- "Witness the resurrection."
- ―Alien Resurrection tagline
Alien Resurrection is a 1997 science fiction action thriller film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, Dan Hedaya, J. E. Freeman, Brad Dourif and Michael Wincott. It is a sequel to the 1992 film Alien3. Written by Joss Whedon, the film deals with a clone of Ellen Ripley created on board the United Systems Military vessel Auriga some 200 years after the events of the previous installment, so that the Xenomorph Queen that was gestating inside her at the time of her death can be surgically removed from her body. When the resultant Aliens escape their enclosures, the Ripley clone and a group of mercenaries attempt to escape and destroy the Auriga before it reaches its destination — Earth.
Alien Resurrection was released on November 26, 1997 and received mixed reviews from film critics. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times felt "there is not a single shot in the movie to fill one with wonder", while Desson Thomson of The Washington Post said the film "satisfactorily recycles the great surprises that made the first movie so powerful".
Some 200 years after the events on Fiorina "Fury" 161, military scientists on the deep space vessel Auriga successfully create a clone of Ellen Ripley, using DNA from blood samples taken before her death. They extract from her the embryo of an Alien Queen that had been growing inside her at the time of her death, and raise it to collect its eggs for further use. As an afterthought, the Ripley clone, marked by a number "8" lasered onto her arm, is kept alive for further study. As a result of her DNA being mixed with the Alien's during the cloning process, Ripley 8 is endowed with enhanced strength and reflexes, acidic blood, "inherited memories" from Ellen Ripley's past and an empathic link with the Aliens, especially the Queen.
A group of mercenaries led by a man named Elgyn and his partner Hillard soon arrive in their ship, the Betty, delivering several kidnapped humans in stasis. The military scientists use them as hosts for the Aliens, raising several adult Aliens for study. The mercenaries encounter Ripley 8, and their youngest member, Call, recognizes her name. Call attempts to kill Ripley 8, fearing she will be used to create new Aliens, but Call is too late; the Aliens have already matured and quickly escape their confinement, damaging the ship and forcing most of the crew to abandon vessel, with many being killed in the process. Dr. Wren, one of the ship's scientists, reveals that the Auriga's default command in an emergency situation is to return to Earth. Realizing that this will unleash the Aliens on the planet, Ripley 8, the mercenaries, Wren, a marine named Distephano and a surviving Alien host, Purvis, attempt to destroy the Auriga and escape on the Betty.
As the group makes their way through the damaged ship, Ripley 8 discovers the meaning of the number lasered on her arm when she stumbles across seven failed clones in the form of hideously malformed Alien/Ripley hybrids that are being stored on board, the seventh of which is still alive and begs to be killed. Ripley 8 complies, also destroying the other clones as well, before moving to execute Wren for his part in their creation, but ultimately she relents.
Eventually, Elgyn, Hillard and another mercenary crewmember, Christie, are killed by the Aliens. Call is shot by Wren when he betrays the group, but she quickly returns, revealing herself to be an android, one of the few to escape destruction following the passage of laws making them illegal. Using her abilities to interface with the damaged ship's systems, Call sets it on a collision course with Earth, hoping that the Aliens will be destroyed in the crash. As the remaining survivors near the Betty, Ripley 8 is captured by the Aliens. Taken to the the Queen's chamber, she learns that the Queen has gained a human ability from the mixing of their DNA as well: now possessing a womb, she can give birth to live offspring without the need for eggs and human hosts. The resulting offspring, which bears a mixture of human and Alien traits, recognizes Ripley 8 as its mother and brutally kills the Queen as Ripley escapes.
Wren arrives on board the Betty and makes one last attempt to betray the others and escape the ship, but he is killed when the Chestburster inside Purvis erupts through his head. The others decide Ripley is lost and prepare to leave, but Ripley 8 arrives just as they launch and successfully makes it aboard. However, the human/Alien hybrid also makes it onto the Betty, where it kills Distephano and attacks Call. Ripley 8 confronts the creature, which is calmed by the appearance of its "mother", before killing it by using her own acidic blood to breach a window in the Betty's hull, causing the creature to be sucked violently through the small opening and into the vacuum of space. The Betty successfully enters Earth's atmosphere as the Auriga explodes over Africa, killing all of the remaining Aliens aboard.
