"Don't be afraid. I'm part of the family"
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is back in stasis aboard the Sulaco when a fire causes the escape pod to separate from the ship and she crash lands on Fiorina ‘Fury’ 161, a penal colony inhabited only by men. Ripley’s fellow Aliens survivors all die in the crash, leaving her alone and stranded in the prison. Unfortunately for Ripley and the prisoners, an alien face hugger was on board the pod and has also survived the crash.
While I’ve been watching the Alien franchise for the first time over the last few weeks I’ve been told by numerous people that Alien 3 was by far the weakest of the series. So far, I’d have to agree. The film entered production without a completed script and the messiness of the film is some testament to that. It feels as though the film doesn’t know what it wants to be. It is less scary than even Aliens but has a bit more of a dramatic quality than Alien. The film also appears to introduce a comic element to the series but this fails miserably. The story feels incoherent and the characters are barely written. In both previous instalments the large cast always felt well written and as though they were rounded characters. In Alien 3 the majority of them appear to be just cannon fodder. The only new character that I cared a little about was killed off within the first half.
The film’s design is a massive let down when compared to the first two. They both felt cramped and dark and you were never really sure where the alien was. In this, the colony is full of wide open, wet lit spaces which though looked ok, provided little in the way of tension or apprehension. The alien itself was really badly designed and felt much more dated than its predecessors. For some of the film I also thought that there were actually two aliens because the traditional looking alien and new computer generated alien looked so different. The whole design of the film was such a strongpoint of the series so it’s a real shame that Alien 3 brings this to an end.
Another strong element of the series was its use of subtle themes. In Alien 3 this is much more overt. The religious themes are present in the script and even the music. The idea seems to be that the prisoners have adopted religion (as prisoners so often do) and are being led by Ripley as lambs to the slaughter. Ripley on the other hand can be viewed as either a Virgin Mary or Jesus figure and this appears to shift during the film. I quite liked the direction that Ripley went in although her ‘condition’ lasted much longer than previously in the series.
For director David Fincher it appears that the film has become something of an embarrassment. For someone with such an illustrious resume, his debut is very disappointing. I found the casting and acting quite strange. The mixture of British and American actors didn’t work well for me although I was pleased to see so many great English actors in a film like this. Sigourney Weaver wasn’t anywhere near as good as she had been in the previous films. It felt like her heart wasn’t in it. The rest of the cast is a bit hit and miss but I think suffers from a poor script. Charles Dance though I felt gave a very good performance.
Overall I thought that Alien 3 was messy, poorly written and boring. It lacked the fear and excitement of the first two films and was a real let down, even though I’d been warned that it wasn’t great. I’m hoping Resurrection will be a return to form.