A Review by Noah Antwiler
Before I seriously started ranting on bad movies, I was one of the first in line to see Alien in theaters-- well, the first when it was put back in theaters as a special edition re-release. I'd already seen it, but I thought that I really should experience it on the big screen. A lot of movies are better that way. Movies like Star Wars and Saving Private Ryan stand out in my mind as films that just seem weaker confined to a television screen. Alien is a lot like that, but I remember being surprised as I watched it that the movie didn't grab my interest. It wasn't scary, and I was able to pick out little niggling problems that distracted me from the narrative. To this day, I think the timeline to Alien is a little messed up; first she's leaving the ship, then she's not leaving the ship, she wants to deactivate the self-destruct, and I don't know why...Point is, I was actually bored and I knew that it wasn't the movie's fault at all. At first I thought that I'd just become a jaded bastard who can't even recognize good cinema when he sees it anymore, my good taste batted down by endless all-nighter sessions of shitty movies. Had I really become this shambling sack of angst that just hates movies?
Turns out I'd just seen Alien about a thousand times. Watch any movie enough times and you're bound to get burned-out on it. I'd forgotten what a truly ball-punchingly bad sci-fi horror was. It had been about six years since the world was exposed to Alien Resurrection, and by 2003 I'd blissfully purged it from my memory. That is, until later when I caught Alien vs. Predator. That set me straight.
I think that's why I like to vent on bad movies: it gives me a new appreciation for good movies when I see them and it makes me a better moviegoer. It lets me realize when I'm being unfair to otherwise decent movies and gives me an excuse to broaden my viewing habits, seeking out those diamonds in the rough instead of burning myself out on "safe" movies I know to be good. Alien is a great movie, but I don't think it holds up as well today as it did before. I mean, at the time, something clawing its way out of a man's chest at lunch had never been seen before and you probably wouldn't find anything remotely like it until Cronenberg did Videodrome in '83. At the time it was groundbreaking and shocking. Today we've seen just about everything and it's hard to go back and be shocked with scares that (to today's youth) are relatively tame.
Even more amazing is that there was room to improve. Aliens came along and surpassed everyone's expectations. The direction of James Cameron and a fantastic ensemble cast made Aliens one of the few sequels to surpass the original. It was so good that it's hard to imagine any other movie in the series conceivably being anywhere near as good. And they weren't. Alien 3 was a hot potato of a movie, with scripting and directing responsibilities being bounced around left and right until the final project resembled nothing like it was originally conceived. There were about six different treatments of the script written, including a rejected one written by William Gibson. Alien 3 was so bad that even director David Fincher disowned it because of its spiraling budget and unbelievable levels of interference from the studio and producers. Worst of all, it showed on the screen. You can tell that the movie was forced into being a formulaic meat-grinder, a simple cash-in on the franchise. It managed to alienate (no pun intended) the audience by killing all of the established characters we grew to like-- off-camera, no less-- starting out with the realization that Hicks, Bishop and Newt died in-transit. What a cop-out. Way to render the events of the previous movie a complete waste of time, guys. Whatever Michael Biehn wanted to show up, they should have paid it.
By the end there wasn't much that could be done for the series. Everyone was dead. Ripley's death was the last nail in the Alien coffin. Five years later, how much did it take to crowbar those nails out? $11 million bucks. That's how much it cost to drag Sigourney Weaver back, more than it cost to make the first Alien, and I'm damn skippy there's not another woman alive who could pull down that much cash to star in an action flick. You think Jennifer Garner or Kristanna Loken gets that kind of bank? Dream on. What I found funny was that nobody thought Alien Resurrection was going to be any good. With Alien 3 there was a lot of hope. People thought it would be pretty good and so they were fired up about it. Not so with Resurrection, which was met with eye rolls and snorts of derision. Another Alien movie? Haven't we put that one to bed? At least Alien 3 brought some closure to the series. Further sequels were transparent attempts to go back to the well and everyone knew it, even diehard Alien fans. Honestly, it was becoming as much as a joke as the Rocky and the Jaws series, where every time you saw a movie poster depicted in the future, it would show some absurdly huge trailing string of Roman numerals. The whole point of it is that once you've got an audience hooked on the name, you can churn out any kind of shit, slap that name on the poster, and you've got a built in block of people who are going to go see it no matter what it is. And they'll never turn on you. How many Friday the 13th movies have we seen? Ten? Eleven counting Freddy vs. Jason? Has there ever been a Jason flick that was worth a crap? But every time they make a new one the Fangoria crowd will go check it out. They're making a new AVP. You'll go see it. They'll probably make an Alien 5, too, and you'll go see that. Knock it off!
You know what I love most about Alien Resurrection? The thought that puts a big, shit-eating grin on my face just thinking about it? The fact that Joss Whedon wrote this ass-smelling, dick-licking, cock-cheese of a movie, and there's nothing you can say or do that'll change it. All you assholes who think Joss Whedon's shit don't stink, who know your goddamn Buffy and Angel inside and out, who jerk off to Summer Glau fake Photoshopped nudes, none of you can escape this steaming turd. I can't abide hero worship. Now J. Michael Straczynski, on the other hand, there's a guy who never wrote anything bad in his life!
But enough of my fanwankery! You don't want my lame retrospective on a series that wrung itself dry of all inspiration, daring, and creativity! You want to get to the chest-bursting action, don't ya?
It just so happens that my brother purchased the Alien Quadrilogy (which just sounds awkward), a monolithic brick of a boxed set that when completely unfolded stretches well over six miles long. It takes 11 DVDs to contain the sheer awesomeness of these four movies, which are all presented in their original theatrical cuts and re-worked special editions-- the way the Star Wars flicks should have been released in the first place. Lookin' at you, George. I paid twice for those damn movies. Five of the discs contain even more special features and behind-the-scenes featurettes, which officially makes the Alien Quadrilogy DVD set more video than a human being with an average lifespan can watch before dying. Still, I guess I can't complain for them including way more extras than anyone could ever be interested in. Beats those lame DVDs where they consider stereo sound and a theatrical trailer quality extras.
