Alien Resurrection

Alien Resurrection ★★½

Fetishistic faux-feminism on behalf of its writer, now having fallen from an already unstable grace. Joss Whedon admiration of strength seems tailored to his very specific tastes, as is the humor and logic of his entire cast. His script, as has been the case for his entire career, is an attempt at the same humanization seen in the series' first entry, Ridley Scott's Alien. While Scott's film (co-written by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett) finds comedy in very natural and human places, Alien Resurrection works its routines like an indecisive light switch. Whedon's drama plays on the "cool factor" almost exclusively, like a first-time screenwriter noticeably impatient with anything other than popcorn flick-type flexing. And every muscle Whedon works out, I'd rather he left flaccid and untouched.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet's direction is bizarre and uncomfortable, though not always in a bad way. He at least brings some ambition to this project, benefitting as well from impressive special effects and art direction. (Mind you, I watched the theatrical version - some prefer the special edition, though apparently that version's effects can be quite rough at points.) His own attempts at humor seem distinct from Whedon, equally unfunny, though not nearly as insufferable and a lot more cartoonish. He's got some of that Demme staredown action going on, though I'm not always convinced of its effectiveness in this context. Is it weird to attribute that to Demme? I know Errol Morris did it. And Kubrick, I guess. Maybe we should start calling it the Justus D. Barnes shot, with bonus points if a gun is actually shot.

Whedon was apparently unhappy with Jeunet's result. In fairness, I don't consider Whedon a completely terrible director; whatever version he might have made had he been in Jeunet's place might have been far different, though perhaps not... worse? Probably not much better either. I don't think you can make much of an Ernest Cline-style fanfiction unless you pull a Spielberg and shuffle things around. Jeunet, bless his soul, makes an attempt.

That contrast makes this Jeunet-Whedon pairing absurdly out-of-touch from itself. Jeunet contradicts what Whedon intends to accomplish, Whedon contradicts what Jeunet intends to accomplish, and it all comes down to who has the louder voice in any given scene. Granted, I'm generalizing the entire film down to these two voices when there are clearly so many other factors at play. But unfortunately, a team of clearly talented actors and crew members are beholden to the whims of a select few. Those few might not be bringing their best, or maybe their best just isn't much to begin with.

I suppose it doesn't help if it's all an abortion metaphor? I'm not sure what Whedon was hoping for with that, honestly. Really, the original Alien was an anomaly as far as sci-fi biology philosophies feeling somewhat meaningful to the genre. It's not the only exception of course, but I wouldn't exactly call Joss Whedon a master of intent and nuance in the same way that Hideaki Anno could be at his brightest. Anything more than ignorant action here, besides some of Weaver's own arc (which does have some real strengths going for it), is basically a distraction worth little to me, or you, or anyone. I would have preferred more alien kissing scenes myself, but I'm a romantic like that.

Maybe a radical re-edit could turn this into an entry in Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle. That is a compliment, mind you, albeit a very conditional and backhanded one. That's the most I can really afford to praise, unless you want me to ramble about the stellar Alien Anthology Blu-Ray boxset. I wish more unimpressive art was treated with that level of diligence and care.

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