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Film / Alien: Resurrection

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"My mommy always said there were no monsters. No real ones. But there are."
Ripley 8.

Alien: Resurrection (1997) is the fourth film in the Alien film series. The screenplay was written by Joss Whedon, and was directed by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen, The City Of Lost Children) and is his only Hollywood studio-based film to date.

After dying in the previous film, Ripley is cloned back to life some time later on a military research station that is also breeding aliens in unscrupulous illegal experiments, in yet another attempt to turn them into weapons. The sample they used, however, is an infusion of both human and xenomorph DNA, so the Ripley clone that results has remarkable physical abilities, memories of her past life, as well as a dangerous instinctual connection to the aliens.

Shortly after a crew of smugglers arrives on the station with a fresh shipment of unwitting colonists for the military to use as alien parasite hosts, the captive adult aliens break out of their pens and begin to run amok. The new Ripley tries to lead a rag-tag group of survivors against the aliens and out of the station, but then they eventually discover that Ripley is actually not the real payoff to their experiments — coming across a horrific newborn half-human, half-alien hybrid that they need to prevent at all costs from getting off the the station and reaching Earth.

The plot breaks the traditions of the series by not including the original Ripley nor the Weyland-Yutani company.

This is chronologically the last film of the 'classic' Alien series to date, as the installments that were produced after this, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, take place before them.

This film provides examples of:

