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Alien Flashback Review: Alien 3

Alien Flashback Alien 3
Jun. 7, 2012by:
7 10

In the days leading up to the theatrical release of Ridley Scott's PROMETHEUS, we here at JoBlo.com have decided to take this opportunity to look back at the franchise it's associated with: The Alien Quadrilogy. Each day this week, we'll be looking back at one film in the series, with the exception of the ALIEN VS. PREDATOR films, which I think we agree all suck, and are not really canon. Today we look at the controversial, divisive ALIEN 3- a film that seems to be equally loved and loathed by fans of the series.

This movie pisses a lot of people off, and it’s easy to see why. After doing such a masterful job building characters that we cared about in ALIENS, the makers of ALIEN 3 seemingly decided “fuck that”, and had the audacity to kill off Michael Biehn’s Hicks, and Carrie Henn’s Newt- and off-screen to boot. I remember when ALIEN 3 came out in theaters. I was only ten years old, but I had spent the summer watching and re-watching ALIENS, along with reading the Dark Horse comics ALIENS: EARTH WAR series, which imagined a world where Newt and Hicks’ stories continued. I wished then, and I wish now- that that’s how this series had continued.

But alas, it didn’t- and while I angrily dismissed ALIEN 3 when it first came out, now that I have twenty years of distance from it, I can appreciate it for what it is. For those of you who haven’t read the numerous stories, or seen the excellent Quadrilogy documentary “Into the Inferno”, know that ALIEN 3 was a tortured production. After ALIENS hit in ’86, dozens of scripts were floated, and an early teaser even suggested that the third ALIEN would take place on earth. Needless to say, the studio went another way, and eventually David Fincher, who was making a huge name for himself in music videos (read the recent “I Want My MTV” for loads of Fincher- late-eighties, early nineties stories) made his feature debut with this. He’d live to regret this choice.

Accustomed to creative control over his videos (he even produced them himself through his company Propaganda), he was probably ill-suited to be making his first film part of a huge franchise. Eventually, Fincher’s cut of ALIEN 3 was junked by the studio, and to this day, Fincher refuses to participate in any ALIEN 3 DVD or Blu-ray releases.

Luckily, a few years ago, Fox dipped into the vault, and finally released Fincher’s work-in-progress “assembly cut”, and once the Alien Legacy Blu-ray’s hit shelves, it was further refined to the extent that it now seems as polished as the final film. Running about forty minutes longer, it’s easier to see what Fincher had in mind for the third film, and to be sure, it’s a striking film visually.

But- it still feels like this was a step backwards from ALIENS. After seeing Ripley battle xenomorphs by the dozen, it was comparatively boring to see her take on a solitary alien. The only thing they did with Ripley that seemed original was to impregnate her with an alien, but the fact that it took days to gestate, and only emerged at the very end seemed like a goofy reworking of the rules. It’s also worth noting that the FX, compared to Stan Winston’s amazing work in the last film, take a huge step backwards- despite the reportedly huge $63 million budget (big for ’92).

Of course, ALIEN 3 is still a very decent film. The prison planet plot is intriguing, and while most of the prisoners are indistinguishable (not helped by all of them sharing the same buzz-cut), some stand-out, including Charles Dance’s disgraced doctor- who’s Ripley’s first real love interest, and Charles S. Dutton’s kickass Dillon (more on him later). And Weaver’s acting when she learns of Newt’s death, and during the gory autopsy and cremation is terrific.

MUSIC: Elliot Goldenthal supplies an excellent musical score to ALIEN 3, even if it pales in comparison to Goldsmith/Horner’s work on the other films. Goldenthal’s always been under-rated, and his score compensates for some of the films failings (lack of tension, FX).

BEST DEATH: Charles Dance’s death took me completely by surprise, but rather than entertain me, it kinda pissed me off, as here was another character we were starting to like- who gets killed off before the movie is even half over.

MOST BADASS CHARACTER OTHER THAN RIPLEY: Without a doubt, this one goes to Charles S. Dutton as the scripture-quoting Dillon. A repentant criminal that’s found God, Dillon turns out to be Ripley’s greatest ally amongst the prisoners (saving her from an attempted rape), and his heroic death near the end is about as good as it gets. It’s also worth noting that Dutton actually served some time back in the seventies, so the guy brought some experience to the part.

