A lot of movies have that underwater scene where characters suddenly become super-human, making some bold rescue or finding that critical object over five minutes of screen time. Alien Resurrection, well, it has the worst. That characters dive under the water, fight off an alien, get trapped beneath the fleshy mass of the nest, and still come out of it alive. The whole sequence, impressively filmed as it may be, contains enough held breath to last eight lifetimes… per character.
In the scheme of Alien Resurrection though, at least that sequence looks cool. The swimming alien is impressive, the slow motion grenade blast is nifty, and the color makes for a nice separation from the dim interiors elsewhere.
The rest of the film is nothing less than a total loss, the Joss Whedon script taken in the wrong direction, and the script itself was a mess in the first place. Even assuming the original concept has a tongue-in-cheek attitude, how is that appropriate for Alien? Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) was that rare female character who could hold her own, now transformed into an Alien-hybrid-clone… thing. It goes against everything the prior three films had established, Ripley no longer able to care for herself as a normal human.
Whedon was up against a wall, the lead character of the series terminated, so this ill-fated sequel was a mistake in the first place. But this? Resurrection is a glorified remake of Critters 4, assuming of course the Gremlins knock-off could give birth to a hunk of cottage cheese and spoiled milk. Weyland-Yutani was thrilled simply to have an alien specimen previously, that corporation now replaced with military force who seem to think, for reasons not made very clear, that a voracious species of hyper-breeding aliens are not enough. There is scene where the Xenomorphs are trained, which in the case of military spending, seems like a far better use of funds than mutated alien/human hybrids.
Much of Resurrection is spent walking down hallways, running from the monsters. It’s as static a creature feature as you’ll find. The aliens of course escape (in rather gruesome fashion), although you do have to question why they didn’t figure out how to previously. Two-hundred years have passed since Alien 3, and not a single alien could escape from a cage?
Resurrection gives us the longest, cleanest look of the creatures to date, a mix of suit work, animatronics, and some light computer animation. This is the point where everyone involved seems to have thrown their hands up in frustration, with few new places to go and almost no new sights to see, so they deliver the kitchen sink jumble and hope it falls into place. It doesn’t, and what audiences were given was the worst Alien film ever produced. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Movie]
Resurrection, like Alien 3 before it, does not seem to have been given the same care and attention as the original two. The general softness that wavers on a regular basis is one of the indicators, along with the swaying black levels. The latter either completely crushes most of the frame out of existence (a shot at 19:46 blending some guards to the walls) or are so weak as to lose all control of the image’s depth.
The film contains the heaviest grain structure out of all four movies, whether due to the masters used or the film stocks. Whatever the case, the AVC encode handles it well, faltering in heavy smoke at 51:51, and again when this same shot is revisited later. Generally, the grain appears natural, firm, and unobtrusive. The source used is pristine, no source of damage to be had, a trend that links all four of these movies together.
Resurrection is the most colorful of the original four, and not just in terms of its goofy dialogue. Flesh tones are highlighted with a bright orange glow, and the environments that can be seen are extremely bright. Any light sources burst off the screen, the various computer monitors and such glowing onto whatever objects are in range. Blood is heightened by the intended saturation, no doubt to exacerbate the gore. The underwater scene, with its vivid blue water, is truly brought to life in this HD effort.
Detail wavers but is typically exceptional. The film was shot mostly in close-ups to hide the limited number of sets, leading to a high level of detail-ridden faces. As is the expectation for the newest film in the Anthology, high-fidelity texture is everywhere, the opening scenes resolving all of the pores on the scientist’s faces as they tinker with their computers. The faults tend to stick out more because of this, a stand-off at 47:10 especially poor. The alien suits fare well, all of their intricate detailing in view when the black levels don’t take hold. For the finale, the infant alien is showcased in all of its glory, that gooey mass carrying a rather extensive texture that pops off the screen, even if the design is utterly laughable. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]
This by far the loudest of the four movies, this despite an array of gun and cannon fire on display in Aliens. The pistols used by Christie are completely overpowering, obliterating the subwoofer with bass, and blasting away on the high-end as the bullets pop from the muzzle. Shotguns carry a similar weight, although lessened in comparison. One final highlight for bass lovers is the last explosion in the film, a mammoth boom that digs deep into the low-end to produce that window rattle with all the force it can muster.
Surrounds are effective here, the late ’90s audio design bringing some scenes to life exponentially. A scene where Ripley burns a room with a flamethrower captures the roaring flames across the soundfield, whether that’s in the stereo channels or the rears. The tracking effect is quite convincing. Underwater, a nice aquatic piece of sound design delivers in terms of its immersive qualities.
Resurrection comes to life for its ending, the soundfield overloaded with steam hissing, electricity crackling, a powerful score that envelops the viewer, and some tightly wound bass as the ship enters atmosphere. Balance is flawless between these elements, and the fidelity of this DTS-HD mix certainly benefits from being the most modern film of the group. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
Extras follow the same route as the other discs. A commentary recorded in 2003 with director Jean- Pierre Jeunet and crew is included, along with a special edition of the film (Jeunet stands by his original version). An isolated score, 11 deleted scenes totaling 12-minutes, MU-TH-UR pop-up mode, and BD-Live access remain. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]