“Pray You Die First”
My mommy always told me monsters weren’t real. Not really. But they are. And they live in the form of the Hollywood remake, or the most unnecessary sequel of all time – Alien Resurrection.
Sigourney Weaver claimed (after Alien 3), “This is the last one for me. I have never been more sure about anything. If there’s another Alien, then they will have to do it without Ripley.” Ripley lied.
In David Fincher’s Alien 3, Ellen Ripley rightfully met her end by the time the credits rolled. She was dead, and the franchise probably should have died with her. But, alas, the franchise has overgrown now to the point of no return even without Ripley. Before she took her final bow, she signed up for the fourth installment of the franchise, Alien Resurrection.
Before you dismiss this post entirely, let’s talk about what went wrong with this bastard of a movie.
When Alien 3 was released, it was deemed an atrocious mess that ruined the franchise forever; even director David Fincher completely disassociated himself with his directorial debut. As years have passed, I look at it now as a misunderstood masterpiece by one of the greatest directors working today. General audiences still hate on it, but then came Alien Resurrection. Full stop.
200 years after her death in Alien 3, Ellen Ripley is revived as a powerful human/alien hybrid clone who must continue her battle against the aliens. Along with a crew of space pirates, Ripley must also prevent the deadly aliens from reaching Earth.
Sigourney Weaver originally refused to do a fourth Alien film. When asked why she changed her mind, she replied, “They basically drove a dump truck full of money to my house”.
Weaver was paid $11 million to come back as Ripley, which was the entire budget of Alien (1979) (not adjusted for inflation). I guess money really does talk, right?
What I didn’t know about Alien: Resurrection was that the original plot wasn’t entirely unlikable; in fact, it sounded like it would probably have been a better concept to reboot the franchise with.
The original idea for the movie was for Newt to be cloned, not Ripley. She was to be somewhat of a superhuman with considerable strength and master fighting skills. Writer Joss Wheldon was brought into the project to draft a script; he had previous experience writing another action series that featured a young heroine, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Apparently, Wheldon wrote a 30-page concept story, but the studio was concerned that fans wouldn’t accept an Alien movie without Ellen Ripley. LOL. When Weaver agreed to sign on to the project, Wheldon’s initial story was scrapped, never to be seen again. Thus, the script containing the cloned Ripley was created.
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet was given license to change the script as much as he wanted, and the final film is substantially different than Joss Whedon’s original script. Characters and situations were merged, simplified or removed, and the overall tone was made more fanciful and less realistic.
BUT, before we start pointing the finger at Wheldon’s garbage script and overall concept, he had some pointed remarks about the overall film years later.
“It wasn’t a question of doing everything differently, although they changed the ending; it was mostly a matter of doing everything wrong. They said the lines but they said them all wrong. And they cast it wrong. And they designed it wrong. And they scored it wrong. They did everything wrong they could possibly do. That’s actually a fascinating lesson in filmmaking. Because everything they did reflects back to the script or looks like something from it. And people assume that if I hated it then they’d changed the script…but it wasn’t so much they changed it, they executed it in such a ghastly fashion they rendered it unwatchable.” Writer Joss Whedon via IMDB.
There weren’t many redeemable aspects of the movie, and the ill-conceived humor made everything cringe-worthy. However, there are sequences, albeit unrealistic, like the underwater chase scene that had my heart racing. Although the whole movie concept was a total failure, at least it tried to creatively separate itself in originality from the prior films. Didn’t work though, but hey, they tried.
Sigourney Weaver also does her damnest to give another spectacular performance with what little she has to work with, and I honestly think she delivers. Despite the obnoxious one-liners, the supporting cast (Winona Ryder is annoying though) wasn’t half bad. They were actually memorable unlike other installments in the franchise (I’m looking at you, Alien Covenant).
What fans, myself included, probably hated most about Resurrection was the (let’s say it together now) … the newborn. What. the. hell. Ryan Lamble at Den of Geek summarizes our sentiments best.
“For me, the Newborn is grotesque for all the wrong reasons, and lacks the otherworldly nastiness of Giger’s original designs. Shambling and ungainly, it’s a monster without threat, a doe-eyed, knock-kneed abomination with a distended beer gut. It’s a far cry from the 1979 alien’s implied menace.” Ryan Lamble via Den of Geek
Apparently, Joss Whedon was determined to have Ripley and the Alien end up on future Earth (makes sense right?), as the series had never gone there. He went through five different script versions of the final battle with the newborn creature, all taking place on Earth. The first took place in a snowy forest, the second in a futuristic junkyard, the third in a hospital maternity ward, and the fourth in a desert (to which he initially objected, because it looked too much like an alien world). When the studio told him that the budget would not allow for an ending set on Earth, he scripted the climax taking place aboard the Betty, which resulted in one of the most revolting scenes in Alien history (I literally want to throw up thinking about it).
I actually saw this movie for the first time in theaters for my tenth or eleventh birthday, and reflecting back on it now, what an absolute mess. Granted, as a child seeing it, it proved to terrify me (the big screen experience is always killer). Today, it proves to give a few chills here and there, but I think we could have all done without that addition to the franchise.