“Redeeming Values?” will be a new column that I write after watching a bad movie. The idea struck me that rather than write bad reviews of a movie, or a bad review of an old movie, that perhaps it might be worth finding five redeeming values or qualities in the film that stuck out. In some cases, this may be easier said than done…
Alien: Resurrection, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, is not a good movie. Jeunet is a very capable director (Delicatessen, Amelie, The City of Lost Children), but A:R just feels sloppy and lazy. It came out in 1997 and after it receiving mediocre critical reviews and poor peer reviews then, I’ve avoided it ever since. This week however I finally decided to give it a shot and watched it on HBO GO (who is building up for their network debut of Prometheus in April). In short, it’s a pretty sad bookend to the Alien series – and I don’t consider the Alien Vs Predator spin-offs worthy of any more mention that this. A:R essentially destroys everything that made Alien and Aliens so good. It’s a poor recycling of ideas from those films and Alien 3. Some of this fault lies with writer Joss Whedon, others with the studio and boring direction of Jeunet, who seemed like he just mailed it in. But enough looking at the bad aspects – what about those redeeming values?
Cinematographer Darius Khondji has worked with Jeunet on Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children, as well as being nominated for an Oscar for his work on Evita. He was Director of Photography on Se7en, Panic Room, and most recently Amour. In A:R, Khondji brings a beautiful and dark visual style to the USM Auriga. It isn’t as barren or unsettling as Alien or Aliens, but he managed some very beautiful shots and coloring in the film. He did his best to inject fear into a film otherwise lost of it.
2. Ripley meets 1 – 7
Simply the strongest scene in the entire film is also the most disturbing. When clone #8 (Ripley) sees the museum of failures (clones 1 – 7), it’s heartbreaking and disgusting. Ripley’s cathartic destruction of the clones, particularly #7 in an Alien deleted scene callback, is the only real “human” moment in the film.
Alien Deleted Scene:
While her character is vastly changed from her empowering feminist portrayal in the first three films, Weaver brings what little life is left to Ripley. She’s able to find the human in her hybrid-clone body and even show empathy to an alien species we once feared. Granted, Weaver does have to speak really cheesy lines…
4. Swimming Xenos
Space is usually dark, dry and claustrophobic. A:R manages to introduce our humans to another challenge, surviving an incredibly long, underwater swim all the while being chased by swimming Xenomorphs. It’s scary to watch Xenos swim as they’re quite good at it! If humans hoped that the water would save them, apparently Xenos are adaptable to nearly any environment. Despite the extremely unrealistic scene (it lasts underwater for almost two minutes), it’s brand new territory for the Alien series and was a nice surprise.*
While some may consider this sacrilege to the series, to my quick recollection, this film ends with the highest survival rate for humans. Most of the Betty crew survives to fight another day and return to Earth. Surviving doesn’t make the film better necessarily, but it again establishes another departure to the series norm.
*NOTE: There was a brief scene in Aliens where the Xenos sneak up behind Newt in waist deep water, but A:R presents the first look at a full swimming Xeno in the films.