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Alien Resurrection, Part 2: Trying to Recover After a Retcon

The writers of the show never seemed to agree on how smart these aliens really are.

Previously, I discussed how Ripley and the Alien Queen were brought back as clones, and after wading through the ridiculous plot holes created by such a scenario, the movie tries to tighten up. However, before getting to that, I want to point out a little moment that I believe shows the writers of Alien Resurrection knew what a mess the third movie was. While in the cafeteria, one of the scientists asks how Ripley knew the alien growing inside her was a Queen. This was a major plot hole pointed out in the Alien 3 reviews. Ripley dodges the question, and I’m amused by the fact that the writers of Alien Resurrection couldn’t come up with an answer either.

After this cafeteria scene, we are introduced to our next set of victims . . . I mean, cast of characters. The crew of the Betty enters the story. They’ve been ordered by General Peréz to retrieve the humans who will be placed in front of the Queen’s eggs so the spider-like variants can implant them with embryos . . . our heroes, folks.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why the writers of both Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection chose to make some of the most unlikable people imaginable leads for their films. I understand this in a standard slasher film, but even in the most cliché B-movie, there are some redeeming qualities to the central cast. In Alien Resurrection, the only two likable main characters aren’t even human, and the one mortal who seems like a nice guy has less than ten minutes of screen time. How am I supposed to be scared or feel much of anything if it seems like the cast is receiving their just reward? These people are kidnapping innocent civilians for a secret government project, so when the alien starts picking them off, I can’t help but think, Well, that’s what you get!

Elgyn, the leader of the human trafficking brigade, meets with General Peréz to receive his money and asks if his crew can stay on the military’s ship, called the USM Auriga, for a while. General Peréz agrees. Later, the crew meets Ripley, and there is a very stupid scene where she hits Johner with a basketball, and Christie tries to kill her with a curl bar. Again, our heroes, everybody. Of course, Ripley 2.0 is just fine because, apparently, being a clone gives you superpowers for some reason.

The film starts to improve once we’re introduced to Call. At first, we think she’s just the newest member of the crew, but before long, she sneaks off to find Ripley alone in her cell. She pulls out a knife, meaning to kill Ripley, but notices the scar on the clone’s chest. Ripley wakes up and asks if Call still wishes to murder her. Call says there’s no point because the alien has been removed. The two women talk for a time. Then Call leaves and is captured by the military. Wren, the head scientist, holds the crew of the Betty at gun point and demands answers. It turns out, Elgyn and the others have no idea what’s going on.

The Nosedive Into Stupid

The movie takes another nosedive into stupid at this point. Earlier, it’s established that the fully grown aliens—created by the people Elgyn and his crew captured — were moved to their own individual cells. This makes sense. But while Wren is interrogating the kidnappers, another scientist — a rather strange fellow, who has taken a liking to Ripley — is studying the aliens, who are now three to a cell. This scientist looks up at a monitor and notices Wren’s interrogation. While he’s distracted, the aliens kill one of their own so they can use the dead creature’s acid to escape.

This was a little plot hole that simply didn’t need to be there. If the scientists had some reason for putting the creatures together, the writers should’ve mentioned it. Why have an earlier scene where the aliens are locked up in their own cages, which would’ve been the obvious thing to do, only to have them put together later? Obviously, keeping the animals in groups would be a very bad idea. How are the scientists supposed to remove the monsters if the beasts can rush the entrance to the cage?

Furthermore, there’s no reason to assume that the aliens would help the rest of their siblings once they’d escaped. The creatures are already willing to kill their own, so what makes the writers think these things are capable of empathy? This is a problem with the franchise as a whole. When the writers want the aliens to mindlessly swarm something, they swarm. When the writers want them to coordinate, they coordinate. There’s been no consistent measurement for these creatures’ intelligence.

At any rate, the aliens break out, and the military actually does the smart thing, which is to evacuate the Auriga. Their plan is simple, guide the USM Auriga back to earth where they’ll have men ready to deal to with the aliens on board. That’s smart. But here’s where the cartoonish elements of the movie really stand out. Even the way the people are running looks ridiculous, and the expressions on General Peréz’s face are some of the silliest looks I’ve ever seen an actor make. There’s a moment where an alien gets into one of the escape pods and kills the men inside. Peréz ejects the pod and blows it up. Then, he gives a cartoonish solute with an over-the-top somber expression, and when another alien sneaks up behind him and kills him, he gives this ridiculous, confused look as he dies. The emotions are right, but the director could’ve told the actor to tone it down a little.

One of the soldiers watches Peréz die, and this raises another question. How many soldiers are still on board when Peréz is killed? Since we don’t see any other soldiers roaming the Auriga for the rest of the movie, we’re supposed to infer that the Auriga has been mostly cleared. But I couldn’t help but wonder about that one guy who saw Peréz’s demise. Whatever happened to him?

This escape sequence also creates another problem. In the second movie, the aliens are shown to capture people and place them in front of the eggs, and in this film, we do see that some people are captured, so how are the aliens choosing who lives and who dies? It’s one thing for an alien isolated from its Queen to go on a killing spree, but when a Queen is present, they should be providing bodies for the eggs. Recognizing this crucial plot point might’ve had major implications for, at least, two characters in the film.

Elgyn and his crew manage to overpower Wren and his soldiers before the aliens escape, so when the crew hears the alarms, they force Wren to show them a way back to the Betty. Ripley escapes as well, using her acidic blood to short the power to her cell. After a very rough start, the film finally picks up the pace. It was as if the writers wanted to reach this point of the movie and didn’t really care about the first act. We’ll cover what happens in act two in the next review.

Here are all four parts of my extended review

Alien Resurrection, Part 1: This movie pays for the sins of the last one. It’s better than Aliens 3, but has a host of problems nonetheless. Ripley remembers enough about her old life to have misgivings about the military raising the Alien Queen, but of course, she’s ignored, and the army moves on to the second phase of their plan.

Alien Resurrection, Part 2: Trying to recover after a retcon The writers of the show never seemed to agree on how smart these aliens really are. A problem for the franchise as a whole is that there’s been no consistent measurement for these creatures’ intelligence.

Alien Resurrection, Part 3: Call up the reluctant robot Amid the harrowing crew escapes, Call survives being shot because she’s a robot. She somehow has sentience and hates being a robot. No one can pull ideals from a system of numbers. How could a robot decide what is objectively moral when all its decisions are based on a set of probabilities?


Alien Resurrection Part 4: The Good, the Bad, and the… Bizarre In a single moment, Purvis becomes one of the most heroic characters in the entire franchise. Alien Resurrection might help you forget Alien 3, and that alone makes it worth watching.

Gary Varner

Gary Varner is the Assistant to the Managing and Associate Directors at the Center for Science & Culture in Seattle, Washington. He is a Science Fiction and Fantasy enthusiast with a bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts, and he spends his time working with his fellows at Discovery Institute and raising his daughter who he suspects will one day be president of the United States. For more reviews as well as serial novels, go to www.garypaulvarner.com to read more.

Alien Resurrection, Part 2: Trying to Recover After a Retcon