I pop Alien Resurrection into my PC (disc #7, by the way; I actually had to reference the index on the back of the box to find out where the hell the movie is) and am confronted with a choice: "Special Edition" or "Theatrical Release." I click Special Edition because I'm a special guy and I refuse to settle for the regular stuff everyone else had to sit through. As you all know, I'm a rabid collector of the finest films and accept only the Collector's Edition of movies in my extensive video library. Although in this case, I'm beginning to think "Special" is meant in the same way that people on the short bus are special.
Before the movie starts, I'm greeted with an introduction from the movie's director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who seems a little confused as to why the hell he's in front of the camera. In fact, he as much says this, explaining that what I'm about to see is not the director's cut because that was the version he put out in theaters in 1997. A version, he says, he was rather happy with. He's got a look on his face that says "I know, I know, I'm a whore." Then he shows me some unfinished CG animation, explaining somewhat meekly that they dragged him back to assemble the movie with some new opening credits and ending material that we didn't see before. He says that I hope I enjoy it, but from his expression doesn't seem to think that I will. Oh great.
The movie's first shot is of an alien's toothy maw, point-blank range. Or is it? As the camera pulls back, a mighty pink finger smashes the creature which turns out to be a horrible roachlike bug. I say horrible because it's incredibly bad CGI and if it really did exist people would be confused by its cartoon eyes and weird tangle of teeth. The finger mooshes it flat, revealing that it's filled with tasty pink meat which the bug slayer carefully raises to eye level to inspect while sucking something vile out of a bendy straw. Are you sure this is the first image you want to hook the audience with? And who smashes disgusting roaches with their finger and then takes the time to inspect his handiwork? It's like sniffing your fingers after you wipe your ass.
I bet you've done that, too, you sick bastard. Everyone loves their own brand, am I right?
Anyway, I'm guessing this is the director's attempt to be ironic. Bug Slayer obsesses over the bloody gob of meat on his finger, first trying to flick it away like a booger, then scraping it into his bendy straw and blowing it into a nearby window. We've spent a minute and forty-five seconds on this, and already this movie can kiss my hairy pucker.
Thankfully, the camera pulls away from this unappealing bastard, leaving him to drift away in his spacecraft, hopefully to smash into something dense and jagged (like Ron Perlman). If the opening sequence is at all different from the theatrical version, I don't know and I'm too lazy to check. It's your fairly standard shot of a looming spaceship to make sure we know that the entire place is Fucking Huge and made of grimy, claustrophobic corridors of gray steel, unnecessary vents and grilles, and backlit industrial fans (see Scott, Ridley). All I can think of is that the ugly guy from before is going to be staring at that spot of bug slop oozing down his viewport until the end of time.
A credit for the visual effects supervisors comes up, breaking me out of my reverie. The word instantly registers in my brain, searing white letters that I recognize with primal instinct as a man who must be punished: Pitof. Just Pitof. One word. Like "Shithead" or "StupidFrenchCunt." Hey, if he can be eccentric, so can I. Pitof is the asshole who directed Catwoman, a movie so bad that people agreed even for a Halle Berry movie it was like jerking off with sandpaper
I was so upset at seeing Pitof's name I had to pause the movie and get something stiff to drink. I'm being quite irrational already, blaming this movie for something its visual effects supervisor hasn't even done yet. Leave me alone. If you'd seen Catwoman you'd understand.
We go inside the ship, which the handy subtitles tells us is the USM Auriga (which is coincidentally the sound the Red Alert siren makes: AURIGA! AURIGA!), a medical research vessel for the United Systems' Military. The ship is poorly-lit like you'd expect in an Alien movie. What is it about spaceships in the future that puts lighting so far down on the list of priorities? They've perfected artificial gravity and cryogenic stasis for long-distance travel, yet they're only able to put enough lights in the halls that are just barely enough to walk around by? The anti-grav must drain a lot of energy. Can you imagine being a scientist trying to get some work done on this ship when the only illumination is diffuse, rust-colored light coming from the wall panels? Good luck dissecting something. You'd be lucky if you didn't chop your own thumb off.
Two guards stand sentry near a heavy door, which is about six inches shorter than they are. There's another oddity about starship design: doors you have to hunch over to get through. Not only can you not write out a lab report without jamming a flashlight in your mouth, if you zone out mentally while heading to the bathroom you could give yourself a concussion. For some reason I note that one of the guards is a lefty by the way they're pointing their weapons in opposite directions, straight at each others' heads. The door opens for no reason other than to admit the cameraman, which doesn't strike the sentires as strange at all. Inside there are a bunch of scientists milling around doing sciencey things while a heavy metal widget slides away from a large vertical cylinder-- again, for no reason. Inside the bacta tank is a naked Clone Ripley who, even though she's still maturing into a full-grown adult in the tank, has self-consciously crossed her arms over her breasts and hidden her naughty bits. Because clones have modesty. Clone Ripley matures quickly into the Sigourney Weaver we all know, and as the camera pulls back the scientists are ooh'ing and aah'ing around her because she's the first naked woman they've ever seen for real and now that this experiment wa sa success they might finally be able to clone a dream woman of their very own like in Weird Science. Every scientist's dream!
Brad Dourif plunks Ripley down on an operating table and sets to work removing an alien foetus from her chest. The doctors decide that for a critical chest surgery Ripley needn't be topless, but instead fit her with a surgical shirt with a convenient little window to cut inside. It's like a life-size Operation board, that goofy game for dopey doctors! Fix writer's cramp! Remove chest-bursting alien without touching the sides. But they have special shirts for this with holes in the middle of the chest. Were they made specifically for this operation? Do they have surgical gowns with little windows cut off-center of the stomach for appendectomies? I guess if we have Chest-bursting Alien Surgical Smocks, we better use 'em. The clone's modesty must be preserved, after all. I'm not harping on about this because I want to see Sigourney Weaver's jumblies (frankly the thought scares me a little), but because the effort to conceal them is so elaborate that it ends up drawing attention to how artificial the scene is. What are they afraid of? They've already got their R-rating. Make with the mommy-bags!