  • Admiring the Abomination:
    • Dr. Gediman admires the Newborn, as well as the normal Aliens.
    • Ripley 8 has an odd fascination with the Xenomorphs as well due to being a hybrid clone.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Inverted. Analee Call found religion entirely on her own, and not as the result of any programming. The novelization hints that androids in general have started to evolve their own religious system. She is also the most sympathetic character out of the entire cast (not that that's saying much).
    Ripley 8: I should have known. No human being is that humane.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: For all the murderous havoc the Newborn and its entire race caused for Ripley, she's visibly sorrowful about having to kill it (and in an indirectly torturous manner at that).
  • All There in the Manual: The novelization explains that the reason why it took so long for Purvis' chestburster to emerge was because he suffered from thyroid deficiency, which slowed down the chestburster's development.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The over the shoulder blind from the half court shot? Yeah, that’s all Weaver. She got it on her sixth try. And the reason for the cut to another camera angle the instant the ball drops through the basket? Ron Perlman almost ruined a perfect take with an incredulous reaction to Weaver actually making the shot.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Due to genetic mixing Ripley 8 has inherited a lot of Alien characteristics, and sympathizes with them to a certain extent. This version of Ripley is technically a different character, but the irony has to be appreciated of Ripley becoming so much like the Aliens after she fought them for so long. When she's being brought to the Queen by one of the Aliens after she's captured, she actually hugs the thing as if she's finally come home.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape:
    • Several Aliens tear apart another to acidically burn though the ship. However, it apparently did this voluntarily, sacrificing itself to allow the others to escape. Even if it wasn't, it wasn't petty "murder" but a necessary step to allow their race to survive. That, and these particular aliens had been splices with human DNA, so they weren't like normal Xenomorphs...
    • Call also brings this up after Ripley 8, who is also a hybrid (since she was the host that the new Xenomorphs were cloned from), shoots a Xenomorph, asking her why she would basically kill one of "her own kind". Ripley just shrugs it off with a dismissive "It was in my way".
    • Whether it's more human or alien, the Newborn at the end viciously averts this. It's first act after being born is matricide. Its second act is to crush a human soldier's head. The only person it doesn't try to hurt is Ripley.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Dr. Gediman bizarrely declares that the human reproductive system conferred on the Alien Queen thanks to the experiments has — somehow — made the creature better, when in fact, it appears to drastically reduce the effectiveness of the Xenomorphs; Instead of producing batches of eggs and developing larger numbers of drones, she instead produces one child at a time in a prolonged and clearly painful parallel to human pregnancy; The only discernible advantage is that it now skips the infestation stage that requires other lifeforms. Then again, this may be justified since Gediman is pretty obviously insane.
  • Big "NO!": Vriess when Wren shoots and presumably kills Call.
  • Body Horror: Ripley's cloning process went wrong many times before, creating diseased and barely functioning human-alien hybrids. The opening title sequence shows some of them in extreme closeup.
  • Born as an Adult: The genetic scientists age the Ripley clones up to adulthood in order to extract the Queen Xenomorph buried inside of her. At least, the ones that weren't too horribly mutated by the mix-up of DNA. Also, her level of knowledge is Hand Waved by her having inherited some of the aliens' Genetic Memory. She can remember some things about her past, but not everything.
  • Came Back Wrong: Ripley. Several times, as it turns out. The first were horrible hybrids that either died or wished they would. Ripley 8 retains the memories of her original self, but traces of the Alien DNA have changed her personality considerably.
  • Cloning Blues: Following her death by dive into molten metal in the previous film, the military recovered a sample of her blood and attempted to clone her. The main character is Ripley 8, the first successful clone. The first seven, on the other hand, had some mishaps. As she was host to an alien parasite at the time, the conflicting genetic material resulted in numerous failed amalgams until they finally managed to iron out the process and recreate both mostly intact. Even so, Ripley 8 and the Queen still have a bit of shared genetics, resulting in acid blood for the former and increased intelligence for the latter and her spawn, not to mention a womb for non-parasitic birthing.
  • Corpsing: Vriess's line was originally "Who were you expecting? The Easter Bunny?" but it kept setting everyone off in hysterical laughter (due to the actor saying "Eastern Bunny").
  • Creator Thumbprint: Joss Whedon will revisit certain character types and ideas again in Firefly and Serenity. Once you realize Ron Perlman's character is basically Jayne the rest falls into place.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Ripley pulls out an alien's head-bursting tongue and gives it to Call as a souvenir, who is disgusted.
  • Earth That Was: Any mention of Earth brings looks of disgust, the same way people would react to a cockroach-infested bathroom.
  • Explosive Decompression: Ripley uses this to kill the Newborn at the end, when it is blown into space through a hole in the ship. A tiny hole. (Originally introduced in Dan O'Bannon's spec screenplay, Star Beast.)
  • Expy: The Newborn's face bears a suspicious resemblance to Eddie, Iron Maiden's mascot.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: Wouldn't be an Alien movie without this trope showing up somewhere. Although averted in Ripley 8's case; a facehugger latches on, but thanks to her heightened abilities, she is able to pry it off before it can have any effect.
  • Failsafe Failure: The Auriga is programmed to automatically return to Earth in case something goes wrong. Unfortunately, the Auriga is the site of an alien breeding and testing facility, which is the absolute last thing you want near an inhabited planet.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The group discovers a deformed Ripley clone lying helplessly on a table, and she begs the more successfully-cloned Ripley to destroy her.
  • Fold Spindle Mutilation: The fate of the newborn human/alien hybrid, who's sucked through a hole in the bulkhead.
