Alien 3 The Assembly Cut (Arrow Recommends)

Alien 3 The Assembly Cut (Arrow Recommends)
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"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT: Something goes wrong on Ellen Ripley's (Sigourney Weaver) ship while she and her companions are sleeping. Her escape pod is ejected and crashes on the "prison planet" Fiorina 161. Being the sole survivor, she is rescued by a group of monk-like prisoners and brought inside their compound. Thing is; a pesky alien has followed her there, and with no weapons on hand, Ripley and her merry-men have to find a way to beat the beast - old school.

"We're all gonna die. The only question is when. This is as good a place as any to take your first steps to heaven. The only question is how you check out. Do you want it on your feet, or on your fucking knees... begging?! " –  Dillon

LOWDOWN:  The behind the scenes woes of David Fincher’s ALIEN 3 are maybe more fascinating than the film itself. In fact I watched the lenghty MAKING OF found on the ALIEN QUADRILOGY set before giving THE ASSEMBLY CUT of the picture another whirl and man did it make me appreciate the sheer hell that Fincher went through to pump this movie out.

To make a very long story short; Fincher came onboard his first feature as a director with all of the odds stacked up against him. He had to work with sets built for a discarded draft of the ALIEN 3 script (Vincent Ward’s monks on a wooden planet tale – some of his ideas did make it into the finished film hence the story credit) and with no finished screenplay to refer to (it kept being written and re-written throughout the shoot). And I won't mention the suits that were up his ass 24/7 wanting to make a release date as opposed to a movie. Oops, I guess I just did. The fact that they got a coherent end product out of this jumbled and “too many cooks” process is a miracle. When I first saw the ALIEN 3 theatrical cut, although it was somewhat choppy and took a long warm piss on the outcome of ALIENS; I still managed to enjoy it. It had balls for a Studio flick and I respected that!

With that chest-bursted, the cut was mucho compromised in terms of Fincher’s vision i.e. snipped out scenes and quick fix re-shoots to patch shite up. It’s when I peeped the Assembly Cut (created by producer Charles de Lauzirika using unused footage and Fincher's production notes as a guide) which runs 24 minutes or so longer than the theatrical cut that I fully got to esteem the picture. It’s the closest we’ll ever get to a Director’s Cut that's for sure (Fincher has written off the movie)! BTW: the Assembly Cut released in 2003 via the Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set sported some random bad sound and it’s only in 2010 for the release of the Alien Anthology Blu-Ray set that they wrangled some of the ALIEN 3 cast together to do some ADR and create a new sound mix. Just so ya know! Here’s how the Assembly Cut made the wrong things right for this dingbat!

For starters the first act was meatier, firmly setting up the world of the film and its characters in a detailed manner. I had a hard time discerning one bald head from the next in the theatrical cut, but here I got to know many of the characters further, they’re was more axis on their Faith and they were more nuanced. So I got to care to varied degrees. The birth of the alien was different here too (coming out of an Ox as opposed to a dog) and was compelling in its execution. Then we had the Golic character (played by Paul McGann) getting his dues. In the theatrical cut Golic popped up as a loony and then vanished from the film.

In the Assembly Cut though, the man had lots more to do, displayed an odd fascination with the creature (which turned him into an antagonist), caused a gnarly scene of the captured alien being released while his fate was communicated in a clear-cut fashion. You can actually read McGann's blog about his sordid ALIEN 3 experience right HERE. Fascinating stuff! The Aaron character (tackled by Ralph Brown) also got more meat to chew on (although the fact that he went from genius to moron is a problem in both cuts). You can read Brown’s earnest Blog about his trials HERE! Just scroll down to "Alien 3 – Paranoia in Pinewood" once on the page.

Moreover Ripley sported added layers here as well. In the theatrical cut, she was mostly just down and out. Here I got a better sense of her survival instinct kicking in and her NEED to destroy the creature. Don't get me wrong, she was still down and out but there was a flicker of hope that drove her. Finally the ending worked better in the Assembly Cut than the “pop goes the weasel” trick they tossed in the theatrical cut – felt classier!  On the flipside; the two cuts had the same issues. The pacing was uneven, it was still depressing as f*ck and some of the green screen/creature effects (the stop motion was badly integrated) were meh. And now knowing the history of the film like the back of my sack, I do wish that they'd release a cut someday with all of the nasty ideas/gory bits intact (the kills were more graphic, there was some royal-facehugger action, which was only glimpsed briefly in this cut and I hear that the Newt autopsy scene was really tough to sit through at first - here's a still).

On the whole though the Assembly Cut of ALIEN 3 was a fuller, more moving, better put together and scarier rendition than the Studio chop-shop theatrical cut. Fincher's visual style was confident (elegant camera movements, inventive shots), the cast was tops (Charles S. Dutton and Charles Dance being my favs), Elliot Goldenthal's score was somber & evocative and I got to relish the ambition/direction of the piece on a new level via this cut! If you've only seen the theatrical cut of ALIEN 3, give the beast the shot it deserves and take on this version instead! ARROW NOTE: To my knowledge this set is the way to go to see the cut at its technical best.



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