Chestbursters. In the original film, the chestburster had its victim incapacitated by convulsions so violent that he nearly bit off his own tongue. In this film, apparently the effects have become so mild that you can engage in a fist fight and then stranglehold someone long enough for their skull to also be broken by the creature's emergence. On the other hand, this shows that a chestburster is strong enough to smash through a grown man's sternum and a grown man's skull at the same time!
The first three films all spent over an hour building up the tension of an alien infestation, reminding the viewer they are the most fearsome killing machines in the universe. In Resurrection, their return is filmed with all the solemnity of Daleks reappearing on Doctor Who. "Oh, some more of those, then? I bet they'll really take over the galaxy for sure, this time!"
Whether or not this film is better or worse than Alien³. The latter was reviled upon its release but has since found more fans as time went on, while this was met with a So Okay, It's Average response. The whole argument is contentious.
Also whether the film's set up counts as an Idiot Plot. Keeping the aliens in the same cages for one, and the military enforcers on board fleeing when they attack counts for some. On the other hand, neither the scientists nor the marines have worked with the aliens before. Them simply not thinking that the aliens would kill one of their own kind to escape, and the military not wanting to go trigger happy on creatures with acid for blood inside a spaceship is enough justification for some. You might be picking up the impression that this film is divisive.
Contested Sequel: Some view it as the worst film in the series, though Resurrection still has its fans, thanks primarily to Jeunet's unique visual style, the added humor of Joss Whedon's script, and the presence of cult actors such as Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinion and Michael Wincott. Some even find it to be an improvement over Alien 3.
Cry for the Devil: The Newborn. It was a murderous abomination, but unlike the aliens, shows some emotion, and acts as a naive and childlike creature. And its death was long and agonizing. Even Ripley 8 showed remorse for it - then again, she's kind of its grandmother.
DiStephano is getting more fans as time goes on, partly because he's played by Tuco and for his Adorkable geeking out over weapons in the deleted scenes.
Harsher in Hindsight: Call's angry denouncement of humanity for exterminating as many androids as they could find sometime between 3 and Resurrection becomes a lot more nuanced with the revelation from Alien: Covenant that the entire xenomorph species was engineered by a mad android, who wanted to use them to exterminate all existing organic life so that he could play god by repopulating the universe with new lifeforms of his own design. With this in mind, maybe there was a good reason why humanity decided that androids were too dangerous...
It's now quite easy to see the Betty crew as a dry run for Firefly. The latter may even be Whedon's attempt to show what he really wanted them to be like before the Executive Meddling he's complained so much about.
There's a reason the words, "NOT THE MOMMA!" will pop in your head when the Infant rejects the Queen hybrid.
Not in the final film but the original script would have The Team discovering weed growing on the Auriga. Which would have been hilarious, since one of them is played by a future drug dealer.
As noted below, the Playstation game based on this movie introduced the (at the time) revolutionary idea of using dual analog controls as the default setting. This Gamespot review is hilarious now for 2 reasons:
The first reason being the aforementioned criticism of the controls, and they suggested that they use the control scheme that Medal of Honor used - said control scheme is not only the default on pretty much every console First-Person Shooter nowadaysnote to an extent, it's this on PC FPSs as well, if one is using a controller, but Medal of Honor itself would adapt it.
The second reason being that the review ends by suggesting that fans wait for Aliens: Colonial Marines, which at the time, had been recently announced for the PlayStation 2, saying that "While no concrete details have been announced for the game yet, this is one instance where the unknown is preferable to the devil you know." Said game wound up being delayed until February 12, 2013, released on the PlayStation 3note as well as the Xbox 360 and Windows; a port for the Wii U was planned but eventually cancelled, and said game was critically panned...with Gamespot giving it a lower score than Resurrectionnote Resurrection got a 4.7 from Gamespot; Colonial Marines got a 4.5!
Ripley and Call. After spending the previous three movies interacting exclusively with males and a surrogate child, Ripley wastes no time in becoming very chummy and touchy very quickly with the cute little android girl whom she first meets when Call attempts to kill her, while Call goes from wanting her as dead as the rest of the aliens to letting Ripley stick her fingers inside of her (not like that, perverts) and confiding her deepest feelings and fears about not being human.
There's also some Ho Yay between Johner and Vriess, which goes from subtext to text when Johner kisses Vriess at the end of the film because they both lived through all of it.
