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Alien Resurrection (1997) 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

Last time, the aliens had escaped from their cages and were running loose on the USM Auriga. A scientific research spacecraft.

The crew attempts to escape and almost right away, Elgyn is killed. Ripley then shows up just in time to save everyone. They all begin heading toward the resupply ship, the Betty.

In a brief scene, Ripley comes across the previous failed attempts to clone the original her, and kills one of them, a deformed clone that seems to be in considerable pain. Then, in another part of the Auriga, they meet Purvis, one of the civilians kidnapped and used to host spider-like xenomorphs. He has an embryo inside him, which raises yet another unanswered question: Why hasn’t the embryo killed Purvis yet? The writers don’t even bother trying to come up with an answer. The alien embryos’ gestation period—an issue created by Alien 3—remains an enigma, or a plot hole, whatever.

A grueling underwater trek

Ripley believes they should leave poor Purvis behind, but Call is much more empathetic. She wants to save him. So, the crew decides to refreeze the man in the hope that a doctor can fix him later. But first they must reactivate the coolant system. I’m not really sure why, and neither is the movie. They head to another part of the Auriga that turns out to be flooded so they must dive underwater to reach it. Halfway through their swim, the aliens arrive and grab, Hillard, one of the crewmembers:

She may or may not have been taken to the Queen’s nest, but we’ll never know for sure because the writers didn’t seem to care one way or the other.

After escaping a trap laid by the aliens, the crew reaches the next portion of the Auriga. They all start climbing up to a door, and Wren reaches the top first. He tries the door, claims he can’t open it, and asks for Call’s gun. She hands it to him, he shoots her, and she falls into the water. He then opens the door and escapes.

To make the situation worse, an alien explodes from the water and begins climbing a ladder. It is trying to grab two crewmembers, Christie and Vriess. Christie begins shooting at the monster but — wonder of wonders — the aliens can now spit acid! This has never happened before and doesn’t make any sense, but we’ll move on. Christie, hit in the face with acid, IS wounded and in tremendous pain, but by no means dead. Remember that.

Because Vriess is paralyzed, he is tied to Christie’s back, so the poor wounded man is forced to try and pull them both up the ladder. Christie asks Johner to help and Johner kills the creature — but its hand is still attached to Christie’s boot. I should also note that the alien’s head explodes when it’s shot. There’s no clear reason why it should. As far as I can tell, the exploding alien routine is yet another vestige of the third movie.

Vriess can’t get through the door with both Christie and the alien dangling behind him, so Christie undoes his straps and falls into the water with the alien. Then, for some unexplained reason, the movie presumes Christie is dead. Why?

For one thing, the man was only wounded. Both his arms and legs were working. He can still swim, and I’m sure the water would’ve only helped his injuries. Furthermore, while the characters were in the water, the movie only showed two aliens chasing them, and they’re now dead. So, why would Christie be killed once back in the water? The alien’s hand is attached to his boot, but there’s no reason he couldn’t have pried off the hand or just removed the boot altogether and returned to the surface. This was a lazy and stupid way to kill off a character.

Plus, if the aliens were kidnapping the crew as victims for their nest, then both Christie and Hillard might still be alive. The crew should launch a rescue mission for these two. But the movie is in a hurry to wrap up.

After Christie “dies,” the door leading out of the room opens, and in steps Call. This makes Christie’s assumed death seem even more implausible. If Call could swim out of the water, why couldn’t he? Plus, how did Call find the door? If there was some other way to the next section of the Auriga, why didn’t the entire crew take it? Granted they were following Wren, but why would Wren swim through a giant underwater pool if there was an easier route?

The only question the movie bothers to answer is how Call survived being shot. It turns out she’s a robot. To be more specific, she’s a robot created by other robots, which somehow gave her sentience. What’s even more strange is that she’s a robot who hates being a robot. And she’s a religious robot to boot. This is silly. There is no way robots who have zero sentience could create other robots who are self-aware. Why would they even try? How would they do it?

Anyway, Call explains to Ripley that she’d hacked into the government’s database and found out about the alien project. She’d decided she wasn’t going to allow the military to gain access to the Queen so she joined the crew of the Betty in the hopes of finding Ripley and killing her before they removed the creature. She basically wants to save humanity.

Why using robots to give moral lessons doesn’t work at a plot device

The ironic idea the writers seem to be going for is that the robots are more humane than the humans. This doesn’t make any sense because a robot can only reflect its creator, but apparently, in the writers’ minds, things like empathy and justice can be reduced to binary code. Obviously, they can’t. 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?

A programmer could only give the robot instructions that reflect his or her own moral sentiments, but in such a scenario, the robot is simply mimicking the creator. It wouldn’t make deductions that go beyond the programmer’s understanding of the world. It could only weigh the probable success of a variety of scenarios that might accomplish its preprogramed goals. Thus, how could a robot measure what is and isn’t humane? But the writers aren’t interested in exploring the nature of a robot’s existence. They are trying to say something about the nature of humanity, which is fine in and of itself, but a robot is a poor point of comparison.

Ripley tells Call that, because she’s a robot, she can hack into the Auriga, and program it to crash. Call does as Ripley asks and also makes sure that Wren can’t access the Auriga’s computers. Once this is done, everyone heads to the Betty, but before they can reach the crew’s ship, Ripley stops in the middle of a hallway, claiming that she can hear the aliens. The grating underneath her is pulled down, and she drops into a giant pile of the monsters. Why are they there? I have no idea. The movie mentions that twelve aliens are loose on the Auriga, and several of the creatures have been killed at this point; however, there seems to be way more than twelve of the nasty things in the pile.

Still, Ripley disappears, the crew assumes she’s dead, and they run to the Betty. Of course, Ripley isn’t dead. It turns out, the Queen has a surprise for her, which we’ll talk about 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 (1997) Part 3: Call Up the Reluctant Robot