May 18, 2017

Blu-ray Review: Alien 3 (1992)

"The Assembly Cut makes this one a better film." A Tale of 12 Writers.)
Release Date: May 22nd, 1992.
Country: USA.
Rating: R.
Written by: Vincent Ward.
Directed by: David Fincher.
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, Lance Henrisksen and Pete Postlethwaite.

This is the bastard child of the Alien series, and I say that not because it's viewed as the worst Alien movie made (that honor goes to Part 4), but because it's actually a good flick that never got a chance to shine.

David Fincher used to direct music videos, and I mean prolifically. Throughout the 80's and 90's he helmed videos for Foreigner, Sting, Paula Abdul, Madonna, Aerosmith, and the list goes on. He went on to become one of the best film directors that we have, giving us top-notch flicks like Se7en, Fight Club, The Game, Zodiac, The Social Network, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

His first film was Alien 3.

This movie had production issues from the start. It was re-written a few times (some of the originally story arcs were cool); Siguorney Weaver said she'd do the flick, but it had to have no guns (she's like that); Renny Harlin, the original director, quit to go make Die Hard 2; the next director was fired; and when they finally got a director to stick, the "Music Video Guy" David Fincher, the film was so bastardized by studio execs by then, that the result was a movie that didn't resonate well with most people, especially said director.

So when I decided to watch the movie again to review it, I watched the 2003 Assembly Cut, which is about as close to a Director's Cut as we'll ever see, seeing as how David Fincher has pretty much disowned the movie and wants nothing to do with it.

And it was really good.

Not long after (presumably) the ending of Aliens, The Sulaco catches fire, and Ripley, Hicks, and Newt are jettisoned from the ship in an escape pod while in deep cryo-sleep. The pod crashes on a desolate planet, with Ripley being the only survivor. A guy finds her on the beach, covered in lice, and brings her back to his home.

His home is a prison full of rapists and murderers, and it's soon clear that the arrival of a woman is not such a great thing. Distraught at learning of Newt and Hicks' deaths, she frantically demands that they do an autopsy on Newt's body, fearing that a Xenomorph had something to do with the crash. With all the shit that she's been though, she has a right to be paranoid.

Turns out that there is an Alien on the planet, but it's not inside of Newt. It finds a host, grows up quick, and begins to make snacks out of the prisoners. Ripley, along with a few of the "good" prisoners, devise a plan to kill the thing, and they spend the rest of the movie running around trying to survive so that they can execute said plan. Ripley also spends a lot of time trying not to get raped.

Shades of the first movie ensue.

I can finally say that Alien 3 is a good movie without cringing and feeling like I'm being overly-generous.

The Assembly Cut adds 25 minutes to the move, adding some footage, getting rid of some other footage, and the end result is a better, deeper, more cohesive movie. The first act is a way better set-up, visually, and character-wise, as far as the prisoners and Ripley go; the Alien comes out of an ox instead of a dog; the creepy inmate Golic, and his demise, get way more screen time; and Ripley's final scene is different, and way less cheesy.

It's finally a cohesive movie, and one that works way better than its theatrical counterpart. Overall it plays just like first Alien movie, utilizing the stalk-and-slash thing to deliver the Horror, but it does so pretty well, and in some places, it's fantastic.

The cast here is the real standout, with brilliant actors like Charles Dance, Pete Postlethwaite, and Charles S. Dutton making their prisoner characters anything but standard. They're a treat to watch in anything, and especially so here. Sigourney Weaver is effective again as Ripley too, but that's nothing shocking.

The CGI in this movie was bad. Granted, it was made in 1992, and CGI was nowhere near what it is today, but still it's distracting to watch, even given the restraints of the time.

The way that they wrote out Hicks and Newt was cheap and completely shitty. I know there were a lot of production issues with this movie, but you don't nullify the ending of Aliens by killing the happiness of it.

Michael Biehn was pretty pissed about it, and he deserves to be.

This one is way bloodier than the first two, including a messy autopsy scene. 

Nope, but there is some sexual content, if you want to call it that.

"You've been in my life so long, I can't remember anything else."
"I gotta "re-educate" some of the brothers!"

If you watch the Assembly Cut, Alien 3 is a move that is closer to being the sequel that Aliens deserved. It's still not perfect, but it was tinkered and tampered with so much by idiot hands, that it never really had a chance to be. Fincher makes the best of it though, and it's a fine addition to the franchise.

It is a shame though that we'll never get to see what could have been, had they let Fincher do what he wanted to with the film.

B- (Assembly Cut only, otherwise it's probably a C-)

Alien 3 is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.

They were originally going to use a dog to play the "Dog Alien." He looks thrilled, doesn't he?


  1. Oh, there is another cut I might watch if I wish to change my opinion that this was the worst of the Alien movies. I just feel insecure if I really want to, tough.

  2. First of all I realize I'm in the minority in my opinion, but at the time of release I thought 3 brought things back around to the claustrophobic vibe of the original. To me Aliens was cool at first, but the slick blockbuster magic wore off. I admired that they were willing to knock off the hero and the sympathy child character right off the bat,_MILD SPOILER_ just like I enjoyed James Franco getting BBq'D in the latest. I do wish they would have released the last cuts theatrical. But come on, Aliens + Prison Planet + a gaggle of rapist/killer convicts + Ripley= good times. Would you rather Newt get got from one of the rapists? Sickos