‘Alien 3’ has loads of style, but a storyline that got bastardized in production

Sigourney Weaver faces off with vicious, murderous aliens in 'Alien 3'
Sigourney Weaver faces off with vicious, murderous aliens in ‘Alien 3’

[rating=2]Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Charles Dutton, Charles Dance, Brian Glover, Ralph Brown
Director(s): David Fincher
Writer(s): Screenplay by David Giler and Walter Hill and Larry Ferguson, Based on the Characters created by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett

Now, when I first saw Alien3, I fell in love with it. The style was just outstanding. Distinctive and different, I completely fell for it. I’m a fan of this film. This film is one of the reasons David Fincher is one of my favorite directors.

At the same time, I dislike this movie. I think it was a terrible follow-up to Aliens, and set the stage to totally derail was could have been one of the greatest sci-fi film series in motion picture history.

I love film, and as a lover of film it’s difficult to dislike Fincher. His style is so interesting that each image is like a carefully staged painting. Although I think it’s sometimes a bit too much, kind of like staring at only one image for two hours, it’s a great image to look at. His style really impacted me when I first saw Alien3, and has influenced me ever since. I also greatly enjoyed the character of Dillon, played by Charles Dutton. Although a violent and dark man, he was sympathetic and respectable. From that moment on I have been willing to watch anything Dutton is in.

Taken apart from the series, Alien3 is a fine film. Dark, exciting story with a tragic yet hopeful ending.

But, as I said earlier, when taken in context with the two films that preceded it, it was horrible. A tragic mis-step. A sad failure.

Aliens succeeded brilliantly in expanding the Alien storyline. Alien3 succeeded in slamming back down, narrowing it and destroyed what Aliens had so clearly established.

Charles Dutton leads the criminal element on Fury in 'Alien 3'
Charles Dutton leads the criminal element on Fury in ‘Alien 3’

The chief mistake was so unceremoniously killing Hicks and Newt. The two were good characters, and could have provided good drama and conflict had they been allowed to continue in the story. This would also have allowed overall story of Ripley and the aliens to develop as it should have, by expanding on the alien concept and perhaps bringing the “company” into the story more.

In essence, it erased anything that Aliens tried to do with the series and moved backwards, narrowing the film back towards the original by trying to a more horror than action — and failing miserably, as the film is more beautiful to look at than frightening to watch.

Perhaps their hope was to emulate the original in hopes to make it successful instead of allowing the story to grow and develop, as they had with Aliens. Not sure I understand why, however, since Aliens was such a resounding success.

The new extended version of this film highlighted on the DVD release isn’t much of an improvement. In fact, it hurts the film by adding so much needless filler. The only good point to it is that it restores the original Ox sequence. Although I think the dog was very effective, the Ox was a little more interesting. It plays better logically to the story, but at the same time doesn’t pull at your heartstrings like watching a poor dog suffer (the ox is already dead).

And while the extended version also provides more story — such as with the Golic character, who always seemed more important that he amounted to in the original cut — none of it is terribly interesting.

One of the issues I read about the documentaries that chart the making of this film is that about 30 minutes was excised. Apparently, everything of Fincher was removed, supposedly because it was so negative of 20th Century Fox and the producers of the film (this is rumor, as Fox hasn’t officially commented on the change). But, I think the documentary gave a pretty clear picture of how bad the experience was and how it went from a while with so much potential to a total retreat to poor storytelling.

With all that, I can still appreciate the film. But, in the end, I watch it with a sense of disappointment at how great it could have been.

Rated: R
Run Time: 2 hrs., 25 mins.

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan has written, directed and produced more than a dozen short films under the banner of Maynard Films, and has worked as a writer for more than a decade for websites, magazines and newspapers.

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