“Ellen Ripley died trying to wipe this species out. For all intents and purposes, she succeeded.” – General Perez, Alien: Resurrection (1997)
After the mesmerizingly poor show that was Alien 3 (1992), it can only be up from here. Right? Right, actually. Maybe it’s because I watched them back to back, but I really did enjoy Alien: Resurrection. Now I know that opinion puts me in a very odd situation. The third instalment in the trilogy was quite terrible to say the least, but it was a fifty fifty split between those who enjoyed it and those who despised it. For the fourth film, it got significantly worse.
The director of Amelie (2001) directed this film. To say I was surprised is an understatement to say the least. They are indeed two extremely different films. Jean-Pierre Jeunet is quite definitely full of surprises. Obviously this does explain how Dominique Pinon got a part in this film, due to the two working on Amelie together. There’s nothing wrong with nepotism, but it would’ve helped if Pinon’s performance was above average. I must admit his character being in a wheelchair was pretty cool. He has some great action sequences early on in the film and to be fair does have a fair bit of dialogue. It’s just a problem that the delivery isn’t all that good.
Ron Perlman did in fact save this film for me. Obviously the first time I saw him on the screen I was blown away with how genuinely stupid his performance was. Get over that zany weirdness from the beginning of his performance and you do in fact get a rather great performance from him. He begins to calm down as the film progresses and does deliver some pretty solid acting. The chemistry with him and the other cast of characters is noticeably good too. Although the chemistry is good, there are no remarkable lines at all. Not one line of this film is memorable whatsoever. I had to go onto iMDB to get a quote for this review, and it’s not the best now is it? The original two films are best remembered for their fantastic quotes. Such a shame that the writing isn’t up to scratch.
As far as the cast go in general, they are indeed quite good. There is, however, one cast member that is a real out of place member. You can probably tell I’m about to say Winona Ryder, because it’s quite obvious her performance is quite dreadful. I mean, it’s bearable, especially considering she isn’t in the film for all that long sometimes. She’s a synth, that’s the big reveal of this film. Now I can’t apologise for spoilers because this film is eighteen years old. To be quite honest, that came out of literally nowhere as a plot twist and I really enjoyed it. Sorry for spoiling it, but that’s not my problem.
There’s only so much you can do with a half decent script. Luckily Jean-Pierre Jeunet does his absolute best to make a mediocre script work. His direction throughout is surprisingly enjoyable in both style and structure. The beginning of the film did throw me through quite the loop, especially considering it felt more like Spaceballs (1987) than an Alien franchise film. This was probably through how stupid the cloning segment felt, and also General Perez. I’ll give credit where credit is due, Perez has some amazing scenes in the initial Xenomorph outbreak.
Although I did mention how comical the opening of the film was, there were some genuinely great scenes. The Xenomorph breeding room and how they adapt to being contained is genuinely fantastic and creepy in so many ways. For the most part these early scenes and the initial outbreak of the Xenomorph’s is marvellous. Actually now that I think about it it’s one of the only films in the Alien franchise to show some character arc for the Xenomorph’s. We see them develop to their surroundings and adapt to new situations. It’s genuinely quite impressive, instead of it just being a big and scary plodding monster we see that predator like nature. On the other hand I thought it was rather weird that this film wanted me to emotionally attach myself to the Xenomorph’s. It was rather easy to do, because I like the design and so on, but it was an odd choice.
Some of the ideas in this film were quite bad. Obviously I was on the fence about the whole “Ripley is a clone” narrative, but it wasn’t too bad. What did throw me through a loop was the whole super strength type thing. I’m not saying it annoyed me, but it fucking annoyed me. It’s such a cheap sell out move to have that, isn’t it? There’s a scene right at the start of the film where Ripley rips a hole in a wall to escape a Xenomorph. Luckily this isn’t shown all that much and to be honest I’m not exactly sure why it was in the film anyway. It’s not all that important to the film, but it’s still in the film and I hate it. I truly hate what this film does to Ripley as a character, but overall it is a fairly good film.
So that was the end of Ellen Ripley’s story, for now. It’s had its ups (Alien) and it’s obvious downs that I refuse to mention. As a standalone film, there are some things I really didn’t like about Ripley’s character development. Honestly that’s what is stopping me from giving this a higher rating. Aside from that though, this is a solid action film. More or less on the same wavelength as Aliens (1986), Jean-Pierre Jeunet brings a very solid film to the table. On the whole the cast do very well and I’m surprised more than one of the poor bastards even survives. Some of the new Xenomorph’s are genuinely phenomenal to see as well, including some very nice designs and better CGI.
When I first put the disc into my Xbox, I really wasn’t looking forward to Alien: Resurrection. Let’s be fair, how could I be after watching something so dreadful. Alien 3 (1992) is an exceptionally dreadful film that degraded my opinion of this film. However, I don’t know if Resurrection improved or degraded. One the one hand my hatred of its predecessor could lead to me liking literally anything that wasn’t Alien 3. On the other hand my vehement hatred of that shit show could have extended into the sequel. It’s a true mystery that I don’t think I’ll ever care enough to solve.