With Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant receiving the franchise's best reviews since James Cameron's Aliens, fans are letting out a sigh of relief. Prometheus was infamously divisive; prior to that, most fans were disappointed with the ending to Alien 3, which was intended to be the franchise's conclusion (pfft, yeah right).
Several years after the third entry, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie) and writer Joss Whedon came together to give us the fourth entry, Alien: Resurrection. While it made plenty of money — $161 million against a $75 million budget — it flopped with viewers and critics, and even Whedon himself disowned the final product.
So, what went wrong?
Aside from maybe two or three decent scenes, some amusing dialogue and the impressive set design, this movie is HORRIBLE. I enjoy it for how cheesy and unlike the rest of the franchise it is, but I am aware that it's not a good movie. Here is why:
10. Ripley Is Back From The Dead, Because Reasons?
With Ripley throwing herself into molten metal at the end of Alien 3, solidifying that we wouldn't see her again, how in the living hell do you manage to bring the character back? Well, follow Jurassic Park, of course.
Somehow, centuries after her death, scientists found traces of Ripley's DNA and created a clone with the Xenomorph queen still inside her. It's as dumb at it sounds, but it gets worse. This Ripley clone is different; she has Xeno DNA inside of her, so suddenly Ripley is this superhero-like being. You can practically see that Sigourney Weaver did not want to be in the movie; I just imagine they were waving her paycheck off-camera to motivate her.
9. The Chestburster Scene
Throughout the franchise, the Chestburster scenes have established themselves as true masterpieces of horror. Leave it up to Alien: Resurrection to take an iconic sequence and make it one of the most hilariously awful scenes to watch. While the "so bad it's good" fan side of me enjoys this scene for some laughs, I'm also a fan of this franchise, so this feels like a slap in the face:
8. Oh, And THIS Stupid Scene
Hey, Alien: Resurrection, I know you're trying to compete with Batman Robin for worst fourth movie in a franchise, but...really? Brad Dourif tarnishing his career even worse than any Chucky movie ever did by making out with a Xenomorph through a glass window? This happened and we let it happen:
7. The Film Isn't Sure Whether It's Horror Or Comedy
Joss Whedon's script for this movie was supposed to be fun and lighthearted, which doesn't really fit with the Alien movies — but rather than changing the script, the producers just made it with a dark tone. The two elements clash in the worst ways possible, and thus all my fear for these creatures vanishes. As Whedon said in a 2006 interview:
"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...mostly...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 that they could possibly do. There's actually a fascinating lesson in filmmaking, because everything that they did reflects back to the script or looks like something from the script, and people assume that, if I hated it, then they’d changed the script...but it wasn’t so much that they’d changed the script; it’s that they just executed it in such a ghastly fashion as to render it almost unwatchable."
6. The Acting
I don't know if it was the direction, the lousy script or the actors realizing what kind of movie they signed up for, but the acting in this movie is AWFUL. With a cast comprised up of Sigourney Weaver, Ron Perlman, Brad Dourif and Winona Ryder, this could have been one of the best entries in the franchise — but unfortunately, everybody is either so over-the-top that they might as well be cartoon characters (J. E. Freeman as Wren, for example) or they are so dry and low-energy that it looks like they aren't even trying.
5. The Facehugger Scene Makes NO Sense
During what is most definitely the best scene in the film, in which the characters are being chased by aliens through a flooded area of the ship, there is a part that still to this day just aggravates me to no end. Ripley gets a facehugger attached to her face, and if you are a fan of the franchise, you probably know that it is nearly impossible to remove a facehugger because their grips get tighter and tighter the more you try to fight it. Well, Ripley removes this facehugger like ripping off a Band-Aid. Now, one could argue that since Ripley has alien DNA, she might have some enhanced strength, but there has been no evidence to suggest that. So this scene just makes no sense!
4. More Aliens, Fewer Scares
While the Xenomorphs do look fantastic in this movie thanks to some great practical and even some great digital effects, the problem is that in the first five to 10 minutes we get to see them on full display in their cells. These creatures are so terrifying in the first three movies because they were always hidden in the shadows; even when you got to see more of the creature up close, there was always a part of it obscured by shadow, steam, fog or whatever — and when the creature was finished with a victim, it would vanish.
In Alien: Resurrection, the Xenos are always shown on full display with no tension or buildup, thus removing their scare factor. This is the same problem that happened to another icon of horror: the shark from Jaws. By the fourth film, the shark would just be shown in the first 20 minutes. Less is more!
3. Endless Character Development That Goes Nowhere
A staple of the Alien series is that we get to know and like the characters before their nightmare begins. That worked in the first three movies, even though we only spent 30 minutes at most with them first — whereas Alien: Resurrection spends almost an hour to "develop" these characters. Maybe only three of them are likable. When the characters do get killed off, you just don't care.
2. Did I Mention The Plot Makes NO Sense?
How did the scientists find Ripley's DNA on Furina 161 centuries later? Who is behind all of this? Is this Weyland-Yutani still? Why are the scientists keeping the bodies of the failed Ripley clones? Why are they keeping the main Ripley clone around at all after they extracted the queen? Why is Earth destroyed? Why don't you have acid-proof cells for these aliens with acid for blood? How come you don't keep surveillance on these creatures that you value so much? Why do the Xenomorphs have acid for spit now? NOTHING ABOUT THIS MOVIE MAKES ANY SENSE.
1. The Newborn
I'd say for the first hour and a half, the movie was bad — but at least its cheese factor was high enough to be enjoyable ... then the last act happens. The filmmakers decided to give us a brand new Xenomorph, the hybrid known as the Newborn, and I hate everything about this creature. The design is awful, the great puppetry is wasted, it's not scary, and it just leaves fans of the franchise sitting there with frozen faces of confusion. As soon as this giant wad of chewed up-gum arrives on the screen, an already crappy movie hits a 90-degree drop and plummets.
So that's Alien: Resurrection. It's been 20 years, and the film seems to have gotten even worse with age. The good news is that Alien: Covenant opens on May 19th.
Do you agree with me or want to defend Alien: Resurrection? Sound off in the comments!