There are times when things need to be left well alone. Some people say that the Alien series is one of these things. After the lackluster third film, I would have been inclined to agree. After about 20 minutes into this fourth installment, I was still inclined to agree. After I finished watching Alien: Resurrection, I decided that the fourth film was all right, and that the only people who need to leave things alone are the scientists in this series.
We open up 200 years after Alien 3. Apparently, technology has come so far that we can create clones from a single drop of blood. Scientists have done that with the late Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), who has been brought back to life as a clone. And so was the alien that was inside of her stomach. Scientists remove it, with the intent to train it, and then harvest its DNA. But this time, it’s the military doing it; the evil corporation from the previous films has been bought out by Wal-Mart. Because Wal-Mart still exists, and is still a big factor in the economy.
Once again, things don’t go as planned. This one alien manages to create multiple others — somehow, but I wager they just cloned more, although I could be wrong — and soon the spaceship is crawling with the creatures. They’re all contained in miniature holding cells. Surprise, surprise when two of them escape. And then the rest escape. They’ve been experimented on and are understandably pretty upset about that, so they want revenge. All of the lifeboats of the ship have been used by this point, leaving Ripley and a bunch of other stragglers to try to get to the one remaining ship that’s way on the other side of this bigger ship, all while the aliens circulate and plan their next victim. And the spaceship is hurdling toward Earth, because why not?
Among the other people stuck on the ship is a humanist named Call (Winona Ryder), and a hotshot drunk named Johner (Ron Perlman). These characters are reminiscent of the ones in Aliens, where they’re memorable and unique enough that you’ll want to see more of them. That’s true again here, although some of them, like Johner, are ones that you may wish to get stuck with the aliens. They serve a nice contrast to Ripley, who actually gets to be less serious in this film, for some of her screen time.
Ripley begins the film not being able to speak, or communicate in any way apart from violence. The scientists train her to do that though, and eventually she gets the functionality of a normal adult. But she’s still aggressive, while actually gaining a sense of humor. It seems that when she was cloned, part of the alien DNA got mixed with hers, and now she’s part alien. This doesn’t mean anything later on, except for the acidic blood which becomes key. All of the other traits about this new Ripley are forgotten once the aliens escape, leaving us with the same character that we’ve had for three films now. It’s a good thing that Weaver is so good at playing the role, so that we don’t question this too much while Resurrection is playing.
It’s also a good thing that, once things get going, there isn’t a dull moment. If it did get boring, we might start to realize that Resurrection isn’t an amazing film. The final hour is almost solely nonstop action, with a couple of interesting twists thrown in along the way. It plays out like a mixture of the first two films, which is a good thing, because it largely ignores the third installment in this series.
The plot is, once again, very basic. But I’ve come to realize that a deep plot isn’t what these films are going for. Alien Resurrection is a film where a group of people have to get from Point A to Point B and there is something trying to stop them. That’s it, although it’s good enough to give our characters reasons to shoot some aliens. At this point in the series, I’ll take that over what we got in the third film any day.
As far as I can tell, this is the first film in the series that used CGI aliens in some shots, because it was the only one where such a technique could be used without the aliens looking terrible. The result is something that is very satisfying, and I actually thought the CGI was really well-done. It might not look perfect, but it allowed the aliens to move more organically, instead of feeling stiff, like they had earlier.
Essentially what you get with Alien: Resurrection is a lighter version of what we got in Aliens. The thrills are still there, although not as intense, and the characters are good enough, but weaker than they were before. The setting is taken from the first film, which was probably a good idea, because it allowed for a greater sense of isolation. For “perfect” beings, I still don’t know why the aliens involve stalking humans so much, when it would seem easier to swarm and annihilate them in one sweep, but maybe they just like to have fun.
Alien: Resurrection is a fun film, but not much more. It doesn’t have the same depth that the first two films did, but it has the second most amount of action, while being just about as frightening as the first. (And by that, I mean it isn’t all that scary, but has a couple of jump scenes.) The special effects look good, and the aliens move more like they could actually exist. All in all, it’s not bad, and I’d actually say it’s more enjoyable than the first film.