STARRING Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon
DIRECTED BY Jean-Pierre Jeunet
In a logical universe, there wouldn’t be a fourth Alien movie.
Not only did the last installment, 1992’s Alien3, remain earthbound at the box office, but it seemed to end the career of the franchise’s central character, Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley, who sacrificed her life to save humanity. Then again, nobody ever accused Hollywood of being logical, and in this case, maybe that’s a good thing. Nearly 20 years after Ripley began bathing in the bone-white glow of nameless moons, she’s back to battle the biggest, slimiest alien of them all: an awful roachlike beast that moves like lightning (it swims, too!), shoots (vapors and deadly venom!), and scores (the alien and Ripley do the nasty!). Besides a new alien, this fourth go-round introduces a hip new director — Jeunet, best known for 1995’s artistically funky City of Lost Children — and a hip new costar, Ryder, who plays a pale-faced action hero. ”Originally, I was supposed to be the one inflicting things on people,” says Ryder, who was only 9 when she saw director Ridley Scott’s original Alien, ”but when I arrived on the set, they took one look at me and said, ‘Okay, you’ll be the one running away from everybody.”’
Resurrecting Ripley was a breeze, thanks to the deus ex machina of Event Movies: DNA. A band of evil scientists have cloned her to get at the Alien Queen that died inside her body. Resurrecting the queen, however, was a bit tougher. ”We couldn’t find it,” says Jeunet. Actually, it was destroyed. The molds for the prototype queen had been locked in storage somewhere and the full-body puppet had disappeared altogether. But James Cameron, who directed Aliens, the second installment in the series, had given a replica to an avid collector, who gladly lent his creature to the fourth film.
So much for good luck. During production a mysterious gas suddenly spread through the set, sending 19 crew members to the hospital. A few weeks later, the liquid nitrogen used to give Resurrection its otherworldly look (in combination with the L.A. heat) made Weaver pass out. ”These movies have so much smoke and incense,” Weaver says. ”Every time I go into a church now, all I can think of are aliens, aliens, aliens!” (Nov. 26)
UPSIDE Sigourney, back this time with lots of hair and a mind for sex, is still the greatest action heroine alive.
DOWNSIDE No one ever said the fourth time’s a charm.
STARRING Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, Sidney Poitier, Diane Venora
DIRECTED BY Michael Caton-Jones
You can trace the origins of The Jackal back to producer James Jacks’ laserdisc collection. A year ago Jacks sat down to watch The Day of the Jackal, Fred Zinnemann’s icy 1973 thriller about a British smoothie hired to assassinate Charles de Gaulle. After the credits rolled, Jacks called his producing partner Sean Daniel and they came up with the idea for a new story.