In 1979, Sigourney Weaver was a relative unknown with only a couple of bit parts to her name when she won the role of Ripley in Alien, a role for which she was paid $33,000.
Weaver emerged as a star and 18 years later she received a co-producer credit and $11m as part of her deal to play Ripley once more in Alien Resurrection.
In this fourth instalment in the Alien franchise – set 200 years after the events of Alien 3 – scientists on the earth-bound ship Auriga bring to life a cloned Ripley and successfully extract the DNA from her unborn alien child to create the ultimate biological weapon.
Ripley’s rebirth leaves her tainted – though enhanced – with alien characteristics while the monsters she battles with grow ever more human.
French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and writer Joss Whedon set up some complex themes: the growing similarity between Ripley and the alien monsters, cloning, Ripley’s memories of her previous life, and her deep-seated mistrust of androids and her fellow humans.
They then opt for a conventional chase-movie, complete with a hazardous underwater journey through flooded corridors.
Ripley ends up with a group of space pirate mercenaries – Elgyn (Michael Wincott), Hillard (Kim Flowers), Christie (Gary Dourdan), Johner (Ron Perlman), paraplegic mechanic Vriess (Dominique Pinon), and Call (Winona Ryder) – who have delivered kidnapped humans to the Auriga for the authorities to use as hosts for alien eggs.
They soon all begin a desperate race to get to the safety of the mercenary ship Betty and escape. To make matters worse, in the event of an emergency, they learn the Auriga is programmed to head for Earth. They must, therefore, destroy the ship.
Jeunet’s slick style, with its trademark comic-grotesque touches, is in marked contrast to David Fincher’s bleak, uncommercial Alien 3 (1992).