The plot is as old as they come: take a group of people and let them be chased around by one or more viscous monsters. It was practically invented by the first Alien (1979) movie back in 1979. Today it is the staple formula behind many a sci-fi action movie: The Relic, Jurassic Park: The Lost World (1997), Mimic (1997), Predator (1987) - you name it. Now, many years later it is only obvious that the fourth film in the series would follow the same formula. Been there, done that, you might say but the truth is that there are only so many plots in the movies. After all, it's not a case of what story you tell, but how you tell it.
Alien Resurrection, I'm glad to say, tells its story all right. The Alien series has always had a few edges over its imitators: firstly, there's the incredible Sigourney Weaver (she's really good) and secondly there's the truly original and frightening creatures designed by H.R. Giger. Alien Resurrection makes decent use of the various elements at its disposal. Aliens (1986) showed what could be done with the material and Alien³ (1992) just somehow never managed to completely pull it all together.
In this latest installment French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen, City Of Lost Children) has crafted an action film that owes more to Hong Kong action meister John Woo than to the previous installments at times, but it all works out reasonably well in the end. Plus, the film has a self-assured visual sense and some action set sequences are quite stunning. This is not to say the film is without its faults: the plot is still pretty old and at the start (like one did with those old disaster movies) one hedges one's bets on who is going to survive and who isn't. (Hint: usually the most anonymous cast members get it.) There're also the obligatory plot holes and some muddled scenes that doesn't make much sense. Most of the science in the film is also dubious.
Alien Resurrection can be filed under more action-packed than Alien³ (1992), but not as good as Aliens (1986) and the first Alien (1979) movie. So roll on Alien 5 I say...
Review by James O'Ehley from The Sci-Fi Movie Page.