RETRO REVIEW: Alien 3 (1992)

Release Poster – 20th Century Fox

The following is a review of Alien 3 – Directed by David Fincher. For more Alien reviews, check out this category.

Alien 3 was directed by someone we today consider to be one of the great directors out there. David Fincher is a highly regarded filmmaker, and that is, sadly, in spite of his first feature film – Alien 3 – which is often regarded as the first real misstep in the Alien-franchise.

In Alien 3, Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) wakes up on a ‘prison planet’ as the only survivor of an accident that ultimately killed Corporal Hicks and Newt. Ripley is now the only woman on a planet inhabited by hardened criminals, but the criminals aren’t the only danger to Ripley’s safety – a Xenomorph is hiding in the darkness.

Okay, I’m not going to lie. I actually used to love this movie. When I was younger and I had just watched the first two films in a row, I just wanted more – and that is what I got. Even if it was distinctly different from the two previous Alien-entries from Ridley Scott and James Cameron.

But, of course, I was disappointed with the way the film opens. In one swift move, the film manages to infuriate all fans of Aliens by killing off both Michael Biehn’s Corporal Hicks and Carrie Henn’s Newt. It is not only a slap in the face to fans of the franchise, but also definitely something that changes the future of the franchise — even, to an extent, its potential.

It is another reminder of the sad fact that the rules of the filmmaking business mean that sometimes you have to let your creations run wild. Ridley Scott didn’t father Aliens, or Alien 3 for that matter, and thus his loss of ownership resulted in one great sequel and several catastrophic disappointments that, for some, ruined the film series. It certainly is no longer fresh, but I digress.

There are things I still really like about the movie, though. All things considered, I do like the look of the film. Everything is just grimy, brown, and that is ultimately a different look. I also really appreciate the conclusion that the filmmakers tried to give Ripley here, even though I think it could’ve been executed better.

I applaud the odd setting, even if it is a really weird ‘change of scenery’ for the franchise. It is bold and some of the things they tried to do with the setting and the new characters do work. I also really like what both Charles S. Dutton and Charles Dance do in the film. For me, those characters always worked well, all things considered.

But, for me, there are so many things that I’ve ‘grown out of’ loving, and there are even some things that today make parts of the film seem incredibly silly. Like this for example: Visual effects had been a strength of the Alien-franchise up to this point, and most of the effects in the first two films still hold up well.

Then you get to Alien 3 and they try to do this blue-screen alien action that just looks absolutely atrocious. A lot of the effects don’t really hold up, like the alien walking up next to Ripley after Clemens is killed. Still, there is an iconic image here: Ripley up against the wall with an alien breathing on her.

I have to again admit that I actually don’t dislike the movie, even though the central filmmaker here – David Fincher – has since disowned the film. Is it good? Maybe not, but, all in all, I think there is enough to enjoy in Alien 3, even for big Aliens fans like myself. The opening is a slap in the face, but the film isn’t as bad as most people say it is.

6.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex

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