works. Unbelievable! He also has one of the best lines in the movie ("Why the waste of ammo?! Must be a chick thing ").
The aliens are probably the thing that will make or break this movie, and in my opinion they were impressive enough. The occasional CGI effects are never convincing, but then again they never are, so luckily they didn't overdo them. Even the aliens swimming underwater was not too much for me to accept, perhaps given the automatic tension that is immediately generated in almost any movie where someone has to hold their breath for a long time. This went on far too long to be anything remotely realistic in this movie, but it was a good scene nonetheless.
I would also argue that this is the goriest of all of the four alien movies, particularly at the end, but also contains some of the best comic relief. This combination makes the movie highly entertaining, even following in the long shadows of its spectacular predecessors. There is a high energy scene in the third act of the film where Perlman's character performs a daredevil stunt to shoot one of the pursuing aliens dead which is followed by what has to be the funniest spider killing in film history. I haven't laughed out loud like that at a movie in a long, long time.
In browsing through the posts on the message board for Resurrection I have been inspired to raise my rating for the movie from a 7 to an 8, if only because it is so obvious that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon about bashing this movie. I see nothing but whiny, pouting little brats whimpering and griping about little nitpicky details in the movie, condemning the third sequel in the Alien quadrilogy as a travesty and an embarrassment and a pathetic way to end the series.
Stupid people in large numbers, man. It's sad to see such a clear mob mentality slamming a movie that is about 100 times better than most people say. No, it's not up to the same level as the first two films and it definitely has its drawbacks, but it is definitely a good installment in the series, and you could certainly do a lot worse for some fun popcorn sci-fi on a Friday night. I'll admit that my judgment might be a little skewed because I watched the staggeringly awful Eaten Alive just before seeing this, but it is clear to me that Alien: Resurrection has yet to receive the respect it deserves.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jeunet is a unique visual genius, and purveyor of rare pathos. What may be truly unique about Alien: Resurrection is the scene wherein Ripley discovers the 7 "mistakes" that preceded her. It is one of the most powerful, terrifying and ultimately beautiful scenes I have ever experienced in a film. The "please kill me" segment pops up in other scenes, perhaps other films in the series, and certainly other films in general, but where has one witnessed the great suffering of a version of oneself and the "chance" to end that person's suffering? Weaver plays the scene with just the right amount of emotional chaos. Jeunet typically softens the end of the scene with Ron Perlman's "must be a chick thing" comment, but thankfully that humorous interjection is no more jarring that a slight Shakespearean comic relief. Another terrifying-poignant-grand guignol, and perhaps a unique situation in film (mother killing son and being a hero for it) with the Newborn getting sucked out of the cargo window, one glob of flesh at a time, is also a visually stunning and beautiful realization of the ultimate, primal connection between Ripley and the beast, and the uncomprehending shock and horror the beast experiences when he realizes his own "mother" won't save him. I think Jeunet perfectly handled the movie: the humor, goofier than any in the previous episodes in the series, shows a very European director confident enough in his own style to inject a sacred cow with some sweet cream.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Audiences are automatically drawn to dislike sequels, which is
understandable. I had the fortune to see all four movies in one sitting
and this movie was just another part of the series, as it should be. I
can see some of the arguments against it. It has some weak parts and is
definitely different than the others but this one has its own powerful
message and actually ends on a happier note.
While I agree its the weakest of the series I don't believe it "sucks". It's not scary like the original and isn't as action-packed as the second. It's most closely related the the third one but it's its own story. I think it adds a whole new depth to the character of Ripley.
If you like the first three Alien movies there's no reason why you should not enjoy Alien Resurrection.
The first three Alien films have a unique kind of "magic" about them
that I think make up the ideal Alien experience.
It is the "ALIEN" atmosphere: The first three films depict a very real world around a mysterious and terrifying ALIEN creature that you feared along with the well developed characters.
Alien Resurrection has a very different flavor. Although it has some serious moments, there are several areas of this film that are out-of-place in both the film and the saga: Alien Resurrection has a number of humorous scenes which I feel take away from the above described overall ALIEN experience. The director goes straight into the action very quickly in this film so the only well developed character is Ripley. I think that the Alien creature loses a lot of its majesty in this film mostly because of these two critical factors.
It is still a must-see film for any Alien fan. It is full of strong cinematic sequences that resonate in your head long after the film is over.
But go in expecting something different.
Alien Resurrection is the most radical departure in the series that has now spanned centuries in its own universe and nearly twenty years of our own earth time. Gone is the meticulously constructed suspense of Ridley Scott's 1979 original. Gone is the heart-stopping pulse of uncannily staged action from James Cameron's 1986 sequel. Gone is the Ripley who cried and fought and bled and sacrificed her own life to save the world from the horror she very nearly unleashed in David Fincher's atmospheric and underrated Alien 3. Instead, we get the all-new Ripley: cynical, sardonic, and ready with a wisecrack or a fist for anyone who crosses her path. Director Jeunet unfortunately seems to bask in self-parody, and this is where the film goes wrong. He serves up plenty of nasty evisceration and gruesome chest-bursting, but by now we have seen so much of the creatures that they are no longer terrifying. Still, I have a lasting affection and fascination with this series -- and Jeunet Alien is better than no Alien.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an abomination. Classic stories work best in 3 acts, and the
Alien Trilogy worked fine. Why was this necessary? If a 4th was to be
done, it could have been good, had it explored the origins of the
aliens, the boneship, and the "space jockey" species. The plot appears
to have been drawn from a Dark Horse comic story, about breeding Aliens
for profit. 20th Century Fox could have developed a great screenplay.
