Alien 3

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Alien 3, by and large, is considered a poor film. Most people see it as a lazy re-hash of the first instalment and most people hate the way that it dispensed with the other surviving characters of Aliens. Well, I can kind of see their point. Alien 3 does opt for the dark, claustrophobic atmosphere of the first and it does have the same stalk and slash mentality – there are no big guns here. And yes, it does rather ruthlessly kill off the characters of Aliens. But I can't really see it being any other way. The Alien series isn't about Hicks or Newt. It's about Ripley, and it's always been her alone against the Alien. To have Hicks and Newt tagging along would feel like Aliens Revisited. It would just be, for the second time, Ripley fighting the Alien to protect her surrogate daughter. At least here she gets to do something different. It isn't a fight for survival, or a fight to protect Newt. It's a fight to keep the Alien away from The Company.

One of the many things that annoyed and enraged me about Alien: Resurrection (now there's an Alien film truly worthy of revulsion) was the way that they dispensed with the main villain of the piece, the mysterious, all-seeing company. That was one of the fun things in the series. You felt like there was something bigger and more important going on. And the filmmakers developed it superbly. In the first film it was only on the periphery. But in the second film, with Burke, it was brought to the front. So I like the way that Alien 3 develops it even further. The Company has an almost Orwellian presence. It seems to see everything. And so Ripley's fight to kill the Alien before The Company can get its hands on it seems entirely convincing. Indeed, there's a great scene – one of those rabble-rousing moments you only see in films – where she explains The Company's motivation to the prisoners. It's an excellent nod to the fans and one that gets you even more fully behind her cause. Don't trust those greedy capitalists, man.

Of course, the company man in the film (Aaron, played by Ralph Brown) is a stupid sheep, but rather than ape what Cameron did with Burke – and make him totally untrustworthy – he's just a man trying to do his job and earn a living. And at the end, after lots of abuse from the prisoners, he actually grows a set of balls and takes a swipe at one of the company men. Too bad, then, that this action gets him killed. I mean, during the final sequence, when all the prisoners are being chased by the Alien in the maze, he finds a quiet room and sits it out. I thought, then, that this might show a new dawning of intelligence. But instead, after looking like he's been saved, he does something brave, but stupid, and gets himself killed. I guess you've got to know when to pick your fights.

Another complaint that people seem to toss in the direction of Alien 3 is that the characters all look the same. Well, personally, I think the characters stand out pretty well. Sure they may all have shaved craniums, but I think that the writing and the acting are pretty damn strong. They all have distinct personalities – which is a pretty good feat when you're dealing with rapists, murders and pederasts – and it's only the ones that get killed in seconds that feel generic. Dillon stands out the most. He's the kind of hardnut that can kick your head in and say something poetic at the same time. Plus, he takes the Alien on in hand-to-hand combat and insults the Alien's fighting skills as he's being killed. How can you not dig a man like that? I also think that Charles Dance is great. He gets killed off rather early, but he makes his scenes count. And he even gets to sleep with Ripley. Sure, in film tradition, this means that he has to die, but hey, at least he went there. And Brian Glover, Ralph Brown, Pete Postlethwaite and Paul McGann are superb. Plus I like the way that one of the more peripheral characters survives the whole ordeal.

And the film is also quite poetic. The cremation scene in particular stands out. It has some great dialogue, a fantastic score and the Alien birth is beautiful in a perverse way. And the final moments, too, are great.

But what of the Alien in this film? Well, aside from the occasional dodgy bit of effects work in the maze sequence – it sometimes moves like its got piles – it's excellent. It's certainly better than the CGI and gloop covered monsters of Resurrection. And it gets some pretty good moments. The killing where the blood sprays over Paul McGann's face is nice, as is the amusing killing of Brain Glover. And I also like the bit where it meets Ripley face to face. Somehow, in the Jeunet film, the Aliens were no longer threatening, but in Alien 3 it still has the right stuff.

And I think the film would have been a fitting end to the series. Ripley finally meets The Company and she sacrifices herself to deny them and to save mankind. That's pretty good going in my book. And I wouldn't have thought the character would have had anywhere to go if they somehow would have managed to bring her back to life. Well, when I first saw it, I had hopes for Resurrection, but unfortunately, I was proved right. The series should have ended here.

Directed by David Fincher
Written by David Giler, Walter Hill and Larry Ferguson
Produced by Gordon Carroll, David Giler and Walter Hill
Original Music by Elliot Goldenthal
Cinematography by Alex Thomson
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance and Ralph Brown

Running Time: 114 mins

Rated R for monster, monster violence

You Might Also Like


  1. I really don't know why people hate this movie so much, especially after resurection, which I wont even watch.

    I agree with everything you have said above, from the alien birth to the final scene when "Bishop" creator is giving his speech to Ripley, it's not as good as Alien or Aliens but I dont think its that far behind.

    Really good review :D