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Alien³ [1992 film] by David Fincher

Alien³ [1992 film] (1992)

by David Fincher (Director), Larry Ferguson (Screenplay)

Other authors: Charles Dance (Actor), Charles S. Dutton (Actor), Elliot Goldenthal (Composer), Lance Henriksen (Actor), Sigourney Weaver

Series: Alien Films (3)

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Alien3 (1992)

Sigourney Weaver – Ripley
Charles S. Dutton – Dillon
Charles Dance – Clemens
Paul McGann – Golic
Brian Glover – Andrews
Ralph Brown – Aaron
Danny Webb – Morse

Screenplay by David Giler, Walter Hill & Larry Ferguson
Directed by David Fincher

Colour. 114 min.


Here Be Dragons, e.g. spoilers

Visually this movie is not unlike Beethoven’s late string quartets. It is a chamber piece of almost unrelieved gloominess, regularly descending into primordial and acutely claustrophobic primitivism. Here the musical analogy ends completely. What makes Alien3 a forgettable one-off affair, as opposed to timeless masterpiece which bears regular rediscovery, is that the visual appeal is its only virtue as far as I’m concerned.

The plot is simple, effective and rather original, but it gives little scope for development and characterisation – and even that is not fully realised. Ripley is the lone survivor from a rescue capsule that crashes on a desolate planet inhabited by the cream of crime: murderers and rapists accompanied by a few unarmed guards and an awfully altruistic doctor with a dark past. What follows is a standard monster-hunt – or manhunt, depends on the point of view – which builds up to a fine climax that seems to preclude any further sequels.

It must be said in defence of this movie that it never tries to impress you with childish methods like vast amounts of pancake syrup or gorgeous technological vistas of space exploration. The last part of the Alien franchise all too obviously does.

The most annoying thing about this movie is the strong religious streak that permeates it. I find it tedious, dated and puerile. And it’s hard for me to believe that such human “monsters” could be fooled with proto-Christian fairy tales. Then again, though prominent enough to elicit an ironic smile, the religious stuff is certainly not overdone, and many of the charming inmates don’t seem to take it very seriously; besides, most of them not being terribly bright, I daresay it’s not so fantastic that they should fall for it.

It is much to the screenwriters’ credit that all prisoners are presented with sympathy and without any empty moralising. Their religious leader (Charles Dutton) is a most fascinating character, a man of remarkable common sense, integrity and courage. Common sense and religion sound like mutually exclusive qualities, but they somehow manage to co-exist quite happily in this character. As for the prestige he enjoys among his flock of delinquent teenagers, it says something that the axe he is holding towards the end seems to add very little to it.

Ruby has made a perceptive point about Ripley’s "Christ-on-the-cross image" in the Grand Finale. It does fit with the pseudo-Christian inanity that occupies an unduly prominent place in the plot. I may add that Ripley went one better than Jesus. She saved the whole universe from the Alien, not just the miserable human race. Also, the concept of being eaten by a fierce predator is a wonderfully practical proposition to deal with, quite unlike the vague concept of sin.

Nevertheless, despite a nice touch here and there, the prisoners as a bunch of religious converts don’t work for me. Neither do I find the gender issue especially memorable. Frankly, I didn’t expect to. I understand Ripley should carry the banner of feminine strength and prevent science-fiction epics from descending again in the Dark Ages when the gentle sex was treated as though it was convenient furniture. I appreciate that and I enjoyed how stylishly it was done in the first two movies. Not so in this one. A lone woman among a herd of male perverts is hardly the right place for subtlety, insight or humour. If there were any, I missed them. In the good old days, Ripley had to cope with shipmates and marines, groups better suited to imaginative screenwriting than convicts with double Y chromosome.

On the whole, I find little to admire in this movie. The Good Doctor (Charles Dance) had a lot of potential, but most of it remained unfulfilled; and he became a breakfast much too soon. Few of the prisoners are interesting in a quirky sort of way, but nothing terribly original or funny there. Ripley’s character was already quite fleshed out in the first two films, and there was little the screenwriters could add here. Perhaps the slight carnal element is the only novelty. It isn’t exactly necessary, though.

But the visual side is truly extraordinary. And yet, even that was compromised by the disappointingly artificial monster: it was so obviously computer-generated that sometimes I was tempted to shout to the running victims something like “It’s a hologram, stupid!” That’s a strange thing to say, but the Alien in the first two movies, without the benefit of FX miracles, was much more realistic. It just looked terrifyingly real. This one doesn’t. Technology is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t always produce the best results.

Apart from that slight hitch, the movie’s a visual tour de force. The spacious sets of the old prison, decrepit to the extreme and illuminated by an ominous yellowish light, are quite haunting. Very apocalypse-like, very otherworldly, very effective. Such sets achieve that arrest of time of which Tennessee Williams wisely wrote in one of his essays, that sense of timelessness which is characteristic of all great art and which transforms mere occurrences into significant events.

Sadly, it is not enough in this case. Actually, it never is. There always must be some profound insight lurking behind the facade. This is what this movie lacks more or less completely. ( )
1 vote Waldstein | Aug 1, 2018 |
Deadly alien on a prison planet.

Not scary. It's creepy - overflowing with creepy - but never scary. There's no suspense, probably because it's painfully predictable, but also the editing and score don't help any. The action scenes are tedious and confused. Ten straight minutes of running through corridors? Not only is that boring, but it makes about as much sense as branding the movie "Alien Cubed."

Concept: C
Story: D
Characters: C
Dialog: D
Pacing: D
Cinematography: C
Special effects/design: B
Acting: C
Music: D

Enjoyment: C plus

GPA: 1.7/4 ( )
  comfypants | Jan 21, 2016 |
The least successful film in this series was directed by stylemaster (and content-underachiever) David Fincher. Ripley, the only survivor of her past mission, awakens on a prison planet in the far corners of the solar system. As she tries to recover, she realizes that not only has an alien gotten loose on the planet, the alien has implanted one of its own within her. As she battles the prison authorities (and is aided by the prisoners) in trying to kill the alien, she must also cope with a distinctly shortened lifespan that awaits her. But the striking imagery makes for muddled action and the script confuses it further. The ending looks startling but it takes a long time--and a not particularly satisfying journey--to get there. --Marshall Fine
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  schotpot | May 16, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fincher, DavidDirectorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ferguson, LarryScreenplaymain authorall editionsconfirmed
Dance, CharlesActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dutton, Charles S.Actorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goldenthal, ElliotComposersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Henriksen, LanceActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weaver, Sigourneysecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Ripley continues to be stalked by a savage alien, after her escape pod crashes on a prison planet. -IMDB
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Lt. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is the lone survivor when her crippled spaceship crash lands on Fiorina 161, a bleak wasteland inhabited by former inmates of the planet's maximum security prison. Ripley's fears that an Alien was aboard her craft are confirmed when the mutilated bodies of ex-cons begin to mount. Without weapons or modern technology of any kind, Ripley must lead the men into battle against the terrifying creature. And soon she discovers a horrifying fact about her link with the Alien, a realization that may compel Ripley to try destroying not only the horrific creature, but herself as well.… (more)

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