Oh, and I know this is jumping the gun a little, but if Ripley's blood is acidic (as we find out later), then why isn't it dissolving the surgical instruments?
They harvest the baby alien successfully (I thought we couldn't do that!) and Dourif sews her back up and throws her into a strange holding cell which is about twelve feet in diameter but about fifty feet high and capped with a pane of glass. Ripley sleeps on a rough industrial grating which just has to hurt, and is for some reason wrapped in a thin layer of cotton which she emerges from so Jeunet could try for some kind of stupid circle-of-life or chryssalis symbolism which probably seemed really deep when he storyboarded it. I get it, but I'm not buying it. And her surgical scar is not only in the wrong place, it's going in the wrong direction.
Dourif examines Ripley in the ship's sickbay, remarking with wonder at how well she's progressed. Another doctor enters and similarly can't believe at how quickly her scar has healed. Well seeing as how nobody's checking the continuity on this scar, you should be surprised! Ripley leaps into action and throws Other Doctor into a full body scissors by wrapping her legs around his midsection, popping free of her steel manacles like they were bubble wrap. She strangles him until the guards run into the room, jam a rifle into her ear, and blast her upside the head with some spacey energy bolt that knocks her loopy.
They put Ripley in a straitjacket and chain her to a chair for later sessions, where anEvil Scientist tries to elicit word association exercises from her by showing her cards with pictures on them. She provides meaningful answers, which sends Dourif a-twitter about how she's functioning mentally on an adult level (if that adult is Owen Wilson, maybe), and his buddy spouts out some technobabble about "synaptic dissonance," "connective difficulties." and "a biochemical imbalances, causing emotional autism." This is smarty-talk for "cuckoo! cuckoo!" They're trying to explain the situation to General Perez, played by a painfully out-of-place Dan Hedaya who simply doesn't look like the kind of guy who would ever have joined the military and certainly would never have made the rank of 3-star general if he did.
Wormtongue babbles something else about her memories, at which point Perez finally throws on the brakes to this crazy train. "What do you mean it has memories??" he spazzes, looking cross-eyed into the monitor. Can we get some lights on in here? For chrissakes it's like playing Wing Commander in the dark to make it feel like you're really in a spaceship.
Evil Scientist speculates it's genetic memory, that the clone retains memories of its education and past experiences. Bollocks to that. As if the memory of what a baseball glove is is encoded in my DNA. As Morbo would say, "GENETICS DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY! GOOD NIGHT!!" Wormtongue is still giddy and mentions that the genetic memory as well as her superhuman strength are unexpected benefits from the genetic crossing. General Perez isn't much in the mood for an alien hybrid with "unexpected benefits" and storms out of the office shouting whoop-de-fucking-do, we've got a genetic freak nightmare on our hands. He doesn't bother to open the door, instead chewing his way out of the scenery.
"General, you're not thinking termination, are you?" Dourif whines, trailing behind.
"Oh boy am I thinking termination," Perez threatens. So you're worried about Clone Ripley, but not about the fucking alien queen you have in the cargo hold. Fantastic.
He says that if Ripley even looks at him funny, he'll waste her. He heads over to another door and exhales heavily on the nearby panel. The panel asks him to try again, so he does. Finally the door recognizes his pungent breath and unlocks itself with a merry greeting. They couldn't get palm-print readers or retinal scanners? The best they could do was horrendously unsanitary breath-o-matics? What kind of chintzy lowest-bidder German biometrics does this tin can have? In the early days, I hear the Russians had to fart on their door mechanisms. We've come a long way.
The general and staff head into the room and take a gander at their prize: a growing alien queen. Evil Scientist says she'll start laying eggs in a couple days and re-iterates the need for "the cargo" to arrive on time. Perez says it'll be here and they share a long moment staring at the pissed off matriarch on the other side of some protective glass. This doesn't relax me the same way as looking at puppies in the pet store does. Don't know why.
Dourif is with Clone Ripley #8 in the canteen (oddly the best-lit room so far) scarfing down the mystery meat and eyeing her creepily. Between you and me, I think he's got a bit of a crush on her! He decides to patronize her a little bit by holding up his silverware and pronouncing the word "fork" for her.
"Fuck," she repeats.
"Er, it's fork."
You should have let her finish, Brad. I'm pretty sure she was getting to the second part, which was "fuck off, you creepy ponytailed faggot." But instead she startles him by asking how she came to be here. Dourif explains that they cloned her from blood samples on Fiori XVI, the planet in Alien 3 where she took the Nestea plunge into some molten lead in an ending that wasn't at all stolen from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. This, of course, does not explain how they managed to clone the alien queen inside of her, seeing as how the impregnation doesn't and CAN'T alter the victim's DNA. Cloning just doesn't work that way, any more than cloning Pamela Anderson would produce a copy with big fake boobs. The alien is just inside her, that's all. I can't believe I have to live with this stupid theory that the alien is some kind of infectious disease that has fundamentally modified her DNA to produce some weird hybrid clone with genetic memory and telepathy.
Ripley notes that the alien is growing quickly, and that it's a queen. This spooks Wormtongue out a little and prompts the obvious question "how do you know that?"
Ripley remains inscrutable. "She'll breed. You'll die. Everyone in the company will die." That about sums up the movie, yeah.
Evil Scientist wanders into the cafeteria and tells her that the Weyland-Yutani Corporation went belly-up decades ago. "Bought out by Wal-Mart," he says. So at least we know they're still evil. I bet whenever you go to a company colony on another planet now you get greeted by some retarded guy or a senile octogenarian in a blue vest.
