Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman, Gary Dourdan, Michael Wincott
Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, Joss Whedon
Witness the resurrection.
Sigouney Weaver and Winona Ryder star in this terrifying, highly-anticipated sci-fi action thriller! Ellen Ripley died fighting the perfect predator. Two hundred years and eight horrific experiments later, she's back. A group of scientists has cloned her-along with the alien queen inside of her-hoping to breed the ultimate weapon. But the resurrected Ripley is full of surprises for her creators, as are the aliens. And soon, a lot more than all hell breaks loose! To combat the creatures, Ripley must team up with a band of smugglers, including a mechanic named Call, who holds more than a few surprises of her own.
$25.789 million on 2415 screens.
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
German DTS 5.1
Runtime: 109 min. (Theatrical Edition) / 116 min. (Extended Cut)
Release Date: 10/26/2010
Available only as part of “The Alien Anthology”
• Both 1997 Theatrical and 2003 Special Edition Cuts of the Film
• Audio Commentary with Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Editor Herve Schneid, Alien Effects Designers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr., Visual Effects Supervisor Pitof, Conceptual Artist Sylvain Despretz, and Actors Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon, and Leland Orser
• Jean-Pierre Jeunet Introduction
• Deleted Footage Marker
• Theatrical Isolated Score
• “MU-TH-UR” Interactive Mode
PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.
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Alien Resurrection: Alien Anthology [Blu-Ray] (1997)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 11, 2010)
Note that this review of Alien Resurrection includes some elements that might be regarded as spoilers. I tried to keep these fairly vague, but they do spill a few beans. If you don’t want to know about those bits, please skip to the technical portion of the article.
Are 1992's Alien3 and 1997's Alien Resurrection on a par with the first two films, 1979's Alien and 1986's Aliens? No, they aren't, but how many movies are? Those are two of acknowledged classics; movies like that don't come along every day. Both Alien3 and Resurrection are actually very good pictures; their main sins are that they aren't quite as revolutionary as their predecessors.
As I think the negative feelings about Alien3 can be narrowed down to a few issues, I believe I can sum up the general distaste for Alien Resurrection even more succinctly: Winona Ryder, and the li’l alien baby. These are uniformly the most widely disparaged aspects of the film; while I'm sure its detractors can find many other facets to detest, these two areas pretty neatly sum up why it seems to be the most despised film of the four.
Like Alien3, I think that Resurrection is a film that needs a second chance for it to really succeed. In my opinion, the li’l alien baby is the Alien series' Jar Jar Binks. Of course, they're rather dissimilar characters except for the fact that large percentages of the population seem to loathe them. Upon first viewing of Resurrection, I pretty much agreed with the consensus view that the li’l alien baby was a disappointment and a dud.
However, just as I started to like Jar Jar much more the second time I saw The Phantom Menace, the li’l alien baby works a lot better when you see Resurrection again. The figure looks less ridiculous and its "personality" and menace become more evident. While the presence of the li’l alien baby still undercuts the drama of the film's end, I don't think it has a significantly negative affect; in my opinion, the movie ends on a fairly strong note.
As for Ms. Ryder, many of the complaints about her seem to revolve around the strength of her presence in the film, or the lack thereof; critics felt that she looked out of place among the violent action film doings. You know what? They're right; Ryder maintains a vague "deer in the headlights" look throughout much of Resurrection and she seems like a decidedly unlikely participant.
Unfortunately, these criticisms miss the point. Ryder's character Call is an android, but her model was one built by other androids in an apparent attempt to make something "more human than human." These robot-creators leaned a little heavy on the "emotions" button and as such Call and her brethren are apparently a really touchy-feely group. It's an interesting concept, that synthetic creatures who are pretty much by default devoid of emotions would take that aspect of androids to the opposite extreme when they make robots of their own.
In this context, Ryder's performance makes sense. She's an android with self-awareness, enough so that she possesses strong emotions that make her hate what she is; Call is a robot so in touch with "humanity" that serious self-loathing ensues. I won't argue that Call is a great character or that Ryder offers a fantastic performance; I thought both areas were good but not great. Nonetheless, I disagree with the strongly negative appraisals of her work since her acting was definitely in keeping with what the role asked.
I do, however, take exception with some of the other casting. For the most part, the cast is serviceable; they don't live up to the fantastic legacy of the actors in the first two films, but they don't trash the joint either. The best work comes from Ron Perlman as scaggy nasty-boy Johner - he brings surprising vitality and nuance to what should have been a one-note role - and from Brad Dourif as the scientist who's um... maybe just a little too fond of the aliens; he's wonderfully creepy and goofy all at once. Let's not forget the king of hyperventilation, Leland Orser, as Purvis, one of the alien's impregnated victims. Orser seems to be making a career for himself by performing variations on Veronica Cartwright's death scene from Alien. Hey, more power to him; he knows what he does, and he does it well.
