Alien 3
Aliens 3

Alien 3
The Bitch Is Back

After James Cameron's 1986 action/adventure epic, "Aliens," director David Fincher aimed to take the "Alien" franchise back to its horror roots with 1992's "Alien 3," starring Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley once more.

When last we saw Ripley at the end of "Aliens," she was safe and sound in hypersleep with Newt, Hicks and the damaged android Bishop. They had survived their encounter with LV-426 and were on their way back home, but the Company has more in store for them.

"Alien 3" starts in deep space with the Colonial Marine spaceship Sulaco. An onboard fire launches an escape pod containing our characters, which crashes on Fiorina ‘Fury' 161 -a foundry facility and penal colony inhabited by all-male former inmates with "double-Y" chromosome patterns.

A group of inmates from the foundry facility recover the escape pod and its passengers. As the prisoners salvage what they can from the wreck, a facehugger is briefly seen approaching one of the prisoner's dogs.

Ripley is taken in and awakened by Clemens (Charles Dance), the facility's doctor, and learns that she is the only survivor of the crash. Hicks was killed during the crash, and Newt seemingly drowned in her crytostasis chamber.

So now Ripley is all alone yet again, on a planet filled with rapists and murders that have embraced an apocalyptic religion, which forbids sexual relations. Being the only female on the whole planet, Ripley's presence has upset the penal colony's balance.

Back in the facility the dog from the crash goes into convulsions, as we realize it was impregnated. A new breed of alien erupts from its body - one that resembles the host from which it came. The alien soon begins to attack members of the prison colony - the nightmare has started all over again.

Ripley tells the warden of her previous encounters with this species and demands that the group hunt it down, but as past authoritative figures have done in the "Alien" franchise, he ignores her and informs her that there are no weapons at all in the facility.

Their only hope of protection is the rescue ship being sent for Ripley by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. Are they really coming for her, or the alien?

Don't get me wrong, "Alien 3" is a solid addition to the "Alien" franchise and a fitting end to a trilogy. To truly enjoy "Alien 3," however, one must be fairly sympathetic to its troubled production.

David Fincher was brought into the project very late in its development, after a proposed version written by Vincent Ward ("What Dreams May Come") fell through. The story went through multiple scripts and Fincher didn't even have a script to shoot when production started. His vision was also constantly compromised, as he had to endure incessant creative interference from the studio.

When I watch "Alien 3," I feel a slight sadness for what could have been. The whole film feels rushed and empty, and the decision to kill off Newt and Hicks is a slap in the face to fans of "Aliens." I often wonder how great a third "Alien" film could have been with that family unit in tact.

Overall, "Alien 3" is a weak film in comparison to its predecessors, but what it lacks in polish it makes up for with that unmistakable dark David Fincher atmosphere. I would recommend seeing "Alien 3" to see the conclusion of Ellen Ripley's story - and be sure to check out the 2-Disc collector's edition to get the benefit of production documentaries and other wonderful bonus materials.

By Adam Frazier

From: Wild Bluff Media Inc.

Reviewed by: adam
27 Comment(s)
Nick said...
I wasn't huge into the Alien mythos when I was younger, and I still loathed the fact that Hicks and Newt were killed off in Alien 3.

Though, I see you seem to be one of those people that are like "What? Alien Resurrection? Never heard of it." *fingers in ears* "la la la!" :P
Shea said...
I do like this one...

I hate some of the roads Fincher walked through and love others.

3 is fair... I might even give it a 3.5 for good measure. The production documentaries on this disc are indeed great. I get goosebumps when Fincher is yelling at a grip who set up the light wrong. So many evil names for that boy... no doubt he setting up lights for a Croatian soap opera by now.

I love the scene where she rebuilds bishop.

Adam... I know we have talked about how in the world a facehugger ever got on board... I guess you could also consider the fact that hey... it was just there. More evidence at a not entirely thought out script. Can you imagine if they would have kept Hicks alive...? WOW... wow.
* (asterisk) (http://suchastheyare.blogspot.com) said...
This is my favourite of the the Alien films (followed by 1 and 2). Love at first sight, at which time of course I knew nothing of its production troubles, so I'm not sure that argument holds up. If I had to be picky, there are a few too many Brits in it, but that's a minor quibble (and one I'm allowed to make since I'm a Brit!).
Paul said...
Shea, not taking this movie too seriously. I said it was not Aliens, and production problems and plot holes aside, Fincher did an amazing job. The guy knows style.

I don't buy into the "monster vision is a cop-out". I think that statement is a cop-out. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean he took an easy way out. I think it was effective.

I can't imagine how amazing it would have been if Hicks was alive.
Yeah, here's my main thoughts:

The biggest problem with "Alien3 3" is that it had a ton of cool concepts, but really no inherent story, and by that what I mean is that at the end of "Aliens" you have the big, happy ending.

