ALIEN RESURRECTION has Ripley—believe it or not—brought back from the dead (and deadly dumb Alien 3) two centuries after she (and series respectability) perished in the previous installment. That one, intended to be the last, apparently left enough of her to clone for this 1997 rehash, 19 Earth-years and several salary increases after the 1979 original. Like strike 3, it’s unnecessary and has another shipload of unpleasant characters, written this time by Joss Whedon. As directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, it plays for dark comedy as much as for chills, so at least is more fitfully amusing than its depressing predecessor. *
Ripley has not only been cloned: she has an alien Queen surgically removed from her body. ‘United Systems Military’ wants to breed them, using human hosts. They’re provided by surly mercenaries (are there nice ones?), who end up battling the aliens with Ripley when the full-grown creatures escape captivity. How many cast members will survive? Anyone else concerned that the final explosion on Earth likely kills hundreds of millions of people? Nah.
Best: fighting the aliens underwater. Worst: co-star Winona Ryder, ordinarily effective, wilts next to Weaver, with squeaky line readings out of high school. Sigourney—co-producing and snagging $11,000,000 out of the $70,000,000 budget— seems bored by the extended foolishness. . **
Worldwide boxoffice came to $161,400,000, less than a third of that in the States, where it trailed the herd of ’97 at 43rd place. With ugly attitude to spare from Ron Perlman, Dominque Pinon, Gary Dourdan, J. E. Freeman, Michael Wincott, Dan Hedaya, Brad Dourif, Kim Flowers, Raymond Cruz, Leland Orser. 109 minutes.
* Verdict from the screenwriter, Joss Whedon: “It wasn’t a question of doing everything differently, although they changed the ending; it was mostly a matter of doing everything wrong. They said the lines…mostly…but they said them all wrong. And they cast it wrong. And they designed it wrong. And they scored it wrong. They did everything wrong that they could possibly do. There’s actually a fascinating lesson in filmmaking, because everything that they did reflects back to the script or looks like something from the script, and people assume that, if I hated it, then they’d changed the script…but it wasn’t so much that they’d changed the script; it’s that they just executed it in such a ghastly fashion as to render it almost unwatchable.”
** No bucks, no Buck Rogers: In 1992 Sigourney Weaver declared “I am sure there will eventually be an Alien 4, it just won’t have me in it.” Never say never again. At 47, the outer space queen bee’s star had risen to the level that her $11m salary here equaled the entire cost of the first film, for which, as a 29-year-old unknown, she had been paid $30,000.