Alien 3 (1992)

Posted: January 26, 2014 in Movie Review
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Alien 3 (1992)

Director: David Fincher

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, Lance Henriksen

Mine enemy, thy name is “Alien 3.” Or is it supposed to be “Alien Cubed”? The strangely stylized “3” displayed on all the posters and video boxes perfectly symbolizes how this once proud science-fiction/horror franchise tried to make a move into new territory and wound up taking a detour into utter stupidity. The series was just fine being left off at the end of “Aliens” with our heroes escaping LV-426 with their lives and a bright future ahead of them. But 20th Century Fox decided in their infinite wisdom that there was still money to be milked from this cash cow. For more than two decades, “Alien 3” has ranked as the most disappointing movie I’ve ever seen. But I’m serious when I say that I believe it was not made by amateurs. It takes real talent for a filmmaker to piss off their audience before the movie is five minutes old. That’s actually the most maddening thing about it: the tools for a great sequel were there, but they were left to rust in the proverbial rain.

For reasons that have never been satisfactorily explained, there was a stowaway Alien onboard our intrepid heroes’ spaceship from the previous movie (presumed to have been left there by the Alien Queen they encountered and defeated). It causes a fire onboard, and the ship crashlands on the prison planet Fiorina 161, populated by a bunch of rapists and murders, none of which are female, most of which speak with one form of an English accent or another, and all of which have not had sex in a very long time. Out of the three humans and one android who survived the events of “Aliens,” only Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) makes it out of the crash. Ripley is only able to mourn her friends for a short while, as it looks like there might be a new Alien on the loose, one which moves quite differently from those she has seen before. Worse still, there are no weapons on this planet, so to survive, they have to improvise. All the while, Ripley isn’t feeling so great, which she passes off as being groggy from cryosleep.

If the producers were looking to piss off the fans of “Aliens,” it’s a fair bet to say they succeeded. I don’t know how they can justify killing off fan favorites like Hicks and (especially) Newt. Particularly obscene and revolting is the subsequent autopsy on the little girl (which was reportedly more graphic before cuts were made, no pun intended). James Cameron, director of “Aliens,” and actor Michael Biehn were just as upset as fans were. Biehn went as far as to request and receive almost as much money for the use of his likeness in this movie as he got for starring in “Aliens.” Maybe it could have been possible to overlook the deaths of Hicks and Newt if it weren’t for the fact that these beloved characters are replaced with mostly forgettable and, in some cases, not terribly likeable characters. The few that are memorable don’t last as long as they should.

One person whom I cannot and will not blame for this mess of a movie is David Fincher. Not the least bit responsible for the contents of the screenplay, he is not to blame for the haphazard writing. Being a first-time director, he was also taken advantage of by the studio heads, who made several changes to the film behind his back. Rightly so, Fincher has disowned “Alien 3,” and thankfully his involvement didn’t sabotage his career, which has included “Se7en,” “Fight Club” and the 2011 American remake of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”… all fantastic movies.

I hate movies with false advertisement, be it in the promotional material or in the movie’s title itself. In the case of “Alien 3,” the teaser trailer seemed to promise a sequel taking place on Earth. Given how “Aliens” had raised the stakes, this seemed like the next logical step. Alas, it was not to be, and the dreary, dark sets of Fiorina 161 were no substitute. Were one to listen to Elliot Goldenthal’s soundtrack without knowing about the film it is attached to, it might seem like the epic score of an equally epic feature. That it does not belong to a better film is a tragedy.

I originaly saw “Alien 3” in the theater back in the summer of 1992. Until that time, in my naivety, I thought it was impossible not to have a good time at the movies. Even at their darkest, the previous two films are exciting from beginning to end. Apart from the most uproarious utterance of my favorite four-letter word, “Alien 3” had little to offer me other than doom and gloom. I waited almost 22 years before seeing it again, hoping that as an adult I might be able to look at it differently. Little has changed, apart from being slightly more familiar with some of the actors who, within the film, are still difficult to distinguish due to their shaven heads. It is certain that I have since seen dozens of movies that are far worse in every conceivable way, but there are still none which have disappointed me more than “Alien 3” …none which cause me greater annoyance through their very existence.

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