No Alien franchise breakdown is complete without Alien: Resurrection, no matter what Joss Whedon says.
Movie: Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Plot: I don’t know. Something about human-Xenomorph splicing and genetic alien in-breeding. And I’m pretty sure Brad Dourif’s futuristic ponytail has some sort of deep, hidden meaning. It would save this film if it did.
Killer: Everything. Xenomorphs. Science. Us. The only thing that’s pure is a machine made by a machine. It sounds like pretty heavy stuff until you see how it’s carried out on an actual screen.
Critique: Okay, let’s state the obvious right off the bat: Alien: Resurrection is a horrible film. The idea of plot makes the movie hide behind another odd, emotional scene that comes out of nowhere. The script is full of ridiculous one-liners. The theme of DNA splicing has been done. The idea that 20th Century Fox threw approximately $75 million at this film and couldn’t come up with the right amount to get Brad Dourif to “take it off” and cut his hair so we don’t have to see a ponytail with a futuristic hair clip is laughable.
But is Alien: Resurrection so bad that it’s good? Is it the sci-fi horror version of The Room? Is it at least entertaining to laugh at and pick apart? As a film, I would say yes. The problem is that they spent $75 million to do it, which is probably an inside joke itself after bringing in around $160 million at the box office.
I like how scientific progress really defined its role as the villain in this sequel. Yes, “The Company” has always been evil, leading to good times by all in space travel when it comes to flying with Xenomorphs, but Alien: Resurrection goes all out. We’ve got people being kidnapped from space in order to be inseminated by face-huggers. You really can’t get more evil than that in an Alien movie.
At the same time, scientific progress was pretty stupid, considering the extremely flippant back-story to Call (played by Winona Ryder.) How would a robot build a robot more human-like, with emotions like sympathy, anger, and really seeming to hate the idea that Ripley-8 started killing her own kind, the Xenomorphs, after Call basically wanted to destroy Ripley-8 because she was a human-Xenomorph hybrid.
Then there’s the strong arm of the military, running like babies for the escape pods instead of their guns when three Xenomorphs get loose. Bill Paxton and his Howling Space Marines would be ashamed, although it’s really the only reason Ron Perlman gets a chance to show off his action-chops.
Finally, we have the genetic augmentations: the theme that makes the movie go like a wind-up race car until it putters out or crashes into a wall. It seems like this theme mutated more times than the Xenomorphs themselves. Ripley-8 was grown in order to give birth to a Xenomorph queen. Fine. It seems like they could have developed a queen without a spliced human-Xenomorph, but whatever. Ripley-8’s discovery of her sisters, or maternal lineage, or whatever the film forgot to explain with this scene, shows up. Fine. These scientists put in some work to get their queen. Then the Xenomorph queen randomly stopping her egg-laying to give birth to Xenomorph-human, and we have total theme meltdown. The baby kills its queen mother and embraces its Ridley-8 grandmother. Or did Ridley-8 get the Xenomorph queen pregnant somehow while she was knocked unconscious? How does an organism change its reproductive system from external to internal egg-insemination? Brad Dourif did a horrible job explaining that one while he was encased in Xenomorph phelgm.
I know: what could possibly be entertaining about all of this confusion? If you go into it with a MST2K mindset, it just is. Maybe in season 2 of the MST2K reboot on Netflix?
Scene of Awesomeness: That Xenomorph-human hybrid being graphically sucked into space through a tiny hole in a viewport was pretty cool. and extremely drawn out. If nothing else, Alien: Resurrection brought the gore throughout the film.
Scene of Ridiculousness: I can only pick one? Fine. Ripley-8 stumbles upon a lab holding all of the genetic experiments before her. One is alive, although extremely mutated, and begs Ripley to kill her. Ripley does, but not with a nice humane gunshot to the head. Oh, no. You want to ease someone’s suffering? Burn them alive with a flamethrower. It’s at least less painful than… well, being slowly roasted for a few hours.
Body Count: 21, along with countless military personnel aboard the space station who forgot how to work a gun.
at least 6 by off-screen chest-burster
7 by gunfire
countless by vague Xenomorph slaughtering
1 by liquid nitrogen freezing
1 head puncturing by Xenomorph
1 chest puncturing by Xenomorph
1 by acid burn and then drowning (I guess?)
2 in one from a chest-to-head-burster (Awesomely Overkill Award. I don’t care what anyone says about the purity of a chest-burster scene, the purity of this entire film was gone long before this scene)
1 head chomp
1 head crush
Actors/Actresses of Note: Sigourney Weaver, one more time! The money machine kept on printing paper, too, as this cast also includes Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, Michael Wincott growling, Dan Hedaya and his bear-skin shirt, Brad Dourif and his contract clause that he won’t cut his hair shorter than 24 inches, Raymond Cruz before his days as Tuco Salamanca from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Leland Orser, and Dominique Pinon, who I mistook for Michael J. Anderson from Twin Peaks and Carnivale one moment, then as Jared Harris from Resident Evil: Apocalypse the next. If I didn’t look it up, he would still be one of those other two.
Quote: “Security. There is a serious problem in the mess hall.” -Gediman
Grade: C+ (Graded for hilarity, not actual film worth)