Alien: Resurrection (1997) review

Alien Resurrection posterDirector: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman, Brad Dourif

RIPLEY – “There’s a monster in your chest. These guys hijacked your ship, and they sold your cryo tube to this human. And he put an alien inside of you. It’s a really nasty one. And in a few hours it’s gonna burst through your ribcage, and you’re gonna die. Any questions?

PURVIS – “Who are you?”

RIPLEY – “I’m the monster’s mother.”

There are some people who feel writer Joss Whedon can do no wrong. To those people I remove my cap, stare soberly at them and nod my head in the direction of Alien Resurrection, at which point blood streams freely from their eyes as they collapse in a heap, screaming indecipherable slogans of bile and malice.

To be fair, that would maybe be a bit of an overreaction on their behalf, because Alien Resurrection isn’t exactly the worst film ever made. It’s just the worst Alien film ever made.

With Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) well and truly dead at the end of the third film having launched herself into a massive pit of lava, it was always going to have to be a massively hokey twist that would bring her back for a fourth film. Resurrection doesn’t disappoint.

Sinead O'Connor's pre-gig ritual was unorthodox, to say the least
Sinead O’Connor’s pre-gig ritual was unorthodox, to say the least

‘Ripley’ wakes up in a massive ship, 200 years after the events of Alien 3. But she isn’t the real Ripley, she’s a clone of the one who died on the prison planet in that third movie. How can they clone someone if they’re lying at the bottom of a lava tank, you may ask? They don’t: they clone her from drops of her blood found elsewhere on the planet.

(Of course, Ripley didn’t actually bleed at any point in Alien 3 since, as she was pregnant with a queen Alien, the Alien on the ship never tried to attack her. Maybe it was ‘towel time’. But whatever. I’m not going to argue minor details in a film that gets far more ridiculous later on.)

This second Ripley isn’t exactly like the old one who pegged it centuries ago, mind. She’s a new and improved Ripley, made with a brand new formula (remember when Milky Ways in Britain introduced the white bit? It’s a bit like that).

Somehow her DNA has been mixed with that of an Alien, giving her some of the creature’s traits – acidic blood, super strength, ridiculous pain tolerance and the like.

See the resemblance? You shouldn't. Go and see a doctor, you're clearly mad
See the resemblance? You shouldn’t. Go and see a doctor, you’re clearly mad

Anyway, never mind that, Ripley’s got bigger fish to fry (presumably by bleeding some of her chip fat blood on them). She’s onboard the Auriga, a ship conducting all manner of dodgy experiments.

Just like the real Ripley, the cloned version was also pregnant with a Queen Alien, but the big scar on new Ripley’s chest is telling: her Queen’s been removed and is in the process of growing fairly rapidly.

This isn’t the only experiment the ship is conducting, though. It’s also managed to get hold of a bunch of Alien eggs, and after getting some dodgy ‘cargo’ (actual humans) from a group of space bandits, they get Facehugging and start spawning some proper warrior Aliens.

The aim of all this is studying the Aliens and seeing what makes them tick. Unsurprisingly, it turns out what makes them tick is busting out of their pishy little cells and going on a rampage.

"Ryder? I nearly crushed her! HAHAHA I bet you've never heard that one before, love"
“Ryder? I nearly crushed her! HAHAHA I bet you’ve never heard that one before, love”

It’s up to Ripley, then, to help the space bandits avoid the Aliens and try to escape to safety somehow. But with her Alien blood, can she really be trusted? (Yes, as it turns out.)

It’s okay to feel sorry for Joss Whedon, but not too much. He’s stated in the past that he had very different actors in mind when writing the script, so for example when he was writing the character of the seemingly innocent scientist who later goes a bit mental, he didn’t expect Brad Dourif (aka Mr ‘I Go A Bit Mental In Films’) to be cast in the role and ruin the twist.

However, he’s not entirely without blame, as regardless of casting some of the sillier ideas in the film are indeed part of the script he wrote. Ripley playing basketball with Ron Perlman? That was Whedon. Aliens taking part in an underwater chase sequence before trying to attack a paraplegic tied to another guy’s back as they both climb a ladder? All Whedon.

His master-stroke, however, is the insane ending in which it emerges that the Queen Alien, now fully grown, has inherited some of Ripley’s human traits and is able to give birth like a mammal instead of laying eggs. This results in a truly bizarre half-human, half-Alien hybrid that is one of the most ridiculous sights I’ve seen. Sorry Joss, you can’t blame that one on casting.

WHAT IN THE REALM OF ALL THAT IS FUCK IS THIS THING
WHAT IN THE REALM OF ALL THAT IS FUCK IS THIS THING

Alien 3 was a slight let-down but by at least ending with Ripley killing herself and sacrificing herself to destroy the Alien species it would have been a decent enough way to bring the series to a close.

By refusing to let Ripley die and adding a number of ridiculous twists to the tale, Resurrection takes what was once a highly respected sci-fi series and turns it into hokey popcorn flick nonsense.

If you just want to switch your mind off for two hours and enjoy a silly creature feature, then Alien: Resurrection should have you covered as it isn’t terrible at what it does.

The problem is that what it does is a million miles from what Alien and Aliens did, and in that respect it’s a massively disappointing way to end the Alien saga.

trev_newtrev_new

HOW CAN I SEE IT?
As with the rest of the films in the Alien series, there are loads of ways to see Alien: Resurrection. You can get the DVD on its own here or get it as part of the excellent Alien Quadrilogy boxset here. You can also get the single Blu-ray edition on its own here or – and, again, this is what I recommend – as part of the Alien Anthology Blu-ray collection which can be bought for stupidly cheap here.

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