"My mommy always said there are no monsters, no real ones, but
there are," Ellen Ripley tells the audience in the opening to ALIEN:
RESURRECTION, the latest installment in the ALIEN saga.
ALIEN and ALIENS are the two of the scariest movies ever made.
Most horror films are horrible with the emphasis on the grossness
rather than the fright. ALIEN and ALIENS, on the other hand, are
smartly written science fiction exercises in terror. After the
disastrous and depressingly bleak ALIEN 3 and after the death of the
story's lead, it might appear to the casual viewer than the series was
over. Au contraire. Movie moguls are fully empowered to revive the
dead for the sake of the bottom line.
In ALIEN: RESURRECTION an undercover branch of the United States
military takes blood from the place where Ripley died and clones up a
new Ripley so they can harvest the alien inside her chest. (One of the
best parts of the story is the scene in the laboratory when Ripley
comes face to face with large tubes filled with failed attempts at
cloning her DNA.)
Sigourney Weaver, who else, appears again as the alien hunter par
excellence. This time she smiles a lot with her in-joke that she is
now partly alien herself. Imbued with extraterrestrial strength, she
fights both man and alien.
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, whose last film was the imaginative
THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, and writer Joss Whedon from TOY STORY stage
ALIEN: RESURRECTION with innovation abounding. Who would have ever
thought of having an underwater scene in space? And the way the
meanest of the monsters is killed is effective both visually and as
part of the storyline.
The writing starts off crisp and mockingly funny. "It's a queen,"
Ripley explains to the crew of the now inhabited ship. "She'll breed;
you'll die." (In another delicious bit of humor, you'll be relieved to
know that the Home Shopping Network, this time selling weapons, is
still available in the future.)
Joining Ripley is Winona Ryder playing Annalee Call, who is
described as a "little girl playing pirates." Annalee wants to wipe
out the aliens, but Ripley questions her motives and generally seems to
have her own hidden agenda. Once a valiant alien fighter, the new part
human and part alien Ripley keeps a mysterious smile on her face
throughout most of the picture.
The military scientists violate rule number one of alien capture.
Big, ugly alien monsters do not take kindly to confinement. When
suitably riled, they can and will break out of any enclosure. Once
they are out all hell breaks loose and the show degenerates into the
standard man shoots at monster, monster eats man scenario you've seen
many times before.
The whole long middle section of the film is repetitious, tiring,
and too slow. Only in the last act does the picture finally pick its
genre. Being sometimes grotesque but never scary, the movie gives up
and decides, correctly, that it can be a very funny space comedy.
Although not nearly as humorous or effective as STARSHIP TROOPERS,
which never tries to be anything more than a spoof, ALIEN: RESURRECTION
did have the audience at the press screening I attended in stitches
towards the end. If only the show had made up its mind from the get-go
that humor was its salvation, it could have been much better.
So you ask, do they lay the groundwork for an ALIEN 5?
Absolutely. You are left knowing where the next episode will be set
and where the monster will come from. Any other silly questions?Copyright © 1997 Steve Rhodes