In 1992, fans of the Alien franchise had their hearts broken when their queen, Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver), launched herself into a furnace to destroy the alien queen inside her, seemingly ending the trilogy in an act of martyrdom. The film – which director, David Fincher has notoriously distanced himself from – could (and perhaps should) have been a decent finale to the franchise which had gathered significant success since it began in 1979. However, just five years later, fans were once again graced with another Alien film – Alien: Resurrection – a film many would argue should never have been made.
The film, which celebrates its 20th birthday this week, is set 200 years after the events of Alien 3, aboard the Auriga – a military science space vessel. In a plot only Joss Whedon could have written, scientists have managed to clone Ellen Ripley from blood taken in the last film (no, I don’t buy it either), recreate her with heightened strength and reflexes, AND the alien queen that was growing inside her at the time, in order to breed more aliens. That’s when it all goes wrong (surprisingly), the cloned xenomorphs, equipped with Ripley’s memories, manage to escape captivity and wreak havoc upon the Auriga.
After killing a considerable number of those on board, the xenomorphs trigger the ship’s emergency response system, sending it on a course back to Earth. Accompanied by a rag-tag, wise-cracking group of surviving scientists and mercenaries, Ripley makes it her business to destroy the aliens and return to Earth safely. During this two-hour long thrill-ride, we’re treated to swimming xenomorphs, botched Ripley clones, bad CGI, Ron Perlman being Ron Perlman, a human-xenomorph hybrid, and a sick basketball trick.
It’s the same story we’ve seen three times before, but Alien: Resurrection somehow just takes the biscuit. The plot is a mess, the script is painful (please note “must be a chick thing”), and the visual effects – while wildly gratuitous – leave a lot to be desired. Truly, it’s amazing that the silliest, goriest film of the franchise should be directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the man who would go on to make the cute cult classic, Amelie. Quite frankly, if you ask me, the franchise should have died here along with Ellen Ripley’s alien baby – with a mass of intestines being sucked out into the vacuum of space.
However, it didn’t. And the fact that Alien: Resurrection made over two times its budget back in spite of how bad it was, went to show that people will pretty much see anything from the franchise Ridley Scott originally spawned. Thus, in 2004 Paul W. S. Anderson (never to be mistaken with Paul Thomas Anderson) gave us the gift no one asked for, Alien vs Predator, imagining a convoluted backstory linking the respective space monsters together, all set closer to home in Antarctica. This film was also a huge success, earning a respectable $172.5m at the box office and conveniently ending with a cliff-hanger that introduced the concept of the – wait for it – Predalien. (Lord, give me strength). In 2007, this new monster came back to cinemas with the help of The Brothers Strause – you may know them for their work on the video for Nickelback’s How You Remind Me – in Alien vs. Predator: Requiem – arguably one of the worst films ever made. Even with its cast of nobodies, ridiculous storyline, and the infamous pregnancy ward scene (brace yourself, it’s not okay), the film managed to make three times its original budget in the box office. Thankfully, this spin-off franchise ended here. However, it wasn’t long before another took its place.
In 2012, after years of planning and production, Ridley Scott’s prequel to the entire franchise, Prometheus, was released. While the film is okay, it left many fans of Alien disappointed and set in motion a convoluted origin franchise that we definitely could have done without. Just this year, its slasher sequel Alien: Covenant was released, adding even more to the back-story that really just doesn’t make any sense when you think about it (WHERE THE HELL IS ALIEN EVEN SET?). Furthermore, a third (and hopefully final) film in the prequel franchise, Alien: Awakening, has been announced and is set to be released in 2019 – forty years after the original film came out.
While I have grabbed the face and burst the chest of this unfortunate film, I feel that I should give it some credit – after all, it is its birthday. Alien: Resurrection is not a good film. When I asked around for other people’s opinions, that was pretty much the general consensus. However, one thing that came up a lot was the film’s so-bad-it’s-good-ness. Although a lot of people didn’t like the film, they admitted to sitting down and watching it anyway because it’s dumb and hammy and well, funny. Not one person denied watching in glee as the xenomorph-hybrid is sucked into space in a flurry of guts and bad visual effects. Another thing it has going for it is its powers of nostalgia. A lot of people mentioned liking it as it was one of the few horror films they had seen as a kid in the late 90s. Like an old family member, this film is awful and gross but somehow, you can’t help but love it, and that’s why twenty years on, Alien: Resurrection remains in our hearts against our better judgement.