by The Wanderer
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, Brian Glover, Ralph Brown, Paul McGann, Danny Webb, Pete Postlethwaite, Lance Henriksen.
MPAA Rating: R
Length: 114 minutes
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(Spoilers for the previous two Alien movies are below).
In what appears to be an attempt to wrap up Ellen Ripley’s story in the Alien franchise, Alien 3 had the right ending in mind. However, Alien 3 could be a text book example of good ending ideas gone wrong.
A great ending, especially one that has been building from two previous films becomes meaningless when it is executed poorly. Not only is the ending to Ripley’s story terrible, but nearly every scene beforehand has audiences suffering from the bastardizing of previously established stories in the franchise, the creation of inconsistencies with characters, the excuses to include previously introduced characters from the franchise, and the exclusion of filmmaking techniques that made the previous Alien films so great.
Alien 3 is a disaster of a film that tarnishes the legacy of the previous installments in the Alien series. This was a film made strictly for profit, and with very little consideration to adding or creating a great story that would entertain audiences.
Marine spaceship Sulaco sets on fire and launches its escape pods which include Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Hicks, Newt, Bishop (Lance Henriksen), and unknown to the crew, an alien facehugger. The pods crash land on a planet that functions only as a prison where the only way off the planet is via supply ships that arrive once every six months.
Jonathan Clemens (Charles Dance) the prison’s doctor informs Ripley she is the only survivor. With the alien brought by Ripley’s ship, she must now survive in an all male prison containing rapists and killers while being on the outlook for another alien.
Alien 3 was the directorial debut of David Fincher, and since its release he has done everything in his power to attempt to remove his name from the production of this film. Fincher would later go on to direct films like Seven, Fight Club, The Social Network, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, thankfully his experience with making Alien 3 never convinced him to give up on filmmaking.
It was a terrible decision to kill Newt, Hicks, and Bishop off-screen at the beginning of the film in a PLANE CRASH!. Killing these characters undermines the fight for survival these characters all experienced with one another in Aliens, it’s makes the previous film feel like it was all for nothing.
Understandably there is a possibility in scheduling conflicts with casting and scheduling in a film, which would not allow certain characters to come back for this film. Typically when this happens in a sequel, the filmmakers will have one of the characters make an offhand remark about the missing characters death, or why they are not in the film. Alien 3 doesn’t do that.
Instead the first twenty minutes focus on killing these major characters off-screen and then having Ripley grieving for her losses.The extended funeral scene for these characters is laughable, and utterly lacking in any sentiment that should be felt for the deaths of these characters. Granted Newt, Hicks, and Bishop were characters with development that would merit sympathy from the audience, the film fails to gather any. Not even through the first quarter of the movie. Alien 3 not only manages to take a dump on the entire franchise, it spends the first twenty minutes rubbing it in everyone’s face.
The film never gets any better from there. Ripley’s character is very inconsistent throughout the film. The first half she struggles with trusting Clemens whom she has no reason not to trust, and is never really given the opportunity to explore her issues with trust in the film. This is because (spoiler alert) Alien 3 decides to kill Clemens before Ripley can deal with her trust issues with him. Trust issues were a character flaw that had been expertly set up by the previous films and to see this come to a nonexistent ending is one of many great wasted opportunities by Alien 3.
Alien 3 tries to harken back to the original film of Alien by making this a film about humans not having the proper technology to fight against a genetically superior and intelligent life form. This maximum security prison has no guns, and the prisoners and Ripley must resort to antics that are similar to the ones used in the original film.
The prisoners appear to be able to wander around freely and are never shown in a cell. Granted they are stranded on a planet and so the need for cells may not be relevant, then how do the guards protect themselves from these very dangerous prisoners without guns? How is order maintained in this prison? No logical answer is given for this.
All the prisoners want to rape Ripley because she is the only woman there. This is supposed to add to the tension of the film and create an extra sense of danger. Instead scenes with Ripley and the prisoners have an awkward tension to them which is largely due to the fact most of the prisoners seem friendly, except for the fact that they occasionally mention they are prisoners in the dialogue and sometimes babble about past crimes they’ve committed. A lot of plot holes are created between
Ripley and the prisoners as these supposed menacing inmates seem to miss every opportunity to assault Ripley and only manage to assault her when she can conveniently be saved.
Alien 3 was a terrible film. Sigourney Weaver doesn’t give anywhere near as inspiring of a performance as she did in Aliens, while the other supporting actors (Charles Dance excluded) put on a genuinely bad show. This is a sequel that manages to insult the previous films in the franchise, and insult itself as it winds down to its inevitable conclusion. Tension is never maintained, action scenes are gory but boring, the prison setting can’t be taken seriously, and the undermining of the characters will insult any reasonable fan of film, and will enrage any serious fan of the Alien story.
I just wanted to say, seeing this for the first time in 2013, I couldn’t help but notice Clemens is played by Charles Dance, who is currently playing Tywin, the deviously evil Lannister patriarch in Game of Thrones. In Alien 3 the audience is expected to want Ripley to trust Clemens, but I keep visualizing Clemens as Tywin, so I found myself saying… “Don’t trust Tywin, Ripley. Don’t trust Tywin.” more often than not. For all the wrong reasons (at least in regards to Alien 3) she actually listened to me.