Review Excerpts

December 2, 1997
by J. Hoberman


The Ripley of alien Resurrection is , as it turns out. a clone - just like the movie. (She’s even been resurrected for the same reason. As always in the "Alien" cycle, official greed and idiocy reign eternal.

Alien Resurrection is not a pretty picture. Occasional cutaways to the ship’s exterior suggest a humangous, calcified dog turd floating through the endless sewer of deep space. (Its destination, per one character, is the "shit hole" Earth.) but despite this and reported $70 million budget, Alien Resurrection has disappointingly little of the baroque set design and droll mise-en-scène of Jeuriet`s two previous features, Delicatessen and The city of Lost Children.

At least Alien3 had intimations of mythological grandeur. Too tepid to be satire, Resurrection has reached the point of diminishing returns.


NEW YORK PRESS, Nov. 26-Dec. 2, 1997
by Armond White

It was Scott and Swiss designer H.R. Giger who first conceived paralleling the creations of evil to reckless ingenuity; their tale of the humans` good-against-evil, individual-against-corporation battle needed no sequel. Yet after Cameron overhauled it into a war machine, pummeling the material and audiences insensate - and to popular effect - it is a surprising pleasure that Jeunet has been able to return this series to Blakean dread, back into splendor.

Through imagination, these filmmakers look deep into material that could have been exploited for cheap excitement. They have found art in a monster series and even provide a visual metaphor for their wonder.

New York Daily News - 11/26/97
by Dave Kehr

Big New "Alien" All Too Familiar

Special effects, of course, have made extravagant progress since 1979, and "Alien: Resurrection" suggests the downside as well as the benefits of digital technology. Now that it's possible to show everything, film makers show too much. And so the sense of mystery and anticipation that defined Ridley Scotts original "Alien" here dissolves into a series of more or less overt encounters with no poetry or suspense than an evening of professional wrestling.

The following is an excerpt from Joseph B. Mauceri's review, posted on the WORLD OF FANDOM web site. For the full review see

The main problem with ALIEN: RESURRECTION can be traced directly to the fact that H.R. Giger is missing from the action. Giger is the artist whose early paintings were adopted as the design for the adult alien creature in the firts "Alien" film and then retained in all the sequels, thereafter, and the man who also designed all the stages of the creature's life cycle. Giger also designed and built the alien spaceship and all the alien interiors for the first film and recieved the 1980 Academy award for Best Visual Effects for all his combined designs. In a recent interview Jeunet commented, "The people who made the first Alien were artists. Ridley Scott, Giger, the writers... they invented everything. The rest of us who follow are artisans. The first film is a work of art, an entity all its own." If the director truly believes this then why didn't he bring Giger back? Did the studio even try? In RESURRECTION Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett are given the credit "based on the characters created by." In fact, the only character created by O'Bannon still in the film, besides the creatures, is Ripley, and she is not O'Bannon's Ripley. She is more Whedon's creation, slightly enhanced by the memories of a character that has been altered by various writers and directors over the course of three other films, which O'Bannon had nothing to do with. However, the alien creatures, conceived on paper by O'Bannon and given life by H.R. Giger, remain intact, with only some minor alterations, here and there. The case can be made that even the Newborn (an attempt to totally confuse the creature's life cycle) is nothing more (and considerably less) than a dehelmeted alien creature skinned raw.

Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. appropriate the credit "Alien Effects Designed and Created by" on this film. Hum... something is rotten in the State of California! We all know that H.R. Giger designed and created the aliens (with the exception of the James Cameron/Stan Winston designed Queen Mother), so what did these guys do ? In my opinion, as well as other die-hard fans of the series, they made a big mess of things, starting with their involvement in "Alien 3." On RESURRECTION their designs are a blur, a piling of gelatineous sludge on top of H.R. Giger's sleek biomechanical creation, successfully destroying the inherent esthetics of their design. The body color of the aliens is dark, and when placed in even dark environments, whatever design details remained after these Effects Creators got through with it, is now totally (maybe mercifully) lost.

I ran into a guy who licences toy designs and he commented that he was glad he saw the film before he signed the contract. He didn't see anything in the film that was interesting or exciting in the creature, and decided to wait for Fox to release ALIEN RESURRECTION on video so that the licence for the toy designs will cost significantly less.

The CGI designs are also poorly rendered, and look like CGI. It's seems rather odd when you consider that these CGI folks are the same ones who worked on "Starship Troopers," and those effects were outstanding. There is no sense of aesthetic beauty to any of these alien designs, and they've been reduced to a derivative, stereotypical ugly monster. It's obvious that they took from Giger's past work what they wanted and came up with stuff of their own without any rhyme or reason. For example, how and when did the aliens come up with the ability to survive and swim under water?

The new white, possibly albino, hybrid alien design - the full responsibility falls on Gillis and Woodruff - is horrible. I've seen armature special effects people come up with more inspired and creative designs. It's obvious that not much thought was given to the design of this poor sad-sack creature, it seems to have been an afterthought! They should have consulted someone, anyone, who might have offered them a plausible direction to take the design in, based on a continuity with the already established visual aesthetic, and on the science of the future in which the film is set. Could have called Giger. Probably would have worked up some excitement, originality and coherence into the visual outlook of his bastard grandchild, just if for no other reason, to protect the family name.

A director friend - who wishes to remain anonymous - agreed with me about the design, and went on to reflect that maybe Giger had seen the film and asked that his name be removed from the credits. I also agreed with him that Whedon's original ending was more inspired then the ending that they went with - send it back out into space from whence it came. I had to agree with him that the first 40 minutes of the film were really good, but in the end he said, "It was a nice try."

To recap the score... Joss Whedon came up with a good script, but it's a shame they didn't use some of the best parts - like the ending. Jean-Pierre Jeunet; great visual director, great job first 40 minutes, loses it in the end and is slow paced at times. Cast, especially Weaver and Perlman, outstanding job. Gillis and Woodruff - spotlight grabbing hacks!

On a final note; DarkHorse Comics has been publishing stories based on the "Alien" mythology for several years - storylines that are amazingly thought out, action-packed, intense and have been novelized by the Del Ray publishing house. Why hasn't Fox thought about employing those ideas for a film, when everyone else in the industry is turning to the comics for original source material? At the same time, while I've called Gillis and Woodruff hacks, it might be more a case of two kids left alone to run amuck in a candy store, and the real blame for the problems with ALIEN: RESURRECTION is all Fox's fault. In either case, H.R. Giger seems to have more than ample grounds upon which to mount a lawsuit against the studio. It should be pointed out that it was Fox who screwed Roger Corman over on "Frankenstein: Unbound" (Corman had to arrange his own screenings of the film because Fox refused to, plus other problems), as well as Clive Barker on "Nightbreed." Even Lucas has had his problems with Fox. If the "Alien" series is to be resurrected, then it is my opinion that it would be best served by a studio that encourages, promotes and supports the exchange of ideas between filmmakers and artists.

- Joseph B. Mauceri