Surely an Alien movie from the director of Delicatessen and City Of The Lost Children and written by Joss Whedon has GOT to be a home run, right? The creepily beautiful visuals? A knowing script? After the hellish production maelstrom of Alien³ that provided different results depending who you ask, this fourth movie in the drooly, drippy Xenomorph franchise even has the balls to bring back Sigourney Weaver as a previously-dead Ripley and has stocked it’s cast with weird looking character actors. And *ahem* sorry, Winona Ryder?
Anyway, this all means that the series regained some sort of stability again, right? RIGHT? No, unfortunately not, as the finished product feel weirdly bland an inessential despite the fact it resurrects it’s lead star from her fiery oblivion.
It’s the future, but, like, way further into the future than we were before and DNA from a blood sample taken from Ripley on the prison planet while she was carrying an embryo of an alien queen is being used to create clones. Recreating an infected Ripley, scientists on a remote military ship have successfully separated her from her would-be chestburster, grown a full sized Queen in captivity, and kept the Ripley-clone around just for study and scientific kicks. Also, if their set up wasn’t iffy enough, they’ve hired a motley crew of criminal space jockey’s to hijack hypersleeping crew members from their ships to use them as breeding stock for their eager new face huggers…
Eventually everyone escapes and both military personnel and the smugglers team up with a not entirely human Ripley in order to escape the now-alien infested ship, but the queen has some secrets lurking in her new DNA too and once it’s born it could spell the end for everyone.
Alien: Resurrection is somewhat of a missed opportunity across the board as it’s writer (before extensive script polishes) and director aren’t really utilised to their full potential, a fact driven home but them subsequently going on to do bigger and better things (director Jean-Pierre Jeunet went and did Amélie, while Whedon created Buffy) and not much translates well to the screen.
The plot feels more like leftover ideas from a Dark Horse spin off comic and the characters are generic tough guys or weird science nerds, albeit ones played by Ron Perlman, Michael Wincott, Dan Hedaya and Brad Dourif and all the interesting ones get killed first while a miscast Ryder (pre-Stranger Things so it seemed far odder then than it does now ..) stands around giving everyone the Bambi eye. It’s episodic as hell too, with the characters wandering blindly from room to room like we’re watching some intergalactic cross between Scooby Doo and The Poseidon Adventure.
It would all be worth it if what the whole was paying off actually wasn’t such a silly non-event. As the once-majestic Alien queen lays on her back with her legs in the air, giving a vaguely human-esque birth to a mutated Newborn, we anxiously await what nightmare will burst forth from the giant outside uterus (literally a womb with a view). However, far from being a fascinating next phase in the xenomorph’s life cycle, what emerges strongly resembles an inside-out muppet slathered in KY jelly. Bluntly put, the Newborn is fucking stupid and blows what decent moments the film may have had clean out of the metaphorical airlock.
Which is a shame because in the rare moments Alien: Resurrection pulls it’s thumb from it’s anus, it boasts a couple of stand out scenes, the most notable being an extended, panic inducing, underwater set sequence and a genuinely disturbing moment where Ripley finds out exactly why she bears a brand marked number 8.
But despite Weaver being magnificent as always and some interesting embryonic ideas that may or may not influenced Whedon’s Firefly, what we’re left with is silly gore, unnecessary John Woo- style gunplay and a plot so unmemorable, it’s as airless a void as space itself.