Ripley continues to be stalked by a savage alien, after her escape pod crashes on a prison planet.
Year 1, Day 182
BEFORE: After exhausting the list of films I received for Christmas that I have not seen (I’ll definitely be making time to watch Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol again), I return to some older films with Alien 3. I have already seen Ridley Scott’s original Alien multiple times and James Cameron’s Aliens once, but this is the first time I’ll be watching David Fincher’s take at the franchise. To give some of my background thoughts, I enjoyed Alien but I felt Aliens was much more entertaining. With that in mind, I wonder how if I’ll like Alien 3.
AFTER: David Fincher brought a mix of the best of Alien and Aliens but there’s still moments where I lose interest and am not entertained. Alien was a great introduction to this futuristic world where Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is somehow always fighting off these alien monsters. While Ridley Scott did a great job at setting up the atmosphere and making an eerie, suspenseful film, there were many times that the quiet tension building was just awkward silence. James Cameron took almost a completely different approach with Aliens and made this big action-packed blockbuster filled with explosions, weapons, and large set pieces. Some of Scott’s suspense and mystery was lacking but Aliens never lost my attention. Alien 3 is more on Cameron’s blockbuster side with some pretty big action scenes (even with a lack of weapons) while still maintaining that spooky feeling.
This is all to say that Alien 3 is another great addition into the franchise. For me the biggest draw about these films is the aliens and the problems they pose to the characters. For all three films the cast, with the exception of Weaver’s Ripley, has changed but it doesn’t feel that way. There’s always a bunch of disposable characters that you meet early on and then are summarily executed by the alien du jour. And the stories behind the films are simple and again very much alike. In Alien 3 Ripley’s escape pod lands on a prison planet and the alien on board escapes and wrecks havoc. Then it’s up to Ripley and the other inhabitants to try and kill it before the Company can retrieve it, examine it, and wait for it to ultimately escape again and kill everyone.
Everything is simple and not much changes, including the aliens, but they are still the most interesting part. You know they kill, you know the humans will fail multiple times at trying to kill it, and it will take many tries and complex plans before they can kill it or find some way to get rid of it. But there’s still an unknown about it, so much so that it can routinely give me a shock - a brief moment of fright - that’s generally lacking from other monster films. On the other hand, this repetition leads to some of that boredom I mentioned earlier where my interest just isn’t there. I’m waiting for some big thing to happen, which I know will happen, but while I’m waiting there’s no entertainment.
The Alien franchise has never been my favorite. They can be fun to watch but the energy and exhilaration from a film like Star Wars or Star Trek just isn’t there. Alien 3 was a great entry into a decent franchise and I would probably rank it just behind Aliens. With these films I’m looking for a thrill and excitement, something that is lacking a bit in Alien 3. I will say though that the beginning and the ending of the film were the best in the series. I really loved the opening credits sequence (something David Fincher is well known for) and the ending served as a great way to wrap things up. So much so that I’m now wary of what Alien Resurrection will do to the franchise and whether or not it will ruin a pretty good trilogy.
RATING: 3 out of 5