by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
What a fucking mess. I blame that fucking Joss Whedon. He's the guy who created both the terrible Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie and the terrible television series based on his stupid movie. Then in his downtime he wrote Titan A.E. (which was stupid) and Firefly/Serenity. Alien: Resurrection was a run-through for Firefly and Serenity as its template is identical: a motley crew of space traveling gunslingers with secrets. I hate this movie almost as much as I hate all the other stuff he does. To think that this movie, the fourth in a series that I love, is a dress rehearsal for his stupid ass pet project is really kind of insulting. His writing is always the same, we follow a bunch of people who are either high schoolers who talk like thirty year olds or thirty year olds who talk like high schoolers and the result is always the same: I don't like or care about any of them because they're types not people. Who cares what happens to character types? I don't. Jean-Pierre Jeunet didn't quite know enough about that kind of writing to make it self-referential or post-modern. This was his first film without Marc Caro, so he had to do everything himself. The dialogue is played mostly straight, which is at odds with Whedon's writing. Jeunet was too concerned with the colour scheme and the production design to try and read into a very juvenile American style of writing. He didn't even think to make the most of the character actors he'd been given. Ron Perlman and Dan Hedaya can be good and Dominique Pinon is almost always good (this is his only english role that I know of). In fact, everybody can be good, but they're not here. Leland Orser, Raymond Cruz, Michael Wincott and Brad Dourif are all competent, but Jeunet didn't know how to direct them. Winona Ryder is at her very worst and everything that made Ellen Ripley a likable character before is missing. In short this was a fusion of styles that didn't work and the performances are one of the many casualties that resulted.
The Hills Have Eyes
by Alexandre Aja
The Carters get their asses beat when the as-yet-unseen villains distract everyone by tying Bob to a cactus and lighting him on fire. While the men investigate, a bunch of mutants board their RV and rape and kill the women. Only Brenda, Doug, Bobby and one of their german shepherds are left to exact their revenge, which is part Rube Goldberg, part Rambo and a lot of gore and get back baby Catherine from the mutant's clutches. People get axed and shot and ripped to pieces and punched in the face and attacked by dogs and whipped with spike strips and thrown off rocks and stabbed with Americans flags (again with the subtlety). This movie is super intense once it gets going, but as the story was already intense before Aja got ahold of it, all he's really responsible for is the color scheme and the degree to which we're subject to splattering heads and particularly awful stabbings. The acting is adequate (I like Aaron Stanford the best, but he's really no better or worse than anyone else, he just gets the most dirty and I like my action heroes covered in grime; plus, he saves a baby) and the cinematography is David Finchery. The mutants look like real mutants instead of the low budget Dennis Hopper types we got in the original but with a bigger budget comes little charm. The original was like the low budget desert horror film and its charm came from its subverting the need for a budget by showing how evil people can get without effects or really even much make-up. This one's more about how gross people can look before they get bludgeoned to death because that's what Alexandre Aja does well. That and pointing fingers at American imperialism, but not quite correctly. Aja makes Big Bob's politics seem outdated and silly and so Doug Kerouac-Sartre is the hero and his murdering a mutant with an American flag is supposed to be symbolic of America. The only problem with that is that there wouldn't be mutants in the first place if the US government hadn't used the south west as target practice in the 40s and 50s for big cancer-giving missiles. So....America's guilty, I get that, and I'm not saying I disagree, but what part of American culture are you trying to critique because the villains are only villains because they got bombed....doesn't that kind of make them like the vietcong? Maybe I'm reading too much into this....