'Alien Resurrection': Let sleeping giants lie
November 20, 1997
Web posted at: 4:19 p.m. EST (2119 GMT)
From Reviewer Paul Tatara
(CNN) -- This may be hard to imagine, but "Alien
Resurrection," the latest installment in the continuing saga
of Sigourney Weaver's extraterrestrially put-upon Lt. Ripley,
makes the original "Alien" look positively quaint by
I clearly remember going to see that film on the night it
came out in 1979. To this day it's one of my favorite
movie-going experiences because my friends and I had no
earthly idea what was coming, and, when it finally
did come, it was un-earthly and really
scared the holy hell out of us. That face-hugger that
suddenly leaps up and attaches itself to John Hurt's kisser
was a foul, dripping thing. People were shocked. They
weren't applauding it, for God's sake.
Those days are over, of course. In "Alien Resurrection,"
most of the screen time is filled with churning blobs of
vein-covered guts, heads getting bashed open, and people
being sucked into massive piles of entrails. And lots of
people in the theater when I watched it were hootin' and
hollerin' like it was the second coming of Gypsy Rose Lee.
A lot has been made about how much money Weaver got to take
part in this film (something like 190 gazillion dollars and
part ownership of Guam), but she's not even the star anymore!
It's the big, squealing guy in the gooey, multi-jawed monster
suit. He's the one who bashes the skulls and sends brains
flying everywhere! That's so cool! You can't help but
wonder how this kind of thing and "Seinfeld" could
be popular at the same time.
I really loved the first two "Alien" films, but the third one
was a widely-acknowledged piece of space dung, so I'm not
going out on a limb when I say that it was almost
aggressively awful. Though you get far more Alien for your
buck, "Alien Resurrection" is not a whole lot better, and may
be the final notice that Monster-boy needs to be put out to
stud. Wait a minute -- that's the plot!
You guessed it. Once again some government bad guys (led by
Dan Hedaya, who sweats and has the hairiest shoulders I have
ever seen) have decided that they need to keep the Aliens
alive so that they can be cross-bred and ... eventually kill
everyone on board the spacecraft, I guess. How can a society
that nonchalantly travels across the galaxy be dumb enough to
think that they need to nurture 12-foot-tall monsters that
bleed acid and can jab their teeth through the side of a
Winnebago? Personally, I'd break the lease if one of these
things moved in next door, not mosey on over to convince it
to have a baby.
For all I know, I've gotten the plot to this one wrong. So
little happened for so long, and then so much gruesome-ness
was jammed down my throat from there on out, I actually went
numb. Winona Ryder (who I think is very cool, and, when I
see her walking around my New York neighborhood, looks like a
highly intelligent china doll) is on hand, and your guess is
as good as mine as to exactly why. I know that Ryder is a
fan of the first movie, and she wanted to appear with
Sigourney Weaver for that reason, so I guess I'll forgive
her. I do think, though, that she's too promising an actress
to be running and swimming and jumping while being chased by
a biologically-enhanced space Cuisinart. Dialogue like
"AAAAIIIIEEEEAAAA," is not Sarah Bernhardt. As long as
they're going for broke with the casting, I think the next
one should star Katharine Hepburn.
Sigourney Weaver has got her monotone, cold Ripley-tone down
to an art form, and she's pretty good. It takes a committed
actress to actually seduce a space creature, but she does it
in one scene and almost makes it believable. Almost. You
see, Ripley, who killed herself in the last film (wise move)
has now been re-created as a clone of herself! Isn't that
convenient? She now understands how the Aliens think, how
they reproduce, and, I suppose which ones like diet soda and
which ones like regular. She just knows 'em, OK?
This is another big problem. Half the fun of the first two
films was that the people who were battling those ornery
critters really didn't have a clue as to how to proceed. It
was a lot more nightmarish, especially since some of the
characters displayed a believable personality that actually
made you care whether or not they survived. Not here.
Everybody is just walking around waiting to get masticated.
Some of them have scars. Some of them are brave. Some of
them are chicken. Eventually, though, nearly all of them
become chicken dinners.
It's loud, it's bloody, it's redundant. Did I mention
bloody? You also get to see an entire Alien sucked through a
hole the size of a quarter, which is a pretty neat bar trick
even though it took a couple million bucks to pull it off.
In the next installment, a wino pokes an Alien egg into a
Coke bottle and wins a free beer! Rated R. 97 minutes.