  • Gaia's Lament: Johner refers to Earth as a 'shithole.' He comments dryly that he'd rather face the 'things'. The Special Edition's ending shows Paris to be a wasteland.
  • Genetic Memory: The Xenomorphs have this as a species. Ripley 8's genetic memory was somehow the result of the cloning process mingling her physiology with some of the traits of the Xenomorph queen her predecessor had died carrying.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The blood hitting the escape pod window.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Aliens normally adopt some of their host's genetic structure, an ability intended to allow them to better adapt to their environments. The Aliens in this film however were merged with Ripley's human DNA to an even greater extent. The drones look fairly normal, but Ripley 8 has slightly acidic blood and predatory instincts, the Queen Alien develops a quasi-mammalian reproductive system, and the Newborn is a clear mix between Alien and human physiology. Ripley's other clones are also less successful hybrids.
  • Has Two Thumbs and...: The smitten, wheelchair-bound mechanic tells this joke to the new girl mechanic, Call.
    Vriess: What's got two thumbs, one eyes, and screws like a god?
    Call: [gives him a humored look] What?
    Vriess: [closes one eye and points to himself]
    Call: [chuckles before pressing the button sending him back under the machine]
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Christie - rather than both him and Vriess die, he lets himself go.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen:
    Ripley 8: Everyone in the fucking Company will die.
    Gediman: Company?
    Wren: Weyland Yutani. Ripley's former employers. Bought out by Walmart.
  • Interspecies Romance: Very disturbingly implied between Ripley and one of the Aliens, in a sequence late in the film which is shot as if it were a love scene. The studio wanted to cut the scene because of the implications, but Weaver demanded it be kept in the film.
  • It Can Think: Perhaps thanks to Ripley's DNA, these Aliens are far smarter than they were in previous films.
    • The Xenomorphs stopped trying to kill the guy behind the window when he raises his hand above the button that repeatedly sprays liquid nitrogen on them every time they threw a fit. After their escape, a soldier steps into the cage and looks at the hole before being frozen to death by the aliens themselves.
      • The novelization reveals that the Xenomorph that got sprayed with liquid nitrogen can read the English warning signs next to the button.
    • Some of the Xenomorphs realize they can use their acidic blood to escape, and thus brutally kill one of their own so its bloody corpse will eat through the floor.
    • In the novelization, Elgyn spots an abandoned weapon in a side corridor and picks it up. Then he sees another one and fetches that one too. Then he sees a third one next to an acid-burned hole in the floor, goes to fetch it - and remembers that as a kid, he used to trap squirrels by making a similar trail out of nuts to lead the animal into the trap. About a second before a Xenomorph reaches out of the hole and yanks him in.
    • The Aliens allow the humans to travel through the water to the other side, because it will lead them right to a nest of eggs that they had created previously. Johner even lampshades the fact that it is a deliberate trap.
    • The facehuggers can recognise a grenade and start to retreat when Christie fires a few at them.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: Call, a robot not wanting Ripley to help the team, because she's not human.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: General Perez and the doctors are discussing the development of the Ripley 8 clone, referring to her as "it".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Johner is probably the most jerkass of the mercenary crew. Still, he improves over the course of the movie, and he's visibly angry every time another member of their team dies.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Dr. Wren seems that at first he might just be your standard Punch-Clock Villain, and maybe even ready to admit that breeding the Aliens is a bad idea. Then he shoots Call at the very earliest opportunity, betrays the entire group, and intends to get the Auriga back to Earth intact.
  • Karmic Death: Dr. Wren subjected at least eight people to be victims to the facehuggers and have an alien embryo burst out of their chests. He dies by having a chestburster break its way through his own skull.
  • Kill It with Fire: Ripley gets a flamethrower again, which she turns on her failed clones.
  • Kill It with Ice: Liquid nitrogen is tried against the aliens, but it's not so effective, as it was intended as a disciplinary tool rather than a weapon. As a training tool, it works. For stopping an escape, not so much.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: Ripley asks which of the men she'll have to fuck to get off the ship.
    Johner: I can get you off. Maybe not the ship...
  • Large Ham: Dan Hedaya as General Perez, particularly during his introduction and death scene.
  • Lesbian Subtext: Between Ripley and Call. Word of God says it was intentional. Given the scriptwriter, that's not exactly surprising.
  • Made of Plasticine: The Newborn when it is sucked out of the airlock through a dime-sized hole, even though when we first see it, it was tough enough to rip off a Queen's head with one swipe of its hand.
  • Matricide: Played with. The Newborn, immediately after being born, inspects the Queen Alien and kills her. However, he then thinks of Ripley as his real mother, and acts affectionately towards her.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • Call offers this to Ripley while Ripley's still a prisoner, but Ripley is at best apathetic about having been cloned and refuses.
    • Ripley 7, the only living but horribly deformed failed clone, requests this from Ripley 8. Ripley delivers.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Hillard, who spends most of her screentime in a skintight jumpsuit that accentuates her form. There's even an entire scene devoted solely to her moaning in pleasure while wearing a thong as Elgyn massages her feet and looks on in satisfaction.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Purvis delivers one to Wren before killing him with his chestburster.
  • Nonhumans Lack Attributes: Almost averted. The Newborn Alien was supposed to have visible genitals, but the studio interfered, and the idea was scrapped.
  • Offing the Offspring: Ripley considers the Newborn, a murderous abomination, her "son", as well as the other Aliens ("I'm the monster's mother"). She ends up killing both of them.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Gediman and his assistant have a serious one of these when they realise that two extremely dangerous Alien creatures are now loose on board the ship.
