Alien: Resurrection (1997)
It's been more than 200 years...The beginning has just started.
Today, we try something a bit different. It's a new year, so we are going to try out a bit of a new format - be it just for this one movie, or all them to come, I haven't decided. Regardless, what a better way to start this off then the last movie in the Alien franchise left for me to review. The special edition DVD has sat there next to the others for some time now, asking me to put it up here. Well, Resurrection, better take a shower because it's time for you to put on your best show.
The plot here is simple: 200 years later, idiots decide it's a good idea to clone up Prison-planet Ripley so that they can extract themselves some Xenomorph Queen and breed themselves some fine trainable weapons. As expected, things quickly go south, leaving the fate of possibly the entire universe to a rag-tag pirate crew and a slightly "altered" clone of Ripley. Now, on the positive side, the blending of alien and human going on is a bit of a nice twist - although mostly only on the human side of things. On the negative, it feels really tacked on that we had to go as far as cloning a person who threw themselves into a pit of molten metals since apparently it's not believed that the franchise could continue without Sigourney Weaver involved, regardless of still having a planet full of eggs from the original movie.
I do enjoy the new alien-type Ripley though. It's a nice twist on the setup that treats her to some minor special abilities - like a bit of acid blood - that can come in handy later on. That said, a lot of the time she feels less like a indomitable force to be reckoned with as her appearance in Aliens and instead feels a bit more "covered in plot armor." Mostly all the marines are snuffed out in a single scene, leaving only the crew of the pirate ship - or "knock-off Serenity" as I like to call it - to be your on screen fun. In that regard I do enjoy Perlman, Pinon, and Dourdan's characters who are a nice mix of mean machine and amusing jester. Performance wise though, Weaver and Ryder take up the brunt of it - particularly when they interact with each other (some of which is left out of the standard edition).
Another positive thing with this movie is the effects department. Props, costumes, and general effects are all quite well done across the board - with only a few exceptions. The weaponry has a similar feel to what we are used to from the franchise although still altered and changed, with probably the neatest being the build-a-gun shotgun used by Pinon's character. Xenomorph look beautiful (except for one of the scenes alluded to before, with rather shoddy handiwork on an escape pod), even if they do have far floppier mini-mouths. The ending alien creature also has an incredibly expressive face for a creature, managing to pull off the "cute puppy dog" look as well as "I hope you like getting eaten" angry face..
It's not all sunshine and rainbows however. As just mentioned, there are a few scenes where the effects degrade something ferocious. When it shows a xenomorph crawling on and into an escape pod, it's noticeably poor composition. The explosion of the finale also looks unremarkable, which is a shame. Although most of the weaponry is good looking, they also don't tend to do a whole lot as far as usage goes unfortunately. The alien's blood, as I feel it mostly belongs in here as well, is rather inconsistent in this entry. In one scene, it's burning skin, or burning through three to four floors - and in another, it splatters everywhere and doesn't seem to do anything at all. Sure, it's probably just "irrelevant" damage to the ship, but it seems a bit like it's just thrown aside.
Audio here is a fun mix. Musically, it has some tones that feel really reminiscent of the franchise proper but nothing really that stands out to keep in your head. Voice tracks are all heard well, and actors do a pretty good job in selling their parts in general. Aliens have a wider variety of sound effects as well, giving a sort of pseudo-identity to at least two of the three caged aliens earlier on. To be sure, the biggest compliment to the audio department goes on those brutal screams from the finale, which very well sounds like they may have tortured something to get that sound somewhere.
Although the plot is kinda meh despite trying to do some new things with the franchise, it still manages to have some good plot holes. A character randomly appearing behind a locked door when it was supposedly the only way to get there being one of the biggest culprits, but also in the way it deals with some characters. When the pirate ship's captain dies off, it's literally because he wanders off by himself to just pick up a bunch of guns - while his entire crew and even the marines are all making haste to get off a ship where all hell is breaking loose even! It seems like a minor thing, but it can really lead to "I don't care if these people die" in a movie with characters that already feel rather expendable. There's also a few moments when the movie feels like it can't decide if it wants to be serious or a comedy - and not just something to inject a little humor in there, it has a few moments handled like that already. There's times where the overall sexual symbolism is handled rather ham-fisted as well. I suppose this is somewhat fitting with the dark erotic designs from Giger's original works, but it feels out of place with how it's presented.
My final thoughts? It's the movie I never asked for. As mixed as an opinion a person might have about Alien 3, it was a fine ending point for Ripley's tale in the franchise. Resurrection would have been the perfect launching point to bring in fresh blood, allowing the franchise to continue to grow with even more memorable characters - even if it was something as phoned-in feeling as Ripley's daughter searching for her mother (something that would be done later on in the video game Alien: Isolation). The plot and it's handling feels a bit of a mess, but some of the characters still manage to be cool enough and the effects manage to be mostly good enough that it's still watchable. It's not gonna be liked by a ton of people, and certainly nags at the bottom slot in the franchise as far as my overall enjoyment goes, but it's not all bad.