Alien 3 Review

Posted by Darkness on November 24, 2006 (Updated: 01-Jun-2014)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Rating: 4 Stars (4 / 5)
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Comments: 3
  1. This is one that grew on me over the years. I never understood how they could kill off virtually everyone that we grew to love in the previous film. But as I grew older I began to actually appreciate how savage this writing actually was. It’s really what separates Alien from other sci-fi franchises. It’s brutal. It’s unforgiving. This film took the happy ending of Aliens and reminded us we are in this very cruel universe with this incredibly violent creature. The atmosphere of this movie has always been my favorite. The gritty prison, the industrial and abandoned feel of a once bustling now all but vacant complex. The shadows of the hallways and vents. The lone creature stalking…unlike any we have seen before in the previous films.

    This is Ripleys final stand. Everything dear to her (and us) had been lost from the start and the entire film feels like a one last stand before the end. Yeah I would have loved to see Newt grow up (like in the original comic story line) and take the lead as the next Ripley, and Hicks I would have loved to see more of. But then something would feel sort of cheesy and untouchable at that point also. Alien3 reminded us that no one and nothing is ever untouchable in the Alien universe. That even Ripley herself comes to an end.

    Aside from the creature in this film being what I consider the all time best design, the gritty depressing atmosphere, the feel of hopelessness and the loss of all the beloved characters Alien3 is not a movie meant to entertain the masses like Aliens was but one to drag the fans back down into the depths. For that reason Alien3 has become my most beloved of the franchise. It’s just unfortunate the follow-up film didn’t take things in a better direction.


  2. Personally, I feel that you shouldn’t compare any of the Alien films, since they are so distinct in their own ways. From writing, directing, cinematogrophy, set design. So completely unique. All they share is a character and a name. That’s it. I’ve always judged any Alien film on its own merits.


  3. Yes. Underrated and a good film on it’s own merits. When compared to it’s two flawless predecessors it comes off as a weak film.


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