Night #17: Alien 3

A review coming up of David Fincher’s first motion picture once I shave my head…

The production of Alien 3 was a long and torturous affair. So much so that the original title of the documentary that accompanies the film is “Rape and Wreckage: The making of Alien 3”. Of course Fox execs balked at the title, and some of the worst elements were cut out of the supposedly warts and all documentary. Thankfully it’s been fully restored for the Blu-Ray release, and should be checked out by anyone with even a slight interest into how films are made.

For this I’ll be checking out the “Special Edition” of Alien 3, if only because it is more of a representation of what then unknown Director David Fincher (Now wowing people with The Social Network) intended than the film that was released back in 1992.

Ripley, Hicks and Newt have escaped the events of Aliens and are floating through Space in their pods. They crash land on a barren planet and it transpires that only Ripley is alive. Newt and Hicks have been killed in the crash, and now Ripley is infected.

Right off the bat Fincher’s film makes the mistake of killing that family dynamic that Cameron’s film builds. Even more insulting is that it does so off screen. It’s such an unsatisfying farewell for characters we’ve followed previously that it casts a dark shadow over the rest of the film.

The planet turns out to be a one populated solely by male convicts, like a more appealing version of Australia. All shaven headed and leading a Monk-like existence (In one of the remaining remnants of the many previous scripts of the film) the men are obviously perturbed to see Ripley, a woman, on their planet. Of course they have much larger concerns, mainly that Ox (A Dog in the theatrical cut) that’s been impregnated by a facehugger…

There’s two ways to look at the offscreen killing of Hicks and Newt. One is that it’s an affront to what came before it; the other is that it only helps to service Ripley as a character. She has lost exactly what all the men on the planet have – which is everything. The transformation is complete once she shaves her head and wears the same rags that everyone else is wearing. Whatever way you look at it I don’t think any saga has treated a character as shitty as the Alien franchise has treated Ellen Ripley. She has a run of extradorinarily bad luck that ends with her in a film written by Joss Whedon. And she thought her fiery death by furnace was undignified…

The alternate Alien 3 I’m looking at here should really be considered the definitive version. Though it’s not a Director’s cut as such (Fincher supposedly commented that the only way you’ll see his Director’s cut is if you scrap the film altogether and start again – He’s also the only Director who didn’t participate with the Box Set) it does offer a glimpse of a much stronger film. In fact under the circumstances I think we get the best Alien 3 possible here.

This longer cut gives characters time to breathe, and entire subplots come back into play. The film is definitely a richer experience for it, and I dare say that the characters are as well defined (Or better in some cases) as they were in Alien or Aliens. The scares are minimal however, as they whole last third of the film is essentially one long chase sequence.

Typically for Fincher though the film looks great (Particulary on Blu-Ray where the colours pop a lot more, despite the drab colour palette) and the chase scenes where the Prisoners band together to capture the alien are well crafted, despite not being all that interesting.

It never reaches the heights of Alien or Aliens, that’s to be expected, but it is a remarkably solid film that gets a lot right despite the problems hampered upon it.

 

 

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