As for the rest of the group, most of them are fine but unexceptional. On the shallow end of the pool we find the two performances that I definitely thought stunk. Dan Hedaya makes for a fine comic actor, but his intense broadness looks way out of place here in his role as General Perez. Basically it seems like he plays everything for laughs; I don't think this was really the intention, but he doesn't appear able to do it any other way. This greatly undercuts any impact his character might have made.
I also found JE Freeman's work as sleazy doctor Wren to be over the top. In his attempt to make the character nasty and menacing, he just seems much too emotive and his performance definitely enters the realm of camp. Thankfully, both Hedaya and Freeman don't play especially major roles in the film, so their work doesn't provide a strong negative impact. Still, I thought those two offered the worst performances of the entire series.
Weaver offers some of her best work as clone Ripley. She clearly relishes the opportunity to portray her as something other than her crusading, saintly self, which, since the clone has some alien cells in it, she gets to do. Weaver's performance is a continual delight; she underplays her menace but makes it evident nonetheless as she makes the audience question which team it is for which she now plays. Clone Ripley lacks the emotional nuance that made Weaver's work in Aliens so notable, but it's a great performance anyway.
As for the depictions of the aliens themselves, they work decently. Resurrection takes a page from the Aliens model and serves up a whole bunch of the nasty critters. In addition to the much-maligned lil' alien baby, we get another queen alien - who plays a much smaller role than in Aliens - plus the usual warriors. The only twist on the latter group comes from the aqua aliens, which are underwater swimming creatures. They add a nice twist and offer something a little different, although they're somewhat underused.
Effects-wise, the creatures work very well and probably look the best from the whole series. Some of the CG images for the aqua aliens seem a bit dodgy, but overall the critters appear very convincing. Hey, even the li’l alien baby works in a realistic manner; it's just its physical appearance that bothers so many people.
Overall I found Resurrection to be a very entertaining and frequently thrilling flick. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet shows a nice flair for the many vivid action scenes. One thing I think people forget when they attack later Alien films in comparison with the first two is just how hard it must be for these directors to create something new while they still stick within the accepted Alien universe; fickle Alien-philes want it to be the same and different all at once.
I, for one, don't really understand or agree with the viciously negative reaction that Alien Resurrection has encountered. Certainly, the film has flaws, and since the most widely cited problems occur at the end of the movie, those so-called failures are even more noticeable. (Audiences forgive a movie that starts poorly but ends well, but if it goes the other way around, forget about it - that film will be savaged!) Even if you have already seen Resurrection and disliked it, give it another try. Like me, you may be very pleasantly surprised; I've now seen it five times, and I've enjoyed it more with each successive viewing.
The comments above address the original theatrical cut of Alien Resurrection. This release also includes an extended “special edition” version of the film. It expands the original’s 109 minute running time up to 116 minutes. Most of this comes via short additions to existing scenes. The majority of the additions occur during the first act, though a fair number of extended bits occur in the film’s final third; only the second act proceeds pretty much as original displayed. We get an alternate opening that does nothing other than to begin the film on an oddly comic note, and we get a darker ending as well.
The extra segments flesh out the film moderately, but they don’t make it a different experience. Detractors who hope the changes will significantly alter the flick will leave disappointed. I prefer the alternate ending, though, and I think the variations improve the movie slightly. I could live without the silly opening, but even so, this is the version I plan to watch in the future.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C/ Audio A-/ Bonus NA
Alien Resurrection appears in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Given its status as the most recent Alien flick, I expected Resurrection to present a positive picture, but instead, it seemed rather blah.
Sharpness became the major problem. Occasional shots looked reasonably concise and well-defined, but an awful lot of the flick appeared rather soft and fuzzy. Some of this connected to visual design, but much of it didn’t make sense in that regard; too much of the movie lacked concision for my liking, and I couldn’t figure out a logical filmmaking reason to justify it. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, but a few shots looked a bit blocky. Edge haloes remained absent, and I also didn’t notice any source flaws.
None of the prior Alien flicks offered vivid colors, and Resurrection followed suit. In general, the movie displayed either mild brown or green tints. Within those parameters, the hues looked fine, but nothing unusually notable occurred; the tones remained dull. Black levels seemed fairly deep and rich, while the film’s many low-light situations came across with adequate definition and clarity. I found myself disappointed by the lackluster visuals on display here.
How did this compare with the 2003 DVD? To my surprise, they weren’t terribly different. I prefer the Blu-ray just because it eliminated the compression artifacts present on the DVD, but it wasn’t any sharper or more vivid. In fact, the Blu-ray occasionally looked less sharp than the DVD. The Blu-ray was marginally superior and that was all.
Note that the Special Edition cut looked the same as the theatrical version. Although bits and pieces of added and extended scenes appeared throughout the movie, you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate new from original. Some stood out due to dodgy effects work; for example, the bug in the alternate opening looked crude. Otherwise, the new sequences melded very smoothly with the original footage. I noticed nothing to make those elements stand out from the theatrical cut.
