Alien: Resurrection (1997) / Sci Fi-Horror

MPAA Rated: R for strong violence, gore, grotesque images, and language
Running Time: 109 min.

Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Winona Rider, Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman, Gary Dourdan, Michael Wincott, Kim Flowers, Dan Hedaya, J.E. Freeman, Brad Dourif
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Screenplay: Joss Whedon
Review published May 24, 1999

200 years after her death, Ripley (Weaver, Death and the Maiden) is "resurrected" by being cloned out of her DNA samples. Unfortunately, the alien mother that was within her gets resurrected as well, and the scientists that do the cloning are more than pleased at discovering this fact. They aren't pleased for long when they decide to breed their own aliens for study and these new aliens break out of their containment, threatening to kill everyone on board. The worst part is that the ship is heading for Earth.

I have mixed feelings about the idea of making this fourth film. On the one hand, after the disappointment of Ripley's death in Alien 3, it's nice to have her back (sort of) where she belongs. On the other, it's unfortunate that Weaver had to return to the defining role of her career amid a fangoria-fest of sheer ugliness I could have gladly done without.

The first Alien film had a wonderful sense of atmosphere, the second, Aliens, was a rollercoaster ride of action, the third installment was a compelling, if heavily flawed attempt at bringing something profound to the series, but this fourth chapter ditches what remnants of credibility the series had left in favor of stomach-churning gore. The directing by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, Delicatessen) is stylish but rather dull, with almost every shot symmetrical, and with characters constantly looking directly at the camera. The set and cinematography are grim shades of brown and gray, with performances just as unappealing, with the exception of the always-excellent Weaver, the film's sole saving grace.

The script by Joss Whedon (Toy Story, Titan A.E.) starts off bland and talky, eventually getting some of its footing toward the middle, when the humans are being chased on their way to the escape ship. However, any signs that the film will pay off ends by the last half hour, which is nothing less than a grotesque barf-a-thon, with some of the most disgusting displays of horrific mutations ever to disgrace a major motion picture.

Alien: Resurrection is a thoroughly unpleasant experience, and a terrible end to a once fascinating science fiction franchise.

-- Followed by two prequels, Alien vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.

Qwipster's rating:

1999 Vince Leo