French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet lends "Alien: Resurrection" a hypnotic quality that entrances the viewer. Somehow the irreverent humor of the script by Joss Whedon does not seem in syncopation with Jeunet's elegant, baroque rhythm. What is of more troubling concern is our gal Ripley (Sigourney Weaver.)
"Alien: Resurrection" takes place some 200 years after "Alien 3," which would leave room for explanation of how exactly Ripley got from the pit of molten steel she dove into to save humanity for the finale of the last film, to the remote space station where she appears at the beginning of this one. Little explanation is given, though - only that scientists have cloned Ripley using technical procedures that apparently are too jargonistic for mere mass audiences.
Perhaps the same crew of scientists who were involved in Ripley's replication remove the alien from her chest. They do this to study the animal and marvel at its potential. Ripley knows, clone or not, from experience that their greatest potential is to wreak havoc.
Which is precisely what they do, and we the viewers glare longingly at the extreme carnage. The problem is that our heroine, aside from being DNA leftovers, lacks the drive and authority she has had before. She is a detached and cynical observer, much like the modern moviegoer.
One watches "Alien: Resurrection" enthralled but emotionally uninvolved. The movie has intelligence and the right dosage of smarminess, but it lacks the heart of the previous "Alien" movies. All the blood and gore seems repetitive and aimless.
Still, there are some truly brilliant sequences. At one point Ripley and friends enter a laboratory that looks like something out of the journals of Dr. Mengela. In various forms are the mutations of alternative Ripleys which did not fare as well in the cloning process. This is one of the few truly dramatic and wrenching parts of the film.
Another is a breathless underwater scene in which humans, clones, androids, et al. attempt to escape the serpentine aliens. One of the androids, Call, is played by Winona Ryder.
The creatures are as revolting as ever, yet the only one which seems truly scary does not arrive until the end.
The "queen" has discovered a way to go through a human gestation period rather than laying eggs. Her spawn is a freakish thing with disquieting eyes which have the painful look of human longing in them. It is a genuine Kodak moment when this alien's effluvia get sucked into space in a bright yellow parabola.
"Alien: Resurrection" is exciting in a MTV sort of way, but it could have used some soul amidst the slime.
Jason is a senior at North Hagerstown High School.