Alien: Resurrection (1997) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

In space, no one can hear you snore.

I don't know if I can name another film in which so much talent and so much potential produced such a mediocre result.

  • The Alien franchise is one of the most distinguished of all the filmed series. It has attracted some of the world's greatest directors: Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and David Fincher.
  • The great Jean-Pierre Jeunet directed this one, and you could not make a better choice for the franchise. He has such an outré and stylized sense of visual composition that even Tim Burton has to settle for second place for sheer imagination and set design. In fact, if you pick Jeunet as the greatest living director, I can offer many alternatives, but no outright rebuttal except maybe Ingmar Bergman. He is a true genius, combining art and commercial appeal flawlessly, blending the imagination of Burton and Robert Rodriguez with the heartfelt and accessible warmth of Spielberg. At least three of his films, The City of Lost Children, Amelie, and A Very Long Engagement, are among the greatest ever made. Amelie is rated 29th best of all time at IMDb, and his filmography has no less than three other films rated 7.8 or higher, thus high enough to make the all-time 250 with enough votes. Having four films at 7.8 or higher places him in the same category as Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. Pretty ggod company, indeed. (Sergio Leone has five. Spielberg has six - and six more rated 7.6 to 7.7! Kurosawa and Bergman have 15 each.)
  • The script was written by Joss Whedon and, again, you would have a hard time making a better choice to write a space fantasy film. He's the creator of Buffy, Firefly, and Angel for the small screen; and his feature films include Toy Story, Titan A.E., and Serenity.
  • Sigourney Weaver came back to star as Ellen Ripley, the role with which she is most closely associated, and was excellent as usual, playing Ripley this time as a wisecracking human/alien hybrid who was created hundreds of years after the time period of the first three films in the series.

What a team!

What a bore.

The film has some good ideas, the design is as magnificent as expected, and every detail is constructed meticulously. Every one of the participants took the project seriously and worked hard to make it successful. The enormous budget was quite sufficient to allow Jeunet to do anything he wanted to do.

... and I kept fast-forwarding through the tedious parts.


Highly competent, but lifeless and unengaging. (Roger Ebert's one and a half stars does seem a but harsh, however.)

So what went wrong?

There's just no reason for this film to exist. The story is neither fresh nor compelling, and just about every acre of ground covered in this film has already been plowed by the previous films in the series. Simple as that. End of story.

For the record, I greatly enjoyed all the special features on the second disk, and there are many of them. The film's creators were enthusiastic, articulate, and thorough in explaining just about every element of the process from pre- to post-production. There are also two versions of the film on Disk One. One is the theatrical release, and the other is an alternate cut which re-integrates some deleted scenes and has a different beginning and ending. (Jeunet says the theatrical release is the director's cut, but he created the alternative so DVD purchasers could see another way it might have turned out. The final scene on post-apocalyptic earth is worth seeing:

You will note that there is also some Sigourney Weaver frontal nudity in the Alien: Resurrection DVD.


But not really.

Long Story. Pull up a chair.

  • First of all, this image isn't in the film at all. In the actual movie (both versions), the scene is cropped at her bikini line. The full frontal nudity is seen on the extra features on the two-disc special edition. It's a picture snapped on the set.
  • Second, it is not a live body at all, but a mannequin, according to the commentary.
  • Third, Sigourney didn't even pose for the mold. The FX guys used a body double for the body, although they did use Sigourney's head for the head.

Overall: I recommend the package enthusiastically for fans of the Alien series, but my recommendation comes with the proviso that the film itself is disappointingly average, and represents a career nadir for most of its brilliant creators.

  • Theatrical version (109 min.)
  • Extended cut (119 min.)
  • Full-length commentary (both versions)
  • Pre-Production: From the Ashes (reviving the story), First Draft Screenplay by Joss Whedon, French Twist (direction and design), Under the Skin (casting and characterization), Test Footage #1 (hair/makeup), ADI Effects, Mark Carro Photo Gallery, The Art of Resurrection (conceptual art gallery), storyboards, Pre-Visualizations (multi-angle rehearsals)
  • Production: Death from Below (underwater photography), In the Zone (the basketball scene), production gallery (photo archive), Unnatural Mutation (creature design), ADI Workshop, ADI Test Footage
  • Post-Production: Genetic Composition (music), Virtual Aliens (computer generated imagery), A Matter of Scale (miniature photography), Visual Effects Gallery (photo archive), Critical Juncture (reaction to the film), Special Shoot (promotional photo archive), Easter egg (Alien extra)


  • Kim Flowers: thonged bottom

  • Sigourney Weaver: nipple under gauze in the movie and in the special features.

  • Weaver shows her breasts in the film, and her pubic hair in the special features, but neither is really her. The former is a prosthetic chest, the latter is a molded mannequin - and she only modeled for the head!

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus out of four stars: two and a half. That's not a consensus, but an average. The three sources said: good, bad, mediocre. James Berardinelli 2.5/4, Roger Ebert 1.5/4, BBC 4/5. That kind of ambivalence characterized the North American critical reaction in general. (They loved it in France.)

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It grossed only $47 million. The budget was $75 million, although that's misleading because $15 million of that was just the stuff that Winona Ryder lifted from the set. It was a hit overseas, with $113 million in foreign grosses.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C, a brilliant film in some ways, but overall an impressive-looking film which doesn't have anything new to add to the series. I fell asleep the first time I tried to watch it. I tried again, and managed to make it through with the help of the fast-forward button. The two-disk DVD set, however, is wonderful if you're into the series.

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