Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Dominique Pinon,
Ron Perlman, Michael Wincott, Gary Dourdan
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic Transfer
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: Four trailers, featurette
Length: 108 Minutes
Release Date: June 1, 1999
There is a legitimate danger inherent in every successful film series that the temptation will be to push it one movie too far, and release an entry that is so terrible, it might leave a bad taste in the audience's mouth for the whole series. It seemed that the Alien films might have escaped that fate, when our heroine Ripley (Weaver) plunged to her death at the end of the third movie. After all, an Alien movie without Weaver would be as ill advised as one without the creature.
Guess what? They're both back. Ripley...believe it or not.
Some two hundred years after the events of the last film, a team of scientists have cloned Ripley. Why? Because "the company" throughout all of the movies has desperately wanted to breed the creatures as a biological weapon. Ripley had died with a queen embryo inside her. You may well ask, even if they had a sample of Ripley's DNA and could clone her, how they could possibly also duplicate the foreign entity growing inside her, but you won't get an answer.
The clone is a success, and they have their queen. Now all they need is an illegal cargo of human hosts, which is provided by a motley renegade crew led by Call (Ryder). For some reason, they leave Ripley alive, even though they have what they wanted for her.
Well, I'm sure you guessed that they lose containment of the aliens, and much violence and mayhem ensues. You expect that from the series. What's disappointing is just how silly the film is, from start to finish. I can't understand what made Weaver decide to do this film. Ripley is not herself anymore, and instead of the strong, real heroine we have followed through the films, she becomes a goofy, unemotional, one note character that we can no longer identify with. The writers also gave her some of the creature's attributes, like physical strength and sense of smell (though it's hard not to cringe watching her sniff the crew members). Watching her toy with a basketball is pure farce.
The crew is a failure as well. I think director Jeunet thought he could recreate the funny and enjoyable bunch from Aliens, but what he came up with was a ridiculous and flat mix of uninteresting characters that never inspire us to care about their fates. Even Ryder is nothing more in this movie than a lifeless doe eyed presence.
Even the legendary look of the films is kind of lost here. There is nothing much interesting to look at in this movie, save for one cool underwater sequence. Even the space scenes in this movie look unrealistic, like matte paintings.
This may be the last entry in this series, and it's a shame it has to end this way. This is just poor filmmaking, nothing more, nothing less.
This is a THX anamorphic transfer, but despite being the newer film, it's not quite as good as Alien 3. Some of the colors are flat, and objects tend to take on the tones of the predominating colors. The images are also a little softer in this film than in the previous ones. Still, there is no grain, and no compression artifacts evident.
The 5.1 soundtrack is terrific, no complaints there. In fact, this is one of the series' better offerings in terms of dynamic range and full, discreet uses of all channels.
There are trailers for all four movies and a short featurette, which is not as insightful or as interesting as the one included on Alien 3.
Alien Resurrection is a classic case of one movie too many in an otherwise good series. It's simply a film that should not have been made. Our last memory of Ripley should have been her heroic leap to her death in the third movie, instead of her crawling and sniffing and twirling a basketball.