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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Alien Resurrection

Time for Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly blog about some movie I own.  We finish our voyage through the Alien franchise with Alien Resurrection.  This shows up in my notes on January 26, 2014.

Alien Resurrection poster

Well, let's bring our trip through the Alien franchise to an end with the fourth and final one (before the Aliens met the Predators) with Alien Resurrection.

Despite the critics going "meh" and Ripley dying at the end, Alien3 still made a ton of money, so a fourth one was bound to happen.  As I previously stated, the producers of the Alien franchise tend to snag a renowned director early in their career, and Alien Resurrection is no different, being directed by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who went to direct such beloved art house fare as Amelie and A Very Long Engagement.  Before he did Alien Resurrection, though, he was best known for quirky little indie French stuff, leading most of Hollywood to go, "Him?  Really?"  Yes, really.

But what really makes people look back at these days in awe and wonder is who wrote the screenplay.  Creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and currently riding high as Mr. Marvel movies, Joss Whedon.  Don't forget, back in the 1990s, he was a very much in-demand script doctor, and the reputation he developed, along with his knowledge of all things nerdy, got him the gig.  A lot of people over the years have pointed out some the strangeness of the story to be Whedon's doing, but Whedon denies it.  Whedon says that the finished film follows his script pretty closely, they just filmed it wrong.  I think Joel Schumacher said it best when discussing his epic train wreck Batman & Robin:  "Everything in a film is usually the result of the director's decision.  So if you don't like a movie, blame the director."  Some good did come out of the film, though, as Whedon has said a few times that the ragtag band of smugglers and mercenaries he created for this film wound up being his basis for Firefly.  Ron Perlman's character, the trigger-happy, antagonistic member of the crew, does remind me a lot of Jayne. 

So how does Ripley come back after making the ultimate sacrifice at the end of the last film?  Well, the army still wants the aliens in the hopes of training them to be used as weapons.  So, 200 years in the future, they manage to get their hands on Ripley's remains, and create a clone of her, in the hopes that they'll clone the infant Alien Queen inside her along with her.  That's exactly what happens, but this isn't quite the Ripley we once knew.  Thanks to the intermingling of DNA when she died, she has a hint of Alien DNA in her system, giving her increased strength and agility, acidic blood, and an empathy for the creatures.  Apparently this is what convinced Sigourney Weaver to come back for a fourth, the fact that she wouldn't be playing Ripley as much as a Ripley 2.0. 

Actually, Ripley 8.0, because in one very gruesome scene, we discover Ripleys 1-7 were the failed clones.  We're treated to quite the menagerie of human/alien mutants. 

The plot:  the military vessel studying the aliens and cloning Ripley hovers just outside the solar system, where they won't get caught.  Our proto-Firefly crew shows up, smuggling some cargo:  human hosts to gestate the Aliens in.  The smugglers get to chill out and enjoy all the amenities of the vessel, but of course, the Aliens escape and all hell breaks loose.  So our mercenaries and Ripley have to fight their way off the military vessel before it returns to Earth and unleashes the Aliens on the unsuspecting populace. 

I really don't know what to say about this one.  Out of the four, this one is definitely...the goofiest.  Excessively macho mercs and soldiers throwing in action hero one-liners all over the place, and just chewing the scenery.  Wow, has this franchise...I don't want to say it's fallen, because that would imply it's not good anymore.  It still has its charms.  But after the tension and horror of the first three films, it's just...unexpected. 

Hands down, though, the goofiest scene...the one that's always stuck out in my mind and the first one I had to watch when I opened up the Blu-Rays, was the birth of the new Alien creature, the Newborn.  Seeing that ever-frightening Alien Queen in labour.  You're watching this gigantic animatronic creation and wondering, "What did the puppeteers have to study in order to make this monstrosity look like it's giving birth?" 

There's still good stuff, though.  Weaver really makes Ripely 8 a unique creation.  This Ripley is a little more aggressive and a little more...seductive than what we saw in movies past.  Especially when she starts questioning her origins and wondering if she belongs among the humans or the Aliens.  And helping her with those decisions is Winona Ryder, who's pretty good as Call.  Call is one of the mercenaries, who's revealed to be an android.  She's a self-loathing android, though, and helping Ripley choose her fate helps Call to decide hers. 

But at the end of the day, this just seems a little too silly for an Alien film.

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