Much like Alien3, Alien: Resurrection is a far better movie than its reputation suggests. Joss Whedon’s script is as quippy and swashbuckling as you’d expect whilst doing a solid job of recovering the series from the ultimate downer of Alien3 (I’m a fan of Whedon but I know many aren’t) . I dig the “Jump into the future with a cloned Ripley” concept. I mean how else are you going to retcon Ripley’s suicide while also establishing a new dynamic? I think its a pretty smart solution that opens the movie up to its own unique concerns whilst retaining the obsessive Weyland/Yutani thread present in all the other flicks. Plus, it continues the trend of the franchise re-inventing itself with each sequel.
This movie always gets points from me because it’s got some conceptual stuff that is absolutely disgusting. It has the most body-horror of the original four films and that stuff is actually foregrounded as part of the cloning plot. The design of the Newborn especially is the stuff nightmares are made of. Take the whole sequence beginning with Ripley descending into an orgy (?) of Xenomorphs up to the birth of the Newborn and death of the Alien Queen and just consider it for a second. I can’t believe a massive production like this dedicated so much of its runtime to something so fucking icky and gross. Ugh. And just to be clear: I consider all that discomfort a big compliment to the movie. There’s honestly things in here I will never, ever forget.
Jeunet brings a whole new eye to the franchise too. Coming hot off of Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children (sans Marc Caro) this is easily the most bugged out the series ever got (so far). Utilising Gilliam-y wide lenses, a zippy camera and countless Raimi-esque crash-ins, master DOP Darius Khondji transforms Resurrection from austere sci-fi into frenzied comic strip. The casting of class-act weirdos like Dominique Pinon, Brad Dourif and Ron Perlman lend the film a load of flavour too. Even Leland Orser pops up, playing basically the same crying mess he played in Se7en. Weaver and Ryder fit right in and considering their paycheques, it’s a wonder neither of them seem to be merely phoning it in.
There’s no way you could have made this with classy wide shots, slow pacing and A-list character actors. It’s a goddamn 90s movie and Jeunet, in my opinion, was one of the best international sylists to emerge in that decade. The fact he got to make an Alien movie is so bizarre. Yes it has its fair share of problems. It certainly feels the most disposable of the original four movies. Weaver’s Ripley clone is inherently unable to muster the same emotional connection from the audience because at the end of the day, she’s not the same Ripley we spent the last three movies with and is little more than a curious cover version. Still, Weaver was clearly enjoying doing something different in this milieu and I would’ve liked to see that thread continued. The barrage of wham-bang set-pieces and revolving door of series iconography is cool on the surface (swimming Xenomorphs!) but, unlike Aliens, fails to appeal beyond mere popcorn spectacle. It gets worse as it goes along too and climaxes in a bit of a fart. But then again you also see that ghastly Newborn get its guts sucked into its throat and into space through a ruptured hole on a spaceship. Nasty, nasty, nasty. Can an Alien movie ever go too far? This one came closest to finding out.
Watched on blu-ray.