Monday, December 17, 2012

Alien: Resurrection

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and screenplay by Joss Whedon, Alien: Resurrection is the fourth and final film of the original Alien franchise in which a newly-cloned Ellen Ripley returns to fight a new species of aliens with a group of mercenaries after an experiment had gone wrong. With Sigourney Weaver playing the role of Ripley once again. The film also stars Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon, Brad Dourif, Michael Wincott, Dan Hedaya, Gary Dourdan, and Leland Orser. Alien: Resurrection is a stylish yet engaging thriller from Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

200 years after the events that led to the death of Ellen Ripley, a military experiment that featured remnants of her DNA sample has finally succeed in cloning Ripley where her body contained a baby queen alien. With the newly-cloned Ripley still in containment as she contains alien blood in her body, the experiment led by General Perez (Dan Hedaya), his subordinate Dr. Wren (J.E. Freeman) and Dr. Gediman study the aliens as they wait for a ship to arrive. The ship features a team of mercenaries who had captured a group of people unaware of the motives the military has for them. While the band of mercenaries that includes Call (Winona Ryder) who recognizes Ripley as she secretly enters her cell in an attempt to kill her where Call reveals why she and the mercenaries are really here.

Instead, things go wrong when the alien experiment have the aliens break out of their containment area and kill most of the crew leaving Ripley, Call, the rest of the mercenaries, Dr. Wren, and a marine in DiStefano (Raymond Cruz) to deal with the aliens. Realizing that the only option is to destroy the ship and board on the mercenaries ship to escape, Ripley and the gang try to deal with the aliens as they kill a few while Ripley makes a discovery about the experiment that was done to her. While trying to escape the aliens, the group finds a man named Purvis (Leland Orser) who had survived the experiment as he learns he has an alien inside him that’s going to burst soon. Things become more complicated where another discovery is made where Ripley and Call realize what the queen alien is doing as Ripley realizes that new breed of alien is being made and it has to be stopped.

Throughout the entirety of the series, there is always a subplot that relates to a corporation wanting to take the sample of an alien in order to use it for bio-weapons. In this film, the military finally gets a hold of an alien for their experiment and everything goes wrong. Once again, Ellen Ripley and everything she had faced in the past reveal that everything she didn‘t want to happen has finally come true. Resurrected from the dead in order to fight the aliens one more time, she goes all out while having a new advantage that would help her fight off the aliens as she also has alien blood in her.

Joss Whedon creates a script that does reveal a lot into how Ripley was finally able to be successfully cloned yet also shows a woman who is trying to get in touch with her humanity while becoming aware of what she’s facing. There is a new conflict that she’s facing as she is a bit of an alien where she is quite reluctant to kill them since they’re really her children. It’s one of the interesting aspects of the screenplay as well as the mercenaries themselves who definitely have a motive to board the U.S. science ship as one of them in Call knows a lot about Ripley and her history with the aliens. While the script does play to formula a bit and carries lots of exposition that does go a bit overboard, Whedon is able to create a script that is very faithful to its predecessors.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s direction is definitely stylish in the way he presents the film in a visual scale as well as the fact that he was able to keep things more simple. With some unique framing from camera shots shown from above and under to create an air of suspense while emphasizing that it’s more than just a film as it’s often led by an ensemble. While Jeunet is aware that there’s a formula that’s to be played where characters do get killed off and such. Jeunet does manage to give some characters moments where they can stand out and actually give the audience something to care about. Jeunet also keeps the action exciting without delving too much into fast-paced action or shaky camera work. While the film definitely has flaws in some parts of the script as well as moments where some of the action and visual effects don’t mesh up. Jeunet does create a solid and thrilling film that lives up to some of the brilliance of the franchise.

Cinematographer Darius Khondji does excellent work with the film‘s lush yet evocative photography to play up the mood of the film with its emphasis for a bit of grain in the look as well as low-lights for many of the scenes to play up the sense of style. Editor Herve Schneid does nice work with the editing in the way the action is given a rhythm that isn‘t too fast while slowing things down for the suspense and low-key moments. Production designer Nigel Phelps, along with set decorator John W. Dwyer and art director Steve Cooper, does terrific work with the sets from the look of the labs and hallways in the spaceship to the designs of the nests where the alien eggs are to be hatched.