- Ripley .... Sigourney Weaver
- Call .... Winona Ryder
- Vriess .... Dominique Pinon
- Johner .... Ron Perlman
- Christie .... Gary Dourdan
- Elgyn .... Michael Wincott
- Hillard .... Kim Flowers
- General Perez .... Dan Hedaya
- Dr. Wren .... J. E. Freeman
- Gediman .... Brad Dourif
- Distephano .... Raymond Cruz
- Purvis .... Leland Orser
- Anesthesiologist .... Marlene Bush
- Scientist .... Carolyn Campbell
- Surgeon .... David St. James
- Soldier with Glove .... Rodney Mitchell
- Soldier Shot Through Helmet .... Robert Faltisco
- Frozen Soldier .... David Rowe
- Soldier .... Garrett House
- Soldier .... Rod Damer
- Soldier .... Mark Mansfield
- Soldier .... Daniel Raymont
- Soldier .... Chip Nuzzo
- Father .... Steven Gilborn (voice)
- Sleeper .... Robert Bastens
- Sleeper .... Rico Bueno
- Sleeper .... Alex Lorre
- Sleeper .... Ron Ramessar
- Young Ripley .... Nicole Fellows
- Lead Alien .... Tom Woodruff, Jr.
- Newborn ....
Following the reaction to Alien3, 20th Century Fox considered pursuing a "Ripley's dream" scenario, whereby a fourth movie would reveal that the events of the third film were simply a nightmare experienced by her. However, the studio ultimately elected to continue the storyline onwards from the third entry. Impressed with his work as a screenwriter, Fox hired Joss Whedon to write the film's script. Whedon's initial screenplay had a third act on Earth, with a final battle for Earth itself. Whedon wrote five versions of the final act, none of which ended up in the film.
The studio initially imagined that the fourth film would center around an adult clone of the character Newt from Aliens. Whedon composed a thirty-page treatment surrounding this idea before being informed that the studio, though impressed with his script, now intended to base the story on a clone of Ellen Ripley, who they saw as the anchor of the series. Whedon had to rewrite the script in a way that would bring back the Ripley character, a task he found difficult. The idea of cloning was suggested by producers David Giler and Walter Hill, who opposed the production of Alien Resurrection as they thought it would ruin the franchise.
Sigourney Weaver, who had played Ripley throughout the series, wanted to liberate the character in Alien3 as she did not want Ripley to become "a figure of fun" who would continuously "wake up with monsters running around". The possibility of an Alien vs. Predator film was another reason for the character's death, as she thought the concept "sounded awful". However, Weaver was impressed with Whedon's script. She thought that the error during Ripley 8's cloning process would allow her to further explore the character, since Ripley becoming part human and part alien would create uncertainty about where her loyalties lay. This was an interesting concept to Weaver, who thought the film brought back the spirit of Alien and Aliens. Weaver received a co-producer's credit and was reportedly paid more for her starring role than the entire production budget of the first film in the series.
Concept and Design
Among the directors considered for Alien Resurrection were Danny Boyle, Bryan Singer and Peter Jackson, as well as a young Paul W. S. Anderson (who would go on to direct Alien vs. Predator). David Cronenberg was also approached. Boyle got as far as meeting the effects supervisors to discuss the film with his producer, but ultimately decided he was not interested in pursuing the project. Jean-Pierre Jeunet was ultimately asked to direct, as the film's producers believed he had a unique visual style. Jeunet had just completed the script to Amélie and was surprised he was offered the job for Alien Resurrection, as he thought the franchise had finished with Alien3 and believed that making a sequel was a bad idea. Jeunet, however, accepted the project with a budget of $70 million. He required a translator as he did not speak much English when filming began.
