After escaping from the alien planet, the ship carrying Ellen Ripley crashes onto a remote and inhabited ore refinery. While living in the ore refinery until she is rescued by her employers, Ripley discovers the horrifying reason for her crash: An alien stowaway. As the alien matures and begins to kill off the inhabitants, Ripley is unaware that her true enemy is more than just the killer alien.
Directed by: David Fincher
. Starring: Sigourney Weaver
, Charles S. Dutton
, Charles Dance
, Paul McGann
, Brian Glover
, Ralph Brown
, Danny Webb
, Christopher John Fields
, Holt McCallany
, Lance Henriksen
, Christopher Fairbank
, Carl Chase
, Leon Herbert
. Music by: Elliot Goldenthal
There are a great number of sequels, this reviewer finds, that are unjustly maligned by comparisons to their predecessors. This is a complaint that is a consistent reminder of the fickle movie-going public. This is the first of this review's ironic findings. That when a sequel is considered a rehash of the last film then it is unworthy. And yet when a sequel, such as Alien3, is different we simply turn our noses upwards at it. Basically, it seems the major complaint here is that Alien3 is NOT Aliens. In particular many Aliens fan whine at Fincher's apparent responsibility in killing off Hick's and Newt before the film has even begun. To which I can find no more an appropriate word than 'Boo-hoo'.
These people call themselves fans of the Alien Saga and yet do not seem to recognize the basic fact that they all play on our emotional investments as an Audience. From Scott to Jeunet, all of the directors register the 'Freudian Nightmare' aspect of both the alien lifecycle and saga, and Fincher is no exception. All the previous films both begin with awakening and end with returning to hypersleep, coincidence? It is this careful underpinning in the series as a whole that Alien3 and Fincher so successfully shifts to the audience's horror. Ripley, having previously and successfully faced the entire swarm of alien brethren is still unable to escape her fate, being ultimately and irrevocably entangled with that of the aliens. These simple-minded action lovers complain at the film's relentless downbeat tone and sizeable lack of weaponry and action, yet it is something Fincher should be appraised for having such courage to do. These people dare to refer to the previous two as simple.
Ask yourself what could be worse than having had the comfort and hope of friendship and love restored, having already once lost everything you knew, and then so harshly torn away from you again? Ripley is absolutely alone, and what is worse is she is doomed from the start, an alien queen is now inside her. She is the harbinger of all the convicts' death (except Morse). This is what I find so thought provoking and, in the end, moving about Alien3. This is a wonderfully original spin on the format of the first; the alien is now more willing to protect Ripley then guzzle her up for lunch. And so does she sacrifice herself in an attempt to right the wrongs. Why do you people complain at so beautiful and righteous a send off for the now legendary anti-corporate symbol that Lt. Ripley has become?
The second irony is also the most aggravating to think about, the 'company' themselves. Fox. Brandywine, the small production company that made its debut with Alien had, by the post-production (or the editing phase) of the filmmaking process on Alien3, effectively relinquished controls to 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. The executives there disallowed our valiant director, David Fincher, the rights every director needs to complete their feature. It has even been said that Fincher was locked out completely from the editing process after his initial 'three-hour' assembly cut was dubbed by the ignorant test-screenee's to have too many bald English people in it.
I find it no wonder that Fincher has since disowned the film. Now what I really should say here is project; despite being a fan of both the original and 'special edition', what I find is that the so-called special edition is exactly what the DVD claims it to be: an Assembly Cut (or a rough projection of the film). And it seems to me that original is simply a shortened assembly cut, neither is well and truly what Fincher had envisioned, one has simply creeped closer.
No matter how brilliant a director Fincher was on set during production, all he does could amount to Barbarella if it isn't edited with the care and attention that expert Terry Rawlings (Alien) tried to allow it. But he also was stomped on his way by the self-defeating fat cats at Fox.
Alien3, from the standpoint of the keener brained filmgoer, is a brilliantly textured film from Elliot Goldenthal's deep and wonderful score to the astounding cinematography of Alex Thomson and Norman Reynolds's immaculate production design. Alien3 looks and sounds fantastic, it fits right in the series. With the Weyland-Yutani logo, the rusted, used and abused look and fabulous compound of design styles. But, honestly, what good is a beautiful tapestry in a narrative medium? Fox greenlighted the project with a script for an almost entirely different project that only has echoes in the film as it stands today.
As Fincher was pulled onto the project there was no script and no shooting schedule - even the sets were built before there was a completed script. Fox believed that, as a debut director, they could simply push him around, what they found was quite the opposite. And so alot of the films seems rather like a push and pull game with what he could and could not do. This being said, there are certain aspects of the story (or plot holes) that are fundamentally flawed that were there before Fincher was. We are expected to believe without explanation that in her brief spell on the Sulaco the Queen planted two eggs which were then unnoticed, and then that a single spider alien caused a fire so devastating that it created the need for the evacuation of the entire crew. This simply is unavoidable. It is one of the major flaws of the finished film.
Another point I might make is, I believe, again due to the suffering of the editing process. The Alien has now become somewhat mindless - killing and feeding randomly and almost constantly where before it was a terrible and on a freudian level a disturbingly erotic menace. It is now an awful puppet too. All the on set effects are fantastic, but there are unfortunately so many shots of this awful blob of a dogox type alien running rather spastically. It's out of proportion and the lighting doesn't match - it's just generally awful. I accept however that it was basically impossible at the time to have the alien convincingly run on all fours on set and that as a fan of science fiction, film and drama I should be able to suspend my disbelief. However it does rather ruin the atmosphere.
And so as Fox had finished shooting their own feet, I am brought to my final irony: Alien3 was received badly upon release in one country alone, the USA. Everywhere else it sold very well and generally made Fox alot of money. I believe this speaks for itself.
And so in conclusion, I find it very hard to evaluate Alien3 as it is a film I adore and yet take with a pinch of salt in equal measure. It is such a contradiction. So beautiful and thought provoking; the performances are exceptional as is the characterisation and most of the dialogue, it features a heart-wrenchingly beautiful score, it looks fantastic and is courageously pitiless in its assault of the audience's emotional baggage. And yet it is not scary, despite being atmospheric and eerie, the plot holes can be hard to look past and is generally rough around the edges. However it sits rather perfectly at the end of what would have been a trilogy. It has a host of interesting philosophical themes; isolation, redemption and sacrifice. As well as resurfacing old ones like dissatisfaction at the brave new universe and certain aspects of the xenomorph lifestyle. However it has none of the freudian eroticism (beyond Giger's alien-penis-head) that really makes the first one for me. So in the end, all I can say is I recommend this yet-to-be-completed project but always with a caution. Ultimately I am unable to rate it due to the large inconsistencies between the good and the bad.
Still this film haunts my mind's eye - the furnace goes out - this represents Ripley's death (a reference to Citizen Kane) - the sweeping score.
Review by De-Railbot from the Internet Movie Database.