Sci-Fi Movie Month: "Alien Resurrection" Review

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Sci-Fi Movie Month: "Alien Resurrection" Review

-- Rating: R (strong sci-fi violence and gore, some grotesque images, language)
Length: 109 minutes
Release Date: November 26, 1997
Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller

A full 200 years have passed since the events of the last film in the "Alien" series, but Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is still around. At least, it seems like Ripley is still around at first glance, but it turns out this is a clone of Ripley, made from a single drop of her blood. In the opening sequence, she's on a large spaceship giving birth to an alien baby as a part of a top-secret government program. The scientists who found Ripley's body cloned her because they wanted to study the alien embryo she had inside her when she died. The full-grown alien's acidic blood could produce medicine and bioweapons. It could also produce mass chaos aboard the ship, just like the first three movies.

While cloned Ripley and the new baby alien are being studied, a small ship called "The Betty" full of space pirates like Annalee Call (Winona Ryder) and Johner (Ron Perlman) docks with the larger ship in order to do some shady, possibly illegal training. The crew stays for a few days, which turns out to be one of the worst vacations ever. It's during their stay that several aliens, cloned from Ripley's baby, escape from the cells they were kept in.

Now, the crew of "The Betty" must band together to fight the aliens and try to escape on their ship alive. They know nothing of the creatures, so they must rely on cloned Ripley to assist them since she knows them so well. In fact, she might know them a little too well since it's implied she might now have alien blood in her veins as a result of carrying an alien baby to term. If she is part alien, whose side is she on and can she be trusted? The answer is the key to whether or not Call, Johner, and their crew get off the ship alive.

When Weaver was cast as Riply back in the late 1970s when the original "Alien" was released, nobody could have possibly realized what a boon that was. She is the only actor to be in all four of the films in the franchise, essentially connecting all four films together. Somewhere along the way, Ripley became a hero who'll put her own life in peril to save a little girl she hardly knows as she did in "Aliens." Weaver became a bona fide action star, arguably the first female to do so at a time when women's parts were mostly supporting characters with nothing much to do. Here, she gets in on more action, but she also gets to flex her acting muscles as well.

As each film the in the franchise was released, the special effects were amped up considerably to mirror the technology that was available at the time. In the original "Alien," the iconic chest-bursting scene was done with puppets and other rudimentary objects because that was what was available to the film crew at the time. By the time "Aliens" was released, the film featured an android that was cut in half, guts exposed to the world. It was a huge upgrade in terms of what could be shown on the screen and how far director James Cameron could go with the use of technology. In this fourth installment, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has a big budget and the use of fledgling computer-generated images at his disposal, tools Cameron and his ilk didn't have. He uses them to great effect here, adding value to the many action sequences and keeping the frenetic pace of the movie going. Fans who watch all four movies in sequence will marvel at how far the franchise has come in less than twenty years, which serves as a mirror of sorts for how far the movie industry has come in the same amount of time.

Hollywood sometimes makes one too many sequels for some movie franchises, but that isn't the case for "Alien Resurrection." There's still story to be told, especially when it comes to Ripley and her mysterious clone. Will there be a fifth installment into the series? The door is always open as long as even one alien or alien egg is kept intact. What would probably be more likely than another sequel is a reboot of the series, which studio executives have fallen in love with in recent years. Or perhaps the "Alien" series should end here with this film, which serves as a fine bookend to a historic, entertaining franchise.

Rating: 3 out of 5