Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writer: Joss Whedon
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, Brad Dourif
Summary: 200 years after her death, Ellen Ripley is resurrected as a powerful human/alien hybrid clone. Together with a crew of space pirates, she must once again fight the deadly aliens and prevent them from reaching Earth.
The fourth installments of a franchise rarely work well and are absurdly disappointing Alien: Resurrection remains the worst of the original four entries of the profitable ones extraterrestrial Franchise. It didn’t have to be like this. Ridley Scott’s 1979 original is a superb example of sci-fi horror crafted with great care and craftsmanship, and James Cameron’s 1986 sequel is a breathtaking action-thriller that never lets up. In both films, Sigourney Weaver is a great heroine, especially in her Oscar-nominated role Foreigner. With the second installment’s strong and moving ending, the possibilities of where the franchise could go next were endless.
But then, six years later, came the much maligned foreigner 3, the directorial debut of David Fincher. It always strikes me as odd that one of my favorite directors alive should manage such a monumental disappointment in his first film. Sure, there are a few scenes from foreigner 3 this works well and Weaver is still at the top of her game, but the film doesn’t give her much to work with. I will always wonder what direction the franchise could have gone if a better third installment was made that was a hit with critics and at the box office. Perhaps more time and care could have been invested in the eventual fourth installment, rather than the studio aiming for a faster turnaround than the previous two sequels.
As it turns out, that’s mostly hated Alien: Resurrection has not improved 25 years later. It still has a bizarre storyline that only occasionally makes sense, the late Ellen Ripley, who is eventually resurrected as a new human-alien clone who aids a group of space pirates, including Winona Ryder’s character named Call, against another deadly one fight extraterrestrial species. Joss Whedon’s screenplay certainly has many ideas, but they are such a jumble that the narrative never finds a desirable rhythm, the actors often look confused, and any emotion the story could possibly convey to the viewer is lost.
In the months leading up to its release – in June 1997 – there was much anticipation for the film. For example, many people bought tickets for Speed 2: cruise control just to look at that Alien: Resurrection Trailer before quickly exiting the theater. Many probably thought after the disappointment foreigner 3 that this time more attention would be paid to making an action-adventure that would please viewers and satisfy fans. Hiring someone like Joss Whedon might have made sense at the time for his work on the scripts speed and toy story to play a part in her and his successes Buffy the vampire slayer was poised to change the face of television, but the man clearly needed more writing collaboration to give the narrative a fresher perspective, more focus, and characters we care about.
Another misstep was the choice of Jean-Pierre Jeunet as director. He’s someone capable of exciting, visionary films, as he would later prove in 2001 amelie and 2004s A very long commitment. But a studio action blockbuster doesn’t seem to be in its wheelhouse. So much from Alien: Resurrection is somber and dark, the scenes of stilted dialogue are often filmed in ways that don’t bother us. Even Sigourney Weaver’s behind-the-back basketball shot, which she took without the aid of technology, is a poor shot, the basketball going out of frame long enough to give the impression that the ball went in the basket was a special effect . In the end, there are many ingredients here for a successful and compelling film, but Jeunet’s ultra-serious approach to the material makes much of the film a drudgery rather than a blast of genre fun.
The ensemble cast put together for the film is solid – Ron Perlman is outstanding – and Sigourney Weaver is always a pleasure to see in one extraterrestrial film, but her revival in this narrative feels contrived from the start, her character’s death at the end of Part Three ultimately being the more appropriate farewell. It’s sad that Weaver’s last appearance in a extraterrestrial Movie will likely be this one because it’s the franchise’s low point. 2012 Prometheus and 2017 Alien: Covenant aren’t great films, but they were steps in the right direction as Ridley Scott’s directing touch felt everywhere, even if the scripts left a lot to be desired. Alien: Resurrection has its moments of weirdness and creativity, but it’s mostly just a throwaway film that didn’t need to be made.