Stuff I Watch in October: Alien 3 (1992)

Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.

Please enjoy and leave a comment!

And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Psycho (1960)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Halloween (1978)
Alien (1979)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Aliens (1986)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Predator (1987)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Predator 2 (1990)
The Addams Family (1991)

Our next film is…

WATCHING: Alien 3 (1992)

alien 3

DIRECTOR: David Fincher. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love David Fincher’s films, commercials, and music videos. This was his first feature film. He’s forgiven. This movie was not his fault due to the massive amount of studio interference he encountered during the making of the picture.

WHAT IS IT?: This is, of course, the third “Alien” film. It’s been almost 30 years since I first saw this film. I’ve also watched it again here and there. I’ve seen “The Assembly Cut”.

I still remain frustrated with “Alien 3”.

THE PLOT: After an alien egg was somehow laid on the Sulaco before the big boss battle in “Aliens”, the egg hatches and an alien Facehugger goes nuts aboard the ship while Ripley, Newt, and Hicks are all asleep, attempting to get to just one of them. The ship senses danger and ejects them. The escape pod lands on Fiorina “Fury” 161, a planet that’s been made into a deep space prison for men.

Newt and Hicks die in the crash landing and Bishop is rendered inoperable — but Ripley survives. After being told her friends are dead by the chief medical physician on the planet (Charles Dance), Ripley suspects that the ejection and crash were caused by an alien. Her suspicions are confirmed and, pretty soon, Ripley and the rest of the prisoners realize that an alien now roams the halls of their prison, ready to pick them off, one by one.

WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: The film got negative reviews — but high marks for the atmosphere, performances from Sigourney Weaver and Charles S. Dutton, and the overall look and cinematography. Everything else, however, was cannon fodder. James Cameron, the director of the prior film, was insulted that the film killed off Newt and Hicks, and reduced Bishop to scrap metal that barely worked. He’d later go on to say that he didn’t blame Fincher for the film because the studio “handed him a big mess on a plate”. Michael Biehn, who played Hicks in the prior film, was frustrated that his likeness was used and got nearly the same amount of money for that as when he starred in “Aliens”.

alien 3

WHAT DID I THINK?: The first thing I have to get out of the way is something I mentioned above: this is director David Fincher’s first feature film.

Fincher would go on to direct “Se7en”, “The Game”, “Fight Club”, “Panic Room”, “Zodiac”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “The Social Network”, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, “Gone Girl” and the recently Oscar-nominated “Mank”.

That is a HELL of a resume.

While “Alien 3” isn’t quite a “mess”, it’s close to it.

To its credit, it attempts to go back to basics, pitting a single alien against a team of human beings with no weapons, a curious decision since I get the feelings that fans were expecting more after the rip-roaring adventure that was “Aliens”.

The atmosphere is like every other Fincher production: gritty and industrial when it needs to be, glossy and neat when it needs to be. The cinematography in the film was done by Alex Thomson, who manned the camera for 1985’s “Legend” as well as “Labyrinth”. Visually, the film succeeds.

The issue is two-fold: it’s not very exciting and it isn’t very scary.

And the visual effects are a step down from the previous two entries which is even weirder.

The “Alien” design is impressive (this one is more mobile and can almost gallop and run like a dog or a wolf can) but the execution is terrible, utilizing an obvious miniature puppet which was composited against a blue screen to get the “running” shots Fincher needed. There’s no getting around it. It isn’t convincing at all. It just looks terrible. Other CGI shots kind of work but they’re not very good, either.

The best thing about this film is Ripley’s interaction with the male prisoners around her and the bond she builds with Dillon (Charles S. Dutton) after all hell breaks loose. It becomes especially important after we learn about Ripley’s health and that she may not have a future.

This all leads to a somewhat convoluted final battle with the alien as a battle with Weyland-Yutani as they learn of the alien’s existence on that planet.

The difference between this film and the first two, however, is that “Alien 3” ends on a bit of a depressing note and one cannot shake the feeling that the character of Ripley deserved a LOT better than this.


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