Instead, Joss Whedon is brought in to create one of the lamest scripts
in movie history. Definitely on par with ROBOT MONSTER. The dialogue is
appalling. Cringe inducing one-liners and throwaway wisecracks abound.
Worse, they are delivered by the actors in pantomime style. "Must be a
chick thing", "Who do I have to f*** to get off this ship?" and so on.
Terrible visual "larks" are thrown in for good measure. There doesn't
seem to be anyone who isn't overacting. Except maybe Ryder, who turns
in a plank-like performance. However, Ron Perlman and Dominique Pinon,
take the arm-flapping and mugging to extraordinary levels. Perlman, as
Joner, the "tough guy" Space Pirate, shouts, grimaces, and demonstrates
that he is the badass of the story. The X-treme Badass. Pinon as the
"physically challenged" character, annoys from start to finish. He
whines, pouts, and plays the underdog part with the subtlety of a
pipe-bomb. A pity, some fine actors were involved- Brad Dourif, Michael
Wincott, Leland Orser. All wasted here. There are goofs throughout-
blasting an alien head, through it's mouth, then extracting a pristine
tongue/jaw. Christie has his hands by his side. Then not. Then back
again, etc. This movie can be viewed, just to spot the many goofs.
There are too many "hijinks", and extroverted attempts at "comedy".
Jeunet and Weaver had too much "creative control" and appear to have
made the film by constructing it around set piece shots and scenes:
"Let's have Ripley dreaming that she is covered in cheesecloth".
"Wouldnt it look brilliant to have a pit of squirming tentacles?".
"What about an Alien pushing the punishment button with it's inner jaw?
Not it's hands, it's dripping jaw!". "A robot in a Chapel! How very
subversive, and avant garde!". The end result is forced, and seems to
serve only these ostentatious "artistic" scenes. Logic is nowhere to be
found in this tale. Christie cuts himself loose and thereby sacrifices
himself, for his little buddy, for no apparent reason. He isn't
incapacitated, the acid on his face looks little worse than a bad case
of acne. Is he so vain, he would prefer death, to a future without a
modeling career? Joner displays his edgy, in-your-face disposition, by
blasting a spider, whose web he is inconvenienced by. Spiders on space
ships? What do they catch to eat? Never mind, it is symbolic of their
struggle against the aliens. Spider, bugs, aliens... get it? Tres
anarchistic! The production itself blows chunks. The movie starts off
well enough, but soon descends into a gaudy, psychedelic style. There
appear to be lights that serve no function other than to provide a
multi-coloured wash. The sets look far too big and are more "Poseidon
Adventure" than "Alien". The bombastic score reminds the viewer this is
a suspenseful movie, with a melodramatic- Dun, dun, dun ...DUNNNN! In
over the top leathers, Weaver seems to meander through the part,
falling back on a role she used from her last production. The
characterization of Ripley-clone, and "The Queen" from Snow White, are
awfully similar. There is actually a scene, where Weaver repeats the
same "signature" hand gestures, with Ryder, that she used in "SNOW
WHITE: A Tale of Terror", which was shot just prior to this. Perhaps
she was channeling the Evil Queen through Ripley? Or telling us that
Call is really a banished Princess? There is at least one dwarf. "What
were you expecting? Santa Claus?". No, but I wasn't expecting this
piece of ****, either. It makes Armageddon look cerebral. Buffy the
Alien Slayer. Fox really should have hired a director who spoke
English. Jeneut is not entirely to blame. Weaver and Whedon did little
to help. Was going to give it 2x stars. But just thinking about this
mess, makes me angry. It takes a dump on the Alien Trilogy.
Ripley: "We did it. We saved the Earth". Call: "What do we do, now?"...
Make another multi-million dollar, crappy rip off, from a now violated, cinematic legend, of course!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Budget constraints were a major issue at the beginning, throughout and
in post-production- and it shows. As an avid admirer of the Alien saga,
I am thoroughly disappointed with Alien4. And there are two major
reasons; one they did a very poor effort in explaining Ripley's
presence and Sigourney Weaver struggled to promote credibility to the
resurrection. And two, and most importantly, the image, the sound and
presence of the 'alien' was so removed from the past three movies it
The general idea of how hosts for the queen were obtained were interesting as was the 'biological weapon' angle. Apart from that I could almost weep when comparing this trash to the first three. 6/10 in hindsight is extremely generous and is more to do with the love of the franchise than any true indication of this movie's worth.
The last half of this movie is so bad I am embarrassed for the producers. The new alien is terrible and diminishes the power and chill of the alien. The supposed claustrophobic feel they were looking for was not realised, the aliens seemed pathetic in their tenacity to destroy human life and was opposite to what was established.
The producers tried to be too clever and ended up not being clever enough.
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