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Alien³ | movie review

Alien cubed?


Movie summary: After her last encounter, Ellen Ripley crash-lands on Fiorina 161, a maximum security prison. When a series of strange and deadly events occur shortly after her arrival, Ripley realizes that she has brought along an unwelcome visitor. (IMDb)

It was after watching Alien³ that I realised just how weird my viewing of this series had been: I'd never seen Alien from start to finish before watching it for the review post a couple of weeks ago despite having seen close to all of the movie out of order before then; Aliens I've watched at least ten times; and now Alien³ - a movie I'd watched once before many years ago and proceeded to forget the majority of it.

It did make for a weird experience having some parts of the movie - the regular version, not the longer Assembly Cut, just to be clear - be very familiar and others feel like they were completely new to me. Maybe other movies or TV shows paid homage or referenced it and it just didn't click because I couldn't link the two? That does seem likely, as I've got to admit that this isn't a particularly memorable movie.

Alien³ does come in for quite a lot of criticism, which I can't really understand while judging the movie as its own thing - it's not great, but it's not terrible either - and I think a majority of the negativity has to come from comparing the film to its two predecessor's, which is maybe a little unfair while also being completely understandable.

And it is 100% nowhere close to the level of either Alien or Aliens and it's easy to see why: it almost feels like it's trying to combine aspects of those two movies and not succeeding at all. There's the contained environment of the prison matching the Nostromo from the first film, and the larger cast of tough guys populating said prison to stand in for the marines from the second.

The issue is that there's nothing particular memorable or even visually distinctive about the prison, making for a rather barebones set of locations within its walls - quite the comedown from Ridley Scott and James Cameron's gorgeous films - and the people who inhabit it are just as barebones, with the audience given very little reason to give a shit about most of them.

If you don't know the characters beyond being told they're the scum of humanity, you don't care for them nor do you worry about them, so it makes it very difficult to feel empathetic fear for them when they're picked off by the new-look xenomorph. Add in the fact they're all dressed very similarly and have shaved heads (or close to it) and there' very little to tell them apart at all.

As for said xenomorph, I do like that little world-building detail that the adult form takes cues from the host lifeform, being a dog here. The alien is for more bestial as a result and very inhuman, which does make for a nice change despite some very poor compositing dating the creature effects badly. Still, some of the scenes where we view the world from the alien's viewpoint are pretty good, especially when it transitions from floor to wall to ceiling.

I can't say that I disliked Alien³, but I'm definitely in no rush to see it again and will happily skip it if I see that it's on TV, but it's not something I'd complain about seeing if a friend wanted to watch it. It very much feels like it only exists because the studio wanted another Alien movie and not because anyone involved had a story they genuinely wanted to tell - but considering how much went on behind the scenes to effectively sabotage things, that may be unfair.

Alien³ isn't quite as bad as people say, but that doesn't mean it's good either, it just kind of exists. Fine, there were a lot of production issues on the movie and it's quite possibly the ultimate example of studio interference, but even knowing that isn't enough to forgive the movie its many, many shortfalls. Hell, it's lucky I don't feel more annoyed about it completely invalidating Aliens...

[5/10 - Average]



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