As the only truly contemporary soundtrack, I expected the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Resurrection to sound the best of the bunch, and it did. Though not a showy mix, the soundfield presented a rich and engaging piece. Elements seemed appropriately localized and they blended together smoothly. Panning appeared neat and concise, and all five speakers offered a lot of audio. The front soundstage dominated to a degree, but the surrounds added a good level of unique material. Those elements created a fine sense of atmosphere, and they jumped into the action well during the film’s livelier scenes. I couldn’t identify any “demo” sequences here, but the whole thing was well executed.
In addition, the audio quality appeared excellent. Speech always came across as distinctive and natural, and the lines demonstrated no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music seemed nicely bold and dynamic, as the mix reproduced the score with fine clarity. Effects also were detailed and true. They showed no concerns with distortion and appeared accurate and full-bodied. In the end, I felt very pleased with the audio of Alien Resurrection, and it presented the strongest sound of the four films.
When I compared the lossless Blu-ray track with the material from the 2003 DVD, I thought they were similar. As usual, the DTS-HD mix was a little more robust, but it didn’t seem substantially stronger than what I heard on the DVD.
Virtually all of the 2003 package’s extras repeat here – or elsewhere in the 6-disc “Alien Anthology” set, where the last two discs include tons of pieces. Because there are so many components on the fifth and sixth platters, I didn’t think it was fair to assign a “bonus features” grade for this disc on its own; I’ll rate the whole shebang when I get to the final two discs.
First of all, we can watch either the 1997 theatrical version of Alien Resurrection or the 2003 Special Edition Cut. I already discussed this in the body of the review, but I figured I should mention it as a supplement too. The disc uses seamless branching to cut between them. In a nice touch, if you watch the alternate version, you’ll find a deleted footage marker that notes all the originally excised material.
If you select the “special edition” cut, the movie opens with a Jean-Pierre Jeunet introduction. In this 45-second clip, the director explains that he feels content with the theatrical version and considers it to be the “director’s cut”. He notes that he created the modified version to offer something of interest to the fans.
Next we find an audio commentary with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, editor Herve Schneid, alien effects designers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr., visual effects supervisor Pitof, conceptual artist Sylvain Despretz, and actors Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon, and Leland Orser. A complicated compilation, it sounded like Jeunet, Schneid, and Pinon sit together, while Perlman and Orser appear together. Gillis and Woodruff form another pair, as do Pitof and Despretz. At least that’s what I think – sometime it’s hard to tell, especially since not all of the participants introduce themselves, but that’s the way it appears to me.
Whatever the case may be, the group provide a commentary that never achieves greatness but that usually comes across as informative and interesting. The track covers a nice variety of subjects. We get information on the script and changes made to it along with Jeunet’s use of storyboards to plan the shots. We also learn a lot about the creation and execution of the effects, elements changed between the theatrical and special edition cuts, and various notes from the set. A little too much praise appears – Jeunet seems especially prone to express his fondness for different elements – but overall this offers a useful and fairly rich discussion.
Note that the content of the commentary varies somewhat dependent on the version of the film you watch. The special edition and theatrical cuts feature a few different elements. Thjs makes sense but becomes slightly frustrating for those of us who want to learn everything we can about the movie, as it means we need to sit through many redundant elements to get new tidbits. If you select the theatrical edition of Alien Resurrection, you’ll get access to deleted scenes. Note that these simply show the alternate sequences from the special edition cut; nothing different than what we find in that version appears in this section. It’s too bad the commentary for those scenes isn’t available as you watch them; that’d solve the problem of the redundant elements.
Also alongside the theatrical version, an Isolated Score option appears. This provides the movie’s music presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. I actually rather like the film’s score, and I think this is a nice addition.
New to the Blu-ray, we find the MU-TH-UR Interactive Mode. This allows you to flip among the disc’s four audio features, save “data points” to reference when you watch Discs Five and Six, and view a trivia track. Called the “Weyland-Yutani Datastream”, this offers info about the flick’s origins, development and creation. We find much of this material elsewhere as well, but the “Datastream” provides a good overview.
I’m not wild about the format, though. Most “trivia tracks” are pretty unobtrusive, so you can follow them and watch the movie at the same time. This become more awkward here because of the amount of territory “MU-TH-UR” fills. Little branches pop up all over the screen, so we get visual distractions. This means you can’t easily check out the flick and the Datastream at the same time. We learn enough to make it worth a look, but I wish it went with a more traditional view.
Lots of people hate Alien Resurrection, but I think it presents a generally successful tale. The movie achieves something different and furthers the Alien saga in a satisfying and intriguing manner; it’s the worst of the four, but it’s still worthwhile. The Blu-ray offers very good audio and some interesting supplements, but picture quality seems mediocre. I like the movie, but the bland visuals disappoint. That factor makes the Resurrection Blu-ray the least worthy upgrade of the bunch; honestly, I don’t think it looks much better than the DVD.
Note that as of November 2010, you can only purchase the Blu-ray of Alien3 as part of “The Alien Anthology”. This includes Alien, its three sequels and two discs of bonus materials. I’m sure the films will be available individually at some point, but that date is currently unknown.
To rate this film, visit the original review of ALIEN RESURRECTION