The Good: Acting
The Bad: Latex, Special effects, Inconsistent plot, Characters
The Basics: They should have left the series dead. NOT for a fan of the Alien series or anyone else, for that matter!
Ellen Ripley, the protagonist of the Alien Trilogy has an excellent character arc. Yes, I will stand up and say that if you take a night and watch Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3 in a row, you'll come out saying there's an impressive character and a great story. I'm one of maybe ten people in the U.S. who likes Alien 3; it's underrated.
Alien Resurrection is not.
Hundreds of years after the events in Alien 3, which resulted in the death of Ellen Ripley, the military forces that work for Earth have set about to clone the lost woman in hopes of cloning the alien queen she carried. The military R&D believes the aliens can be trained for use in their wars elsewhere in the galaxy and they succeed in cloning Ripley and the queen inside her. Unfortunately, the clone is more of a hybrid than a pure clone and she has a connection to the new aliens the military makes.
At the same time, a group of smugglers come aboard the military vessel with bodies needed to generate the new alien army. As they relax and have a shore leave on the military ship, the aliens are hatched and soon all hell is breaking loose. The smugglers and the Ripley clone must flee the ship before it unleashes an alien plague on nearby Earth.
Alien 3 had wonderful merits in that it continued a whole set of circumstances and themes that the first two films establish. In fact, Alien 3 becomes necessary as a thematical conclusion to the broader social commentaries of the first two films. Alien Resurrection contains none of the depth of interest of the first three films.
In simple terms, it's just plain bad.
First of all, the film makes the mistake most science fiction films make which is to spend a lot of attention to effects. One of the beautiful things about the first three films was the starkness both visually and technologically of the future presented.
Moreover, Alien Resurrection completely insults the fans of the rest of the series by imitating the plot of the first film. It's like a 90's blood and guts, shoot 'em up, the more violence the better, group attempt to make Alien and it fails. At least Aliens anticipated an intelligent audience coming in after Alien and reveals the android quickly. The "surprise" of Alien Resurrection isn't and if you can't peg the android when it first appears, you ought to be disappointed in yourself.
The characters are inconsistent and the learning curve of the clone Ripley's memory is just way too unbelievably high. The sad thing is, the plot wasn't a terribly bad idea; a clone of Ripley is created and the DNA is corrupted by the Alien DNA. Then again, it doesn't take a biologist to figure out that if you're smart enough to be able to clone something as well as they do in the film, you're smart enough to have a complete map of DNA and know what strings are essentially not human.
Alien Resurrection's superlative moment, the reason I'm even bothering to write this review, is in containing the most vile, disgusting and unnecessary scene in any film ever. Ripley is a clone, the first success and during the opening credits, the attuned viewer will catch that we're getting glimpses of the failures. In the course of Alien Resurrection, Ripley finds the cloning room and what should be a psychologically disturbing scene is drawn out to obscene lengths. In fact, Ripley's humanitarian act that results is hardly cathartic as it is disgusting and the entire scene was over done, over long and incredibly unnecessary.
The only positive side is that Sigourney Weaver's acting range is displayed and she comes across as more talented than she might have before, certainly than she did in the first film of the series.
Between disgusting scenes that were unnecessary, the bizarre Alien orgy scene and the completely repetitive ending, Alien Resurrection only serves to detract from the series that deserved a better ending.
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© 2011, 2007, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.