Although the two films were only made a few years apart, their tone and visual style are significantly different. On the visual side, I used black & white again to both blend the material and to make a unique viewing experience. To help with tone, sequences with over-the-top action from Alien: Resurrection were either unused or re-edited and many dialogue scenes were refashioned.
Editor JobWillins previous edit - Derelict - was an arresting and entertaining comparison of two of the stronger entries in the Alien canon. If anything, Derelict shows how much the Prometheus lot echoed / borrowed / swiped from the original Alien movie. This second edit mixes two of the most misunderstood, if not roundly disliked Alien films, Alien³ and Resurrection. Skepticism notwithstanding, I dropped in to have a look.
Video - 1280 X 720p MPEG-4. As with Derelict, Ripley is also rendered black n white. Too dark, especially in the first third, to my liking. Brightness could be boosted a bit, and yes I understand filmmakers use smoke and shadows to mask budgetary limitations. I strained to make out foreground details. A curious thing I noticed was two (2) video streams. After demuxing, the smaller stream revealed itself to be a series of ten still frames. Time markers for the editor perhaps? Or perhaps an abandoned menu design? I had never seen that before.
Editing itself was uniformly fine. Now and then, an inspired cut from one film to another. Most struck me as random.
Audio - 2 Channel AAC, 251 Kb variable. No subs. Despite being a pair of actioners, the dynamic range is not especially sweeping. Dialogue understandable throughout.
Narrative - Ripley suffers in comparison with Derelict. Ripley is two films from two different periods of the timeline. The edited story bounces about like a pinball. There seems no reason for this. The editor simply could have assembled his film chronologically, rather than this random method. Both storylines are weak on plot. Characters are poorly drawn, and even Ripley is barely more than a cipher. This is especially true for the Resurrection half.
Part of the problem lies with the original films themselves. Garbage in, garbage out, as the saying goes. JobWillins is trying to forge a superior viewing experience from poor stories.
Enjoyment - Less than ecstatic, I’m afraid. I disliked both films when I first screened them theatrically. They failed to improve after seeing on VHS and later DVD. The stories are simply weak, the characters unmemorable. This edit did nothing to improve my opinion.
The closing credits ought to have mirrored the opening credits, by the way. The dual closing credits are too busy and an unfortunate choice.
Despite being somewhat intrigued by the project, I never really felt the compulsion to watch JobWillins' former alien saga mash-up between "Prometheus" and the original "Alien" film. This is simply because "Alien" is a near perfect piece of cinema, one which I enjoy every minute of, and thus I surmised that a mash-up that removes parts of the film and replaces it with parts of a far inferior film could never hope to eclipse the affection I have for it in its original state (though after viewing the fan edit in question here, I admit to being far more curious). With "Ripley" however, we're dealing with two films that I liked bits out of, but as whole works of cinema I found them to be severely lacking in several areas. There are those that defend "Alien 3" and despise "Resurrection" but for me they're both simply "ok", Alien 3 having a bit more heart and drama (though also being unnecessarily depressing as the whole film is seething in a murky foreboding atmosphere, nearly all the supporting characters are unlikeable and everyone dies at the end) but having poor action, and Resurrection having some strong action but poor heart and drama. So really if you could find a way to blend the best parts of the two, you might actually be able to create a singular film that successfully overcomes the shortcomings of its respective progenitors. I am pleased to say that for the most part, JobWillins succeeds in accomplishing just that.
(some spoilers ahead)
So I think what I liked most about the edit was what was chosen to be left in and taken out (that may seem a rather obvious point to make regarding a fan edit but merging two films to the length of one requires a lot more generous and judicious cutting than is usually called for). In "Resurrection" in particular, all my favourite scenes where there: The aliens underwater (now with less intrusive CGI thanks to the b&w treatment), the two aliens fight/escape from confinement (though I felt this a bit short) and the always creepy and eerie scene with the deformed clones. A lot of the more offensive things are happily absent too, such as the alien/human hybrid, and Ron Pearlman's constant barrage of poor one liners. "Alien 3" too kept some of the best things like the Bishop resurrection, Charles S. Dutton's numerous speeches (that are really quite well written and delivered), and thankfully uses the assembly cuts of the crash landing and alien birth. I've never been overly convinced by the romance between Ripley and Charles Dance so on the one hand I was happy to see it go, though I do feel it does contribute strongly to the drama of Ripley's Journey and this is an exploration of Ripley's character after all.
This brings me to, well not a flaw, but an observation about the portrayal of Ripley in "Resurrection". So one of the problems I have with "Resurrection" is how it completely takes the humanity out of Ripley's character. At one point in the beginning of "Ripley" It seems that "Alien 3" is implied to be a resurfacing of a fragmented memory in the mind of the Ripley clone (specifically when cutting to the autopsy of Newt in "Alien 3" after the psychologist shows Ripley the girl's photo in "Resurrection"). Also gone are all the scenes that show Ripley's alien "powers". So I was under the impression that the clone is now pretty much the Ripley that we know, but with her memory slowly resurfacing. However, there were two scenes that seem to contradict this that were left in; where Ripley says her "there's a monster in your chest" speech (as good as the monologue is, the Ripley of old would never be so heartless to another human being), and when Ripley says to Winona that she doesn't remember who Newt is (as we have already seen Ripley's emotional reaction to Newt's death this contradicts the idea of that being a recovered memory).
So onto the narrative as a whole… It's ambiguous in many places sure, almost Lynch-like, but holds together surprisingly well and, like Lynch, does have a well-defined emotional arc even if not an entirely linear one. My only real issues are in "Resurrection" and are pretty minor. I felt that the supporting characters needed a little bit more development at the beginning, just so we actually might care when they're killed off. And Winona's character seems to go from being outwardly hostile and distrustful towards Ripley, to being completely fine with her in the next "Resurrection" scene.
On the technical side of things, this is pretty flawless work in my eyes. No hard cuts. Audio transitions were smooth. The b&w looks gorgeous and even in "Alien 3", which is a very dark film, the blacks remain relatively "uncrushed" and shadow detail is preserved.
In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed this edit. I think I even enjoyed it more so than either of the original two films so this might well become my go-to version. If you're on the lookout for something different, or if like me you just want to see if "Alien 3" and "Resurrection" can be salvaged, be sure to check this out!
Now… I should probably go watch "Derelict" ;)