Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
USA, 1992. Twentieth Century Fox, Brandywine Productions. Story by Vincent Ward, Screenplay by David Giler, Walter Hill, Larry Ferguson, based on characters created by Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett. Cinematography by Alex Thomson. Produced by Gordon Carroll, David Giler, Walter Hill. Music by Elliot Goldenthal. Production Design by Norman Reynolds. Costume Design by David Perry, Bob Ringwood. Film Editing by Terry Rawlings. Academy Awards 1992.
The much anticipated follow-up to the outstanding success of Aliens turned out to be a debacle before it was even shot, marred by changes in the crew (Vincent Ward replaced by David Fincher), a number of rewrites and reshoots before, during and after production, a delayed release that saw anticipation intensify and contributed to the eventual audience disappointment. Immediately following the events of the previous film, Ripley’s hypersleep is interrupted by her crash-landing on a planet that was once a penal colony and is now inhabited by former prisoners turned monks, all of them hardened criminals who have not seen a woman in many years. This would be dangerous enough except that she has also brought along with her yet another one of the nasty, acid-sanguined creatures that begins to make meals of the locals before everyone realizes what is going on and Ripley has a chance to fight back. It’s a bold move to scale back on the giant action set pieces of the first one and make something more in line with Ridley Scott’s gothic original, enhanced by Sigourney Weaver‘s reliable strength in the role (including a bald pate courtesy of the planet’s problems with lice), but it never really gets lifted off the ground by either its action or its characters. Fincher walked off the project before major editing began, citing too much producer interference, and while it isn’t possible to really know what his own version would have been (despite the more recent availability of an “assembly cut” that is apparently closer to his designs), it does stand to reason that the film’s lack of personality is the result of all this tampering and confusion. None of the characters stand out, and the long scenes of arguing and discussion between the few action sequences are a deathly bore to sit through, while the monotone visual style of relentless brown and green (where the men’s toughened skin blends in with the background) makes it unappealing to look at. The visual effects are excellent but dated, utilizing computer graphics for the first time in the series, but only the sequences of puppetry have stood the test of time while the fancier sequences now look awkward. The next entry, Alien: Resurrection may get a lot of criticism for being campy but it is far easier to sit through than this dud.