Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
One of the traits of The Alien Quadrilogy - the improvised franchise which started 30 years ago when 20th Century Fox released Ridley Scott's Alien - is that the movies get weirder as the "series" progresses.
Had the studio left well enough alone and ended things with James Cameron's Aliens (1986), viewers could have had a one-two punch with Sigourney Weaver's Lt. Ripley beating the singular xenomorph of Scott's film and the thousands of titular aliens in Cameron's sequel.
Unfortunately, the Alien Duology became a trilogy when Fox released David Fincher's Alien 3, the saga's "prison" movie installment that, for a while, gave the series a sense of closure.
That is, until Joss Whedon (Firefly) teamed with French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie) and actress-producer Sigourney Weaver for 1997's Alien Resurrection.
Set 200 years after the events in the third film, Alien Resurrection is yet another spaceship-bound story which combines elements of the previous films.
For instance, we have a huge government-run space station, the Auriga, commanded by the halitosis-plagued Gen. Perez (Dan Hedaya), which has become sort of a bizarre monsters' nursery.
Here we discover that government scientists, continuing on the work of Weyland-Yutani , has created a hybrid clone of Ripley (Weaver) and the aliens using genetic material collected from the prison planet we saw in Alien 3.
This cloning process, as carried out by Doctors Wren (J.E.Freeman) and Geiman (Brad Dourif) has been hit-and-miss, but the eighth attempt to recreate Ripley and the alien queen fetus she was carrying at the end of Alien 3 succeeds.
Why the mad doctors and Gen Perez don't simply kill Ripley 2.0 after the "baby" is given the sci-fi equivalent of a Caesarian birth is a question best answered with a Because the movie would end then comment.
Instead, Whedon gives us a very strange version of Ripley; she somehow is able to regain all the human traits Ellen Ripley 1.0 possessed two centuries ago, and she has quite a few new features that tell us she's not just human. (One hint: human blood does not burn through metal.)
The script also introduces us to an evil Han Solo-type of shady "independent contractor" named Elgyn (Michael Wincot) and his crew of pirates. Elgyn was hired by Gen. Perez to hijack a ship, the Betty, and bring its hibernating crew to the Auriga so they can be "harvested" as breeding chambers for aliens.
Of course, the best laid plans of mice and evil governments oft go awry, and with soldiers, pirates, mad scientists, Ripley 2.0 and aliens in the mix, things go spectacularly bad.
And this being an Alien sequel, the aliens will get the upper hand over almost everyone except Ripley and Call (Winona Ryder), a waifish member of Elgyn's crew with a secret of her own.
The intriguing twist here, though, is Ripley's hybrid nature, which gives her new abilities while having the viewer ask, “Which species will claim her loyalty...the human race or the xenomorphs?”
While writer Whedon gives Alien Resurrection some intriguing sequences, in the end, it does to the Alien franchise what The Lost World: Jurassic Park did to that "series" which should have remained a stand-alone film: it makes it feel contrived, improvised and irrelevant.
Sure, Weaver carries the picture on her shoulders pretty nicely; the scene where she casually fends off a very obvious pass by Ron Perlman's Johner is well acted, and you have to admire any actor who can toss a basketball into a hoop over his or her shoulder without looking and making it look natural.
Weaver also has a good a rapport with Ryder's character, bringing to mind the motherly-instincts scenes she had with Newt in Aliens.
However, this movie seems to have been made only for geeks who go gaga over the xenomorph aliens, which here have some very strange new features and aren't immune to Machiavellian machinations to escape.
For the average movie watcher, though, Alien Resurrection is a visually entertaining but disposable sequel that barely registers.
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age