The Horror Honeys: Beyond Salvation... OR IS IT?

Beyond Salvation... OR IS IT?

A Sci-Fi Honey/Revenge Honey Tandem review - Part 5 in the Alien Series Retrospective

Alien: Resurrection (1997) 

The Sci-Fi Honey Perspective

I remember watching the original Alien: Resurrection in theatre when it came out, and being underwhelmed. It made so little impression on me that didn’t remember anything about it other than that Winona Ryder’s character annoyed me a bit. I re-watched it this week, and while Winona’s character still annoyed me a bit, I liked the movie more than I did originally.

The events of Resurrection take place 200 years after Ripley’s death in the furnace on the prison/foundry planet. Military scientists have successfully cloned Ripley from a blood sample on the prison planet taken before she died. They remove the queen that was gestating inside her when she died, and decide to leave Ripley alive for further study. Clearly scientists haven’t learned from the last three attempts to use the Aliens for their own gain that ended in mayhem and carnage, but hey, that’s humanity in general for you.  We just never learn.

It turned out that Ripley8 (she is the 8th clone they created, the only ‘successful’ one, and had a #8 tattooed on her arm) is a hybrid of Alien and human. She quickly learns to speak, and plays a mean game of basketball. She heals super fast, is insanely strong, and moves kind of like a velociraptor combined with a cat in human form. She also has some quite cool black fingernails. The military scientists have paid off some mercenary types to bring them some kidnapped humans in stasis to host more aliens, so they can create several more specimens. As you can imagine, they escape, and death and destruction ensues as the ship with the aliens on board heads toward earth, and the mercenaries and Ripley8 try to destroy the ship and escape before that happens and the aliens get unleashed on earth.

See? Hamster vs. Great Dane.
I have to say, I did enjoy this movie. It was written by Joss Whedon, whom I love, and no one writes a strong female lead like Joss. Ripley8 is predatory, slightly amoral, and I thought Sigourney Weaver did a fantastic job - she moves completely differently than the Ripley of the first three movies did, even her eyes look different and a bit flat, like she’s slightly amused and kinda wants to eat people. 

Winona Ryder plays a teeny little android named Call, who learned of the plan to clone Ripley and comes to kill her to save humanity. I dunno, I really liked Winona in Beetlejuice and Heathers, but I’ve been meh on her more serious work, and I was meh on her character in Resurrection, just like when I saw it in 1997. It was pretty hilarious seeing her next to Sigourney Weaver though. Sigourney is just under 6’ tall, and Winona is the size of my cat. In the scene where Call goes to Ripley8’s cell to kill her, it looked pretty much like a hamster trying to kill a Great Dane. Ripley8 was as amused as I was.

I'd like to see 'Jaws' redone with swimming Xenomorphs.
The action in the movie was ok, the acting did the job also, not spectacular aside from Sigourney. It was great to see Ron Perlman, whom I always enjoy, and he did a hilarious ‘upside down on a ladder gunfire shot’ that was pretty great. I thought most of the effects were good. The Aliens looked really neat texture-wise, they moved well. There was a hybrid Alien at the end of the movie, kind of half human, that looked a little too animatronic and fake sometimes, but overall they did the job. The scene where Ripley8 and The Queen are up close and personal was well shot and looked fantastic. There was an underwater scene with the Aliens that I actually quite liked. It seemed a bit unnecessary, but it was an interesting departure from the usual Alien encounters, and again the swimming Aliens looked great. 

A face only a mother could love...
When the movie ended I was actually kind of underwhelmed. As I said, I like Joss’s writing, and some of the cinematography was quite cool, especially the lighting, but at times the visuals and the dialogue/acting didn’t quite go together, if that makes sense. The visuals sometimes seemed almost arty and quite lovely (the director is French, so there you go), while the actors were more funny and down to earth, which is how Joss writes. I think a different director would have made more appropriate stylistic choices. The music was also kind of like the Love Boat mixed with ET: The Extraterrestrial. I’d call it ‘Cheesy Orchestral’. 

Sci-Fi Honey Lowdown: I’m mixed on Alien: Resurrection. I loved Sigourney Weaver’s character, both in look and personality. I enjoyed a lot of the dialogue from Joss, and the acting was decent. The Aliens looked great overall. The action was kind of meh and standard, and the music and visuals and writing didn’t seem to always mesh for me. When it ended, I thought, ‘That was pretty good.’ Winona Ryder was still mildly annoying, but nothing new there.

Sci-Fi Honey Rating: 3.5 Basketballs to Ron Perlman’s nads out of 5. I loved Ripley8, I loved Joss, but the another director would have been better for the movie I think.

The Revenge Honey Perspective

Are they going to make out? I think they're going to make out!
Yes. It's a terrible movie. Yes. It's depressing when you know what it could have been had Joss Whedon's script been interpreted the way he intended. But I still love Alien: Resurrection and I don't care who knows it. This will probably lose me some film cred as a horror buff, but I'm willing to suffer the consequences. All I ask is that you hear me out.

The first two films in the Alien series are some of my favorites, not just in horror, but also in general. Jean-Pierre Jeunet is one of my favorite working directors; Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children are two of the most gloriously creepy and visually stunning films ever. Joss Whedon is a Sci-Fi god, responsible for not just some of the best science fiction shows in history, but also the mind behind a few of the most breathtakingly fierce female characters ever written. This combination of elements should have led to a masterpiece. So how did it all go so very wrong?

You think you're numb to being horrified by certain images... but then...
The reality is, when you watch Resurrection, you can almost see the movie that could have been. There are hints of Joss Whedon's humor, but it doesn't seem to translate for the majority of the film. Jeunet's style is obvious; all earth tones and disorienting images. Even the actors appear invested in their performances. Sigourney Weaver is clearly attached to Ripley. Winona Ryder makes a hell of an android. And Ron Perlman, Dominque Pinon, and Michael Wincott are fantastic as the crew of the Betty. And yet, the movie as a whole is a disaster. So why do I still like it, you ask?

The simple answer is... I have no idea. Maybe it's my compulsive need to root for the underdog and love what everyone else hates (that trait applies to the reverse as well... If everyone tells me to love something, I will probably hate it out of spite.) Maybe its because I so adore all the parts that by extension, I ended up loving the whole. But why does anyone like anything? There is no rhyme or reason to it.

Don't be sad gooey alien! Mommy still loves you!
I know that it's a fairly awful movie, especially when compared to the first two. And yet, I still love it. Maybe if we all agreed that the adage "to each his own" applied to pop culture, people would be more willing to share their guilty pleasures without fear of being cast out of the elite circle of true cinema junkies.

Revenge Honey Rating - 4 Affectionate Points out of 5 (don't challenge me on this or you will get a basketball to the junk, just like Perlman.)