How to make up for the dire mess that was "Alien 3", give the fans something as enjoyable as the first 2 films and bring your main character back, having previously killed her off, were just some of the problems faced by the producers when it came to making this fourth film. But fortunately, scriptwriter Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) and French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessan) managed to come up with a few ideas and pull off something that was actually pretty damn good.
Some 200 years after the events of Alien 3, and Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is brought back to life by a couple of mad scientists (played by J.E. Freeman and horror veteran Brad Douriff) aboard a secret government space station using a bizarre cloning process, which also duplicates the alien queen embryo inside of her.
The government wish to use the queen to provide them with more alien creatures, that they can study and experiment on, in the hope of using them as biological weapons (bad idea). Of course, things predictably go wrong and the aliens break loose.
Ripley subsequently finds herself teaming up with a group of space mercenaries, led by a chap named Elgyn (played by notorious screen baddie Michael Wincott), who are also stuck onboard the station with the alien menace. Leading to a series of running battles as they try to fight their way through the space station to their ship.
Whilst the film isn't quite as good as the first 2 movies, it's certainly a damn-sight better than the third and boasts some pretty impressive action scenes. Including an underwater sequence, where they have to negotiate their way through a flooded section of the ship, only to find that aliens can swim as well.
I also enjoyed the twist in Ripley's character, who seems to have inhereted some of the alien's DNA through the cloning process and thought the film had a very impressive supporting cast. Which included Ron Pearlman as one of the mercenaries, along with Winona Ryder, who isn't all she appears to be and of course horror veteran Brad Douriff, who is always a welcome addition to any horror film.
Maybe the alien hybrid that appears at the end wasn't so good, but aside from that, I really enjoyed this and felt this was a welcome return to form for the series.