a brief review by Jeffrey Overstreet
Director – Jean-Pierre Jeunet; writer – Joss Whedon; director of photography – Darius Khondji; editor – Herve Schneid; production designer – Nigel Phelps; producers – Bill Badolato, Walter Hill, David Giler and Gordon Carroll. Starring – Sigourney Weaver (Ripley), Winona Ryder (Annalee Call), Dominique Pinon (Vriess), Ron Perlman (Johner), Dan Hedaya (General Perez), J. E.Freeman (Wren), Brad Dourif (Gediman) and Michael Wincott (Elgyn). 20th Century Fox. 105 minutes. This film is rated R.
It’s time they quit killing the aliens, and just killed the Alien series altogether. Perhaps a director will come along with enough originality to inject new life into the idea, but will anybody care anymore?
Jean-Pierre Jeunet — he who brought us Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children — is one of the world’s most inventive directors, but even he, with his brilliant camera maneuvering, can’t find anything new to show us about these monsters in Alien: Resurrection.
Alien was scary because director Ridley Scott subscribed to the Jaws school of scare-making: We didn’t see what was stalking us until the very end of the movie. Scott also understood that horror stories can be substantial, and his movie became a fascinating exploration of what makes humans different from mere beasts.
James Cameron’s sequel, Aliens, was a more conventional scare-fest, as we watched the characters get knocked off one by one. But it took us into new territory, and introduced us to characters who made us care deeply about the outcome.
Alien 3 was one of the most frustrating sequels ever made, filled with pretentious and empty religiosity, as well as killing off characters we’d come to know and love in the previous film. And now we were so well acquainted with the aliens’ ugliness that director David Fincher was challenged to try and scare us with something new. But the script he had in front of him worked too hard to disturb us, and focused far more on “gross-out” than “think about it.”
Now, there’s Alien Resurrection, which brings back our heroine Ripley from the dead through, of course, cloning technology, and gives her a bizarre cast of sidekicks, including a brutish Ron Perlman, the stout and strange Dominique Pinon of Delicatessen, and Winona Ryder as a wide-eyed android having a faith crisis.
Even these extreme measures fail to rejuvenate the franchise. And when an experimental genetic experiment births a new alien/Ripley mutant, the result is the most ridiculous creature I’ve seen in several years of monster movies. The thing, which appeals to the same sympathies that we have for the classic Frankenstein, fails utterly to make us care about it. What began as the most menacing movie monster of all has evolved into a whining oaf that looks its been dipped in a vat of Cream of Wheat.
How the mighty have fallen.