Alien 3 is the third Alien movie in the franchise. A lot of people consider it to be the worst one in the series while others appreciate it a lot more after viewing the special edition cut. I must admit I didn’t like it at all until a few years ago and particularly after seeing the special edition.
The films begins on the Sulaco where the Queen had presumably laid an egg. Ripley and the other survivors are on the way back to Earth when the facehugger tries to attack the hibernating passengers. After the ship receives a lot of damage by the facehugger, the crew are released into an Emergency Escape Vehicle. The vehicle crash lands on a planet populated by prisoners. Ripley is the only survivor of her crew but the facehugger was also on the vehicle and survived. Ripley awakens and soon figures out that the facehugger managed to get to her. As she works together with the prisoners and the people in charge, Ripley must try to kill the Alien before it kills anybody else.
The movie is directed by David Fincher who went on to direct big movies like “Se7en” and “Fight Club”. Fincher has a very unique style which is very evident throughout his films. It should be noted that David Fincher disowns Alien 3 and even left production before editing began. This was due to studio interference. You could say Alien 3 was doomed from the beginning with the amount of production problems. There had been countless scripts, one was even set on Earth and different directors had been considered before Fincher came on board. I don’t think the shooting script was the worst one they had though. I suppose we should be grateful for that. Even now, Fincher still has a bad opinion of Alien 3 and refused any involvement in making the Quadrilogy set.
I guess everybody’s problem with the film is the opening scenes. James Cameron had developed these wonderful characters in Aliens and all of a sudden Newt and Hicks are killed straight away. Bishop was damaged beyond repair. Killing these characters off wasn’t the best start. Still, there are a lot of interesting characters in Alien 3. Sigourney Weaver returns to play Ripley. Charles Dance plays the doctor and there’s a lot of prison characters played by English actors.
There’s some confusion at the beginning of the movie as to how one facehugger managed to infect two hosts although there have been many theories about this. There’s only one alien in the film which emerges from a dog or an ox depending on what version you watch. It’s vastly different to aliens seen in previous movies because it takes on characteristics from its host. For example it walks on all fours and is extremely fast. I have to say, one of my main complaints with this film is the poor puppet work. A lot of the alien shots from a distance look like computer graphics when in fact it’s puppets. It’s just not very good.
The sets are also very realistic. The designers managed to create something believable here. There’s a lot of interesting and memorable shots throughout out the film and it does look visually stunning at times. One of the most notable shots is that there are POV shots from the alien creature. It should also be said, Alien 3 is a lot more gorier than the previous Alien movies.
There’s also the special edition that was released to DVD a few years ago. It adds an extra half hour onto the film. There’s a lot of interesting scenes particularly with Golic and the creature. If you hate the theatrical version though, then you probably won’t care much about the special edition version. This version was put together by David Crowther from the workprint. There was far more material that could have been used. I would have loved to have seen a director’s cut.
Alien 3 is perhaps an underrated film. It’s been 15 years since it was first released and fans have started to forgive its flaws. It’s hard to do any kind of sequel to Aliens but I think if Alien 3 was released before Aliens (with script changes obviously), it would have been a well-received movie.