What makes Alien Resurrection (20th Century Fox) such a frustrating film is the fact that Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who has built a following based on his inventive films Delicatessen and City Of Lost Children ( both of which were co-directed by Marc Caro), brings a truly interesting visual style to the fourth Alien film, and before it turns terminally silly in its second hour, looks like it’s poised to bring something new to the series.
It seems that 200 years after her death, the U.S. government thinks raising aliens for fun and profit is a good business, so they decide to clone Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver, obviously having a grand time – she co-produced this film), who has a little queen alien in her chest. A group of galactic smugglers, including Call (Winona Ryder, coasting), ends up stranded on the Army hospital craft where Ripley (now part Alien after the cloning) and the aliens are being hatched. Soon, the creatures are out of control with predictably gory results.
Jeunet tries to steer away form the clichés inherent in the series as long as possible (yes, there is a chest bursting scene and, yes, one of the crew is really a robot), and he does so with a kind of baroque black humor and a cartoonish action style that makes some of this film fun to watch. There is a wonderful, almost surreal sequence where Ripley leads the group underwater through the ship’s flooded kitchen with feral underwater aliens in rapid pursuit. That points to the directions Jeunet could have taken this film had he been given more control over the often dull screen play by Joss Whedon. Weaver and Ryder have a few good scenes together (Weaver rips the tongue out of a dead alien and gives it to Ryder as a souvenir), but the film eventually turns into the kind of over-the-top slimefest that fans of the series have come to love, minus the genuine sense of dread that Ridley Scott’s original film possessed.