Time: 108 mins.
Genre: Science Fiction/Action/Horror
Now I'm going to say right off that I think Jean-Pierre Jeunet did a wonderful job directing this film. Unfortunately, the story has massive problems right from the start that keep it from being anything but awful. It can't have been easy to come up with an idea for a fourth film after the tragic ending of ALIEN 3. Since it wouldn't be an ALIEN film without Sigourney Weaver, a story had to be created that would bring her back to life. What they come up with is clever, but emotionally vacant.
The character she plays here is a clone, brought to life to extract the queen implanted in her at the end of the third installment. The problem being, she looks like Ripley, but is devoid of the memories and emotions that make her who she is. Her fight to defeat the aliens is the core of the franchise. Without her, we have no hero. It's an intriguing idea, I'll grant them that. It's rather difficult to center the story around someone who's supposed to be dead. However, to bring her back as a mere shell of the person she was is almost as bad as killing her off. Almost.
The film doesn't give you anyone to care about because they're all scumbags. Ripley is missing the passion she normally brings to the fray mainly because she isn't really Ripley and also because she is now mentally and physically linked with the aliens. She can feel and smell them and has blood that burns like acid. So she's not really interested in the impending demise of her fellow humans. It would've been a better plot twist if the aliens used her against the others, forcing her to choose between her alien blood and her human persona. That, at least, would have lent the story some additional drama. As it stands, people are sent in to capture the creatures, some die, the Company is disappointed, the aliens are defeated, Ripley saves the day. Different location, same outcome.
Though the plot is sorely lacking in originality or nuance, the film has enough cool effects (very, very bloody and slimy) and amusing one-liners to keep most sci-fi fans interested. Since we're already quite familiar with the aliens modus operandi popping out from the ceiling, etc., etc. the film is missing the scare-factor of the other versions in the series. We now know just about everybody is going to die, it's just a matter of when and how...and even the how isn't very exciting anymore. Plus, since Ripley died in the third film there's no way she's going to die again in this one. That would just be overkill. They try to add depth to the story by having Ripley encounter the clones of herself that didn't come out quite so perfectly. While this is creepy and disgusting, it's too little, too late.