Costume designer Bob Ringwood does some good work with the costumes to create some nice mercenary suits for the mercenaries as well as the clothes that Ripley wears when she fights off the aliens. Visual effects supervisors Erik Henry and Pitof do wonderful work with the visual effects such as the way the aliens move and how some of the exteriors are made though there‘s some bits that doesn‘t entirely work. Sound designer Leslie Shatz and sound editor John A. Larsen do superb work with the sound to create an atmosphere that occurs as well as setting a mood for some of the film‘s suspenseful moments. The film’s music by John Frizzell is quite good for its orchestral bombast to play out the drama and action that occurs in the film.

The casting by Richard Pagano is brilliant for the ensemble that is created for the film as it includes some notable small roles from Carolyn Campbell and David St. James as a couple of scientists doing research on the aliens, Dan Hedaya as the big ship’s head General Perez, Leland Orser as a lab rat who has to deal with an alien inside of him, J.E. Freeman as the distrustful Dr. Wren, Raymond Cruz as the marine DiStephano, and Brad Dourif as the main scientist Dr. Gediman who is fascinated by the aliens. For the roles of the mercenaries, there’s Kim Flowers as the pilot Hillard, Gary Dourdan as the skilled shooter Christie, and Michael Wincott as the mercenaries leader Frank Elgyn. Jeunet regulars Ron Perlman and Dominique Pinon are great in their respective roles as the humorous shooter Johner and the paraplegic yet resourceful mechanic Vriess.

Winona Ryder is excellent as the mercenary Call who knows a lot more than her other mercenaries seem to know about the situation as she also carries a secret that would help everyone. Finally, there’s Sigourney Weaver in her fourth outing as Ellen Ripley. Weaver brings a new dark element to the character as a woman who is really a shell of what she used to be as she deals with her new alien blood as well as the fact that she’s the aliens’ mother where Weaver brings another fantastic performance as the famed character.

Alien: Resurrection is a stellar though flawed film from Jean-Pierre Jeunet that features a superb performance from Sigourney Weaver. Along with amazing visuals and top-notch supporting work from Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, and Dominique Pinon. While it may not love to the brilliance of the first two films, it does manage to be entertaining enough for fans of the franchise. In the end, Alien: Resurrection is a superb film from Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet Films: Delicatessen - The City of Lost Children - Amelie - A Very Long Engagement - Micmacs - (The Young and Prodigious Spivet) - The Auteurs #20: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Alien Films: Alien - Aliens - Alien 3

© thevoid99 2012


s. said...

Great review! Although the film is mostly hated I must say I liked it - it had many cool scenes and Winona and Sigourney have great chemistry. I agree that the whole Ripley clone thing was really interesting part of the story and that Jeunet's direction was very stylish, the film looks great and the atmosphere is fantastic.

thevoid99 said...

It was a better film than I was expecting to after now finally doing all four of the Alien films. This is my third favorite.

Plus, I think Joss Whedon's script allowed more room for the characters and I liked the scenes with Winona and Sigourney as well. Especially the moments with Ron Perlman and Dominique Pinon.

Chris said...

I agree with both of you in comments, I also quite enjoyed Alien 4, despite the negative reviews, and despite the forced situation of Ripley brought back from the dead. Especially the humor I liked in this 4th film. Not as strong as Alien or Aliens, though better than Alien 3

thevoid99 said...

@Chris-I think one of the aspects that made the fourth film successful wasn't just the humor but you had more characters to care for. In Alien 3, you didn't have a lot of characters to root for other than Ripley and Charles S. Dutton's character. Plus, I think Jeunet and Whedon were able to do something that was in tribute to the first 2 films but also make it funnier.

Unknown said...

Nice review. For me Alien 3 felt like it was trying to match the tone of Alien. While Alien Resurection felt like it was trying to match the tone of Aliens. I found it to be a good ending to the franchise.

thevoid99 said...

@The Vern-I think that's one of the reasons by Alien: Resurrection was better than Alien 3.