"Was it everything you hoped for?"8/10
Alien Resurrection was released about six months after I graduated from high school, and at the time I wasn't very familiar with the series. I took my first film class about six months later, at which point I learned to really appreciate the great films and filmmakers, and one of the first things I learned was that the first three Alien films are spectacular achievements of science fiction cinema and the third sequel is a sad, ridiculous mess. This happens all too often with sequels and yes, part four is not yet another amazingly impressive Alien film, but come on, it's not THAT bad.
I watched it last night for the first time in almost ten years, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It's strange that I liked it so much, because it shows all the signs of a botched, modernized sequel of a series that should have been left alone long ago. The characters, most of all, are almost all goofy caricatures with preposterous dialogue and routine motivations, and some just don't belong at all. Personally I am a pretty big fan of Winona Ryder, but only in roles that suit her, and she has had a lengthy list of roles that suit her, but Annallee Call in Alien Resurrection is just not one of them. Too often she comes off as a tough talking teenager in this movie and it just gets hard to take her character seriously. She's like Ja Rule in Half Past Dead, but less ridiculous.
Then again, this could just have been a result of her starring alongside Sigourney Weaver, and that woman is just awesome. Dan Hedaya is suitably over-the-top in his role as the gleefully neurotic General Perez, and I have to admit that I was curious to see the performance of Gary Dourdan as Christie. Lately I've been watching countless hours of CSI on DVD, and it's amazing to see how different his role is in this movie from the most serious role he would play later in that show. I prefer the later performance, myself.
The resurrection implied in the title refers to Ripley being borough back to life 200 years after her death for the purpose of creating one of the alien queens, and then breeding the animals for twisted scientific purposes. They decide to keep Ripley alive for observation after surgically removing the alien from her chest, only to discover that she and the aliens are clearly more than they are prepared to handle. There is a negligible subplot involving a group of shady characters headed by the wonderfully sinister Michael Wincott as a Frank Elgyn, who promises his men won't start trouble or get into any fights if they are allowed to stay on board for a few days and nights.
I also have to mention Ron Perlman, who just has a face for this kind of movie. Probably most recognizable lately as Hellboy, this has to be one of the least appreciated actors of the last few decades. In just over 20 years he has acted in more than 150 films and TV shows, and at the time of this writing he has 18 projects in the works. Unbelievable! He also has one of the best lines in the movie ("Why the waste of ammo?! Must be a chick thing
The aliens are probably the thing that will make or break this movie, and in my opinion they were impressive enough. The occasional CGI effects are never convincing, but then again they never are, so luckily they didn't overdo them. Even the aliens swimming underwater was not too much for me to accept, perhaps given the automatic tension that is immediately generated in almost any movie where someone has to hold their breath for a long time. This went on far too long to be anything remotely realistic in this movie, but it was a good scene nonetheless.
I would also argue that this is the goriest of all of the four alien movies, particularly at the end, but also contains some of the best comic relief. This combination makes the movie highly entertaining, even following in the long shadows of its spectacular predecessors. There is a high energy scene in the third act of the film where Perlman's character performs a daredevil stunt to shoot one of the pursuing aliens dead which is followed by what has to be the funniest spider killing in film history. I haven't laughed out loud like that at a movie in a long, long time.
In browsing through the posts on the message board for Resurrection I have been inspired to raise my rating for the movie from a 7 to an 8, if only because it is so obvious that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon about bashing this movie. I see nothing but whiny, pouting little brats whimpering and griping about little nitpicky details in the movie, condemning the third sequel in the Alien quadrilogy as a travesty and an embarrassment and a pathetic way to end the series.
Stupid people in large numbers, man. It's sad to see such a clear mob mentality slamming a movie that is about 100 times better than most people say. No, it's not up to the same level as the first two films and it definitely has its drawbacks, but it is definitely a good installment in the series, and you could certainly do a lot worse for some fun popcorn sci-fi on a Friday night. I'll admit that my judgment might be a little skewed because I watched the staggeringly awful Eaten Alive just before seeing this, but it is clear to me that Alien: Resurrection has yet to receive the respect it deserves.