Jeunet hired French special effects supervisor Pitof and cinematographer Darius Khondji, both of whom he had worked with on The City of Lost Children. Jeunet and his crew watched the latest science fiction and the preceding Alien films as reference material, and obtained production reports from the Alien films to study the camera setups. Jeunet was given creative control, contributing several elements to the script including five different endings, although the more expensive ones were dismissed. He also opted to make the film a dark comedy and was encouraged to include more violence. In June 1996, conceptual artist Marc Caro had drawn rough sketches of characters' costumes, which were shown to veteran costume designer Bob Ringwood. Ringwood made several modifications for the final design.
Jeunet wanted to bring back H. R. Giger to design the film's Aliens, but ultimately the production used Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. (ADI), who had previously worked on Alien3. ADI founders Tom Woodruff, Jr. and Alec Gillis also had experience working with Stan Winston on Aliens. ADI based their designs and modifications of the Alien creatures on the film's script, which included the creatures having pointed tails for swimming, making their head domes and chins more pointed, and establishing them to appear more vicious using techniques of camera angles and shot duration. After receiving the director's approval, ADI began to create small sculptures, sketches, paintings, and life-size models. ADI also oversaw the design of the film's human/Alien hybrid creature, dubbed the "Newborn".
Alien Resurrection was filmed at Fox Studios in Los Angeles, California, making it the first film in the franchise not to be filmed in the UK (although Alien3 had also been partially filmed at Fox, after production at Pinewood Studios had been shut down and relocated). Principle photography took place from October 1996 to February 1997. Jeunet had difficulty securing studio space, as the filming of Hollywood blockbusters such as Titanic, Starship Troopers, and The Lost World: Jurassic Park were taking place at the same time. The decision to film outside of England was influenced by Weaver, who believed that the previous films' travel schedules exhausted the crew.
The underwater scenes were the first to be shot, and for their filming Stage 16 at Fox Studios was reconstructed into a 36 by 45 meter tank, 4.5 meters deep, containing 548,000 gallons of water. The decision was made to convert the stage rather than film the scene elsewhere, since moving the film crew to the nearest adequate facility in San Diego would have been too costly for a single scene, and by converting Stage 16 20th Century Fox would be able to use the tank for future films. Because of the aquatic filming, the ability to swim was a prerequisite for cast and crew when signing onto the film. The cast trained in swimming pools in Los Angeles with professional divers to learn how to use the equipment. An additional two and a half weeks of training took place at the studio with stunt coordinator Ernie Orsatti and underwater cinematographer Peter Romano. Weaver, however, was unable to participate in most of the training due to commitments on Broadway. Winona Ryder faced a challenge with the scene, as she had nearly drowned at age 12 and had not been in the water since. She suggested using a body double, but knew that it would be too obvious to audiences due to the difference in hair length. She filmed the scene, but suffered from anxiety on the first day of filming.
Director Jeunet wanted to display Ripley 8's new powers, including a scene in which Ripley throws a basketball through a hoop while facing the opposite direction. Weaver made the shot successfully after two weeks of basketball practice, tutored by a basketball coach. Her conversion rate during that two weeks was about one shot in from every six. When the day came to shoot the scene, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet wanted to have the ball dropped in from above, rather than wait for Weaver to sink the shot herself, which "would probably take about 200 takes". Weaver insisted that the she could get the shot in herself, which she was finally allowed to do. She sunk the shot on the very first take, from six feet past the three-point line. Ron Perlman was completely stunned (and thoroughly impressed), and turned directly at the camera and broke character, exclaiming, "Oh my God!" The editors looked at the shot and decided that there was "enough room to get the scissors in". Weaver was ecstatic about making the shot, but Jeunet was concerned that audiences would believe the shot to be faked due to the ball briefly leaving the frame. He offered to have the footage digitally altered to ensure the ball did not leave the screen, but upon Weaver's insistence, he kept the shot as it was. Weaver described the miracle shot as one of the best moments in her life, after her wedding day and the birth of her daughter, of course.
