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Alien 4 - The rebirth
Criticism from the FILMSTARTS editorial team
Alien 4 - The rebirth
By Ulrich Behrens
The rebirth of Lt. Ellen Ripley is more of a resurrection in the modern age of genetic engineering. Five years after David Fincher's rather moderate “Alien 3”, the French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Délicatessen”, 1991, “La Cité des enfants perdus”, 1995; “The fabulous world of Amelie”, 2001) tried it out the fabric. Jeunet - who seems to have a penchant for outsiders, stranded people, outlaws, etc. - resurrects Ripley as a cloned artifact. Unscrupulous scientists have, so to speak, created a clone of the long-suffering Ellen Ripley from her last drop of blood, which was not a victim of the flames, 200 years after her death, after seven unsuccessful attempts, which, however, also contains genetic information about the aliens. A hybrid of good and bad, or better: of human plus conscience and alien without the like, which Darius Khondji's camera shows us right from the start as a creature that can hardly be recognized at first. The scientists cut the alien queen out of her body, patch Ripley, who is still alive, back together and leave her “by-product” alive out of sheer scientific ambition and curiosity.

The dark spaceship Auriga floats through space. To continue their experiments, Dr. Wren (J. E. Freeman) and Dr. Gediman (Brad Dourif), the head of the scientific department on board, host human beings in order to ensure the reproduction of the aliens in the human body. Since this is illegal, General Perez (Dan Hedaya) hires a group of smugglers to get hold of such hosts. Shortly after Ripley's rebirth, the smuggler spaceship "The Betty" appears on Auriga. The crew, led by Elgyn (Michael Wincott) and his girlfriend Hillard (Kim Flowers), also includes the mechanic Vriess (Dominique Pinon) who is tied to a high-tech wheelchair, the loudmouth and scarred face Johner (Ron Perlman) and, last but not least, Call ( Winona Ryder), which later turns out to be a highly developed android - with special programming.

They soon prove to humans that the aliens are intelligent. In captivity, they kill one of their own in order to escape the room in which they are observed through its corrosive body fluid. Quite a few people become victims of the aliens. The crew of Betty, Ripley and one of the remaining human hosts, Purvis (Leland Orser), (with the alien behind his chest) take up the fight against the aliens ...

Sigourney Weaver plays - in contrast to the first three films in alien history - this time a mixture of unscrupulousness and callousness on the one hand, and attraction to human society on the other. “Oh, two souls live in their chests”, and Weaver quickly convinces us how cunning it has become in terms of the difference between it and its “genetic source material” from Ripley, who died 200 years earlier. Your physical abilities leave little to be desired, also a result of the mixture with alien DNA.

In some beautiful and terrifying scenes, Weaver can prove the ambiguity of her existence as Ripley. She still stands with one and a half legs on the human side and only half a leg on the alien side. When Johner tries to turn her on, she is playing basketball and not only lets him flash it clearly and deliberately not only during the game, but also otherwise. Even when Ripley sees the horribly distorted human remains of the genetic experiments and destroys them with a flame thrower, Weaver can document the tornness of her existence, which almost borders on “genetic schizophrenia”.

Many of the action scenes, the chases through the corridors of the spaceship, and especially a scene in which the crew of Betty and Ripley have to dive to escape the aliens, come close to the quality of the first two Alien films. This underwater scene in particular is staged in an extremely exciting way and ends in the middle of the alien queen's egg-laying station.

On the negative side of Jeunet's adaptation of the subject matter, however, there was hardly any character except for Ripley and the scar-faced Johner that was ascribed very much depth of character. Dan Hedaya, for example, plays the villain General Perez so unbelievably "evil" that he appears like a cartoon from a bad B-movie. And then Winona Ryder: Why was this romantic comedy or I-don't-know-what maybe predestined actress engaged for this film? It looks like a distinct foreign body in a horror science fiction, as if glued into it. Ron Perlman, on the other hand, plays a pretty, ugly space adventurer, a soldier of fortune who primarily relies on his strength and the weapon in his hand, but who nonetheless also has enough brains. Pinon’sche Vriess, who is confined to a wheelchair, is far too short for my terms. Pinon would have done well for a more profound role. Scientists are also neglected, which leads to the penalty of devaluation. Because if the subject of genetic engineering is already included in a film, then please not in such a way that the unscrupulous scientists remain marginal figures.

Jeunet's film is still very worth seeing for long stretches and I liked it a little better than Fincher's "Alien3". Production design, visual and special effects are acceptable. On the other hand, the horror effects of the aliens in Jeunet's strips are largely reduced - compared to "Alien" and "Aliens". These carnivorous monsters can no longer be as terrifying as they were in Scott and Cameron's films. You can also put it that way. If you are hungry, you can “eat” enough at “Alien: Resurrection”, only shortly after the film you get an appetite for “Alien” and “Aliens”.

The final scene in particular contributes a lot to this impression. The giant baby, with whom Ripley “reconciles” in the end and then “blows” it out of the spaceship, is hardly reminiscent of the original aliens, but rather of a naked toy monster that little boys at the age of six like to play with. In addition, there is something pathetic and lard about this scene when Ripley "cuddles" with the baby who is speechless.

Jeunet has forgiven a lot. The story itself would have given more if he had placed more emphasis on characters and the "triangle story": more or less conscientious people - more or less unscrupulous people - aliens - who developed conflicts in order to deal with the undoubtedly exciting topic of genetic engineering ; then a continuation film with exciting content would have been created. But as ...
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