FINCHERFEST: Alien 3

24 09 2010

Kicking off Fincherfest here at “Marshall and the Movies” is the director’s first feature film, “Alien 3.”  Released six years after James Cameron’s “Aliens” and thirteen after Ridley Scott’s “Alien,” it certainly had high expectations.  After being mired in development hell, Fox managed to get the ball rolling and brought in Fincher fairly late in the game.  The result was the beginning of the decay of the franchise.

I debated whether or not to include “Alien 3” in my purveying of David Fincher’s collective work.  After all, he did disown the movie publicly thanks to Fox’s ceaseless creative interference.  Fincher had nothing to do with the editing of the movie, which in itself took a year.  According to IMDb, he was denied permission to shoot a scene with Sigourney Weaver in prison by the movie’s producers, so he stole her and shot it anyways.  Even as of 2004, Fincher still wasn’t willing to make peace with the experience when Fox asked him to do a commentary for the DVD release of the movie.

After watching the movie, I get a sense of why he doesn’t want to be associated with it.  “Alien 3” is a mixture of the action-adventure feel of “Aliens” with the horror atmosphere of “Alien.”  The result is a jumbled mash-pot of little character, simply gliding on the success of its predecessors.  It brings nothing new to the table, and watching this rip-off only makes you wonder why you aren’t watching one of the vastly superior installments that preceded it.

Sigourney Weaver’s ultra-feminist heroine Ripley just can’t catch a break here as she has to fight off the nefarious aliens for the third time (I hope she dreams well in cryo).  Instead of having the crew of the Nostromo or the Marines, she has a crew of celibate space monks led by Charles S. Dutton who feel violated by the presence of woman in their ranks.  Nevertheless, once an alien is found on board, they unite to trap it in the steaming hot pool of lead on board their ship.

The movie suffers from intense familiarity and oversimplification, even though the latter made Scott’s take on the franchise a classic.  “Alien 3” was rewritten many times; one draft reported to be far superior to the one that was produced didn’t even have Ripley in it.  But since she did make it, we can safely conclude that the movie was made simply to make more money off the franchise – and that’s all the more reason to avoid it.

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5 responses

25 09 2010
Fitz

Unfortunately this is the first saga of the series I saw. I was six, or seven, but I did come across Alien & Aliens when I was old enough to appreciate them.

26 09 2010
Will Silver

When this came out I loved it. I haven’t seen it since, mostly by design as I’m afraid it won’t hold up. There is a re-cut on one of the DVDs, perhaps that one is better.

26 09 2010
Darren

Scott and Cameron are a tough act to follow. Still, it’s a mess of a film and it’s only Fincher’s aesthetic which really barely holds it togetehr (if at all).

27 09 2010
Dan

Didn’t like this when it first came out but it has definitely grown on me. The the new cut came out and I finally saw the potential of the movie shine through. Well almost. It could and probably should have been better but Alien 3 is hardly the trash-picture is it sometimes made out to be. Fincher paints a wonderfully bleak world that remians the most interesting setting of the entire Alien franchise. Weaver is brilliant again.

…what the original version failed to do was a) tell the audience why 20 or so prisoners suddenly disappear, and b) what was the deal with Paul McGann’s character and what was the significance of his sub-plot. The new cut answers these questions and makes for a much more enjoyable experience. Anyone who hasn’t seen it should check it out on the DVD. I actually wrote a positive review of the film prior to seeing the new cut (http://www.top10films.co.uk/archives/367). If I was to update that review I’d have to add on a few more marks!

28 09 2010
Stu

This movie was such a disaster. Fincher is so talented, it’s hard to imagine that he was behind the camera for this one. I can’t say that I blame him for taking the chair here, though. If the studio big-wigs had asked me to take the helm of the “Alien” franchise hot off of successes of Scott and Cameron’s films, there is no way I could pass up the project.

I might even have a hard time passing up a direct sequel today even after two bad installments and the dreadful “AVP” films.

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