Inferred Holocaust: Ripley saves the day by crashing the xenomorph-filled ship into the Earth causing an impact blast hundreds of miles wide, most likely destroying the biosphere in the process. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!. In the novelization (based on the original script) you learn that Earth was mostly screwed already, which is why one of the characters says, "Earth... what a shithole." The only people still on the planet are the ones that can't afford to leave for one of the colonies.
averted in the Special Edition, which adds dialogue that makes clear Call chose an unhabited area of the Earth to crash the Auriga.
The film in general is an odd mishmash of Whedon's witty postmodern script and Jeunet's French arthouse direction, resulting in a film that's written with too much cheeky camp to be enjoyed seriously, yet directed with too much portentious seriousness to be enjoyed as camp. One gets the feeling something was lost in translation, as Whedon is known for dialogue-based humor and wit, whereas Jeunet didn't speak English well.
Gediman's line "you are a beautiful butterfly" would have been justifiably ridiculous anyway, but the fact that Brad Dourif says it so slowly just adds to the silliness.
Gediman mirroring the alien's movements as he studies it in the cell and simulating to want to make out with the creature.
What about Purvis and his... um, shall we say "creative" way of disposing of Wren by using the Chest Burster which starts ripping through his insides?
No Yay: The film features a scene where an Alien is holding Ripley in its arms and carrying her to the Queen's lair. She's not afraid of it, and embraces the creature. The sequence is shot and framed as if it were a love scene. Now remember that the Aliens are utterly inhuman monsters that face-rape people and have killed almost everyone that Ripley ever knew or loved.
No Problem with Licensed Games: The PlayStationFirst-Person Shooter is considered a lot more enjoyable than the movie, let alone Aliens: Colonial Marines. The game was down right revolutionary in one aspect in that it was the first console FPS to make dual analog controls the default setting. Believe it or not, this control setup was so unheard for its time (the Quake II PS1 port had dual analog controls, but it was optional) that critics gave the game bad press for this reason alone. Look at this quote◊ from the GameSpot review and try not to fall out of your chair laughing.
Call. Of course, that's because she's Newt, only older and a robot.
To some the Newborn is this, stealing the scene that should be of the xenomorphs and being introduced in the last 30 seconds. Though many fans see it as The Woobie, others think it utterly fails at being sympathetic: xenomorphs may be more dangerous, but they kill only when they need to, and favor a cold efficency over wanton brutality. The Newborn on the other hand, is utterly psychotic and kills for the sake of it, and many think that its big puppy dog eyes are simply a facade to lower its victims's guard.
Special Effects Failure: The special effects quality takes a major nosedive from the previous three films (the third film already having taken its own nosedive), mostly due to the film's whole-hearted embrace of CGI for nearly all the special effects outside of the individual Xenomorphs. The actual Xenomorph effects are at least decent for the most part, until the Newborn shows up (granted, most of the problems with that thing were with its very concept. But the execution didn't really help at all). The kicker is the Conspicuous CGI hand grenade that rolls down into an escape pod. Dodgy CGI on complex extraterrestrials is one thing, having a close-up on a poorly-rendered rolling grenade is another. Not helping its case are the ships, which look like obvious miniatures, or the Newborn's death scene.
If you follow Ripley's story across the four movies, and take Alien³ and this movie as canon, it's pretty sad that Ripley not only lost her friends and coworkers, her love interest, her surrogate daughter, and her life to prevent the Company from getting their hands on the Queen alien inside of her, but that her whole identity is basically absorbed into the xenomorph species itself in her Ripley-8 incarnation. Though she does do the right thing by killing off the newborn alien to keep it from reaching Earth, it clearly pains her to do so.
The human-hybrid Queen actually coos at her newborn... but the newborn rejects and kills her after he's born, because he identifies more with Ripley-8 than his biological mother. It's strangely sad to realize that the Queen actually loved her child and tried to bond with it, only to get killed. Possibly a case of Unintentionally Sympathetic?
When you take into consideration that the Xenomorphs are not doing what they do out of malice or a particularly evil personality - it's just what they are - and that the Queen in this instance is the result of human interference and butchery of the species, it's definitely a Tear Jerker.
The fact the Xenomorphs sacrifice one of their own just to escape their cell can be this for some.
Even the newborn's gruesome death is rather sad. It looks like it's begging for mercy as its innards are sucked out.
Too Cool to Live: The gravely-voiced head of the Betty crew Captain Elgyn is portrayed as a careless space pirate and ladies man. He's also the first of them to die in a rather sudden and painful death.
Wheelchair Woobie: Vriess. Complete with a scene where Johner throws a knife into one of his numb legs, just to be an ass!
The Woobie: Hillard, since she has to watch her boyfriend die in front of her and is clearly terrified by the whole experience. The look on her face before she dives underwater and ultimately dies cements it.