Following on from the events of Aliens Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley, and this time she is joined by Lance Henriksen who reprises the role of Bishop from the previous film. David Fincher takes over directing responsibilities, and was forced to endure extensive rewrites, studio interference and filming began even before the final script was completed.
I want you to do something for me, imagine seeing a film that would open your eyes to a whole new world of action, one that would become one of your favourite films of all time, this would be Aliens. Now imagine watching the original film Alien and being on the edge of your seat the whole time, even knowing the spoiler that only Ripley would survive, then imagine getting the Alien Quadrilogy box set so you could watch the original versions and the Director’s Cut versions of two films you’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Now, imagine that you have put on Alien3…and now imagine your head dropping forward and slamming into a piece of wood because the pain the film has inflicted upon you is more severe than any injury you can inflict upon yourself.
Here’s the story thus far…
Whilst travelling back to Earth the ship Sulaco has an onboard electrical fire that results in the automated systems ejecting the stasis tubes containing Ripley (Weaver), Bishop (Henriksen), Hicks and Newt. They crash land on a prison planet and all but Ripley are killed in the crash with Bishop being damaged beyond repair (obviously having his legs ripped off in the previous film was not damaging him beyond repair but anyway)
Ripley suspects that an alien had been onboard the ship and it caused the fire that resulted in the ejection of the tubes. After being rescued and waking up under the care of the prison’s doctor Clemens (Charles Dance), she requests that Newt’s body be autopsied so she can confirm if an alien was responsible for her death. Clemens does as she asks, causing the prison warden Harold Andrews (Brian Glover) to become suspicious and concerned that her presence will prove disruptive to the all male prison population that are murderers and guilty of various sex offenses.
Ripley finally confirms that an alien was onboard the ship, and not only has a new alien been ‘born’ but Ripley has also been impregnated by an Alien Queen. The alien starts doing what the aliens do, hunting down and killing the inhabitants of the planet, whilst Ripley tries to rally the surviving prisoners to fight the alien even though they have no modern weapons at their disposal. She also knows that her own time draws short because the alien within her could burst from her chest at anytime.
To say this film is disappointing is not putting it strongly enough. Do you know what, it is like opening your Christmas stocking on Christmas morning and discovering not a present or even a piece of coal (apparently Santa leaves a piece of coal if you’ve been naughty) but rather finding out that instead Santa has taken a shit in there.
James Cameron had his work cut out stepping into the shoes left by Ridley Scott, fortunately, he managed to deliver a science-fiction action classic that is widely regarded as one of the greatest action films of all time. David Fincher had an even harder task, it was up to him to once again deliver the goods and follow the ground-breaking Alien and the masterpiece that was Aliens. Unfortunately Alien3 suffered a production nightmare with numerous directors being involved at one time or another, the script being written and rewritten time and time again. Shooting began without a completed script. The result of these problems show through, and the film is a tangled mess of different ideas and characters none of which are likeable and are clearly just meat for the alien.
The setting is dank and miserable. In the first thirty seconds all you will have are questions, questions, questions, want to know the ones I came up with??
Why is Ripley the only survivor again?? - I like the character of Ripley but why not kill her off and have Hicks surviving and leading the prisioners against the alien using his militray tactics (I have literally thought of that as I was writing out that question, that is how easy it would have been to come up with a different story idea)
How the hell did an alien facehugger get onboard the Sulaco in the first place??
Did the Queen lay one or more eggs whilst she was having the crap beat out of her by the power loader??
Or did she lay it on the way to the ship from the planet, or when she was hunting for Newt in the cargo bay??
An explanation would have been nice, did we get one?? Hell no, all we know is an alien facehugger latched on to someone in their cryo-tube, and that there was somehow another one that made it to the surface which impregnated a dog (or cow depending on which version you are watching).
These are the questions you will be asking yourself basically before the credits have stopped rolling.
However, by far the biggest problem is that James Cameron left Hicks, Newt, Bishop and of course Ripley alive at the end of Aliens. Now this lead to a huge number of potential possibilities for sequels that followed the four of them continuing the fight against the aliens or the Company in one way or another. In the opening few seconds of Alien3 all but Ripley are dead and the people who fought so hard to survive the horror of LV-426 are gone leaving us to wonder what the point of having them escape alive at all was. Now Lance Henriksen does pop up a couple of times in the proceedings but his appearances are fleeting and in the final instance rather confusing.
What Alien3 does is prove that trying to cash in on a franchise that has given audiences two financial and critical successes without having a decent story to back it up will only serve to disappoint everyone, especially loyal fans. The film also apparently angered James Cameron and Michael Biehn, the latter of which was reportedly paid almost the same amount he was given for Aliens so the studio could use his image for a fleeting moment.
Admittedly I did like the fact that the alien wouldn't kill Ripley because it could sense, or smell, the alien within her. Plus having an alien created from either a cow or a dog does result in a quadruped alien which we haven't seen before. But unlike Aliens where I had a small complaint and a lot of praise, here I have a small amount of praise and A LOT of complaints.
There were so many possibilities that the studio had at the end of Aliens, for example, they could have given Ripley a rest and focussed on Hicks (which was apparently an idea at one time). They could have had Ripley and Co tracking down the origin of the original derelict ship in an attempt to find and destroy the xenomorph home world. With some of the best script writers in Hollywood, it should have been a relatively simple matter to write another awe inspiring instalment of the Alien franchise, but clearly it wasn’t all that simple. The franchise spawned two films that I think are truly magnificent and are still as great today as they were when they were first released.
I've said before that I hate it when people take franchises I love and fuck with them, but whilst Alien3 is not as bad as it could have been, the simple fact is that is misses a HUGE opportunity to add something more to the Alien franchise.
After the first two films, which were both masterpieces for different reasons Alien3 is really the beginning of the end for the franchise and it would take someone with truly gigantic balls to even think about doing a forth film. I’ll tell you if they did...hell we all know they did and it was called Alien Resurrection, did that revive the franchise?? Read my review of that film to find out, but as far as Alien3 goes I am giving it a well-deserved Thumbs Down
2/10 - Imagine that the series ended with Aliens and steer well clear of this half-hearted attempt to bring another film into the franchise