CHARACTER THAT LOSES THEIR SHIT: In this case, it’s pretty much everyone other than Ripley, Dillon, and Dance’s Clemens. Honestly, the character development isn’t so hot here- so they’re tough to tell apart (bald, burly and British), although there was that one guy who let the alien go after they trapped it.

RECEPTION: Despite a strong opening weekend, noxious word-of-mouth did this one in as far as North America went, and it only grossed $55 million, not even covering the budget. Overseas it did better, adding an extra $100 million to the till. However, it did have the positive effect of Fincher deciding to avoid studio tent-poles, and led to an amazing run of films that started three years later with SE7EN, and continues to this day.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARROW'S DISSECTION OF THE TWO "CUTS" OF ALIEN3, THE THEATRICAL VERSION [114 MINS] AND THE ASSEMBLY CUT [155 MINS]

Source: JoBlo.com

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12:47AM on 06/11/2012
Having just purchased the whole quadrilogy on blu ray which does include the assembly also, I will have to watch that version. I was 14 when this film came out & was just excited to see an Alien movie on the big screen. it's been quite awhile since i have watched it though so i can't even remember much of it, all i can really is people being pissed about the ending after Ripley leaped to her death. Sorry i doubt that qualifies as a spoiler lol.
Having just purchased the whole quadrilogy on blu ray which does include the assembly also, I will have to watch that version. I was 14 when this film came out & was just excited to see an Alien movie on the big screen. it's been quite awhile since i have watched it though so i can't even remember much of it, all i can really is people being pissed about the ending after Ripley leaped to her death. Sorry i doubt that qualifies as a spoiler lol.
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11:48PM on 06/07/2012
Instead of rebooting movies, they should remake sequels. Starting with Alien 3.
Instead of rebooting movies, they should remake sequels. Starting with Alien 3.
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5:01PM on 06/07/2012
Still crap... I'm sorry I just can't enjoy this film at all... It was a giant dump on what the second one had going and it was like a poor remake of the first film with worse special effects (seriously, I don't know how this movie came 3rd but has the worst special effects out of all 4).

This movie IMO, is even less enjoyable than Alien Resurrection. Why? Because the movie that comes before it is such a disappointment that you don't even care when you get to this one and even if it's the
Still crap... I'm sorry I just can't enjoy this film at all... It was a giant dump on what the second one had going and it was like a poor remake of the first film with worse special effects (seriously, I don't know how this movie came 3rd but has the worst special effects out of all 4).

This movie IMO, is even less enjoyable than Alien Resurrection. Why? Because the movie that comes before it is such a disappointment that you don't even care when you get to this one and even if it's the worst of the 4, it's still more enjoyable than 3 just because you're not kicking yourself thinking how it could have been so much better.
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2:49PM on 06/07/2012
Cameron said that with Aliens he didn't want to remake Alien because no one can do Alien as good as Scott.

Alien 3 proved his point.

It tried to ape Alien. It pissed on fans by killing everyone's favorite characters before the movie even starts. Which this is a cliche thing for sequels to do when they can't afford to get those actors back (guess Sigourney Weaver cost too much to afford everyone else). The effects were pretty terrible. Plus, years since seeing Alien 3, I couldn't tell
Cameron said that with Aliens he didn't want to remake Alien because no one can do Alien as good as Scott.

Alien 3 proved his point.

It tried to ape Alien. It pissed on fans by killing everyone's favorite characters before the movie even starts. Which this is a cliche thing for sequels to do when they can't afford to get those actors back (guess Sigourney Weaver cost too much to afford everyone else). The effects were pretty terrible. Plus, years since seeing Alien 3, I couldn't tell you what it was about because I didn't care about anything happening on screen.

