Opened: Wednesday, November 26, 1997 | Rated: R
After tanking with "Alien3," I figured Sigourney Weaver wouldn't revive Ellen Ripley for a fourth "Alien" without some serious coercion and a great script.
That must have been some coercion because "Alien Resurrection" is one of those rotten sci-fi/horror movies in which nonsense abounds, to the point that shipboard emergencies are signaled by the onset of strobe lights -- ever so helpful when one needs to see what one is running away from.
Ripley, who killed herself at the end of the last "Alien" movie because she was carrying a chest-bursting E.T. embryo in her innards, returns here as a genetically engineered Super Ripley.
Because of sloppy cloning, she's part alien and occasionally drips acidic blood or skulks around like an animal, sniffing people.
She's been brought back to life by some evil scientists who, for no explored reason, want to breed and domesticate a race of aliens from the one in her chest.
"Once we've tamed them..." one scientist says. Yeah, right.
Of course things go horribly wrong and soon this top secret science vessel is teeming with steel-toothed killing machines that gore (and I do mean gore) anyone not running away fast enough.
Potential victims, mostly scar-faced ruffians clad in Doc Martens and leather rock star pants, include Ron Pearlman ("The Last Supper"), Michael Wincott ("The Crow") and waifish Winona Ryder, of all people, playing one of those ubiquitous "Alien" androids with spoiled milk for blood.
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the visual arteur behind imported cult favorites "Delicatessen" and "The City of Lost Children," this movie is a visual fete but a logical mess.
The script, positively drowning in fourth-grade playground dialogue ("My authorization code is EAT ME."), has far too much down time between attacks. It's as if the aliens politely take time-outs for Ripley to have the occasional tender moment.
When the dwindling crew does run down a corridor in terror, they don't seem like they mean it. Just to be cool, one guy hangs upside-down on a ladder while shooting at the encroaching monsters.
Often interrupted for burdensome back story (explaining Ryder's silicon origins) or cheap symbolism (religious tokens abound) these scenes are mostly generic horror tripe dressed up in expensive production design and extremely graphic splatter effects.
The most unforgivable moments come in a submerged chase sequence in which the characters hold their breaths under water even longer than Shelly Winters in "The Poseidon Adventure" -- a good four minutes -- without anyone drowning despite the fact that they all scream a couple times.
The aliens, the real stars of the movie, get more screen time here than in previous pictures. Borrowing heavily from the "Jurassic Park" school of menacing CGI monsters, this time out they snort steam and sound a lot like angry horses.
What makes "Resurrection" such a disaster (honestly, it rivals "Alien3"), is that it constantly flies in the face of common sense without being entertaining enough to forgive its follies.
By now every savvy movie-goer knows that humans can't survive exposure to the vacuum of space, yet there's Ripley in a depressurizing cargo hold.
And just when you think the film is going to throw in a disastrous wink of irony by having a ship the size of a large suburb crash into the Earth and destroy life as we know it, the ship crashes into Earth and...nothing. Sunny skies.
You can call that nit picking if you want to (I don't), but I might not have even noticed had "Resurrection" been even a little frightening or engaging.