Saturday, 18 February 2012
Alien Resurrection (1997)
“She’ll breed. You’ll die.”
For a start, it makes you jump. A lot. It seems to me that’s the one thing an Alien film should definitely do, and something which the last film conspicuously failed at. The scene with the alien suddenly striking out at Wren only to hit glass which we only now realise is there is probably the bit that made me jump the highest, but there’s a lot of this sort of thing, a lot of suspense, and a real sense of threat, which again Alien³ conspicuously lacked.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet isn’t a Ridley Scott or a David Cameron- the film is very well shot, with some creative use of the camera, but there’s none of that indefinable sense of style that separates a great director from a very good one. Still, the film looks very good and ticks all the boxes, although this time with CGI.
This is also a very witty script, with every character feeling well-rounded and individual. It’s unmistakeably a Joss Whedon script, and there’s a definite proto-Firefly feel to the crew of the Betty. Whedon also takes the opportunity to do something which the previous film again failed to do- have some fun with the tropes. The body horror element is made much more horrific by the simple expedient of making everyone aware that Purvis is “pregnant” and an alien is bound to burst out of his ribcage at an inconvenient moment. The hybrid creatures in jars are horrible. And it’s a nice twist that this film’s token android (or “Auton”, a word to raise the eyebrows of any Doctor Who fan) should be Winona Ryder’s uber-emotional Call. There are little things, too: the whole clichéd situation of the powers that be foolishly believing that they can use the aliens for their own purposes, and not all die horribly, as Ripley attempts to persuade them otherwise, is just quickly glossed over near the start of the film. After all, we know the drill by now.
These aliens are cleverer, and more dangerous. There’s a nice scene with Vriess (nice to see a disabled character who doesn’t die!) which really emphasises how nasty the acidic blood is, too. And the whole underwater scene, with its shark-like swimming aliens and the horrible, horrible trap is just amazing. This film is very, very strong on set-pieces. The death of Ripley’s “child” is just….eurgh!
Interestingly, the two characters with, more or less, superpowers are both women: Ripley and call. Indeed, our cloned, part-Alien Ripley is looking a little similar to the eponymous star of Whedon’s own Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which I shall be returning to after I finish Borgen), which commenced in the same year. And the only characters to be successfully “impregnated” are all men. This is a return to the sexual-political subtext of the first film.
The ending is a little abrupt, perhaps, and while the whole thing looks good it lacks the touch of genius it would have needed to compete with the first two films, but this is a much better effort.