Fox bets on ‘Ryder for new ‘Alien’ role

Here come the aliens. Again.

With Sigourney Weaver reprising her role as the no-nonsense Ellen Ripley, and with the added attraction of a strong co-star in Winona Ryder, Fox is betting that “Alien Resurrection,” the fourth installment in the venerable “Aliens” series, will follow in the lucrative steps of its predecessors. Given the series’ established familiarity and the addition of Ryder in her first action role, early buzz is that “Resurrection,” currently lensing in Los Angeles, will do the job when it’s released this summer.

Directed by French helmer Jean-Pierre Jeunet (who co-directed arthouse hits “City of Lost Children” and “Delicatessen”), the latest installment in the “Alien” saga finds Ripley resurrected as a result of a groundbreaking experiment that altered both her and the alien creature she had been carrying at the end of the last picture. Ripley then teams up with an outlaw band of space smugglers to combat the incalculable alien menace.

Ryder plays rough-and-ready smuggler Analee Call.

In order to realize “Resurrection,” director Jeunet has brought with him some of the creative personnel he worked with on his previous films, including cinematographer Darius Khondji (an Oscar nominee for “Evita” who worked on “Delicatessen” and “City of Lost Children”) and special effects supervisor Pitof (“City of Lost Children”). Pro-duction design is by Nigel Phelps, and the screenplay was written by “Toy Story” scribe Joss Whedon.

Each successive film in the “Alien” series has revealed more to us about these creatures, and “Resurrection” con-tinues that process. According to Khondji, this time we get a much more intimate look at the aliens, as well as an opportunity to get inside their heads. “There’s more of living with the aliens, communicating with them also,” Khondji says. “You get to feel their intelligence and their aptitude to mutate.”

But for all it has in common with the previous “Alien” outings, “Alien Resurrection” promises to be a very differ-ent film from its predecessors, reflecting Jeunet’s quirky sensibilities. “The first three films had a first-degree kind of scariness,” Khondji explains. “This one is at times more of a ‘humor noir’ film. … Everything’s very different from the other films.”

Khondji is quick to point out that, for all the talk about textures and effects, the core of the film is really about the characters. “Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley is a very strong character, and one of the greatest things is having another strong character with Winona,” Khondji says. “Every time she appears, it brings something we haven’t seen before. She brings a freshness. … There’s suddenly another strong character in the film.

“To work with Winona is amazing,” Khondji continues. “I’ve never worked with a young actor who was so tal-ented. Every time we see the dailies … right from the first scene with (Sigourney and Winona), you’re immediately confronted with the power of it.”

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