Evil Scientist tries to creepily explain to Clone Ripley that things are very different in the future. They're not evil, reality TV has been abolished, and after 200 years Blu-ray has emerged as the dominant storage format. They're more than capable of handling the "animals" and safely taming them for use. Ripley's all "yeah whatever, fishbait," to which Evil Scientist snarks "Why not? We're teaching you." I think it's wise that I haven't bothered to assign this guy a meaningful name. I don't think he'll be around much longer.
A ship approaches the Auriga, which a handy subtitles tells us is "The Betty," an unregistered vessel with 6 victim-- I mean, crew members. The captain gets on the radio to the Auriga and calls in his landing code, "E-A-T-M-E." Because it's always smart to antagonize a military vessel bristling with weapons out in the vastness of space where nobody would hear you get creamed. The captain is played by Michael Wincott, that guy you recognize every time you see him in a movie but never bothered to find out his name. He's the same slimy son of a bitch in every movie you've seen him in: Strange Days, Metro, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves...he's got that raspy voice like he gargles with tobacco juice. He takes some time to molest the resident hottie pilot, Trigger, before going to rouse the rest of the crew to prepare for their landing. Trigger's life expectancy can be measured in minutes.
Winona Ryder is fiddling with some kind of electromagnetic lifting thingy while some stunty guy in leg braces is under some other giant hulking mass of machinery-- the function of which is both unclear and unimportant, as long as it's big, gothic, and grimy. Stunty is whistling the theme to Popeye the Sailor Man, an anachronistic little diddy that I doubt very much exists this far in the future. 300 years from now I can see a lot of things still being around: the Rolling Stones, Wheel of Fortune, Family Circus, but I don't see Popeye. Stunty starts harassing Winona about some lame joke he must have picked up at the last space port cantina. "Hey Call, what has two thumbs, one eye, a pink tongue, and screws like a god?"
Somehow Winona resists the urge to throw a torque wrench at this little troll, instead looking like she just threw up in her mouth a little. Ron Perlman, a craggy lump of rock, rumbles onto a catwalk above them making grunts and ape noises. This does not surprise me, seeing as Ron Perlman probably is the missing link between modern man and the cro-magnon sought by evolution theorists. He tosses a knife down which sinks directly into Stunty's leg. Stunty doesn't react because he's got no feeling below the waist, probably because the last woman he told that crappy "two-thumbs" joke to hit him in the spine with a machete and crippled him. Winona sees the knife, thanks Ron profusely and uses it to cut Stunty's balls off. Actually she gets righteously offended and affects all the rage of an insulted valleygirl who's just been given a 10 PM curfew. "You're, like, totally an inbred motherfucker, you know that?" she shouts. Winona really seems to relish the chance to shout "motherfucker" in a movie, which is cute because at her most furious she still looks and sounds like a twelve year-old who at worst might boot you in the shin. You just want to pinch those little cheeks of hers and tell her to come back and be in another Alien movie when she grows up.
Ron asks for his knife back, something he really should have thought of before he started throwing it at people. Winona gets like, totally indignant and so breaks the blade of the knife off. Ron barks out something in his native Klingon and storms off vowing revenge.
The Betty docks in an absurdly large bay that, if my estimate is correct is about three bajillion feet tall. The crew poses for a badass full-cast shot in the airlock and submits to a search by the local staff of inept security guards. The guard half-heartedly sweeps a metal detector glove over everyone without bothering to inspect containers or Stunty's wheelchair. By now TSA agents would have had my shoes in an x-ray machine, my laptop in pieces, and two fingers up my asshole. Perez takes Captain Elgyn up to his office and pushes a giant pile of money across the desk. Then he fixes drinks, but instead of pouring them from a bottle, he has these Booze Cubes FROM THE FUTURE! They're booze, in cube form! Yes, no more tedious bottles with their awkward shape and hard-to-handle caps! Fit twice the booze on your shelf with Booze Cubes! Perez puts the Cube in a shotglass and places the glass under a laser gizmo that zaps the cube into sweet, sweet drinkable booze. Awfully long way to go to get a drink, isn't it? I think I would just suck on my Booze Cubes like they were jawbreakers.
Perez and Elgyn talk shop for a little bit, but the conversation drifts to Winona who they both agree is "severely fuckable." Is it just me? I've never really seen Winona Ryder as that much of a sex object. It could be that I respect her as an actress, or it could be that she's built like a pre-teen boy. Keira Knightley is more developed than her. Perez allows Elgyn's crew to stay for a couple of days as long as they stay out of trouble and stay away from restricted areas. Elgyn asks what kind of business they're up to, since most of the time medical ships operate inside "regulated space." As if he cares. Perez just gives him the ol' "You know, military business" response and they go back for another round of tasty Booze Cubes. FROM THE FUTURE!
The crew unloads the mysterious cargo, which if you hadn't already guessed, is a smorgasbord of human victims that the scientists suspend directly over a row of alien eggs. Things are lots better in the future, Ripley! No evil here! No sir!
Ripley's playing basketball in a room so well-lit I can scarcely believe it's on the same ship. It's incredible, you can actually see the floor and objects more than six feet away! The rest of Elgyn's crew wanders inside and Johner (Ron Perlman) lurches into caveman-seeks-mate mode at the first sight of her. He tries to impress her with his basketball skills but finds himself unable to take the ball away from her. In fact, she seems rather unimpressed with his sexual predator routine and belts him in the mouth so hard he goes rolling all the way across the room. Christie, some other guy in dreadlocks jacks her in the face with a set of free-weights. This only serves to bloody her nose and earns him a crushing knockout blow across the face with the basketball. Wormtongue and the Evil Scientist break it up and send Ripley back to her room before anyone else gets hurt. She flicks the blood from her nose which begins to sizzle its way through the floor. I would recant nearly every word of this review if someone were to give me a plausible explanation of how they got alien DNA from her blood sample and somehow made her a hybrid with acidic blood. I really would.
