THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
Alien 3 (1992)
Directed by David Fincher
“It’s gritty and nasty and did exactly what the Alien franchise was supposed to do.”
So yeah, in case no one has heard, Alien is back, and the bitch is ready to rebound in a way not seen in a generation. For once, the feisty little devils aren’t taking on Predator nor Robocop nor Michael Myers (though that might be cool).
If you haven’t noticed, we here at Arrow in the Head want to highlight the best and the worst of the Alien franchise. There isn’t much to say about Alien or Aliens that already hasn’t been said. Both masterpieces. Plain and simple. If you wanna argue that, go for it, but you’re dumb. Sorry, it’s true. Ask a buddy and they’ll confirm it. When it comes to franchise after 1986, things get a little sketchier. However, that doesn’t mean things went the Batman and Robin route. Hell, they didn’t even go Batman Forever.
For me, Alien 3 is the best Alien movie outside the first two. It’s a damn fine feature, one that shouldn’t be considered on equal ground with the first two, but maybe only a few inches below. It’s gritty and nasty and did exactly what the Alien franchise was supposed to do. Take risks. Try something different. Yes, director David Fincher could have made a slasher movie in space. Yes, he could have made a balls-to-the-wall action flick. But he didn’t and gave nerds a grounded world without space or machine guns or ships. It was an unexpected left turn that I love by giving the world a prison flick starring a bunch of nasty Brits (Andy Dufresne wouldn’t have lasted a day). The other films had the darkness, the emptiness of space, but Alien 3 is coated in three inches of dust and decay. It’s a cold tan without a hint of color.
While Alien has Ash, Dallas and Parker, and Aliens has Newt, Hicks and Vasquez, Alien 3 has Ripley. At first glance that’s it … minus the gaggle of bald dudes. Weaver never lost a step as Ripley, strong and powerful as ever. The shaved head might have been a cheap twist, but it gives the movie unexpected muscle.
However, Alien 3 isn’t a Ripley solo album. It’s a character movie as those bald dudes are some memorable blokes. The preacher (Charles S. Dutton) is perhaps the best character, a murderous rapist of women who somehow has found God. (I’m always surprised Dutton didn’t become a bigger star. Dude has got screen presence.) There’s 86, the slow deputy warden who’s hard not to feel for as every prisoner knows his IQ score. Perhaps the oddest character is giving Ripley a sex toy, the sentimental doctor who’s bound to get dead. No one wants a Ripley happily in love.
Alien 3 isn’t without flaw. The Bishop “revival” is a little, um, fake. It’s great to see the character once again, but it’s sorta pointless too. The alien has moments of looking good as it eats a lotta people and unleashes the blood splatter, but it also has some hand shaking moments. Very poor CGI. It’s crazy that movies made a decade before this one still look more realistic. Oh, and then there’s the prison lava or lead factory which helps end the franchise in a very final way, with Ripley back diving into a ridiculously massive lava vault. It’s a little convenient and dramatic for my taste.
I know a director cut of the film exists, but I’ve never had a chance to see it (I can only rebuy the same movie so many times. It’s now on my Blu-Ray list to buy list). Regardless, this is the version the masses rejected. It flopped. For as good as Fincher is, no one thinks of this movie, no one mentions it in the same way as with Scott or Cameron. And that’s a shame. It’s got problems, but hell, we all do. Here’s hoping Prometheus redirects the franchise on the proper path. However, if it bombs, maybe then we can see Robocop do some real damage.