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.