Things quiet down as night falls...if night can fall in a spaceship. It doesn't really matter as the lights never get any brighter around here. Let's just say it's bedtime. Elgyn and Trigger spend a disturbing night together sharing a prolonged foot massage. Perez unsurprisingly spends the night alone shining his boots. Johner, Christie, and Winona watch the Home Shopping Network, giving Winona the opportunity to say "shit" while inquiring what the hell Johner puts in the homemade moonshine. She gets to curse twice in this movie! Our Winona's all grown up now. You can tell these guys are lower-class because they can't afford quality Booze Cubes. For long-lasting flavor, Booze Cubes really satisfy! B-double-O-Z-E, Booze!
Dourif is burning the midnight oil (he has to, because it's so dark around here) by checking out how the newborn aliens are doing. They're doing quite well. Most of them are asleep, but one wakes up and takes notice of him. And my god, do these aliens drool like frigging Star Jones at a deli counter. I'm not kidding, there must have been stagehands just off camera ready to douche that thing in buckets of K-Y Jelly seconds before Jeunet called "action." With this much slobber I have to wonder where all that stuff runs off to, or if someone has to muck out the alien cages. Come do think of it, do aliens poop? What do they feed the aliens? They became fully-grown within hours of birth. Physics dictates that metabolized energy had to come from somewhere. I just have to wonder what kind of whack life-cycle these aliens have.
Anyway, Dourif makes kissy-faces at the alien (literally smooching the glass) when it does its shrieky "BOO" thing with its inner stabby-mouth. Dourif points a finger at the alien as if to say "choke on DEEZ nuts, stupid alien" and slaps a Big Red Button. Steam or some kind of blowy smoke stuff issues forth and drives the alien back shrieking in pain. Dourif's all The alien rushes the window again but Wormtongue holds his hand over the button. The alien draws back. Apparently they're fast learners.
Winona makes her way alone through the ship on the sly, stopping at one of the security doors that you have to breathe on to gain access. I can't get over how stupid this type of locking mechanism is. You have a supercomputer. You can perform waveform analysis of the human voice which, believe it or not, is impossible to fake. Fingerprints, retinas, anything other than sneezing on a panel. Clearly the future is not for germophobes. Winone takes out a keyring of little tubes that look like spray breath-freshener and spritzes a few on the panel until the door grants entry. The door greets her as "General Perez," which must mean that someone took a scraping of Perez's nasty breath and...what, cloned it? Ick.
Inside is Ripley's holding cell. She takes out a knife and is about to stab Ripley when she notices the scar on her chest and realizes that they've already taken the alien out. Winona gets to curse again, which still sounds about as natural as Marv Albert speaking German. Ripley acts strange enough to fully weird Call out, sending her retreating back out the door and directly into the gunsights of several guards. Evil Scientist leads a group of guards to corner Elgyn's crew in the Basketball Room where he threatens to have them all executed as terrorists. This doesn't exactly fit in with Elgyn's plans for the weekend so everyone pulls their arsenal of concealed weapons and guns down the guards. One guard survives long enough to draw down on Christie, creating a standoff. The guard screams for everyone to drop their weapons. While he's doing that, Christie looks up at the ceiling, works out the geometry in his head, and fires his handgun up at a girder, which ricochets off and hits another girder, which ricochets straight into the guard's head. Uh huh. He fired from the hip and executed a flawless double-ricochet hit at a target that he couldn't even see three feet behind him. And the guard was good enough to not shoot him while Christie fired his own weapon.
By the way, have you noticed Joss Whedon's obsession with giving a burly space pirate a girl's name? Christie? Oh, and notice that there are two superpowered women in this movie? Joss does love his paranormal chicks who kick ass. Time to get some new schtick, J-man.
Wormtongue is watching all of this transpire on a nearby monitor, but for some reason Father (the ship's computer) is able to comprehend human speech and yet can't raise an alarm at the sound of prolonged gun battles. The aliens seem to sense that Dourif's mind isn't on his work and they turn to a huddle. They hiss out a plan to each other and they pick out the alien nobody likes, dogpile him, and tear him apart with their claws and stabby mouth things. Thus ruptured, the acidic corpse proceeds to burn through several decks beaneath it, permitting the aliens to escape. Ludicrously, Dourif goes inside the alien cage to peek down the hole and promptly gets his head torn off. Idiot.
Finally an alarm wakenes General Perez, and -- what in the HELL??
A guard pokes his head into the alien cage, gives the alien body a little kick, and also peers down the hole. One of the aliens gets into the control booth and mashes the big red button, which immerses the hapless dope in a cloud of smoke. It sends him reeeling into the wall with his face half-frozen and his arm shattered in bloody shards of ice. Apparently the alien has a sense of humor.
Elgyn's crew hears the alarm and the sounds of gunfire throughout the ship and unanimously decide to leave. When the question of whether or not they should go get Stunty is raised, they also unanimously decide on the "Fuck Vriess" policy, aka the "serves you right for wandering off alone in an alien horror movie" policy. Vriess is predictably having a miserable time of it, caught alone in the dark with an alien looming over him, visible through the ceiling grates. He hastily assembles a rifle from various bits of his wheelchair and blasts it, but not before some drops of its blood burn his ear off and put a hole in his leg. Perez orders the troops into a full retreat. They climb into escape pods and launch out into space. Unfortunately an alien gets on board the last one and has so many victims it barely knows where to start. Perez demonstrates his phenomenal bocci ball skill by rolling a hand grenade down thirty feet of corridor and down into the escape pod's hatch. Everyone in this movie has incredible manual dexterity, I have to say.
Perez gives his fallen troops a salute. Standing still at a time like this proves not to be the wisest course of action, as it enables another alien to drop down behind him and hollow out his skull. In an amusing moment, Perez is still able to relish this sensation and fishes a piece of his own shattered brain out of his skull. Not many people get that particular sight.
