Friday, September 10, 2004

The Resurrection

In more ways than one. I'm finally back after a hiatus that lasted far too long. Hope everyone's still with me. There's a ton of things to talk about, including almost two weeks worth of comics, movies, and even some TV. First though, I'm gonna talk about a movie I put off for awhile.

Alien: Resurrection

Director: Jean-Pierre Juenet

Writer: Joss Whedon (That's right fanboys, your savior wrote this.)

Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Winona Rider, Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman, Gary Dourdan, Michael Wincott, Kim Flowers, Dan Hedaya, J.E. Freeman, Brad Dourif, Raymond Cruz, Leland Orser

What's it about? It seems 200 years have passed since Ripley comitted suicide to "save" the human race from the aliens, and now a few scientists have found a way to bring her back. Yay for cloning. After repeated attempts (seven) they finally succeed, and when she (rapidly, as the aliens do) grows into adult-hood, they remove the queen embryo from inside her. Now, with the help of a few...let's call them space pirates...they have the bodies needed to host a new litter of aliens. What they don't realize is that just becasue the aliens look, well, animalistic, doesn't mean they're unintelligent. So, the creatures get out of their holding cells, and proceed to kill everyone on board the space station. Oh, and it's headed to Earth.

Why you should watch it: There aren't alot of reasons to watch it really. I remember really hating the film after seeing it in theatres, but after going over all the extra features on the DVD and giving it another look, I've found that isn't so much the case. For all those that have seen it, give it another look, considering who Whedon is these days, and the fan following he has, you might be surprised at how different you see it. Especially after I try to clear a few things up.

Until the DVD, I had no idea that this was a French director. None. Which shows how lazy I truly am. It's easy to sit on the couch and denounce a film, but once you "meet" the director and begin to realize his intentions, and especially if he seems like a nice enough guy, it becomes increasingly difficult. So, having listened to Jean-Pierre talk about Resurrection, I've found myself not hating it. It's still not a good film, but I've never been one for French cinema anyway.

And that's exactly what this is. It's a French film (more specifically a dark comedy), made with American money, and mostly with American actors. Jean-Pierre had never directed outside of France, so when Hollywood came calling, he naturally jumped on the project. To this day (as he says repeatedly) he has been unable to figure out why they chose him. Looking at his filmography, I have to agree. For a studio looking to revive a dead franchise to choose someone virtually unknown in the states, someone without the slightest background in this type of work, is almost ridiculous.

So, you've got to give credit to 20th Cent. Fox for taking a massive chance with their choice...or do you? Considering the other problems of all three films, I'm assuming what the studio wanted was someone they could instruct better. Scott, Cameron, and Fincher all had major issues with the studio, Jean-Pterre never had a single problem. Why? Because he firmly believed he was making their film, that he was just another hired hand. If they said change, he changed. That, above all else, is the biggest problem of this film. Theother three fought for their vision, where as Jean-Pierre never really had one in the first place.

Yes, there are a few things he can claim as his own, a few ideas he came up with, and for the most part they add a bit of quirkiness to an otherwise lifeless film. Add on top of that that the movie was made state-side (not in London as the previous three, and that Jean-Pierre spoke not a lick of English, and that adds more fuel to the fire. There are times when you can clearly see that the acting is suffering from bad communication with the director (not bad directing mind you). Next we have the writing. Now, while everyone seems content to hail Whedon as one of the greatest writers in quite sometime, I don't buy it. His dialogue seems over the top, and cliched as hell. That stuff works in comics, but on film it just doesn't fly.His plots have huge holes in them (at least they do here) and he doesn't seem to have full grasp of the characters he's writing. Now, for fans of Whedon, watch the film again, and keep in mind about the directing, I'm sure you'll enjoy it a wee bit more, if not downright like it. Next, the acting. Here is where it all comes together. Mediocre, and sometimes just plain bad writing, mixed with a director who can barely communicate, and all of a sudden we start to self distruct. None of the actors are bad, but they all seem lost in the roles, not knowing exactly what they should be doing, not sure about how to deliver their lines. It's a recipe for destruction. The only thing about the film that is a complete success is the cinematography, and we have Darius Khondji (se7en) to thank for that. If you watch the film on mute it looks brilliant.

So, to sum it up, it's really hard to hate the film. Everyone (except the studio) had the best of intentions, and really did try their best to make a good film. Unfortunately, with all those elements I mentioned, and (I think) without the struggle the other films had, this movie lacks one basic element. Soul. You just cannot feel for these characters, and in the end you begin to hope that the aliens kill them all.

That's pretty much it for now. I've got aton of books to go over, but considering how touchy my connection's been, I'm gonna call it a day before I lose everything.



Anonymous said...

Actually, while Whedon is given credit as writing this film, he was far from the sole screenwriter. The script went through many changes, so I wouldn't blame him. I'm not sure if you've ever watched Buffy or Angel, but if you haven't, you should. The man's got a great talent for dialogue, structure, and characterization.

LGP said...

Actually, according to IMDB (who 99.9 % of the time shows uncredited rewrites, check out Kevin smiths name in the Coyote Ugly credits there) and Whedon himself (see the Alien: Resurrection DVD special features) he's pretty much the sole writer on the project. The Whedon crack wasn't meant as a blame, but as a crack at his legion of fans. The only other "writers" on the project seem to have been the studion and the director. The studio said he had to ressurect Ripley, and the director had a few ideas he wanted to include. Whedon takes credit for just about everything else. He was given the task by the studio, and he was on set, or nearby, when rewrites were needed (which was quite a few times). The blame for the film falls on alot of shoulders, but as I said, I'm past hating it, because it's hard to know that it was made with all the best intentions. I even said that...

As for Buffy, no thanks, can't stand it. Believe me, I tried, and the same plot and dialogue problems I think are in this film are the ones I disliked about Buffy. (Admittedly, Angel could've been a show I'd have enjoyed, but I just never spent the time to watch it).

So, yeah, before you jump the gun and say I'm overreacting, I watched a ton of shit on Resurrection, including multiple interviews with cast and crew. the only writer ever discussed was Whedon. Even on Alien 3 the rewrites are talked about, and that's not exactly a film the studio was comfortable discussing. I doubt they'd just decide not to discuss them on Resurrection. Like I said, even Whedon takes sole credit.