Alien 3 was better than the fourth simply because it visually & atmospherically looked like it fit in the Alien universe established by Scott & Cameron. The fourth film looked & felt like it belonged in some other movie universe.
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12:57PM on 06/07/2012
The moment the four writers decided to kill off Newt and Cpl. Hicks at the very beginning was quite possibly one of the biggest mistakes in Sci-Fi Cinema History and a slap in the face to Camerons Alien's. The studio single handily destroyed an amazing franchise by accepting a horrendous script. David Fincher's directing settings, acting etc were all great. All this mess just because Sigourney Weaver did not want to come back for a fourth (Which she eventually did anyways.) I would of much
The moment the four writers decided to kill off Newt and Cpl. Hicks at the very beginning was quite possibly one of the biggest mistakes in Sci-Fi Cinema History and a slap in the face to Camerons Alien's. The studio single handily destroyed an amazing franchise by accepting a horrendous script. David Fincher's directing settings, acting etc were all great. All this mess just because Sigourney Weaver did not want to come back for a fourth (Which she eventually did anyways.) I would of much rather seen Ripley's character killed off in the beginning and Hicks and Newt had to band together and survive in the Prison (This was on the 1st original drafted script.)Hicks trains Newt and the series would carry on. In the fourth installment they cloned Ripley anyways. It is very hard for me to sit through Alien 3 just because it seems like one massive screw up of something that could of been great.
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+2
11:01AM on 06/07/2012

Craps on a Classic!

I agree that this film has it's moments. The set design is great, the acting is great and there are some genuinely horrifying moments. If it were a stand-alone monster movie I could almost recommend it. But for me it is impossible to forgive what it did to the series. It makes me wish they stopped at ALIENS with Ripley telling Newt it was safe to dream again... As for the FX, the lesson should go back to less is more. ALIEN and ALIENS limited the creature movements to what they could
I agree that this film has it's moments. The set design is great, the acting is great and there are some genuinely horrifying moments. If it were a stand-alone monster movie I could almost recommend it. But for me it is impossible to forgive what it did to the series. It makes me wish they stopped at ALIENS with Ripley telling Newt it was safe to dream again... As for the FX, the lesson should go back to less is more. ALIEN and ALIENS limited the creature movements to what they could convey convincingly. When you see creatures too much they lose their mystique. Also, the last act just falls apart with a bunch of indistinguishable bald guys running around to their deaths. Ripley falling into Lava with a mother alien busting out was like flicking the bird to fans of the greatest sci-fi action movie ever...
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10:55AM on 06/07/2012
Alien 3 was a major letdown 20 years ago, make no bones about it. But after years of other franchises having really REALLY shitty sequels and David Fincher building a god-like reputation for himself, Alien 3 isn't so bad upon revisiting.
Alien 3 was a major letdown 20 years ago, make no bones about it. But after years of other franchises having really REALLY shitty sequels and David Fincher building a god-like reputation for himself, Alien 3 isn't so bad upon revisiting.
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9:09AM on 06/07/2012
I'd give it 7/10 as well. I don't like Alien 3 much because of the Aliens' special effect. In some scenes, you can clearly see it's a computer-generated image. But given the time when the movie was made, I think they did their best.
I'd give it 7/10 as well. I don't like Alien 3 much because of the Aliens' special effect. In some scenes, you can clearly see it's a computer-generated image. But given the time when the movie was made, I think they did their best.
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-3
7:14AM on 06/07/2012

I didn't hate it

I know killing off Hicks and Newt was a kick to the guts. I suspect Fincher thought it was a daring move, but it was one step too far. And I suspect Fincher thought pulling the movie back to an "Alien" sized landscape was like going back to the roots, but Aliens was what was in the viewers heads.

But I liked the characters. I think Chris is a bit unfair there. It's a flawed but still pretty good movie that misjudged it's audience.
I know killing off Hicks and Newt was a kick to the guts. I suspect Fincher thought it was a daring move, but it was one step too far. And I suspect Fincher thought pulling the movie back to an "Alien" sized landscape was like going back to the roots, but Aliens was what was in the viewers heads.

But I liked the characters. I think Chris is a bit unfair there. It's a flawed but still pretty good movie that misjudged it's audience.
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+2
6:42AM on 06/07/2012
Stunning sequel that should have been the end of the series.
Stunning sequel that should have been the end of the series.
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4:13AM on 06/07/2012

No.

Watching Alien 3 is like having someone shit in your mouth.....and watching Alien Resurrection is the same while having to explain you liked the experience.
Watching Alien 3 is like having someone shit in your mouth.....and watching Alien Resurrection is the same while having to explain you liked the experience.
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3:45AM on 06/07/2012
My hitlist of alien is:
1. Alien
2. Alien 3
3. Aliens
4. Alien Resurrection
My hitlist of alien is:
1. Alien
2. Alien 3
3. Aliens
4. Alien Resurrection
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