Welcome back to LV-RMP, our journey through the on-screen history of one of the greatest cinematic monsters ever conceived: the xenomorph. We’ve reached the conclusion of the original ‘Quadrilogy’ with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s gooey 1997 installment Alien Resurrection.
200 years after Ripley took her sacrificial dive into the smelter on Fury 161, scientists from United Systems Military have used blood recovered from the scene to create a clone of her, replete with the alien queen that was gestating within her. Harvesting the creature to once again go about trying to utilise them for military and medical purposes, their new Ripley No. 8 starts to show signs that perhaps the line between human and monster may not be so clear. When a ragtag band of space scoundrels (including a wide-eyed Winona Ryder as a tag-along with a secret) arrives with suspiciously human cargo, the inevitable breaking loose of all hell forges fragile alliances in the scramble for survival. The creatures have not only returned, but evolved…
Working from a script from then-wunderkind Buffy creator Joss Whedon, Jeunet was hot off two highly regarded, visually stunning arthouse hits co-directed with Marc Caro. A breakneck change of pace from the austere misery of Alien3, he brought a slick, sly and slimy approach to the series, but contemporary critics were not enthused (as our now-customary trip to Critics’ Corner with Rog n’ Gene will confirm) and its reputation hasn’t really improved with age.
The last ‘pure’ Alien film before we arrive at the mashup mayhem of Paul WS Anderson’s Alien vs. Predator, we try to sum up our feelings about this most unusual of franchises. The clash of directorial risks and corporate cynicism; the idiosyncratic creative voices and the studio meddling; and at the centre, the iconic Ellen Ripley, locked in a never-ending space embrace with a mysterious monster that sees her journey from competent intergalactic trucker, to fearless and resourceful warrior mother, to battle-weary doomed Cassandra, and finally to leather-clad hoop-shooting superclone.