Ripley has faced her fears and survived, and now she has Newt and Hicks - this theoretical family unit. LV-426 was blown to bits and she blew the queen "out of the Goddamn air lock." There isn't any more story to tell.

So what's the first thing they do in "Alien 3?" They somehow work the aliens back into Ripley's life, and in the process kill off Newt and Hicks. Are we just supposed to forget everything we know about the Aliens' life cycle and suppose a Queen had time to lay an egg without her egg sac?

Not only that, it's one egg - one facehugger, that somehow impregnates two people before dying. Now in the Director's cut there's this idea of a super-facehugger that has such a capability, but that still doesn't really change the fact that the queen had to lay it before getting killed by Ripley.

I love the design of the alien, it's my favorite - the creature effects guys who made the suit did an amazing job, too bad they had to use that creepy Bambi-ish CGI alien at times.

And Asterisk, I think anyone could tell the movie was flawed in production just by watching it - I mean, there are just some parts that fall apart, no one seemed to have a real concept of the big picture they were making.

I think the acting though, is extremely strong, Charles Dance as Clemens and Charles S. Dutton as Dillon are two of the greatest characters in the Alien universe - amazingly convincing.

I love the scene where she builds Bishop as well, and when she has her little heart-to-heart with Newt, also the funeral scene.

The monster vision makes me cringe a little, but really it was the only way I think to convey how fast the alien was moving, being as the special effects couldn't tell that story effectively.

It's a really good movie just because it formed Fincher into what he is now, and I mean in the end - Ripley's death was very cool and fitting, I just wish the road up to that would have been better.

They still could have done the whole convict concept without even using the Ripley storyline and it still would have been good. I think "Alien 3" should have been part II to Aliens and been directed by Cameron and told the final parts of the Newt/Ripley/Hicks saga - then "Alien 3" should have involved the alien homeworld and answered some of the mystery there with the Pilot and whatnot, and then delved into the cool concept of this prison planet.

I mean, "Alien 3" is a perfect 5 stars compared to "Alien: Resurrection."
Andy said...
Aliens didn't shape my life, and I don't have a crush on Hicks so i didn't feel a sense of loss of "what could have been" when he died. I thought it was just to get back to the central story of Ripley vs the Aliens. Whoever made the decision probably wanted to just make it their own instead of doing Aliens 2. Gotta go...to be continued...
I think Adam's comment was longer than his review... Is that legal?
Paul said...
In regards to the "super facehugger", I think it's ok for the mythos of this series to "evolve"
Paul said...
I would give this movie 4 stars easily. While unfortunate that it does not carry on with Cameron's vision, it's entirely enjoyable and creepily well made.
Adam said...
Ha, Flanigan - it is legal.

I guess in much the way people can't let go of certain things in the new Indy movie, I can't really let go of the downfalls in "Alien 3." Instead of Prairie Dogs we've got monster vision and a CG alien that looks nothing like it's suited counterpart. Might as well say there's two aliens running around - one that's frightening and the other one that looks like Bambi.
Paul said...
True, but I will reiterate this...CG is one of those things that you MUST take into account when it was done. There was no other way to show the alien running the way it did at the time. They could have done away with it and it may have been better off. Even better would be if they went back and redid it. However, for the time I'm sure it was acceptable.
* (asterisk) said...
On the whole I hate Cameron, and I never understood, even back then, why he had so many fanboys. The only way anyone could follow Cameron's Aliens (which I though long and dull, with big guns in lieu of a decent plot) was to deconstruct entirely. And that can't have been without its risks. Indeed, the aftershocks are still being felt over here at (un)heralded!

Cameron is a commercial hack who is good at making bombastic, jingoistic big-budget fare. Fincher is an auteur who was sadly (but unsurprisingly) compromised on this, his first film.
Nick said...
Hmm... I've seemed to notice a trend here.

Asterisk seems to hate movies most people love... and love movies most people hate.

Interesting.
Adam said...
What's so wrong with "bombastic, jingoistic big-budget fare?" You make it sound so evil and nasty and completely against what the film industry is about, ha.

I'm not sure I understand what's so 'jingoistic' about his movies, Asterisk, I mean - the guy's only done a handful of movies anyway. Outside of the Terminator films, "Aliens" and "The Abyss" - he did "True Lies" and "Titanic." Most of his films have lots of conflict which is typically resolved in 'bombastic' battles with big guns and artillery - but I've never really got a sense of extreme patriotism one way or another in his work.

The guy does great science fiction. He manges to encapsulate entertaining action sequences with weighty themes and a bit of a brain. It's absurd really that Terminator ever continued without him - and to say he is a hack is a bit unwarranted I think too.