Elgyn's crew beats feet, but Elgyn himself stupidly lags behind. Christie even reminds him not to go off alone, but is met with only a lazy "yeah yeah." Elgyn spends the next few minutes hoarding guns, never displaying any common sense or self-preservation instincts, or questioning why all the guns he's collecting are covered in snot. The ship's corridors are even darker than before, but now there are annoying strobe lights that don't help anything and steam is hissing out from everywhere for no reason. The crew calls out Elgyn's name, asking where in the hell he's run off to, and oddly, he doesn't answer them. At all. Not an "I'm okay," or "I'm coming." He just stays quiet. An alien pulls Elgyn through the floor, and that's all she wrote for that guy. We're rapidly running out of characters with sensible haircuts, here. Aliens must hate people with good grooming habits.
The crew finds his body and the alien that shredded him, but they hesitate in shooting it because it's "in front of the hull." I don't know how they can tell in this shitcan or why they're letting that stop them when it didn't seem to factor in their last little firefight, but whatever. Ripley shoots it and crawls out through the floor grates to join them. Christie corners Evil Scientist and demands to know what in the hell is going on, specifically, how many more of those beasties are running around. ES says there are twelve, and Ripley says that there will soon be more.
Winona whines that they can't trust Ripley because she's an alien clone and she'll turn on them first chance she gets. Christie doesn't seem to care because she's macho and is a good shot. Johner says she's hot, and everyone else agrees that Winona should shut her piehole and go find a women's department to rob. Stunty emerges from a nearby elevator and everyone pretends like they're glad to see him. Well, except for Johner who says that they should "ditch the cripple. No offense, man." Everyone starts working out how to get to the landing dock, which somehow got insanely complicated. Ripley notes that the ship is moving, and Evil Scientist is all "well duh, in the event of an emergency the ship autopilots back to base." Base is, of course, Earth. The crew isn't so much upset that the aliens will overrun the Earth as much as they probably have criminal records back there.
Winona predictably exclaims "we gotta blow the ship!" Everyone else tells her to shut up. I like these guys.
They make some progress, but eventually Ripley stops, sensing something. She's drawn to a room marked (unhelpfully) I-7, which should have a friendly sign on it that says "Giger's House of Horrors." Inside is a number of cloning tubes, each with a nightmarish Ripley Clone in varying levels of hideousness. Cloning's an inexact science, after all. I think it's kind of funny the scientists allowed the clones to reach full adulthood before deciding that they might not be salvageable. "I dunno guys, I saw the devil tail and the extra set of arms but I thought she might get better!" She comes across the latest clone, and this one's still alive and thrashing in torment on a nearby gurney. Ah, nightmare fuel.
Failed Clone Ripley begs them to kill her, so she torches it with a flamethrower. I think it meant "shoot me in the head," not "burn me alive so I can die in horrible scorching agony," but whatever. Ripley roasts everything else in the room too before storming out to confront Evil Scientist. He puts his hands up and is probably about to say something like "Um, okay, I know that looked bad..." when Winona butts in and tells Ripley not to do it. Ripley just throws the gun down at his feet and walks off. Winona punches ES in the nose. Yeah, I'm sure that showed him the error of his numerous human rights violations; a wispy white bitch swatted him in the face with her little ropey arm.
Johner takes a moment to reflect on the destruction Ripley left behind and grunts "Me no understand. Angry lady waste ammo! Must be PMSing." I'm reflecting on the strange assortment of weapons the security staff is kitted out with on this mission. Huge rifles that are apparently more than capable of puncturing the ship's hull? Wit under-barrel grenade launchers? Why would you give them that? Are you expecting ze Germans? And flamethrowers for security staff? Talk about overkill.
Nameless Soldier Guy -- a Hispanic dude who just seems to have started following the group since the shootout in the Basketball room -- takes point into (what else?) a dark chamber. This specific room is lit solely by a strobe light. As if the mere presence of the aliens has knocked out electrical circuits all over the ship and caused erratic clouds of steam to waft up from every floor grating. The aliens only just escaped a few minutes ago and they've already installed strobe lights? The group finds itself in the impregnation chamber where Elgyn's "cargo" was strapped over the alien eggs for a few hours of sweet oral sex. The people are still there, but they've seen better days and could desperately use some Pepto Bismol. How they came to enter this specific maximum security room in the spaceship is beyond me, and I'm damn skippy this can't be on the way back to the Betty. How did they even open the door to this place? Did Winona whip out her Enchanted Keyring of Other People's Halitosis? Can someone please explain how she got that?
Ripley finds some guy slouched against a cargo container that hasn't had his chest cavity exploded. Must be a late bloomer. The guy wakes up screaming, and why wouldn't he? He's just been tentacle-raped by a demonic catcher's mitt. Nobody seems to know how to broach the issue of his terminal acid reflux. Ripley smells him and says they really should leave Deadmeat behind. Winona suddenly has a radical shift in motivations (unless her motivation is to antagonize the group consensus at every turn) and tells Ripley to go fuck herself (Winona cursing count: 4), they're not leaving Deadmeat behind. Oh suddenly Miss-Let's-Leave-The-Alien-Breeder-Behind grew a conscience, eh? Go shoplift a Ross For Less, ya dizzy broad!
Ripley gives Deadmeat the straight dope while everyone else bickers about the most effective way of killing him. Winona out-shrieks everyone and browbeats them into dragging Deadmeat along and throwing him in a cryo-pod so Evil Scientist can remove it later. ES is all "um, yeah! I can do that, no problem..." Johner isn't happy about it, naturally, and nobody's smart enough to ask the logical question of why Deadmeat is the only subject still alive. What, did he not eat enough carbs? Did the alien have a hard time getting an erection? Maybe it was shooting blanks.
