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Friday, March 9, 2012

Alien Resurrection (1997) Horror Alien

Alien Resurrection (1997) - Getting to the forth film of the series after the very disappointing third entry at the time of release I remember thinking that they should have let the series rest. I mean Ripley died at the end of the film you can't get more over than that. These films were never really sequels in the now commonly accepted sense with a new film every year or two. Alien in 1979 was not followed up until 1986, then the third film another six years later and this final story not until 1997. That is a lot of time between films and it means an awful lot of movie executives had a chance to get input into the series. It was a contributing factor into the demise of the third film.
Alien: Resurrection is just that, the studio resurrecting there golden goose one more time in hopes of getting one more gold egg from it. They did so with open pocket books too. The film cost 70 million dollars to make and had an impressive cast. Of course Sigourney Weaver was back reprising her role as Ripley although a clone this time. Winona Ryder prior to her shoplifting trouble and after she had just done some reasonably successful period films. Bringing in quirky French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet who was coming off a couple fine films, Delicatessen (1991) and The City of Lost Children (1995) meant you also got some of his favorite actor for this film.

Ron Perlman before he hit is big as the Red Demon in the Hellboy films and the rubber faced Dominique Pinon brought some decent acting chops to the cast. Unfortunately many of the fans that had made the first two films so popular had moved on. Not that the film did not make
money, according to imdb it has earned $161 million worldwide, but had a disappointing opening weekend of just $25 million on Thanksgiving weekend. If this sounds familiar it is a continuation of the adequate but diminishing returns for the series.
The script written by a young Joss Whedon is decent but with some serious logic and dialog problems I am sure to pick at in this review. Whedon a year into his fine television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996-2003) is a skilled writer and Alien: Ressurection is a decent enough story. Dealing with the problem that Ripley killed herself in the third installment the first problem was to figure out what to do to get the lead back. The solution was to make her a clone from blood samples taken on the prison planet of Alien 3.
This worked in two ways, it got Ripley back and because at the time of the blood sample she was infected with an alien, there was both alien and human blood in the sample. So the scientist in this film get what they really want, a chance to grow n Alien. Considering that it is 200 years later we have to assume that the technology exists to do all this, which seems a bit of a stretch since there are very few visual signs that technology has advanced at all.Getting into this particular piece of illogical science, lets ask a question. Give the writer that the clones can be made from the blood, that pretty weak but not worth fretting about. How is a foreign body (an alien chest burster) included in the genetic make up of the blood? What we know about the aliens so far does not lead us to believe that they become part of the hosts bodies. It is pretty well established the host is infected with this parasite that grows and feeds off the body before bursting out. So there would be no alien genetic material in Ripley's blood and thus there would be no alien in the grown clone. We are asked instead to swallow the idea that the two together allows the scientist to grow multiple Ripley's until she is grown with a perfect alien chest burster in her chest. This does seem like quite a leap of faith to take.So they have the Alien that was in the Ripley clone and it just happens to be a queen. So it will of course do what it does and lay eggs. Here is where the story gets interesting. Where the hell do the military black ops running this little experiment get the hosts for the eggs to latch onto? One would think that maybe a couple dozen sheep would do the trick. That assumes a plot that does not bring the crew of the privateer ship the Betty into the film. This is not that plot so instead the crew of the Betty arrives with a cargo of humans in hyper sleep.
So cruel and uncalled for but there you have it. All they want in return is a couple days on the larger ship to stretch their legs and some spare parts for the aging ship.
Oh yeah and a large stack of money courtesy of General Perez (Dan Hedaya). It was with amusement that I watched him make the scotch he and Captain of the Betty, Frank Elgyn (Michael Wincott) shared. He takes the hard cubes from the individually wrapped shot package, dumps it in a glass and then puts it under a laser and poof, a shot of scotch. You would think in 200 years they could have come up with a more efficient way to transport and contain Scotch? Oh wait there is its called a bottle of Scotch.
