Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Based on characters created by Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon
Screenplay by Joss Whedon
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, Dan Hedaya, Brad Dourif
It’s been 200 years since Ripley’s (Weaver) last encounter with the aliens occurred. When she comes back, after scientists clone her, she begins another fight to protect the human race from these deadly creatures.
This film is the fourth installment of the Alien saga that includes Alien, Aliens, and Alien³. This one was directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie). The story is based on the characters created by Ronald Shusett (Total Recall) and Dan O’Bannon (Dark Star); with a script written by Joss Whedon (The Cabin in the Woods). This film features the fourth appearance of Sigourney Weaver (Exodus: Gods and Kings) in the series. The cast includes Winona Ryder (The Crucible), Ron Perlman (Drive), Dan Hedaya (Blood Simple), and Brad Dourif (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).
Like the previous film, this one is another weak attempt to cash in on the characters of the first two installments in the series. The opening sequences of this one are actually entertaining and nicely written, unfortunately everything unravels quickly. Bringing back Ripley for a fourth film required a solid story and an understanding of her character’s motivations. Unfortunately, Whedon didn’t bring either to the table. The other characters are initially interesting, but the story never gives them any depth. There are also a number of twists that are predictable and sometimes almost comical. Without the emotional stakes in the central characters, there isn’t much for an audience to root for. Instead, this is ultimately a campy monster movie. The action is unimpressive and this one can best be described as forgettable.
The actors didn’t have a lot to work with, and it shows. The highlights of this film come from Sigourney Weaver and Ron Perlman. These two actors both brought the best out of a handful of usable moments. Weaver did her best to bring some emotion to the role. While she mostly misses, there are a couple good moments. Perlman did the right thing and put together a loud and straightforward performance that helps hold some moments together. Ryder, Hedaya, and Dourif never stood a chance in this one. They appear lost throughout the movie, and never really establish their characters. Without a decent script it’s impossible to know if the actors could’ve done much more. Like the writing, the acting is also forgettable.
This movie doesn’t really offer anything great from a production angle either. The visuals are fine, but there is a lack of quality that leaves this feeling like a television mini-series rather than a big-budget science fiction film. The real issue is that this one feels visually disconnected from the previous films. Added to the weakness of the story, and this is almost unwatchable.
Some critics consider this to be a slight improvement on the third movie in the franchise, but I’m not so sure. If anything, this is equal to the last film. If you’re a fan of the first two movies, this one can be skipped. I would also be hesitant to suggest this one to fans of the stars since they didn’t have much to work with. The first two films in this series are such iconic examples of science-fiction horror. That makes the 3rd and 4th films even more disappointing. I give this one 1 out of 5 stars.