Alien Resurrection: a betrayal of the canon ?

The image of Lieutenant Ripley disappearing into the flames, clutching her dreadful offspring to her as she plummets, at the end of Alien 3 was pretty decisive. ”No sequel!” the film seemed to be declaring: ”no more!”

Lieutenant Ripley in 'Alien 3'

Yet, five years later in 1997, a new breed of alien emerged in Alien Resurrection, from the director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and the team behind Delicatessen and City of Lost Children. This seemed promising, for those of us who like Jeneut’s films, as well as for fans of the first three films who possibly saw Ripley’s fiery demise for the signal that it was: no more films to follow.

I loved Delicatessen: the wonderfully craggy features of Dominique Pinon and their expressive repertoire are a joy to watch, as they are in Amelie, another of Jenuet’s films from 2001. And, in parts, I like Alien Resurrection; it has the sepia-look and the feel of Jenuet’s other work. But does his style work when translated into the hallowed tradition of the Alien franchise ? The premise that the incarnation of Ripley in Resurrection is the result of an extensive breeding programme, whose ultimate aim is the re-creation of the monster from Ripley’s DNA, feels slightly stretched to begin with as a means of moving from the previous film into the latter.

Sigourney Weaver is, as always, highly watchable: Winona Ryder is perhaps not so compelling; and the notorious scenes of the hybrid alien swimming in the flooded depths of the ship as it chases the crew, where it’s very obvious that it’s an actor in a rubber suit, only let the side down further still.

What do you think: should Ripley have been resurrected at all, or left to lie in peace ?

Posted by Daniel Harding, Deputy Director of Music at the University of Kent.  Click here to view his Music Matters blog.

Author: Daniel Harding

Head of Music Performance, University of Kent: pianist, accompanist and conductor: jazz enthusiast.

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