Filming of the various miniatures on the film took place at the Hughes helicopter factory in Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles, inside a converted hangar dubbed Building 17. The space was divided into two studios, one to handle the Auriga miniature and a larger stage for the Betty and docking bay miniatures.
The film's script was laid out similar to a comic book, with pictures on the left and dialog and descriptions on the right. Jeunet planned every shot, which made it easier for visual effects artists to do their work. Blue Sky Studios was hired to create the first CGI Aliens to appear on film. Impressed with the company's work on Joe's Apartment creating CGI cockroaches, Jeunet and Pitof opted to hire the company to create 30 to 40 shots of CGI Aliens. The decision was made to use CGI Aliens rather than puppets or suited actors whenever the creatures' legs were in frame, as Jeunet felt that a man in a suit is easy to distinguish when the full body is seen. All of the spaceships in the film were miniatures, as visual effects supervisors believed CGI was not effective enough to create realistic spaceships.
Release and Reception
The film's premiere was held in Paris, the only Alien film to debut outside of America. The Parisian screening was interrupted when several speakers at the theater broke partway through the film. Sigourney Weaver and Jean-Pierre Jeunet were forced to take to the stage and answer questions from the audience for twenty minutes while the faulty equipment was fixed. In America, a pre-screening of Alien Resurrection was held in Camarillo, California, and the film was released in North America on November 26, 1997. Debuting at number two at the box office behind Flubber, Alien Resurrection grossed $25 million in its first five days–$16 million over the weekend, for an average of $6,821 per 2,415 theaters. The film grossed $47.7 million in North America, the least successful of the Alien series on that continent. It was well received internationally, however, with a gross of $113.5 million, bringing its total gross to $161.2 million. It was the 43rd highest grossing film in North America in 1997.
Alien Resurrection received mixed to negative reviews from film critics. The film scored 63% on Metacritic based on 21 reviews, and 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, higher than Alien3, Alien vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, although less than its predecessors Alien and Aliens. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a negative review, stating "There is not a single shot in the movie to fill one with wonder." Jeffery Overstreet of Looking Closer commented "It's time they quit killing the aliens, and just killed the Alien series altogether. ... How the mighty have fallen." Joe Baltake of the Sacramento Bee stated that "This 'Alien' should never have been resurrected", while Tom Meek of Film Threat wrote "Weaver and Jeunet's efforts are shortchanged by the ineptness of Joss Whedon's script, that seems to find a way to make action sequences unexciting."
Not all reviews were negative, however. Mary Brennan of Film thought that the movie was "A lot of fun to watch, and easy to surrender to in the moment." Houston Chronicle editor Louis B. Parks said "The film is a marvel, a well-photographed feast of visual imagery", while Richard Schickel of Time wrote that it was "Less frightening, but as much fun as ever." Washington Post contributor Desson Thomson felt it "satisfactorily recycles the great surprises that made the first movie so powerful. And most significantly, it makes a big hoot of the whole business."
Screenwriter Joss Whedon was unhappy with the final product. When asked in 2005 how the film differed from the script he had written, Whedon responded:
- "It wasn't a question of doing everything differently, although they changed the ending; it was mostly a matter of doing everything wrong. They said the lines...mostly...but they said them all wrong. And they cast it wrong. And they designed it wrong. And they scored it wrong. They did everything wrong that they could possibly do. There's actually a fascinating lesson in filmmaking, because everything that they did reflects back to the script or looks like something from the script, and people assume that, if I hated it, then they’d changed the script...but it wasn’t so much that they’d changed the script; it’s that they just executed it in such a ghastly fashion as to render it almost unwatchable."
Home video releases
Alien Resurrection was released on VHS on June 1, 1998, and made its DVD debut in 1999, both as an individual release and as part of the The Alien Legacy DVD box set, which packaged the film with Alien, Aliens and Alien3. A VHS version of The Alien Legacy set was also produced.
On December 2, 2003, Alien Resurrection was released as part of the Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set, which featured both the theatrical release and a new alternate cut of each of the four films in the series, along with a host of bonus features. The Special Edition of the film was specially created for the set, along with a new commentary track featuring the film's actors, writers and production staff, and a feature-length documentary entitled One Step Beyond: Making Alien Resurrection.
