I’m pretty sure everybody thought the disappointing Alien 3 would be the last of the series. Sure why wouldn’t it be: The last Alien to exist was a queen but she was growing inside Ripley who at the end of Alien 3 committed suicide by giving her a Terminator death when she threw herself into a pool of liquid metal. No more Ripley, no more Aliens, the end. That’s what you thought, that’s what I thought, but since Jurassic park explained to everybody how easy it was to clone something that went extinct millions of years ago we now have Alien: Resurrection. The really last film of the series that brings back Ripley as a clone who must battle the Aliens once more.
Alien: Resurrection is notch above the 3rd installment but never comes close to the first and second film because the movie only touches familiar grounds with aliens and only injects a couple of small new things into the series. Most important of the new additions is Ripley herself; now a clone and made up of mixed Human and Alien DNA Ripley is stronger, boosts a more predatory look and her blood has acid-like features. This is not a Ripley that needs a Cargo Loader to kick some ass. It is fresh to see how a character can reinvent themselves in a way so that we as an audience are still interested in it. Ripley succeeds and shines at moments where she plays basketball with Ron Perlman or smells an alien inside someone who’s carrying one just like the Alien in Alien 3 could with her. Ripley carries the movie once more as her co-stars just wander about a little bit being nothing more than potential Alien victims.
The Aliens themselves are back in full force and a bit more developed this time now that they are captured and tested on. The scene where they learn what the push of a button can do and their escape from prison reminded me of the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park. That’s not a bad thing it’s just that these scenes are quickly forgotten and they return quickly to simple monsters who chase the humans. Why set them up as being so smart as they will function as mere canon fodder for the rest of the film?
Most of the movie consist of what we’ve seen before in the previous films; a lot of running through futuristic corridors where aliens can pop up at any time and a couple of humans who’ve got to reach an escape vessel in order to get away from these nasty beasts. What the movie does right is a skillful execution. The sets are really atmospheric and every generic scene is at least beautifully photographed. The Aliens look astonishing once again and there’s even a memorable scene under water. Most of the crew are fairly bland as they feel like stock-characters but Ripley owns the movie and gets most of the character-depth. Especially in the scene where she remembers, or at least tries to, Newt and where she finds out what that 8 on her arm means. The only thing I though that didn’t do justice to the Aliens was the Alien/Human-hybrid that is being born in the movie. This design is a complete failure and is hideous compared to the slick designs of the other aliens.
Now a bit about the ending (spoilers, ahead): For this review I watched the Special Edition. It is a couple of minutes longer and has a different beginning and ending. The ending consists of Ripley and Call (Winona Ryder) on Earth what turns out to be at a post-apocalyptic Paris. This scene instantly reminded me of The Army Of Darkness in which Ash ends up in post-apocalyptic London. Also it made the previous 110 minutes a cheat as they couldn’t let the spaceship reach Earth as the Aliens would kill everybody there. Apparently everybody is already dead over there and nobody told them? I don’t prefer one version above another as the changes are minimal.
Alien: Resurrection is not the best of the series but I dare to say it is a better film than the theatrical version of Alien 3. It does not beat Alien and Aliens though.