Even though a lot of people didn't like ALIEN RESURRECTION, I am going to count myself among the few who found the film to be a bit of fun. Even though I enjoyed it, ALIEN RESURRECTION certainly isn't a classic of the science fiction genre, as were the first two installments in the series. However, most will find it a lot more accessible than the dark and brooding third movie. Obviously, Fox intended for this movie to resurrect a moneymaking franchise, so they could produce a bunch of new sequels. By the nature of its design, ALIEN RESURRECTION is a popcorn movie that delivers a few good scares, a bit of black humor, a whole lot of action, and some state-of-the-art special effects. Sure it's kind of disheartening to see a film series with a pedigree that includes ALIEN and ALIENS go commercial, but that's Hollywood for you. ALIEN RESURRECTION does however; set up things nicely for a fifth film that would have the aliens species arrive at their ultimate destination- Earth.
ALIEN RESURRECTION takes place two hundred years after the events depicted in ALIEN 3. Through genetic manipulation, scientists are able to clone a fully-grown Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), along with the alien queen embryo that was inside of her at the time of her death. Does it make sense? No, but I'm willing to give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt to get the ball rolling. Anyway, Ellen Ripley is no longer the woman she once was; the cloning process has fused her genetic makeup with that of the alien species. Thanks to the aliens, the memories of the original Ellen Ripley were passed down at the genetic level, along with a few other gifts. The new Ellen Ripley possesses enhanced strength and superior reflexes, which makes her a rather formidable predator in her own right.
While the Ellen Ripley clone may be of interest to the scientists who created her, the military consider her a meat byproduct of their efforts to get their hands on the ultimate biological weapon- the alien species itself. Even in the distant future, the term military intelligence remains an oxymoron, especially after the newly bred aliens break free from confinement and begin running lose through the deep space medical installation. All of the military personnel evacuate the medical spacecraft, leaving a group of smugglers and the new and improved Ellen Ripley to fend off a hostile alien assault.
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has an interesting visual style that works relatively well. However, Jeunet sometimes allows the camera to linger a bit too long on the film's grotesqueries, giving the film the flavor of a carnival sideshow. The screenplay by Joss Whedon has some of the same quirky humor that one would find in an episode of his television series BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Of course, like the TV show, Whedon's heroine gets all the best lines. Speaking of the film's heroine, I very much liked Sigourney Weaver's portrayal of the new Ellen Ripley. Weaver's creepy performance makes one truly believe that there is a real predator lurking behind the familiar face of Ellen Ripley. The cast of ALIEN RESURRECTION also features Winona Ryder, Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman, Gary Dourdan, Michael Wincott, Kim Flowers, Dan Hedaya, J.E. Freeman and Brad Dourif.
Since ALIEN RESURRECTION is the newest of the four movies, it stands to reason that it would be the best looking and sounding of the group. Well to be honest, I think that ALIEN 3 has a slight edge in terms of the visuals. Some of ALIEN RESURRECTION was shot under harsh fluorescent lighting, which gives those sequences an unappealing look. However, for the most part, the THX certified transfer is first rate. ALIEN RESURRECTION is recreated here at its full 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio, plus the DVD contains the 16:9 anamorphic component for wide screen televisions. ALIEN RESURRECTION sports a sharp, very well defined image with excellent shadow detail. Color reproduction is good, but it is subject the stylistic choices made for the films original cinematography. Saturation is usually quite good and there are no problems with chroma noise. The image also sports an excellent black level, as well as superior contrast. Thanks to the use of dual layer technology, as well as superb DVD authoring, digital compression artifacts are a total non-issue on this DVD.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is a total knockout. Every one of the discrete channels is used to its full advantage to provide clean channel separation. While sound effects tend to leap out of all of the channels, the aggressive mix also creates a cohesive sound field that envelops the viewer in the films version of reality. Bass reproduction is killer, with the track consistently pumping out the lows. Dialogue is very cleanly rendered on the soundtrack, even though the busy mix could have buried it. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks are also provided on the DVD, along with English, and Spanish subtitles. The interactive menus are mildly animated, contain sound and provide the standard scene and language selection features, plus access to a "Making Of" featurette and four theatrical trailers.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has released ALIEN RESURRECTION on DVD for $29.95 or as part of The Alien Legacy collection, a four film box set for $109.95.
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