Alien³ (1992)

Genre: Sci-fi, Action, Thriller

Director: David Fincher

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton

Rating: ★★★

Alien³ is one of the first major films David Fincher directed, although some may regard this as a mistake made by the young auteur it was certainly a sign of a young growing talent. Alien³ is the third in the Alien series, a franchise that was eventually stretched too far and this film only hints at that future downfall, however it is not a “failure” nor a “flop” but not quite a “classic” either, more in the middle at “good”.  The two previous films Alien and Aliens were highly successful so it was a bold choice for Alien³ to become so different yet at the same time all so familiar. It left a divide in viewers, those who felt betrayed and those who were intrigued.

The opening scene of Alien³ wipes out all that was built in the previous films as we focus on a deserted abandoned Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) who has just lost what she spent the previous films fighting for. Waking up from hyper-sleep her pod has crashed after escaping the Alien planet, all of her crew including the girl she saved in Aliens are dead or missing.  The pod has crashed onto an all-male prison island, but being surrounded by lip smacking convicted rapists and murderers soon appear to be the least of Ripley’s worries as the familiar Alien has found a new home in the prison and sets its sights on the inhabitants. This sets up for a very tasty reunion between Ripley and the maturing Alien.

Picking the prisoners off slowly the Alien becomes apparent to Ripley but the male prisoners are much in denial. Eventually after revealing itself the fight becomes clear for the prisoners who prepare to capture the Alien that has been lurking above their heads. With little action until the stunning climax we fuel of subplots and underdeveloped storylines. Ripley gets caught up in a love affair with doctor Clemens (Charles Dance) and if it wasn’t for an intervention from deluded prisoner Golic (Paul McGann) then the film would have ended at the half way point, but rather quickly the two characters get axed or in this case dragged, swallowed and regurgitated. With the Alien still roaming and threatening the extinction of all who lives on the prison island Ripley decides to finish the chase for good, but is more than surprised when the Alien doesn’t attack her. Finding out more than she could ever imagined happened whilst  in hyper-sleep it fuels for the rest of the film and it gets much more personal for Ripley as she battle against the Alien, the soon approaching company and what’s inside her.

Alien³ for me is a very predictable and has been very badly written at times, with minimal or short-lived storylines that seem to be added for a few more extra minutes running time. The action that was constantly present in the previous two films of the Alien series seems to disappear until the very end, with the film focusing on the dark atmosphere and the eerie feel presenting itself more like a horror rather than a true sci-fi. Although there is a new way of approaching the film that makes it so different from Alien and Aliens it is still in some ways the same narrative but with more new characters and a completely new environment.

It is the amazing climax that lifts this films creditability. Throughout the visual aspect of Alien³ is very good and the ending would still hold its ground against some modern day films, as the use of CGI is outstanding. Explosions and fire bring the much needed action and the positives to this film, the special effects and visual effects crew deserve a lot of credit. The cinematography was also creditable with Alex Thomson working alongside Fincher mastering the ending.

Despite being a novice film when compared to the likes of Se7en and The Game there is still a feel of David Fincher about Alien³. The typical green and blue colour pallet present in most of his work establishes the depressing run down feel to the film, limiting colour and creating darkness. You also gather this atmosphere of an eternal doom and a sense of hopelessness. Despite some bad critics there was certainly a lot of potential shown by and from David Fincher.

Alien³ is let down by the limited and underdeveloped story that doesn’t reflect how good visually this film was, despite being brave and bold it doesn’t keep up with the standard the series kept up previously. Sigourney Weaver the only main character, adapted well once again creating that gritted teeth hardness we come to expect, but it was the crew that deserve most the credit. This film isn’t terrible it just equally isn’t great, the slow burning approach is used and the ending does relieve some of that boredom experienced leaving you entertained. It’s something you could easily watch but with that in mind there are far better films out there.

6 comments on “Alien³ (1992)

  1. I don’t mind Alien 3, it was a bold move to make the film so different from Alien & Aliens, but the films suffers mainly because the plot is not very well executed. Having Ripley trapped on a prison planet, with the Alien Queen growing inside her does set up some great scenes: Newt’s autopsy is quite harrowing to watch, the moment where the Alien gets so close but doesn’t attack is very good, and the ending is really well done. David Fincher did a great job, given the circumstances, he really made the film more like a horror film than Sci-Fi, and I think that really gives it an edge. The Alien creature also looks good, and is really fast and deadly. My fave scene is where Ripley goes looking for it in the Basement, to try and get it to kill her, that’s so creepy and atmospheric. While its not the best Alien film, Alien 3 is much better than its reputation suggests, and well worth a look.

  2. I didn’t like Alien3. Not just because they killed Newt in such a sad way (I loved her in Aliens), but because its screenplay just wasn’t up to the standard of its predecessors. In my opinion, this is the most unnecessary sequel ever made. Not only did it make the story of Aliens (1986) a futile and pointless mission, it didn’t achieve anything other than another notch on the Box Office success’s belt. The only redeeming thing to me, was Sigourney Weaver’s incredibly moving performance at the beginning of the film. Almost moved me to tears, especially knowing what happened to Newt (which was pretty much going to be her daughter).

    Great review Liam 🙂

  3. Interesting review. Did you watch the 114 minute theatrical release or the 144 minute assembly cut? I personally regard the extended version, which restores much of Fincher’s original work before Fox interfered, as the definitive version of the second Alien sequel and a much better film than the theatrical release.

  4. Pingback: David Fincher as an Auteur #2 | LIAMDOESFILM

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