johnlink ranks ALIEN: RESURRECTION (1997)

Was able to speed through the first three ALIEN films in swift order earlier this year. Just never found myself to eager to finish up the quadrilogy. I did see the fourth film way back when it was in theaters. I remember being underwhelmed as a 15 year old, and nothing I’d heard since made me feel like teen me was wrong In fact, the bit at the end with the window always stuck in my mind as one of the first times that teenage me thought that something in a film was so implausible that I couldn’t really enjoy it. But, hey, I’m a completist, so I figured I would wrap the series up anyway.

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I watched ALIEN: RESURRECTION (1997) on 5.15.15. It was my second viewing of the film, and first in 18 years.

The ALIEN series is most synonymous with its individual directors. Going from Scott to Cameron to Fincher isn’t too shabby. And the fourth film has Jean-Pierre Jeunet at the helm. he is no slouch, most known for AMELIE, but the last in the original set of ALIEN films is less known because of Jeunet and more known because it was written by a young writer named Joss Whedon. Whedon’s mark on this series may not be his most memorable moment. The ALIEN series was never about witticism and contemporary references. Hearing that the infamous Weyland-Yutani was “bought out by Wal-Mart” is not the series’ finest moment.

This ALIEN film borrows heavily from its previous chapters. Another synthetic and another chest burst. Another team of people with at least one human who is more dangerous than the aliens. Like the second movie, this fourth one has a whole bunch of aliens running around causing havoc.

There are some new bits. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is now a clone with a bunch of the alien’s DNA helping to make her a super human. Her team has a whole bunch of new characters like the young Ripley replacement (Winona Ryder), the tough captain (Michael Wincott), the typical tough guy (Ron Perlman), a wonderful super soldier (Raymond Cruz) and some others. The military has a general who thinks he can control the aliens but is in over his head (Don Hedaya).

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The movie even taps into some of the action/sci-fi icons of its own decade. One scene of the aliens learning to ‘test the fence’ is either a rip-off of JURASSIC PARK or an homage, depending on your generosity. A military dude being offed by some cold air looks suspiciously like some of the major scenes from TERMINATOR 2.

But, ultimately, this is just another ALIEN film; and an average one. Ripley as clone is not super interesting. Even as she learns and remembers, there is a disconnect from what made her so likable. A late scene tries to reference her bad dreams and her memories of Newt, but it all feels too late to care. The team isn’t bad, but it is cliche. Some of the action bits are nice, particularly an underwater chase with some shark-aliens and an escape off a ladder. So this isn’t a movie without any value. It’s merely a movie which isn’t up to the supremely high bar set by the first two films. When looked at in the context of the ALIEN films this is certainly disappointing. When looked at as the fourth movie in a horror franchise, it isn’t the worst of that category.

Jeanette starts the film with imagery being in focus. Ripley is literally born again out of a cloth-placenta. Later she is submerged into the alien and reunited with the thing she ‘mothered’. The music gets all epic and grandiose, as if we are supposed to recognize this as a supreme moment the series is leading to. Instead, we can’t feel like this is a stunt. Whedon’s script is not without merit (and as a young writer he most certainly didn’t have final say), but it rarely transcends that of a late-in-the-series horror derivative. It’s deaths are often gimmicky – wether a guy pulls out his own brain before dying, or a nobody uses the institutional knowledge of the series to have his chest-buster be a final act of sacrifice – and are used for horror bits rather than human bits.

So this isn’t as all-terrible as my memory had warped it into. It has some merit. The aliens look as good as they ever have, even if the series goes with more special effects. Some creativity is woven through even if it is often buried under the more glaring recants. Does it jump the shark in its third act birth? Yeah, certainly that could be said (though the worst part of this scene is not the the idea of it but the cheesy character narration going on as it happens). But it’s not such a terrible moment when considering it’s actual just closing the loop on what the film started.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough about this film. It’s a completists’ necessity. It isn’t the word thing that ever happened, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the series’ creators wouldn’t have minded if it was never put to film.

SCORES

FILM: 4; MOVIE: 7; ACTING: 5; WRITING: 3

4+7+5+3+0=19

FINAL SCORE: 4.75 out of 10

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~ by johnlink00 on May 16, 2015.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks ALIEN: RESURRECTION (1997)”

  1. The 4th Alien was a fun watch, and while it really brought in a more comic book action vibe to it. I liked Jeunet’s visuals it reminded me of City of Lost Children. I liked that Ripley was different from previous versions because she wasn’t Ripley. BTW I nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award. https://videovortex.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/the-vern-honors-some-great-online-critics/

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