Alien Resurrection (1997): Jeunet’s Fourth Chapter in Series is the Weakest

As directed by Frenchman Jean Pierre Jeunet, Alien Resurrection, the fourth installment in the popular “Alien” series, is the weakest, both dramatically and artistically.

The tale, poorly scripted by Joss Whedon, is set two centuries after Ellen Ripley’s death, when doctors aboard the space station Auriga decide to clone her by using a blood sample taken from Fiorna 161.  They hope to get the queen embryo that was incubating inside of Ripley, when she was trapped on the remote penal planet.

After many attempts, they succeed in removing the alien and repair the clone for study. But, alas, Ripley’s clone gains consciousness, and begins to display human and superhuman skills.

From that point on, the story becomes both cliché and impossible to concentrate on, because it’s so sensless. When Ripley discovers that General Perez (Dan Hedaya) is keeping the queen in a secluded room of the space station, she warns him and his scientists that the creature can never be contained.

Meanwhile, the greedy General Perez has hired some space pirates to deliver the frozen bodies of another ship to the Auriga so they can be used to breed more aliens. The wild leader of the pirates is Johner (Ron Perlman, well cast), a gruff mercenary.

When Call (Winona Ryder), one of Johner’s crewmembers, admits that she was sent to assassinate Ripley, General Perez attempts to have the pirates executed.  As a result, there’s a standoff between the pirates and the military, aggravated by the chaos caused by the aliens after breaking free of their cells.

Attempting a daring escape, Ripley and the pirates discover the lab where she was cloned before being forced to swim through a hall submerged in water during the aliens’ escape.

Having disclosed a secret about Call’s past, Ripley attempts to convince her to alter the Auruga’s course, which was set to Earth when the ship went into emergency. With the fate of mankind hanging in the balance, Ripley is captured by the aliens and taken to their nest, where she comes face to face with the mutated results of the scientists’ experiments.

Jeunet is an esteemed French director with quirky visual sensibilities, but he seems the wrong choice for this kind of material.  He doesn’t show a particularly strong affinity with the sci-fi-horror genre, nor, for that matter, with the previous chapters of the franchise.

A robust actress-warrior, Sigourney Weaver is given nothing interesting to say, and there is no chemistry between her and any of the characters, least of all with Winona Ryder, always better in fragile and vulnerable roles, who is simply miscast.

The feeling of most critics was that this splattering sequel, murky, formulaic and lacking in scares and visual wonder, should not have been made.

Commercial Appeal

Released on November 26, 1997, Alien Resurrection debuted at number two at the box office behind Flubber.  The film grossed $47.7 million in North America, the least successful of the Alien series. It was better received internationally, however, with a gross of $113.5 million, bringing its total gross to $161.2 million.

Credits

Twentieth Century Fox

Running time: 108 Minutes.

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Screenplay: Joss Whedon

Released: November 26, 1997.

DVD: December 2, 2003

Cast

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley

Winona Ryder as Annalee Call

Ron Perlman as Johner

Dominique Pinon as Vriess

Michael Wincott as Elgyn

Dan Hedaya as General Perez