03/24/2003: In response to feedback on this article, I have added some supporting details and conclusions.
If this war has done anything, it has brought the nature of the United Nations to the forefront. The anti-war protesters seem to believe that the U.N. is some sort of perfect institution designed to bring peace and justice to the world. This despite a track record of allowing atrocities that is second to none. Rwanda, Yugoslavia and Somalia spring to mind as their most recent horrible failures (and I’m being generous by leaving Iraq off the list). With this in mind I decided to look into the purpose of the U.N. and to ask the question, why this “noble” institution fails so very often and if so, why is it worthy of U.S. attention?
I picked up this film after learning that it was made by one of my favorite directors, Jean-Pierre Jeunet (City of Lost Children, Amélie). It was my hope that this installment would be better than Alien3 which, at least on that count, it succeeds, even though that’s a low mountain to climb.
In this installment, 200 years have passed since Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) death. A splinter military group working secretly without orders clones her (and her alien parasite) from the copious amounts of her blood left over from Alien3. However, after removing her alien, they discover that the cloning process has left Ripley part alien and the alien part Ripley. As usual, the Government, now replacing that evil corporation, screws up and Ripley and some newfound smuggler friends must escape the alien hordes.
The plot for this film is a predictable rehash of the last three films. You have your evil massive organization who keeps forgetting that the aliens are really bad. You have an android subplot (this time played by Winona Ryder) which adds nothing but continuity to the rest of the movies. You even have your ubiquitous “Kill me” scene where Ripley must kill someone with a flamethrower to save them from too much pain.
However, the one thing that really saves this movie from the truly awful category is the cinematography and feel of the film. Jeunet, known for his dark films, has really kept the feel of the first two films. The underwater Alien sequence is nothing short of genius. Even the alien/Ripley love child (no, I’m not kidding) follows with the dark and brooding spirit of the original films.
The best I can say about this film is it redeems the series from the catastrophe of Alien3. However, this movie is repetitive, silly and without depth. Let us hope that this is the final film in the series so that no more slander can be thrown at what was once an terrifying experience.
Something about the announcement of the creation of a military tribunal to try the perpetrators of the September 11th mass murders has not settled well with me. I am not particularly concerned with the punishment of the guilty, being that I generally subscribe to the "Nuke ’em till they glow and shoot them in the dark" theory on the punishment of evildoers. However, the means being used to discover the guilty is something that I have some doubts upon. I have attempted to reconcile this unease with several personal discussions about the practical nature of a "system of justice", but to no avail. So, with your kind indulgence, I am going to try to start at the root of the problem and work my way up. In other words, answer the question, "what is justice?" If I can answer that, I am hopeful that my unease at the practical nature of "expedient" courts can be resolved.