Okay, last horror movie from my family’s annual October horror moviethon. At my son’s strong request, we watched the fourth movie in the Alien franchise, Alien Resurrection. Previously on this site, the first Alien movie was the only horror movie I’ve reviewed to receive a perfect score, Aliens got a rating of Pretty Good, and Alien 3 scored only a 3 on my 10 point scale. I did note that Alien 3 actually had an interesting premise that it didn’t really follow through on–I’ve since learned that the movie that director David Fincher turned in was rejected by the studio as “not commercial enough” and radically re-edited. Apparently there is a director’s cut that’s 20 minutes longer and I bet it’s a much better movie. Maybe I’ll get to it someday!
But for now, on to Alien Resurrection. Unlike Alien 3, a movie with an original and creative premise poorly executed, this one basically returns to the same story well as Aliens, but is quite well-executed. Acting and script are top-notch, with Sigourney Weaver returning as Ridley, Ron Perlman and Winona Rider (!) also having roles, and a script by Joss Whedon (!!).
The movie is set 200 years after Alien 3, and Ridley has been cloned using her human DNA mixed with that of an alien queen, for some reason. She is held on a remote outpost in space where a team of military scientists is using her to breed embryos for new aliens to experiment on. A small spaceship manned by outlaw traders comes in with a delivery of human bodies for the head of the scientific mission. During an incident while the traders are on board, the aliens escape their confinement and start hunting the humans down. Ridley and a select group of the outlaws must battle their way back to the outlaw ship to escape.
So, not a huge leap from Aliens. But what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in tight pacing, Whedon’s trademark witty repartee–this is the first Alien movie with a sense of humor–and at least a couple fun innovations on the alien chase scene. (A setpiece where the characters have to swim through a flooded galley while chased by water-breathing aliens is something to behold.) Final ranking? It has some high points but as a whole is only Okay.
Alien Resurrection (1997)
Story/Plot/Characters–Top-notch acting and script outweigh the by-now tired premise. (2.5 points)
Special Effects–Technically accomplished, and a couple scenes are truly marvels, but overall somewhat perfunctorily presented. (1.5 points)
Scariness–Very few frights to be gotten out of the franchise at this point. You know what’s coming. (0 points)
Atmosphere/Freakiness–What was atmospheric in previous movies is by now predictable and stale. (.5 points)
Total=4.5 points (Okay)