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Alien³ (Alien 3) (1992)

  Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: Larry Ferguson, David Giler, Walter Hill, Vincent Ward
Starring: Charles Dance, Charles Dutton, Sigourney Weaver
Links: Alien³ on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Suspense/Horror/Thriller

This movie gets: 6.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Alien³ (Alien 3) (1992) is also mentioned in andy-j's review of Alien: Resurrection (1997) and andy-j's review of AVP: Alien Vs. Predator (2004).

"Brave but flawed" - a review by andy-j

Ellen Ripley and the survivors of Aliens (1986) are sleeping through their return voyage to Earth when something unexpected happens. Somehow an alien has gotten on board their ship, causing their escape pod to eject… but not before the damage has been done. The pod crash-lands on a distant planet, which houses only a prison for life-sentence prisoners. Worse still, Ripley is the only one to survive the crash. It soon becomes apparent that she has inadvertently brought along another alien facehugger, which impregnates a dog (or an ox, depending on what version of the film you watch). The new alien hatches, and it seems to have taken on the characteristics of its host. It runs on all fours, is super fast, and can climb the walls.

Ripley has a hard time convincing the deeply religious inmates and prison staff of the existence of the creature, and when she finally does, it is a race against time to figure out a way to somehow stop it. They have the distinct disadvantage of not having any weapons, so they have to improvise. Meanwhile, Ripley makes a horrifying discovery about the aliens that could doom her to a terrible fate.

Unfortunately, there are many problems with Alien³. The script is a mess. It doesn't seem to know what it is trying to do. Alien³ was clearly an attempt to get back to the terror of the original, where only a single creature threatened the humans and where they had no weapons to fight it with. But it just doesn't work. We know the alien inside-out now, and it isn't at all frightening or mysterious any more. It's new abilities are barely touched upon and don't seem to make much difference. The prisoners are all deeply religious, and while this sounds like it could be interesting, it is rather boring and you wish they'd just get on with the movie. Speaking of the prisoners, they're pretty much all annoying and feel extremely expendable, and you feel no sympathy for them when they are taken by the alien.

In addition to all of this, there are major problems with the continuity. Firstly, how on Earth (or, in this case, how in space) did not one but two alien eggs somehow find their way onto the ship and remain unnoticed? That's just plain stupid. Also, the alien doesn't seem interested in harvesting its victims for use as hosts to grow its species. Instead it just feeds on them. This is in stark contrast to the first two movies and is never explained, which is extremely annoying. There's also another big inconsistency that comes to mind that I won't discuss, as it will give the ending away.

There are a few silver linings though. Firstly, the character of Ripley is stronger than ever. The grief she experiences when she loses her pseudo-family at the beginning of the film feels real and is dealt with in a sensitive manner (constrasting the rather callous killing of them in the first place!). She is more vulnerable, more complex and much closer to the audience this time around. Once again, Sigourney Weaver does an excellent job.

Alien³ did hold my interest though. There are few action scenes and those that are exist are pretty boring. But there are some interesting ideas thrown about. The starting scenes are shocking - all Ripley has worked for is wiped out. And the final scene is saddening. It's unconvential and un-Hollywood.

Look, I can totally appreciate what this movie tries to do. It tries to get away from the action action action of Aliens and attempts to build an unsettling and claustrophobic atmosphere. It adds drama. It tries to identify what it is about the alien that is so scary, and focuses on that. But ultimately, none of it really works. You have to respect the original and brave approach though. It could have been a horrible space action Starship Troopers (1997) type of thing. Then where would we have been?

andy-j gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 22 Apr 2004

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