I had hoped that Sigorney Weaver didn't have much control over this movie. She really hurt A3. This one was worse, much worse.
The "science" in this movie is a bad joke. Hollyweird rarely gets DNA even close to correct. The entire premise is very confused. The "cloned" Ripley mysteriously has memories from her previous life and "racial memories" from the alien. Uh, yeah. Right. I'm pretty sure that the writers did this in order to provide exposition to explain what's going on. Even with this clumsy exposition technique the final scenes are completely incomprehensible.
The movie comes off as very episodic. You never get an overview of where they are and where they're going. The characters just go from one predicament to another.
In Aliens, Cameron makes it clear to the audience where Operations and Medical are in relation to each other, and how to get from one to the other. When Ripley goes down into the atmosphere generator to save Newt she follows much the same route as the marines took earlier, so the territory is passingly familiar. When Newt is leading them through the air ducts, she's the only character that knows where they are. So most of the characters are seeing these locations for the first time, just like the audience, making it much easier for the audience to accept the trip through a featureless maze.
Contrast that with Alien Resurrection. The crew seems to know where they are and where they're going. But all the audience gets is a quick overhead view of a map and a sentence like, "We're here and we want to be there." That makes it impossible to gauge their progress. They walk through a bunch of dark corridors that all look pretty much the same, trying to look tense most of the time. That gets old real fast.
I can picture the writer saying to himself, "It's been ten pages since the last thrill. Time to throw in the genetic-lab-gross-out scene." Does that fit in with the rest of the station (verisimilitude considerations?) I have no idea, because I was lost the entire time. Does that scene help move the story along (narrative?) No, it was jarring and out of place. The scene was strictly to slap the audience with the theme "Man isn't wise enough to handle genetics."
Many of the scenes appear to be mostly about showing off the new alien effects. Unlike Cameron's skillful hinting, this movie shows the alien effects far too long on the screen. The alien motions were impressive. But this is definitely a case of less is more. Having them on screen really hurt the suspense.
The cinematography was mostly overdone. In the beginning you have several super-closeups, apparently trying to build suspense. As usual, that kind of heavy-handed shooting just made for irritating melodrama.
They tried to make the crew of the delivery ship interesting, and it almost worked. The "special abilities" that a couple of them had were cheesy. But there were some interesting characters and relationships that led to a couple of good quips back and forth. Unfortunately, the relationships are never explored. All we get is something along the lines of, "These two characters are buddies, and one of them doesn't like this other character." The overall slow and disjointed pace of the movie completely swamped what could have been the salvation of this movie. Weaver learned from Cameron that you need good characters in a science fiction movie, but she hasn't learned how to let the characters drive the movie.
On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, this movie barely makes Commercial TV. As Scoo put it, "I'd rather do laundry than watch this movie."
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