avid Fincher's "Alien 3" made one crucial
mistake even before the first shot was put to celluloid. In the screenwriting
phase, the writers killed off Hicks, Newt, and Bishop without so much as an
apology. For anyone who has gasped and jumped and had their heart crash against
his or her chest throughout the harrowing experience that was James Cameron's
"Alien 3" was a slap in the face. There's no other way to put it. So
it's no surprise that "Alien 3" was the least profitable of all the
installments in the franchise. The people hated it and the critics despised it.
And they had every right to.
"Alien 3" brings back franchise star Sigourney
Weaver as Ellen Ripley, who is once again the sole survivor after the
experiences of the previous installment. Ripley crash lands on a
climate-challenged prison/mining colony and wakes up to find herself surrounded
by male prisoners. The prisoners have all elected to stay at the prison for
various reasons, mostly because they feel at home there. But Ripley is not the
only survivor -- it appears that an alien had also been onboard the ship, and
it's now loose on the prison compound...
Besides being the first movie in the franchise to
incorporate alien cgi with the traditional plastic and man-in-rubber suit
version, "Alien 3" has also made a concerted effort to get as far away
from Cameron's sequel as possible. Because the movie takes place at a former
prison, there are no weapons of the bullet kind to be found, and once the alien
begins stalking victims, the prisoners, led by tough guy Dillon (Charles Dutton)
must use guile and cunning to catch the predator.
Adding to the problem is that Ripley is revealed to be
playing host to an alien chest-burster. Worst, the chest-burster is a queen, and
if it should come out of Ripley, it will surely give birth to even more
acid-spewing aliens. What's a tough girl to do? Well, once she learns of this
problem Ripley is intent on getting herself killed. Which might be a problem,
because the Company (the omnipresent corporate bad guy in the franchise) is on
their way to the prison to take her back home for study.
For much of its running length, "Alien 3" comes
across as too much of a Teen Slasher film. There's the dumb prison
superintendent who, despite all the evidences to the contrary, insists Ripley's
notion of a 7-foot alien creature stalking the halls massacring prisoners is
pure fantasy. There's also an unconvincing romance between Ripley and the
prison's doctor that seems perfunctory, especially since the doctor doesn't even
last long enough to figure into the movie's finale.
"Alien 3" will most likely be notable for
introducing David Fincher's style to the world. Fincher ("Fight
Club") shows an abundance of cinematic abilities here that cannot be
denied. While the final sequence, involving a chase through a maze-like part of
the prison, is not altogether coherent, the overall look and feel of the film is
fantastic. The prison is archaic and falling apart, steam is shooting from every
direction, and every hallway and room is grungy and dirty and doesn't look
livable in the least. In short, it's everything Fincher thrives at.
As a final aside, it's interesting to note that "Aliens",
the first sequel in the franchise, went in the complete opposite direction of
the original, while Fincher's sequel went the complete opposite of Cameron's;
Resurrection", the fourth in the franchise, returned to Cameron's guns
and firepower. Taking this pattern into consideration, I predict that the fifth
installment in the series (if there is one) will revert back to Ridley Scott's
original and Fincher's -- re: no guns.