So Deadmeat comes along even though everyone's pretty much got him penciled in on the casualty list. They see a long, grimy shaft and tell Ron Perlman to put his pants back on. Hah! Actually they climb down the shaft, forcing Stunty to abandon his wheelchair. They decide to strap him onto Christie's back like Master Blaster from Beyond Thunderdome. They land hip-deep in water, which Stunty says must be because someone opened the valve on the cooling tanks. These mysterious cooling tanks, whatever they're meant to cool, hold enough water to completely flood the lower decks. Sure, let's roll with it. On the way to the escape pods someone decided it would be hilarious to spin the valve on the cooling tanks. Whoever that person was must have been a real asshole, and whoever designed these cooling tanks to flood several habitable decks whenever some yahoo yanks on the valve was an even bigger asshole. Doesn't that seem like a grievous design flaw to you? "God damn it Larry, stop opening the valve on those cooling tanks! It's not funny! My cat drowned!" Why would you ever need to drain the cooling tanks? Aren't full cooling tanks GOOD? And even if you did need to drain them, why would you choose to dump that much water on people instead of venting it into space? Nobody wants your nasty coolant water, and they won't be in much of a mood to form a bucket brigade to bring it back to the cooling tanks after you've drowned them.
Fuck this is stupid. Evil Scientist says that they need to swim through the kitchen and get to a freight elevator, and THEN they'll be able to reach their ship. I've lost all sense of direction. Nameless Soldier Guy asks Christie if his guns fire underwater and he says that they will, "they're disposables." I interpret this to mean that they fire cartridged rounds as opposed to spacey bolts of light FROM THE FUTURE! Nameless Soldier Guy nods like a complete retard and says "Duh hyuk hyuk, disposables r gud!" Trigger, the hottie pilot of the Betty looks like she's about to piss all over herself, but she's in the water so it's okay. She looks like she has an unspoken fear of being torn apart by angry bugs in water and it's finally come around to haunt her. Off in the distance you can hear the bells tolling for her. I'll always remember your thong, Trigger.
They swim around for about three minutes, no biggie. Oh, and it turns out the aliens can swim. Guess who gets picked off first. The others claw their way to the surface of the water which is covered in alien crap and emerge in Alien Central surrounded by a ton of frigging eggs. Ripley takes a face-hugger right to the mush and goes down struggling to pull it off. Johner screams something about the aliens laying an ambush, something both unlikely (as if the aliens were counting on swimmers surfacing in this exact spot on the way to the docking bay with a rising water level) and ironic (because the aliens did, in fact, LAY an ambush because of the eggs. Get it?). The swimmers decide that under the water is much better for the moment. Christie lobs some grenades up into the chamber to clear it out. Ripley actually does manage to rip her face-hugger off (I thought you couldn't do that!) and they all climb up to the next level now that the eggs are scrambled.
Evil Scientist and Winona reach the top first. ES fiddles with the door control and tells her that he needs a gun to blast the panel open. Unbe-fucking-lievably, she gives him one. Even Evil Scientist can't seem to believe she fell for it and remarks "You really are dumb" before busting a cap in her ass. He laughs like Snidley Whiplash on his way through the door and tells the computer to lock it behind him. Meanwhile, an alien jumps up from the water and starts climbing the ladder behind them. Stunty and Christie try to fire down at it but accomplish absolutely nothing because they're both horrible shots and the alien can dodge bullets. The alien hocks an acidic loogie up, striking Christie square in the face and effectively putting him down for the count. Stunty (still in the Master Blaster position) tries to climb the ladder himself, but you try scaling a ladder with Warrick Brown from CSI hanging off your ass. With anyone from CSI hanging off you, really...
They finally manage to kill the alien, but not before it grabs onto Christie's foot and hangs there, further dead weight on poor Stunty. I gotta give the little guy credit, he supports about 300 lbs., all upper-body strength for about two minutes! He's got powerful tiny arms! Christie cuts himself free and splashes down in the water to drown. They gather around the locked door when suddenly it opens revealing...Winona? How the hell did she get up there? She climbed up two decks and somehow teleported through a locked door.
Oh, and how did she survive a point-blank round to the chest? Because she's a robot! An "Auton," actually, if it makes a difference. A second-generation robot designed by other robots who went rogue. You see, early in the 21st Century, THE TYRELL CORPORATION advanced Robot evolution into the NEXUS phase - a being virtually identical to a human - Known as a Replicant.
The NEXUS 6 Replicants were superior in strength and agility, and at least equal in intelligence, to the genetic engineers who created them.
Replicants were used Off-world as slave labor, in the hazardous exploration and colonization of the other planets.
After a bloody mutiny by a NEXUS 6 combat team in an Off-world colony, Replicants were declared illegal on earth - under penalty of death.
Special police squads - BLADE RUNNER UNITS - had orders to shoot to kill, upon detection, any trespassing Replicant.
This was not called execution.
It was called retirement.
I'm sorry, I went off on a tangent there, but believe me, whatever explanation there is for Winona Ryder being a robot in this movie can only make you dumber by hearing it. It still doesn't explain how she knew Ripley was being cloned to produce aliens on this ship, and it doesn't explain the Keyring of Halitosis, and it certainly doesn't explain how she's able to circumvent the penultimate law of robotics that states no robot may harm another human being. Remember when she tried to murder Ripley? Yeah. "Blah blah, she was designed by other robots--" Suck it, all right? This movie is fucking horrible.
They convince Winona to interface with the computer to open the doors, something she's reluctant to do. Ripley tells her to shut the hell up and do it or she'll twist her head off like a Snapple cap. She pulls out the cover to her "interface port" which is disguised as a disgusting whitehead zit on her forearm. Eeeeew. She says that the Auriga is 86 minutes from Earth dock, but that there's not enough juice in the engines to achieve critical mass and blow up the ship. Ripley tells her to just crash the ship instead. How is it they're only 86 minutes away from Earth? I thought this was "outside regulated space." You're telling me that if I were to drive for an hour and a half away from Earth I'd be in completely lawless territory? What about all that falderal with stealing people out of cryo-sleep?
