Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Written by Joss Whedon
To this point the Alien franchise has been a heck of a fun ride, but with Alien 3 I certainly started to feel as if they were pushing the boundaries in terms of what the series actually had left to offer. Ridley Scott explored the moody horror, James Cameron explored the awesome action, and Fincher tried to find a sort of medium between the two. And the character of Ellen Ripley has grown from somewhat generic woman fighting for her life to a bad ass Alien killing machine, so where do they take her character, especially after having killed her off at the end of 3? So enter French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet, whose two, more recent, films I have seen were both filled with charm and quirk, two adjectives I never would have imagined to have used in a review of an Alien film.
To get things out of the way, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is dead. The way she comes back is fairly simple, they clone her, but what is even more strange is that they clone her with a mix of Alien in her too, to make her a super fighting machine capable of almost anything. So enter a ship of pirates which includes an eclectic company of men, and a woman (Winona Ryder). The ship arrives at a base where the military has been developing the Alien species to become even more indestructible than before. Of course by now we all know what that means: the aliens escape, the dumb people die, and Ripley kicks ass. And thus, another Alien film from a famous filmmaker.
However, Jean-Pierre Jeunet takes a page more from the book of David Fincher than from James Cameron or Ridley Scott. This film doesn’t even feel like it belongs in the series. It is so over the top and comic bookish it just seems ridiculous. It seems like the type of film Jeunet would make given his visual style and touch, but at the same time the subject matter does not suit him and his style in the least. There is no sense of threat or any semblance of stakes. They are there, and I realize that looking back, they are built into the plot somewhere by writer Joss Whedon, who is a beloved television presence, famous for both Buffy and Firefly. But the quirk and humor seem to be dialed up to 11 and it just doesn’t work.
The film ends up coming off as a really mediocre television pilot as opposed to a big budget sequel to a well respected thriller series, which is a shame because I have loved finally catching up with the series and I have loved the two films of Jeunet I have seen to this point. He stayed within his style here, which has worked when dealing with different things. He is just out of his element here, which is not a negative to Jeunet, but more so to the producers, whose choice was very poor when it came to director. But it was also poor when it came to casting, especially where it concerns Winona Ryder, whose performance only adds to the off kilter feel of the film.
There was not a single moment when I could take this film seriously at all and I lost interest very quickly in what was trying to be done here. The filmmakers did try to make a different film than had been made before them, so in that regard good on them, but they chose the wrong style to slip into to try to still be intimidating and threatening. I am honestly surprised I could write this much about the film because I want nothing to do with it the rest of my life. I will keep the first two films with me forever, and I accept the third, but I will live my life as though this film was never made because it shouldn’t have been.