Like with Doom, Alien 4 follows a simple (and similar) formula that I adore so deeply in film. It doesn’t matter that maybe the writing is bad, or the acting is bad, or the whole thing is barely coherent and hung on a particularly absurd story premise — give some people space rifles, put ‘em on a spaceship, and have that spaceship infested by aliens, you don’t have to do much else. In fact, you can basically get everything else wrong, and that’ll magically add to the charm.
Because let’s not mince: this is a weird freaking movie. It may be a simplistic formula at its heart, but the late-game franchise dimension, where stuff’s gotta be different to stay fresh, and the French sensibility applied to something decidedly American, the thuggish space mercenaries with their gruffness and Dominic Pinon.
A great cast though, with Ron Perlman, Michael Wincott, and other genre veterans. But that’s getting to conventional — this is the third sequel, and the first to follow up the series’ first big failure. By this point the movies were a joke, and Resurrection wasn’t even remotely an attempt at recapturing old glory, or continuing on with a scrap of dignity. Not to challenge Sigourney Weaver’s judgment, who nearly passed on the film (which would’ve sunk it — to date, thank God, the Alien series is Ripley’s story), but accepted the role after being impressed by Whedon’s script.
He’s a good writer. Given the right subject matter, of course, and for my money — this is right in all the wrong ways. I’ll give him credit though, his idea for the Alien Newborn was badass, and a far cry from our maligned Newborn as it exists. But, it’s a creature feature, and if it didn’t kill the Alien Queen like it was nothing (the Queen making a comeback and redemption in the sole great moment of AVP), it’d be fine. It eats a guy’s head.
It’s a very bloody, gory movie, with all kinds of explosive and gooey things going on. They push it to the limit, and they’d have to. Resurrection is the inverse of the sparse Alien 3 (which, while great, will not be seen on this countdown), taking a pulp approach and seeing the creators ask ‘what hasn’t been done?’
So, we get a room full of Ripley clones, all deformed, the freakish Newborn with its terrible skull-shaped head and yellow complexion, and the application of chestburster as weapon — that’s what this movie is all about, is application. The prior three movies established certain rules, and this movie plays with them. The same cannot be said for either Alien vs. Predator movie. This one is highly creative, and even if it’s a largely uncomfortable space, it’s a new one.
All sillies aside, as rough and tumble as this movie looks, it does have a certain beauty to it. Whether it’s that shot of two Aliens turning their heads in medium closeup, or the creatures swimming through water, or even the nerdier appeal of cool guns in space. It might just be a primeval, lizard sort of love for this movie, that same love that keeps me glued to Dead Space and the space marine trope as a whole — monsters on a spaceship are just better than monsters anywhere else.