Alien 3 (1992)

Alien 3 (1992) – So in 2003 the Alien series came out in a deluxe edition box set somewhat stupidly called the Alien “Quadrilogy.” (Quartet. The fucking word is quartet.) Ridley Scott came out with a new Director’s Cut of Alien. James Cameron supervised the restoration of his Director’s Cut of Aliens. Jean-Pierre Jeunet created a new cut of Alien: Resurrection. The only director who didn’t come back for the project was David Fincher. Even a decade later, Fincher was still upset about how creative control was seized from him. Fincher has, of course, gone on to be the brilliant and celebrated auteur behind Seven, Fight Club, and Zodiac, among others (even scoring an Oscar nomination for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). The producer’s scrapped together a new “Assembly Cut” using scenes cut from the theatrical version. That’s the version that I watched for this review. So does it redeem what to many is… not the highpoint of the franchise?

One of the most divisive elements of the movie happens in the first couple minutes (so I’m not counting it as a spoiler). The escape pod carrying Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Hicks (Michael Biehn in Aliens), and Newt (Carrie Henn in Aliens) crashes on a prison planet called Fiorina “Fury” 161, killing the latter two. She is looked after by the penal colony’s doctor Clemens (Charles Dance) while the warden Andrews (Brian Glover) calls the Weyland-Yutani Corporation so they can come pick up Ripley. They seem eager to do so. Ripley’s presence at the all-male penal colony causes something of a disruption as they have found a kind of apocalyptic religion led by the inmate Dillon (Charles S. Dutton), and they don’t take kindly to a woman intruding upon their spiritual peace. But this movie isn’t called Space Prison, it’s called Alien 3. So take a wild guess what stowed away on Ripley’s ship?

I seem to be pretty much alone in really liking this movie. (Though my girlfriend did too. We’re a good match.) The off-screen deaths of Hicks and Newt bug a lot of people. They feel it renders the conclusion of Aliens largely irrelevant. Lance Henriksen, who is IN this movie, hates the “nihilistic tone” of the film (more on that in the spoiler paragraph). I really like it. It’s character-based, which was the strength of the first two films. In my summary I didn’t even bring up the damn alien until the last two sentences. It creates a world then sets its monster loose in that world. I do prefer the assembly cut of the film as it features more of a subplot involving mentally unstable prisoner Golic (Paul McGann), which adds another level to the film. One of the few problems I have with this movie, and I apologize if this comes off racist at all, is that when a good 75% of your characters are bald English white guys it becomes a bit harder to tell them apart. Luckily Dance, Glover, and Aaron (the deputy warden played by Ralph Brown) are different body types but Paul McGann and Danny Webb (who plays inmate Morse) are very similar physical types in this movie, albeit with wildly different characters. Of course past those five none of the other bald white inmates particularly matter so maybe telling them apart isn’t the biggest deal. There are chase scenes which showcase the technical and stylistic innovation that would become the hallmark of Fincher’s career. As much as he says the movie was taken away from him, his DNA runs through it. Alien 3 is not as good as Alien and Aliens, but it is a very good movie in my opinion and if you love the franchise so far then you should definitely check this one out. It’s a great finish to the Alien trilogy… but then they made another one anyway.

So seen it already? Highlight the white space below for my spoiler-filled discussion of the film’s ending…

Ripley dies. Ripley discovers that while in cryo-sleep she was impregnated by a queen face-hugger and will give birth to a queen alien capable of repopulating. In the end when confronted by the designer of the Bishop android (Henriksen), who wants to take the queen for Weyland-Yutani’s bio-weapons division, Ripley leaps to her death into the pool of molten lead previously used to kill the movie’s main xenomorph antagonist. Now I was raised Catholic (wow, I mention that in a lot of reviews) so I really respond to stories of self-sacrifice. It also helps that as she falls into the lead her arms are outstretched in that crucifixion pose. In the theatrical release the alien bursts from her chest mid-fall and she grabs it to make sure it dies with her. I prefer the Assembly Cut where she is just consumed by the pool of lead in her Jesus Christ pose. This woman has for the past several decades been at the mercy of these creatures and she takes the fate of humanity into her own hands. To me that is the way to end this series. Which is one of the things I really fucking hate about Alien: Resurrection. It undoes that. People think THIS movie renders the end of Aliens irrelevant? Nowhere near the way Resurrection does for this movie…

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