Alien: Resurrection 1997 ★½

After the atrocity that was Alien 3, Jean-Pierre Jeunet didn't really have anywhere to go but up when he took the reins of the series for Alien: Resurrection. He certainly didn't sink to that level, but Resurrection wasn't a major return to glory for the franchise either. Boasting a genius like Jeunet behind the camera, a script from Joss Whedon and a cast that saw the return of Sigourney Weaver along with new inclusions like Winona Ryder, Dominique Pinon and Brad Dourif, this should have been a major hit. However, when you factor in that this is a movie in the Alien franchise, some of these names don't exactly fit.

Whedon is one of my favorite people in the industry, but his writing doesn't necessarily lend itself towards the kind of dark thriller that belongs in this series. He wrote a script that's very much in the vein of his work, but being that it's in this franchise a lot of it was mis-communicated in bringing to the screen. Likewise, Jeunet is a brilliant director but that's because he can balance dark themes within a lighter overall package, as he did in his film before this one, The City of Lost Children. These two men have an approach that doesn't really fit with the Alien mold and when the film is played out as a straight-forward science fiction horror/thriller, the tones come out very uneven and disrupt the overall product.

As I said in regards to the previous films, one of the best things about this being a continuing franchise was how well Weaver was able to evolve her depiction of Ripley through the series, but with the way that Alien 3 ended, she couldn't really do that again. Weaver wasn't even going to do the film until they offered her a staggering $11 million paycheck for it, and you can tell that her heart just isn't really in it the way that it used to. This Ripley is written in such an awkward fashion, with hilariously bad gags like tossing a basketball over her head and having it land in the hoop and just an overall disposition that doesn't at all fit the Ripley that Weaver had grown throughout the previous three films.

The inclusion of Winona Ryder as another female lead opposite Weaver was a wise decision and she performs it admirably, but I wish that the two of them had been able to bounce off each other in a much better film. She seems an odd choice to headline this genre of film, but she commits herself fully and deserves better material to work with. The narrative is heavy in it's mythology and it's evolution of the relationship between the scientists, Ripley and the aliens, but it all gets clouded when it becomes more interested in just blowing these creatures apart. I found a lot of the plot pretty hard to follow, and by the end of it all I just didn't care anymore. Alien: Resurrection wasn't quite the struggle to watch that Alien 3 was, but it wasn't too much better either. I liked the ending a lot, though.

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