Rixflix A to Z: Alien³ (1992)

Director: David Fincher // 20th Century Fox; 1:54/2:25 (Special "Assembly Cut" Edition); Color
Crew Notables: Vincent Ward (story), Walter Hill (producer/co-screenplay), Richard Edlund, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr. & George Gibbs (AAN - Visual Effects)
Cast Notables: Sigourney Weaver (Ellen Ripley), Charles S. Dutton (Dillon), Charles Dance (Clemens), Paul McGann (Golic), Brian Glover (Andrews), Ralph Brown (Aaron), Lance Henriksen (Bishop II), Pete Postlethwaite (David)
Cinema 4 Rating: 5

Much like "The Company" striving for centuries to capture, contain and exploit the titular extraterrestrial creature of this series, 20th Century Fox has also kept alive an ill-advised cycle of ineptitude in bringing further episodes of Ripley and her creepy pals to the screen for the past 20 years. Directorial changes and abandonments, illness befalling major behind-the-camera talent, reluctant cast members both in the film on purpose and not, wildly escalating budget problems, a crateful of different scripts and story ideas landing all around the bullseye but never on it, and some possibly deliberate misleading of the public on the direction of the series all hit the production of Alien³ like the proverbial ton of facehuggers.

The continued intriguing presence of Sigourney Weaver and some fine acting on the part of a handful of participants makes the film watchable to a certain degree, even if I cannot stand the portrayal of the now dog-transmogrified alien. But where Alien³ truly goes off the rails is in displacing the optimism that lied at the heart of the first two films: through Ripley's intelligence and drive to survive in the first film, and in the emotional spectrum and familial bonding that broke through in the second. Alien³ destroys everything that came before it in the opening scene of the film, by killing her possible future love interest Hicks and her action-adopted "daughter" Newt, and all but destroying her loyal android friend Bishop. At least the filmmakers do their dirty work before we get to see the quartet together as a sharing, loving unit. The characters from the previous film are pretty much dispatched in the same way as the "extra" astronaut at the beginning of Planet of the Apes: D.O.A. Sure, this takes some of the sting out, but it is still heinous.

I'm normally all for accepting each film for what it is, and to not have preconceptions when entering a theatre. Perhaps I'm a better person for trying to behave in that manner these days, but when Alien³ was released in '92, I had, like most of the Alien fanbase, definite preconceptions. We wanted those characters that fought and scraped and survived at the end of Aliens to return, and when the filmmakers chose to wipe them out almost completely from the get-go, it is basically a slap from the hand of a major corporation to the faces of the people that pay its bills, while screaming at them: "We don't give a fuck about you! Now, give us your money!" Suffice to say, they lost me after those initial ten minutes, and only a bored Saturday night out with my friends led me to see the next film in the series. I didn't even bother with looking up a showtime for the battle against the Predator a couple of years ago. (I did just see it a few days ago from Netflix, and I don't think I will be lining up for its sequel, either.) And I have heard that many people have rethought their opinion on this film once they have found out all the on-set problems that led to it being the way it is, and my reaction to that is: did you actually rewatch the film before you "rethought" that opinion? Because when you do, you will see that it still an underwhelming and ultimately disappointing undertaking.

So, why do I have this disc? To be honest, the last time Fox got my money for this film and the next in the series, Alien: Resurrection, was when I saw them in the theatre. I wouldn't even bother getting this pair, but I do have them. But only because Fox has someone else's money instead, and I have these films in an Alien box set that was given to me as a present a few years ago. I thank my benefactor for the first two films in the set, but really, you could have just gotten those for me. Watching Alien³ and Resurrection for this review and the next one are probably the first and last times I will watch these discs. And Fox probably threw your money away to Bill O'Reilly.

Speaking of creatures whose blood is composed of acid...

1993 Academy Awards: 1 nomination (Visual Effects)


EggOfTheDead said…
I would happily have watched Newt get slurped up through a proboscis in slow motion, rather than being so neatly dispatched in the ship wreck. Hicks ... well, he's on of those characters I have a huge crush on (I crush on characters, not actors) and it took me a bit longer to get past his demise.

It sounds as if it was a little easier for me to dissociate from the previous two films. As a stand-alone, I really enjoyed Alien 3.

Hated, hated, hated S3ven, though.

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