By Chris Campo
Oh boy, where do I start with Alien 3? I guess I should tell you that Ridley Scott's Alien is my second favourite film of all time. It's literally a perfect film and I adore it with every fibre of my body. The sequel, Aliens, is just as good to some, and I love it, but it's nowhere near the first in my opinion. Still, there were two great films in the Alien franchise, until 1992 with David Fincher's Alien 3. The franchise has had some ups and downs since then, and in just a few weeks, audiences will be treated to the next chapter, Alien: Covenant. To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to review the alien films that are not yet up on DCM! So, let's get started.
Alien 3 finds Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) as the only survivor of an escape pod, as seen in Aliens, landing on a distant prison planet, Fiorina 161. Aboard the pod, other than the corpses of fan favorites Newt and Hicks, is an egg of the Xenomorph, the terrifying, titular alien. Ripley is trapped with a bunch of rapists and murderers, forced to work together to fend off the Xenomorph, now with a body based off that of a very unfortunate dog, rather than a human. While there are no weapons on this prison planet, Ripley's got a secret, and this secret may just be her way of avoiding certain death... She's pregnant with an alien queen.
It's safe to say that this film is a mess, although it's one of the more interesting train wrecks in cinema history, from a production standpoint. The film had a hard time getting off the ground. Fox had literally no idea what to do with the film. All the behind the scenes stuff is extremely interesting, if you have a minute or two, I'd recommend researching just how much hell this film went through to get made. They even went so far as releasing a trailer promoting an entirely different movie, teasing that the film would take place on Earth, which it most certainly does not. This is also the directing debut of David Fincher, an amazing director, one of my favorites actually, but this film was so plagued with issues that he has essentially disowned the film and downright refuses to talk about it.
This is not a production review, however, this is a movie review. I want to focus on talking about the actual final product we got, because, believe it or not... I don't hate Alien 3. I don't necessarily like it and it's not at all a "good movie," but I don't absolutely despise it. Alien 3 is more of a sequel to Alien than Aliens was, in the sense that it takes on a similar tone and style, unlike the 1986 action extravaganza. No, I don't like Alien 3 more than Aliens, I'm not a lunatic, I just have to appreciate the fact that it attempts to go back to it's roots. It's nowhere near as scary, memorable or meticulous as the original, but I'd much rather have this than some of the Alien films that followed.
Sigourney Weaver is a national treasure and it's almost impossible for her to turn in a bad performance. She was nominated for an Oscar for Aliens, so she takes the character of Ripley very seriously, and Ripley herself is among the few highlights in the film. It's classic character that's hard to ruin (until Alien Resurrection, but we'll talk more on that during that review). Another highlight is the gore. I like it. This film features some very cool deaths and gore effects, which is a small detail but one I still appreciate. Whenever the alien is brought to life with practical effects, it's damn stunning. The scene where the alien comes face to face with Ripley is one of the only genuinely chilling scenes in the film, although I'm also a big fan of the ending, which would have been a nice cap on the series had it stayed a trilogy.
That leads me to the rest of the alien's screen time, where it's fully rendered in awful, distracting CGI. I get that it's an older film, but all of the CGI scenes could easily have been accomplished with clever practical effects. The main issue of the film though is just how awful and forgettable the script is. It's quite boring, to be honest. I would be straight up lying to you if I were to say I remember one character from this movie other than Ripley, and I watched the damn thing less than 5 hours ago. The script's main issue lies with how lifeless the central plot is. I like the opening, despite them killing off two great characters, and I like the ending, but everything in-between is dull, and you only really look forward to the next death.
I don't blame David Fincher for this film. Like I said, the studio had no idea what they were doing with this damn thing. I also don't blame him for denouncing it, sweeping it under the rug and practically ignoring the fact that he ever touched the property. This isn't the best looking film, but Fincher did craft some cool looking shots. There's some neat camera work too, which you can tell is a precursor to some of the incredible directing he'd come to do later in his career. It's obviously not the best directed film ever, but under the circumstances, it's incredible that Fincher cobbled together something actually watchable. I'm very grateful he bounced back from this and is doing his own thing, even though he just signed on to direct World War Z 2, which I still can't believe isn't a joke.
Yes, Alien 3 is a mess. No, it's not a good film, but I don't hate it. It's hard to hate a film with Xenomorphs. It's not impossible, but it's hard. David Fincher was given a brittle, broken skeleton of a script and made something that is watchable and has it's moments. I honestly had a little trouble settling on a final score for this movie, and although, like I said, I don't hate this film, it isn't good enough for anything over 2 stars.
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