Come to think of it, the whole timeline to this movie is completely screwed up. Let's think about how much time in total has actually passed since the crew of the Betty offloaded their human cargo. Eight hours? Ten at the most? You're telling me in that time the alien queen laid a dozen eggs, the scientists took those eggs and arranged them in a special chamber to impregnate their illicit hosts, the aliens grew up and burst out of their chests (all except one...for some reason), grew to full maturity, broke out of their cells, sprung the alien queen...somehow, killed everyone on board, and the queen had enough time in an hour and a half to lay dozens more eggs and scout and create ambush chambers throughout the ship. And they only pulled the alien queen out of Ripley yesterday.
Winona speeds the ship up, setting them up to crash in about 43 minutes instead. She also locks Evil Scientist out of the landing dock to be chomped on by aliens. So much for Law #1. They run for the Betty full-bore now. Deadmeat whines that he's tired, so Johner tells him "sleep when you die, man!" All right! A Road House reference! Sad when the best part of your movie is a reference to a Patrick Swayze barfight flick. They stop short when they come across a broad patch of alien snot. Ripley says that they must be near the nest which is of great comfort to everyone, and they decide to detour. Yup, they decide to wander around the ship and get lost even more than they already have. MAN it's hard to get off this ship.
Ripley stops, telepathically sensing how close the alien queen is when they pull the floor out from underneath her and she falls directly into their nest where she gets...I don't know, absorbed by the queen. The next few moments are a creepy little montage where I think it's implied Ripley gets humped by the queen. Weird. Lesbian Giger Sex.
The rest of the crew doesn't even stop to reflect on what a shame it is Ripley's being raped by an alien and they board the Betty, forgetting completely that Evil Scientist is hanging around the landing dock with a gun. He steps out of the shadows, shoots Deadmeat, and holds Winona hostage, demanding that she reprogram the Auriga to dock at Earth. Deadmeat starts going into spasms as the alien burrows its way out of his chest. Stunty runs to get the video camera because the precious moment of childbirth should be recorded for posterity. Deadmeat gets a sudden Hulk Hogan-like adrenaline rush and charges after Evil Scientist, thoroughly beating the crap out of him despite being shot half a dozen times. Then he gets behind him so the alien bursts out through his chest and through Evil Scientist's head. Sure thing there. We should ask Leland Orser how it feels to know that his character was written solely to set up a semi-comedic comeuppance kill. I guess a paycheck is a paycheck.
Elsewhere in the steaming, fetid bowels of the Auriga, Ripley wakes up to Brad Dourif giving some insane babbling monologue about how the genetic tomfoolery worked both ways. The alien queen is a hybrid too, capable of giving live birth! Whatever! I'm just going to assume that the alien baby was not produced as a result of the weird Giger Lesbian Sex they had a few minutes ago, because it's all just too stupid to contemplate. Maybe the queen humped Brad Dourif. That I'll accept. The queen bears down, girds its loins, and craps out some alabaster white nightmare with saggy alien boobs and a set of mammalian eyes. Way to screw up the aliens, Joss.
Junior turns out to be a precocious tyke, tearing its mom to pieces seconds after leaving the womb. It turns and sees Ripley and finds her much more attractive (hey, who wouldn't?), seeming to imprint on her. It corners her and slathers its horrible Gene Simmons-like tongue all over her. Wormtongue won't shut up throughout all of this, cooing psycho shit like "awwwww it thinks your its mother!" and "it's a beautiful little butterfly!" Are all scientists in the future completely bugfuck insane? Thankfully Alien Junior seems as fed up with Brad Dourif as I am and chews his head like Bubble Yum. Ripley wisely takes this opportunity to run like FOX studio executives from another season of Firefly.
Ripley makes a heroic leap onto the Betty and straps in to pilot the ship. Stunty remarks that there's still a breach at the hatch she came in on, and Winona offers to go fix it. Ripley doesn't even flinch. Come on Ripley, you've been in three of these movies and you've even been ambushed by the alien before this exact same way! Or maybe she knows the alien is in the ship and she doesn't mind letting Winona get slaughtered. Hey, I can appreciate the sentiment. Junior says hello to her and is about to waste her when Nameless Soldier wanders in to check on her. Somehow it sneaks up on him and mooshes his head. After losing two people Ripley finally gets the feeling something may be wrong, so she goes into the bay to find Winona being molested by Junior. Junior has this goofy habit where it has mood swings, going from this hilarious "you afwaid of wittle bitty me?" routine, then abruptly shifting to "AH MAKE YO' HEAD ASPLODE!"
Ripley gets its attention and approaches it, then makes out with it for a minute before slashing her own hand open on its snaggletooth. She flings some of the blood on the exterior glass, which burns a hole through it exposing the ship to vaccuum. The shocked alien gets sucked into space through an opening the size of a keyhole. I'm told that normal pressure would never actually cause this kind of explosive decompression. That's as may be. The more sensible question is why Ripley went through such elaborate means to kill it with her acidic blood when she could have jackhammered it into oblivion with an assault rifle.
The Auriga crashes apocalyptically on Earth. I remember hearing that it was supposed to crash somewhere uninhabited, but dear sweet fancy Christmas, the ship appears to impact dead center of North America! I mean my god! That's not uninhabited! That's Missouri! The impact raises a mushroom cloud hundreds of miles wide, and the resulting nuclear explosion is big enough to devastate the entire continent! Thank God Ripley came along to save us from the alien menace, eh?
Stunty and Johner manage to crash-land the Betty on Earth. What's left of it. Or should I call it Earth-That-Was? Turns out the Earth is a complete and utterly desolate wasteland, and if it wasn't before, it sure as shit is now. Ripley and Winona take some time to bask in the background radiation, pondering what their next move will be. Ripley decides to go exploring while Winona spots some women's clothing stores she could loot. It really would be a pity if the ending to this movie was the setup to Firefly, wouldn't it?
So...um...yeah. There's your movie. It's a real feel-good summer flick. Somehow I don't think the director of Amelie and Delicatessen has the right mindset to tackle the subtle nuance of Alien.
Whatever. I feel like I need a shower.