In 2010 both the theatrical version and Special Edition of Alien Resurrection were released on Blu-ray Disc as part of the Alien Anthology set.
The film script was adapted into a novel by author A. C. Crispin, who took over from Alan Dean Foster, the author of previous Alien film novelizations. As with the two previous two movies, Dark Horse Comics produced a comic book adaptation of the film. John Frizzell's score was also released as a soundtrack album, while Kenner Products produced a line of toy figures based on the film.
A third-person adventure video game was planned to be released alongside the film, but the title was scrapped during development. A first-person shooter video game based on the film was eventually released three years after the movie's release.
- See: Alien 5
- The 2005 novel Aliens: Original Sin by Michael Jan Friedman is a direct sequel to the film, continuing the stories of Ripley 8, Call and the other Betty survivors beyond the events of the movie.
- Chronologically speaking, Alien Resurrection is the last film in the Alien, Predator and Alien vs. Predator franchise.
- The film's title is often incorrectly written with a colon, as Alien: Resurrection, including on the movie's IMDb page. However, the correct title is Alien Resurrection, without the colon.
- Alien Resurrection is the only film in the Alien series to be filmed outside of England, at Fox Studios in Los Angeles, California.
- From the film's cast, Raymond Cruz, Brad Dourif, Nicole Fellows, Leland Orser, Ron Perlman and Winona Ryder have all appeared in the Star Trek franchise. The only other actors from the Alien series to have done so are Jenette Goldstein and Mark Rolston, both from Aliens.
- Due to director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's difficulty with English, the cast and crew worked almost entirely from detailed storyboards that told the entire film in picture form, rather than a typical written script.
- The scene where Ripley 8 encounters the failed Ripley clones preserved in a series of tanks is strikingly similar to two other scenes previously devised for the Alien franchise — David Twohy's unproduced script for Alien3 includes a very similar sequence, involving failed Xenomorph clones in a secret lab aboard space prison Moloch Island, while the 1993 comic Aliens: Rogue features a scene where Professor Kleist examines a number of failed Xenomorph Queens, each of which is horribly deformed and preserved inside a large fluid-filled tank.
- Many fans consider this film to be the weakest of the four Alien films. Ironically, it is the highest grossing Alien film to date.
- The Betty and its crew of smugglers and mercenaries notably bear a resemblance to the Serenity and its crew depicted in the later television series Firefly, which was also written by Joss Whedon.
- Alien Resurrection (novel) — The novelization of the film by A. C. Crispin.
- Alien Resurrection (comic) — The comic book adaptation of the film by Dark Horse Comics.
- Alien Resurrection (soundtrack) — The soundtrack to the film by John Frizzell.
- Alien Resurrection (video game) — The video game based on the film.
- One Step Beyond: Making Alien Resurrection
- ↑ Dave Hughes, Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens, Vol. 2 #3, p. 17 (1992), Dark Horse International.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 "Tor.com - I'm the Monster's Mother: Alien Resurrection". Retrieved on 2014-10-23.
- ↑ Mark Kermode, Ridley Scott, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, James Cameron, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Alien Evolution (2001), Nobles Gate Scotland [DVD].
- ↑ Mark Salisbury. Alien: The Archive, p. 246 (2014), Titan Books.
- ↑ Mark Salisbury. Alien: The Archive, p. 251 (2014), Titan Books.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Jean-Pierre Jeunet, David Giler, Walter Hill, Joss Whedon. One Step Beyond: Making Alien Resurrection (2003), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Paul Taglianetti, Geoff Topping, Bob Gould. Sci-Fi & Fantasy FX #48, p. 22 (2000), Next Millennium Publishing.
- ↑ Pitof. Remembering the Premiere (2010), 20th Century Fox [Blu-ray].
- ↑ John Hurt, Ridley Scott, James Cameron, H. R. Giger, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett. The Alien Saga (2002), Prometheus Entertainment [DVD].