Of all the things to dazzle us with future technology this is the dumb thing we get to see, it left me giggling at the absurdity. While we are on the absurd what about the idea put forth through this film that the Ripley clone has memories of the Aliens and the experiences the original Ripley had. The one line excuse is they were genetically passed down. Of course that explains the memories I have from my father of bar fights and fucking my mother. That let me tell you can really screw a kid up. The rest of the crew Vriess (Dominique Pinon) the wheelchir bound mechanic, Thug Johner (Ron Perlman), Crew Christie (Gary Dourdan), Sabra(Kim Flowers) and Annalee Call (Winona Ryder) round out the ragtag group. Call is secretly trying to find out what is going on out at this distant corner of the galaxy for some concerned group or another. She really does get the crew in a bit of trouble with her nosing around but to her credit the twist for her character makes it so most of the survivors of the shit hitting the fan, get a valid chance at surviving the aliens.
The real problem character is the one written for the really good actor Ron Perlman, Johner is like the hard to control tough guy who makes wise cracks. I guess after the last film, which was exceptionally serious and dark the producers wanted to lighten things up. The problem is there is not a lot of room for humor when everyone is dying all around you. So the attempts are clunky and do not feel organic at all. There is of course the line seen in all the trailers where he is walking next to Ripley and blurts out. "So Ripley I heard you came up against these these things before. What did you do?" She smiles and says "I died." Then the horrible out of place piece at the end of the movie stands out. When the ship is heading into Earth's atmosphere and Vriess is screaming as they plummet, Johner says "Whats's burning." and Vriess replies "Us." Johner looks over at the shaky cam and says "Shit you'ere right" and he starts screaming too. This is so fucking ridiculous.
There are also some real logic flaws in the alien program. The military seems to be wanting to create trained puppy out of the aliens and in order to do it they first get the Queen from Ripley.
Then use the acquired sleeping humans as host to get no less than a dozen aliens. Each has its own room and the scientists observe them through a very strong viewing glass. Then without any explanation they put three of the aliens into the same chamber. Really it is just a plot device to give the aliens a way to escape. Duh, they have acid blood for fucks sake. You don't think they are smart enough to use that fact? It is all just too convenient, and then on top of it through the voice of the ships computer we hear the aliens releasing more aliens from cages.
A real wtf moment in that doors used to be pretty effective at stopping them but now they are capable of problem solving above anything previously thought. I think the idea is supposed to be that 200 years of research into gaining specimens of this species and the scientists just totally underestimate the intelligence of them. Shame this is just not acceptable to anyone who values this franchise. So after the aliens break out and the shit is flying off the whirring fan the crew of the Betty start out to get back to their ship and off this death trap. A few other people are included Dr Wren, the double crossing sadist bastard, Distephano a soldier on the ship, Ripley of course, Larry Purvis a poor sleepy found huddled in room.
As they make there way towards the ship they hear the aliens have cut them off and they have to now go down under their current passage and back up the other side. Only thing is these new super intelligent aliens have planned for the survivors to go this route and have flooded the lower chamber of the ship. So in a reenactment of the Poseidon Adventure with the lovely Kim Flowers playing the role played by Shelly Winters and the aliens substituting for a heart attack. The group takes a really long swim under water so we can see some really cool special effect. We learn in this sequence that not only are the aliens in this film smarter than the average bear but they can dodge bullets. We also learn that bullets traveling through water in space travel at a significantly slower pace than in real world physics.
I have to say this is not the end of the strangeness of this film. On top of the entire escape story is the Alien birth piece.
Absolutely the most bizarre scenes with Ripley falling onto the alien love orgy and then later the birth scene where the queen has a baby instead of laying an egg. The whole time we get this silly play by play from the cocooned Dr Gediman (overacted by Brad Dourif) with such horrible lines like. "You are a beautiful, beautiful butterfly." I was so happy when the newborn bit his head off. As much as I want to like this movie and really have nothing against telling you all to watch it. I have to say I think there are way too many problems to make this a good film. So know what you are getting into and understand there is no Alien 5 for a reason. That reason being these last to movies really killed the franchise.
Rating (5.0) barely 5.0 and up are recommended

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