The woefully misbegotten and mostly tedious Alien Resurrection has only one truly vivid, uncanny, destabilizing moment, and that is when Ellen Ripley (now resurrected as an alien-human hybrid clone after her sacrificial death at the end of Alien 3) encounters a room full of unsuccessful attempts at Ripley’s resurrection.
Thus Ripley’s sacrificial death led not to some dreamy heaven, but to another layer of the nightmare. This hall of half-human, half-alien horrors extend neatly from the biomechanical nightmares of the original Alien, and this moment of confrontation dramatizes what the prior trilogy of films had already signified: the alien eclipsed all of Ripley’s hopes and dreams, and now she has finally been remade in its terrifying image.
Neither director Jeunet (whose stylized, comic sensibilities jar with the material) nor the screenwriter, Whedon, properly capitalize on this profoundly unsettling turn for Ripley, which is a shame: it offered fertile ground for a series that had seemingly come full circle.
Weaver, constrained by the film, still finds the character within. She was and is, for all intents and purposes, the heart of the series because she can so uniquely express the bitter fortitude that can only be born in the furnace of great trauma. The first film may have been a haunted house movie driven by a sense of the ethereality of outer space, but both Aliens and Alien 3 found their momentum in Weaver’s face and the profound depths it suggests. No actress has ever recoiled in horror with more conviction.