Sunday, March 16, 2008

Le Fabuleux destin d'Ellen Ripley

More commonly known as Alien: Resurrection, which I finally watched yesterday. It's also known as the final nail in the coffin for the Alien franchise, forever dooming it to an existance as sub-standard slasher tripe in the form of the AvP movies. It was also the experience that made writer Joss Whedon run away crying to television, where the writers at least have a say over what ends up on screen. Having read the shooting script, and compared it to what ended up on screen, I can't say that I blame him.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is very much an auteur. He only makes Jean-Pierre Jeunet films, much like Tim Burton only makes Tim Burton films. The problem is that Jeunet, like Burton, has a very warped sensibility that's completely wrong for an Alien movie, and he gives the proceedings a generally absurd feel, especially when it comes to the scientists and military. And thus the general described as "ramrod straight and about as gruff as you would expect" in a scene like this

He is mostly dressed, still shaking off sleep. He stands at the command console,

bringing up visual. Everything on the screens is smoke and noise.

comes out like this in the movie:

That's not an imposing general about to deal with a crisis concerning a lethal Alien species, it's the school janitor suffering through another prank by some pesky kids. Quite possibly one involving bananas and buckets of urine. It's an endless litany of scenes that are played completely wrong. Turning Gediman, the one sympathetic scientist into a freak that likes to make faces at the Aliens in their pens. Making Vriess a comic relief character mugging for the camera. Casting Winona Ryder. Having the hybrid look ridiculous and make out with Ripley.

Which is not to say that Whedon's script is perfect in every way, especially since Alien is still my favourite and this is more a rollicking action-adventure starring a gang of cool outsiders, Whedon's favourite pony doing its favourite trick again. The cloning stuff is the same hokey nonsense, for starters. (Although to be fair, it's not like there were a lot of ways to bring back Ripley, and given that "Alien 3 was all just a dream" was considered for a while, it could have been so much worse.) But it's pretty solid, features recognizable human beings, has a suitably epic showdown on earth, and the hybrid does not make out with Ripley.

That last point, I feel, is pretty important.


Andreas Öjerfors said...

God dag!

I just discovered your blog, and I thought it was interesting. Actually read through it all - keep the posts coming! Added it to my links on

SH said...

God dag på dig själv!

Man, I picked quite the time to disappear in a dank, dark hole of schoolwork and crippling Baldur's Gate addiction, didn't I? I'd picked up a reader and everything! Irony, why must you be so ironic?

Thanks for the kind words though. :)

Andreas Öjerfors said...

Baldur's Gate? I'd say you're a couple of years late. ;)

SH said...

You assume I'm new to the game. I've been fighting the addiction for years. And just when I think I'm out, I find a widescreen mod for all infinity engine games and relapse. :(

Andreas Öjerfors said...

Some of my colleagues at work laugh at me for not having played Baldurs Gate. But now it's too late - I cant believe in its low resolution 2D world.

SH said...

Ah, but there's all sorts of hacks and mods to take care of the resolution issue, so that's no excuse. ;)

Although to be honest, anyone looking to find out what the fuzz is about would be better off going straight to Baldur's Gate 2. BG1 is filled with empty wilderness that takes positively ages to explore. Bioware really learned a lot about pacing inbetween the two.