During the actual experience of watching Alien: Resurrection I was so caught up in Sigourney Weaver’s quest for her identity and her interesting personal dilemmas, while being surrounded by the fascinating and cool looking visuals that are the calling card of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, that I didn’t realize until later how stupid the whole thing was. Chalk up one more for Sigourney’s acting and chalk up one more reason to stop with sequels already.
I enjoyed myself more than I did during Alien3 (directed by David Fincher, of Seven and The Game fame, so maybe I should see that one again), but Alien:R was not packed with powerhouse actors, save Ms. Weaver. It made me realize again how truly elegant Aliens (the 2nd one) is. Like Michael Biehn’s Hicks in Aliens and Charles S. Dutton’s character in Alien3, thinly drawn characters can take on all 3 dimensions with the proper actor. But with the exception of Dan Hedaya as the general, Alien Resurrection’s secondary characters were FAR less interesting than the machinery they used.
Jeunet and his D.P. Darius Khondji (Evita, Seven) definitely have a trademark look, best seen in The City of Lost Children, which, I’m sorry to say, I HATED. One more reason to give Fincher’s stab at the Alien series a second look. Resurrection added nothing to the mythology of this fabulous species, it dropped a nuke on earth and bent science far past the pardonable levels, and it wasn’t even all that exciting. It was sensual and weird – if only it had had a decent story!
I felt as though the underappreciated art department killed themselves just barely making deadlines, made all this great stuff, and Jeunet saw it for the first time the day of shooting, so he drags the camera over it lovingly, destroying the pace and even some of the illusion of the great sets and props. Sure, we get a looooong look at some very good work, but aren’t we supposed to have our hearts pumping in terror right about now? Oh well!
I was very wrapped up in Sigourney’s inner journey and her trying to come to terms with being a resurrected clone with only partial memories and all kinds of new and exciting abilities. They cloned her from some goo left over from her body in Alien3, wherein she was the host to an alien queen pupa. All well and good, except writer Joss Whedon forgets that parasites don’t genetically fuse with their hosts, making the whole blended biology thing kind of retarded. I have liked some of Whedon’s work (Toy Story, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) in the past so I am going to assume that for this film someone told him what to write.
Goofiness ensues involving lots of unpleasant people we never really get to know, some bitchin’ underwater CGI shots, and the execrable Winona Ryder obviously miscast and miswritten and just awful. Why they felt the need to have on-land aliens computer generated when 12 years ago they had perfectly gorgeous puppets is beyond me.
I started to care as they swam for their lives out of the frying pan and into the egg-infested fire, but then Winona shows up, mumbling valley girl android dialogue and saving the day, sort of, in a very stupid and unheroic way, and well, I stopped caring altogether. Don’t even ask about the mammalian hybrid nonsense at the end. Despite the science snafus and all that, are not these aliens kick-ass enough, that you have to make something new and less scary? Oh and did I mention that Winona Ryder, once deeply revered by myself after Heathers, was horrible?
I can’t even say it was all because of the material (some of it was). But damn the alien containment apparatus and the cryo chambers and wheelchairs and all that stuff was cool looking! And I really felt Sigourney’s pain. Maybe it came from watching a superawesome series crash and burn like…like…the Batman series. And still we are left with an opening for yet another sequel. Please, Jim Cameron, Tim Burton, someone we trust, please take the reins and put this alien baby to sleep.
*Note: The film was orginally rated “Dollar Movie;” that price availability has since gone the way of the dodo.
MPAA Rating R -sci-fi violence & gore, and for language.
Release date 12/8/97
Time in minutes 108
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Studio 20th Century Fox