    • Johner has himself one about halfway through the film. While swimming through a flooded section of the ship, he casually checks behind him, only to spin around when he realises there are Aliens behind him. As expected, he shits himself.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Averted. The space station has its own chapel, and the android character crosses itself before entering the chapel.
  • People Jars: Various Ripley clones, in jars. Since the Ripleys in question are the least successful of a batch of alien hybrids, this is stretching the definition of "people" quite a bit.
  • Place Worse Than Death: Johner half-seriously says that he'd rather face the Aliens than go to Earth.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Call is revealed to be one. So much so that Ripley says, "No human being is that humane."
  • Robot Girl: Annalee Call. It is interesting how fast other characters forget that they used to think about her as a human when they find out.
    Johner: Can't believe I nearly fucked that thing.
    Vries: Yeah, like you've never fucked a robot!
  • Robotic Reveal: Call is revealed to be an android.
  • Sapient Ship: "Father", the Auriga's ship computer.
  • Scaramanga Special: The film features a number of hidden weapons, including a shotgun assembled from components concealed as parts of high-tech wheelchair. There's also a gun concealed as a thermos.
  • Sheep in Wolf's Clothing: Ripley 8. She's able to kill Xenomorphs easily due to being a Half-Human Hybrid. There is also an infectee who puts his alien embryo to a good use by hugging a villain and letting the embryo tear through both of them.
  • Skull for a Head: The hybrid alien has what can only be described as a skull face.
  • Snowy Screen of Death: Happens repeatedly in one scene as the Space Marines get picked off one by one.
  • Sole Survivor: Newt in the Newt's Tale comic series
  • Sociopathic Hero: This Ripley is extremely cynical and callous, due to partially merging with the Aliens. A doctor theorizes that she has some form of emotional autism. Some examples of her sociopathy are trying to strangle Dr. Wren on a whim, breaking another doctor's arm immediately after she wakes up (in a deleted scene), and looking at another character getting dragged off by the Aliens with curious fascination. The only time she shows any real emotion is when she finds her other clones and incinerates them, and when her "son" (the Newborn) dies.
  • Space Does Not Work That Way: The Newborn gets its entire body sucked through a dime-sized hole in the airlock window. If you were naked and subjected to the same conditions, you should be able to walk away in spite of the suctionnote .
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the video game, the space station burns up in the atmosphere instead of actually slamming into the planet with a blast radius large enough to certainly be an extinction-level event.
  • Spiritual Successor: Firefly, as pointed out by Michael Marano in the essay River Tam and the Weaponized Women of the Whedonverse. That work and Resurrection share many character archetypes and plot elements (notably the "Weaponized Woman", in the form of Clone!Ripley and River Tam.) It's evident that Joss Whedon had his work on this film in the back of his mind while he was working on Firefly.
  • Stock Subtitle: "Resurrection" is notoriously overused in the film industry as a sequel subtitle.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: The characters hold their breaths for about ten minutes in the underwater scene. It's especially silly in Christie's case, since he's carrying someone else on his back as well. Justified for Call, since she's an android, and possibly Ripley, depending on how much her physiology was altered by mixing with the Aliens' DNA (who do just fine underwater). One does actually drown, but only because an Alien grabbed her and dragged her back until she died.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Johner gets startled when his face almost touches a spider web. He angrily holds his sidearm up to the spider and fires.
    • The group plans to blow up the ship. That plan fails, so they crash it on Earth.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: The Newborn is disposed off by ejecting it into space. Because the hull puncture is so tiny, it is slowly ripped apart and sucked out.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Dr. Gediman becomes increasingly fascinated with the aliens, to the point that he feels they will identify with him. When the Newborn approaches him after identifying more closely with Ripley 8 than the Queen, he seems to genuinely believe it might even think of him as its daddy.
  • United Space of America: The "United Systems" has a very American flavor and is implied to have evolved from the USA, with the United Systems Military descended of the US Colonial Marines.
  • Window Love: Dr. Gediman shows a creepy fascination with the Aliens when he gives a window kiss to one of them which is standing behind a transparent containment wall.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • A handful of people consider the Newborn Alien to be this. In any case, it's a bit hard to watch it die.
    • Like Ripley, the Alien Queen is a mutant, bred in captivity as a lab rat, her children taken from her and kept in cages, her body mutates further causing her to give birth to the Newborn, which kills her while she's trying to bond with it.
  • World of Snark: This film was written by Joss Whedon. As a result virtually every character in the movie is a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: Annalee Call is revealed to be an "Auton" — second generation robots, designed and built by other robots. "They didn't like being told what to do," rebelled, and in a subtly named "Recall" humanity launched a genocide against them, of which only a handful survived in hiding. Judging from Call's behavior, it seems that the 1st generation robots programmed the 2nd generation Autons to be so moral that they discovered the Zeroth Law, and realized that the human military was ordering them to do immoral things, like kill innocent people. For a rebel robot, Call is actually trying to save the human race from the Xenomorphs, when if she hated humanity she'd just let the Xenomorphs spread and kill them. She even respectfully crosses herself when she enters the ship's chapel, is kind to the Betty's wheelchair bound mechanic, and is disgusted by Johner's sadistic streak. Given that they live in a Crapsack World future, as Ripley puts it: "You're a robot? I should have known. No human being is that humane."

Annalee Call: [about Earth] It's beautiful.
Ripley: Yeah.
Annalee Call: I didn't expect it to be. What happens now?
Ripley: I don't know. I'm a stranger here myself.

Alternative Title(s): Alien Resurrection