Why I love Ellen Ripley – Part 3 + 4
April 14, 2012
I’ve been meaning to write this for ages, it’s very overdue.
I have watched both Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. But I thought I would spare you the blow-by-blow. Possibly I’m too lazy to write them but I would like to think I’m making a good decision by not boring you with the screenplay.
In short I actually enjoyed them both more than I thought.Warning, this post contains spoilers.
Alien 3 – 1992
This film takes place on prison planet where a few religious prisoners remain after the prison was shut down. Ripley’s sleep capsule was ejected from her ship as a foreign life form was detected. Hicks and Newt die in the crash. Ripley survives. Turns out, so did a face-sucker. Before long the face-sucker has a victim, the prison’s pet dog and a new alien is born.
Slowly the Alien starts picking off the prisoners. Starting with the annoying warden.
Remember this is a prison and they have no weapons. They work together and end up drowning the Alien in molten lead. It’s got lots of great scenes of them running through tunnels and escaping the Alien and visually I found this film really entertaining.
The story is great. Society’s forgotten prisoners, becoming heroic in their efforts to save each other. Unfortunately it turns out the Ripley has a queen Alien in her chest and she dives into the molten lead to kill the queen and thereby killing herself.
Since the prisoners know they are pretty much going to die and Ripley does too once she realises she has an Alien in her, the film has a sense of impending doom which lends a different tone to the film. People are more desperate and courageous and take extreme measures.
But let’s talk about Ripley. She shaves her head which accentuates her features. There is a fantastic scene where she invites the Doc to bed. She flirts with him, in a slightly bashful way as she touches her shaved head. ‘Been out here a long time’ she says.
Pity the Doc gets munched.
At one point a group of the prisoners gang up on her and assault her. She fights tooth and nail but is outnumbered. One of the prisoner leaders saves her but as she gets up she throws a fantastic punch and knocks out one of the asshole attackers.
Once she finds out that she is carrying the queen she tried to end her life, not in a pity-party kind of way, but in a calm, let’s-get-this-over kind of way.
The end of the film has a man who looks like the Android Bishop come as a representative of the Company to convince her to let them operate and take the Alien out. Even though she has such hope in her eyes, she turns him down and jumps to her death.
I just love her character. She is not unwarrantably dramatic, she is competent, intelligent and not afraid to grab for the tasty moments of life when the opportunity arises.
She is understandably much harder in this film, but displays the same no-nonsense as she did in the first two. She weeps for the loss of Newt, but isn’t afraid to then have her body cut open to check for Alien infestation. She is uncompromising.
In short, in a post-armageddon world, I would want Ripley by my side.
Aliens: Resurrection (1997)
To be honest I was kinda not looking forward to watching this one. I had found it weird the first time I watched it and I felt like we had lost Ripley in this film. (Of course, technically we lost her in the previous film.) But this time I really got into it.
The premise of the film is that we are even further in the future and Ripley has been cloned. The Company has figured out how to regrow her body and remove the Alien. As an afterthought they leave her alive, just to see what happens.
She grows, she learns. She’s…. different.
She looks the same but acts differently. She moves differently.
The Company grow their Queen who dutifully lays her eggs. Then they pay some ruffians to steal some people in deep sleep and let the face suckers infest them.
Turns out the ruffians are pretty entertaining. Equipped with some decent weaponry and a desire to survive the fight their way out. They also bring in some additional acting talent. Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Dominique Pinon (Amelie), Gary Dourdan (CSI Miami) and Michale Wincott (The Crow and Robin Hood).
One of them, called ‘Call’ (Winona Ryder) found out what the Company is up to and breaks into Ripley’s chamber. They face off. Ripley is unafraid, but Call leaves her alive.
Johner (Perlman) and Ripley play a little B-Ball but Ripley schools him. She is equally tall, stronger and spoiling for a fight.
By now the Alien have hatched and are busy escaping. One of the scientists Gediman (Played by the dude who is Grima Wormtongue in LOTR) is bizarrely fascinated by the Alien. He mimics them, but is also prone to dousing them with icy blasts when they misbehave. He get’s grabbed, but don’t worry, you get to see him again later.
Ripley teams up with the renegades. Call gives her a hard time, telling us all that Ripley’s not human. And she’s not. She’s part Alien. Her blood is acid, she can hear and feel things the other can’t and she has a connection to the beasts. They’re her family. But she wants out, so they work together.
This film has lots of spaceship corridors, like the previous films but also has these fantastic scenes where they are swimming for their lives through flooded areas and an Alien is chasing them.
It’s a great swimmer, who knew.
Slowly the renegades get picked off, but Call is one of the survivors, because as it turns out she is an Automaton. An android, created by androids. Ripley looks kinda smug when she realises that Call ain’t human either. They bond. Ripley has her mother-figure moment when she stands up for Call and offers to give her Johners tongue as a souvenir.
In their travels they meet one of the dudes who was infested with an Alien and they decided to try to help him. They try to work with one of the surviving scientist but he betrays them and goes off on his own.
Ripley starts acting all weird when she hears the Queen calling out in pain and falls into a tunnel. She is immersed in writhing Alien bodies and is lovingly transported off to where the Queen is labouring. (This is where it gets real weird). They arrive in a chamber where Gediman is cocooned into the wall.
He narrates, explaining to Ripley what’s happened. The Queen is busy birthing a live Alien instead of laying eggs. She gives birth to an especially horrific kind of beast. Part human, part Alien. The Queen makes cooing noise when the new beast emerges but the beast smacks her face off. Literally.
Instead the beast decides it likes Ripley. They embrace and Ripley clearly feels kinship with the beast. It has human eyes and makes human-like noises, but it is vicious and rips off Gediman’s head. Mmmm… breakfast.
Ripley has to decide if she is more human or more alien and when she sees the beast destroy Gediman, she chooses humanity and escapes, running to join the renegades.
There’s only a couple of them left. The scientist shoots the man who is carrying the alien, but he ends up lurching across to him and holding him as the alien bursts from his chest, killing them both. It’s a spectacularly bloody and gross scene.
They leave but realise that the beast has hitched a ride, much like in ‘Aliens’. It picks off another soldier and Ripley has to intervene to save Call. The irony is not lost that she ends up destroying her ‘grandchild’ to save the inhuman Automaton who displays more humanity than the part-human beast. Ripley weeps as the best is pulled apart by the vacuum, the last part of it you see is it’s human-like face looking at Ripley with confusion and sadness.
Thoroughly enjoyed re-watching the four films. I definitely recommend them.