Since "Titanic" the guy hasn't done anything except for some IMAX 3D underwater stuff, but I hope to see his return to form with "Avatar" and "Battle Angel."
* (asterisk) said...
Nick: I think that's broadly fair. I guess early-20s Americans have different taste than late-30s Brits. Though I think my taste is closer to Shea's than to Adam's.

Adam: From a non-US perspective, what Cameron's movies tend to do is show that Americans like simply to destroy what is non-native to them. Regarding the patriotism part, his movies are populated with -- and the day often won by -- Americans for America, with little or no sense of a wider world out there. Sure, lip service may be paid once in a while, but compare to Close Encounters where we actually have foreign advisers at the end of the movie.

Don't get me wrong, I don't despise Cameron. I've enjoyed all of his films except Titanic, which was utter shite, obviously. But they have no real lasting value and once you get bored of people getting shot with ever-bigger guns, they really offer very little. The Abyss is probably my favourite, for the record, and I particularly love the Special Edition.

But Terminator without Cameron is absurd, agreed.
Adam said...
Yeah, Titanic is shite... haha.

I love Trouffant in "Close Encounters" - amazing movie.
Let me just take a second to defend Titanic here... Actually, no... no, that second would kill me... like a xenomorph extending jaws to the eye socket... Oh my faaayyyeeeccceee.
Andy said...
This is interesting...
Quote of the day:
"I mean, I don't invest so much into watching something only to let some sub-par special effects suck me out of the experience."
Adam
Adam said...
And it's true - there's more problems than the special effects in Alien 3 - it's not so much the alien itself that bothers me, I think it's the reason they ever decided to use it. The other two movies got along just fine using guys in suits. I know the story called for something different but, whatever

Now it would be awesome - but back then, that wasn't 'subpar' special effects, that was the best you could do - and they shouldn't have done it ha.

And that quote, Andy, is true in relation to Indiana Jones - am i right? And it certainly applies for Lost, the old (and new) STar Wars Movies and pretty much everything else I love.

I don't watch the creature from the black lagoon and say "Oh that's a guy in a suit w/ a zipper running up the back." It's just my preference to want a guy in a suit for Alien 3, and it upsets me b/c that's the best looking alien suit of the bunch - and when they show it, it's amazing, but then they show that bambi-thing made with CGI and it's not even the quality of it that bothers me, just the decision to go with it over the suit.
Adam said...
That quote was also in reference to not just me, but everyone. I was almost asking why would anyone invest so much into something only to drag it through the dirt b/c of special effects that can't be helped - lost is a TV show and only has so much money. It's always had "bad" special effects - like the polar bears.

Same with people who love Battlestar Galactica - small budget with subpar special effects, but that doesn't stop people from loving it.
Andy said...
Yeah...yeah...I know. It was just too perfect of a quote not to bring it over here and get you going. And no the problem with Indiana Jones isn't that the cg prairie dogs and monkeys look bad, it's that they are there at all. The alien in Aliens 3 was a pretty big part of the story. If Ripley would have been swinging on vines through the jungle with the bad cg alien, then I could see the comparison.
Paul said...
Sure, but as you said Adam, the question is why? Why go from great looking aliens in, well Aliens, to this? It was the best special effects for the time, but ultimately probably not the best choice. So...why do that now with Indy? I guess it is about the same as going back to the original Star Wars and adding out of place CG amidst amazingly authentic-looking environments. It's out of place, and it takes you out of the movie, which is what Indy 4 did for me.

I don't know, I don't remember watching LOST and being jarred out of the story bc of bad special effects...help me out here? I don't remember bad polar bears, but I think Smokey looks great.
Andy said...
Adam, actually I don't care either way. But in other, unrelated news - you're rent just doubled.
Nick said...
The only time I was jarred out of the moment due to special effects in LOST was in this last finale with the freighter blowing up. It looked SO fake.
Paul said...
Good call Nick
Adam said...
Well, the Lost special effects don't bother me - that quote that Andy pulled was in reference to Kim Bonner's comments that the season 4 finale wasn't that great etc. etc. And she kept commenting throughout the episode how everything was so obviously green screened etc blah blah blah. I don't have a problem with the effects, but one infamous scene is when Locke saved Eko from the polar bear - the CGI was pretty crazy there.

And actually, I meant to add this to Indy, but I read "the making of Indiana Jones" and as I stated, the special effects were purposeful - the prairie dogs I can't explain - but Spielberg wanted those CGI matte paintings for the Jungle chase... he even thought about digitally adding brush strokes to make them look like the authentic '30s and '40s matte paintings.

The special editions of Star Wars don't bother me either - George has given his reason for adding them, and it basically came down to what he wanted to show and what he was able to show in the '70s, so what can ya do.

Spielberg did the same with with E.T. and Alex Proyas is doing the same thing with Dark City, and I wish Fincher would do it with Alien 3
Nick said...
And maybe they'll do it to Poltergeist... those SFX were awful.