Alien: Resurrection

alien_resurrection_ver3It is strange that a story that came from a single source, Joss Whedon’s screenplay, can feel as tonally disjointed as the previous Alien outing which was some devil’s spawn of several competing ideas, none of which were ever made into one complete shooting script.

But Alien: Resurrection is disjointed, oddly cast with weird characters – and not weird in a delightful or amusing way.

As the title implies, there is a lot of resurrecting going on. Ripley, dead at the end of the previous film, is brought back to life along with the alien that was inside her. She’s cloned, you see. And has these genetic memories, because this is science fiction. She’s brought to existence by evil military scientists who are still all hubrisy about turning the alien into a weapon. It has always been the weakest element in the Alien series, this notion that an uncontrollable creature of unknown origin and literally alien properties would be “the ultimate weapon.” A weapon is only as useful as it is controllable – nukes that would go off at random are worse than useless, biological weapons, and aren’t just avoided for ethical reasons, but because the gun that will just as easily kill your own soldiers when they fire it is not that great a gun.

But, still, evil scientists and evil military guys (taking over from the evil corporate Weyland-Yutani) want to make their own aliens, and to do so they get humans to experiment on from a group of pirates, including the evil-mouthed Michael Wincott, the always useful Ron Perlman, and the lil pixie Winona Rider. These are all colorful characters, because they wear weird clothes and swear a lot.

Eventually, of course, the aliens break loose and the pirates, along with the reconstituted and not entirely human Ripley, try to escape from the ship which is inexplicably heading back to Earth – and will get there in about an hour. Despite mass distances in space…blah blah blah. It isn’t worth thinking about, because the movie doesn’t think about it. People are killed, there are character revelations it is impossible to care about, and there is some new alien that’s a weird hybrid, just as the alien mother that comes out of Ripley is just as transformed by their connection as Ripley was.

This notion, about the joining of human and alien into some kind of horrible hybrid…isn’t that interesting. The whole not-quite-human Ripley isn’t that interesting. None of the ideas are fully baked, so none of the ideas have any real impact. There’s a couple (maybe) interesting set-pieces – the entire chase under water is ludicrous, but well-made. Leland Orser knocks it out of the park in his small part as a test subject who hasn’t had his alien come out yet. But in sticking to Ripley, in staying off Earth, in making yet another movie about running down corridors and getting off a ship and that has the third airlock ending in the series, Resurrection is tired, and empty.

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