Strange and provocative vision of a post-human future
Nathan Andersen | Florida | 06/24/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What people forget when they respond to this film is that Alien 3 shut down the series, very deliberately and very conclusively. Not only did Ripley die, but the driving concerns of the series that were set up in the first film had been addressed. So there was nowhere to go but in a radically new direction, and that's what Jean-Pierre Jeunet did. While the first films used the aliens and the technological context in which they appeared to address the question what makes us specifically human, this new contribution to the series is more interested in the question of a possible "post-human" future.
In Alien the enemy was not really the monster. The monster's unique method of reproduction merely served to highlight the "human condition": that we are vulnerable, that our bodies are ill-equipped for survival except in the most congenial of circumstances, that they are subject to violation by organic and inorganic forces outside of us. The idea of being "violated" through the mouth and "impregnated" by a monster is horrible, but that possibility serves to highlight our dependency upon science and technology in order to stay alive (even her on Earth), and our increasing "alienation" through technology from the natural world and from the evolutionary struggle for survival. Ash (the robot scientist) and Mother (the artificially intelligent computer that kept them alive and gave instructions) and the Company (that treats human life as expendible) were the real enemies of Alien. Ripley was a hero because she didn't think scientific fact and material gain trump human empathy (her concern for a cat) and human interests.
Aliens takes the same ideas and the same basic storyline and expands it: more military, more weapons, a girl and a sensitive soldier instead of a cat, but ends on a familiar note. Ripley ejects the threat out of the airlock and is able to escape with her body and her principles intact. This relatively optimistic resolution of both the first and the second film is what Fincher's third film rejected, by impregnating Ripley and killing off the girl and the boyfriend during the opening credits. This time the issue is raised onto a theological plane and the question is whether we can find meaning in a universe where not only are there alien forces beyond our control that can destroy us but that, as a general rule even if there are exceptions, we humans either can't seem to help ourselves or don't much care as we harm others for our own gain. Ripley seems to find meaning in her final act of destroying the alien and herself, thus saving humanity from the careless greed that would use such a monster without regard to the human consequences. With that act, while not all questions the series raises are completely resolved, the series seems to reach a logical end, having adressed gender, reproduction, humanity, science, technology, war, all in the context of defining the human over and against those alien forces that threaten constantly to overwhelm humanity.
With Alien Resurrection, the series starts again, but in a new direction. Sigourney Weaver is no longer playing Ripley, but an Alien/Human cloned hybrid who somehow remembers something of her former incarnation but no longer possesses the same kind of horror of the alien. In fact what horrifies her most are images of her own creation, visions of the technological process that brought her into being. Whereas the first three films aimed for a certain kind of realism, Alien Resurrection verges on the surrealistic nightmare landscape of Jeunet's The City of Lost Children and Delicatessen. What we see may seem silly or strange or skewed, but I think that is because we are intended to get a skewed, or post-human, vision of the human attempt to control the monster, that would seem strange and absurd through the eyes of the no-longer quite human Ripley and the android Call (Winona Rider).
Admittedly, this is a brief and undeveloped defense of the film - and in this brief form it is probably guilty of over-intellectualizing the films, and "forgetting" that the primary appeal of these films is not "intellectual" but visceral -- but I hope it suggests another perspective: that rather than think Alien Resurrection is a failure because it doesn't live up to the terms of the series as Ridley Scott set them up, we should consider the possibility that a "resurrection" of the series may require a reworking of its basic assumptions and style. I admit to being heavily influenced in my opinions about this film by Stephen Mulhall's excellent little book On Film - while I disagree with some details of his account, I think his general approach to thinking about the Alien series as a whole is quite intelligent and compelling.)"
wiredweird | Earth, or somewhere nearby | 02/23/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Ripley established herself as the baddest badgirl in SF history, the one who faced down the Alien[s] three times before. So, who could top that? Ripley 2.0, of course.
The evil military-industrial complex is at it again. This time, two hundred years after Ripley took care of the slime-dripping carnivores, a secret military base is growing them again. And, since the alien babies are fussy eaters, this involves kidnapping a bunch of tasty humans for the little critters. They've also cloned the old Ripley and fitted her with some designer genes, extracted from the beasties that she spent so much time exterminating the first few times around. Then, when her memories grow back, it's Ripley++.
You can pretty much guess the rest. Winona Ryder appears as the cute, fearful female lead (they can't all be Ripleys), but one with a difference. The beasties are there, with a difference also. This time, they have a cuddly side - who knew? The franchise was tiring by the time this fourth flick came around. It managed to sustain the energy level, splatter factor, and wit pretty well, though. In the wit department, my favorite line might have been, "It must be a chick thing." If you liked the earlier Aliens, you'll like this one too, but maybe not quite as much.
Bring on the clone
picardfan007 | USA | 11/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Spoiler Alert for those of you who intend to see this film.....In this one Ellen Ripley is gone. However her clone lives on. What I liked about this one was at least they delivered with a decent story. Ripley is the next stage in Alien development for the bio weapons division that have her part of a cloning experiment. The scene where she uses the flame thrower to put them out of their misery was the most chilling. You can't predict as easily who's going to be alien food in this one. The last one was like a slasher movie. This one is decent enough to see a few times. I am very surprised that Geiger was not called back to work more extensively. He had ideas for aliens that change color; ones that make unearthly noises as they speed down the air shaft. After reading how he was shut out of the process I can tell you the movie series won't survive without his input. If they make another one I hope they bring back Geiger's ideas to evolve the series."
This is awesome!
D. Hunter | 02/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the previous aliens series... Ripley was alway on the run, terrified and blasting her way out for survival.After being cloned so they could pull the alien creature that was in her chest in Aliens 3, she is now "new and improved" with alien-like abilities!In this one, she isn't the one scared... She's agressive! Her blood is acidic, she seems to ignore pain and the creatures pretty much accept her as one of their own. The story line on this one redeemed itself from Aliens 3 (which I thought wasn't all that great).Other plusses (besides how cool Ripley is) is a sharp-shooter who can reflect his shots off walls and ceilings and a cast of other mercenary characters who are all interesting in their own way.I'd say if you liked "Aliens" (the second in the series), this one is a must-see!"