12 March 2013

Alien 3

Alien 3 1992
  • Director: David Fincher
  • Based on Book: no
  • Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, Paul McGann, Danny Webb, Pete Postlewaite
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Sigourney Weaver – lots, for example Working Girl, Dave, Death and the Maiden, The Ice Storm, A Map of the World, Holes, Snow Cake, Be Kind Rewind, Avatar, and of course the other Alien movies.
    • Charles S. Dutton – Honeydripper, Secret Window, Homicide Life on the Street
    • Charles Dance – Black and White, Gosford Park, Hilary and Jackie
    • Paul McGann – Our Mutual Friend
    • Danny Webb – Henry V, Valkyrie, Shackleton, Twelfth Nigh
    • Pete Postlewaite – Brassed Off, The Constant Gardener, The Shipping News, Romeo and Juliet, The Last Mohican, Hamlet
  • Why bought: classic sci fi, recommended by friend ÖB.
  • Seen: once – September 21, 2012

Cool. Almost more philosophical than the first one with lots of gender issues.  Ripley ends up on as maximum security planet with a couple of dozen real baddies – murderers, rapists and whatnot.  They don’t like having a woman in their macho, neo-Christian midst.  Does that bother her? Not Ripley.  She’s a toughie.
The religious aspect is quite interesting. It seems reasonable that these guys without hope would create hope for themselves by believing – recently starting to believe – in the apocalypse. The good guy Clemons (Dance) stands apart and observes this phenomenon as do others. It is not a religious movie. The message is that religion doesn’t help against aliens. It would be ridiculous if it did.
The gender thing works out pretty well too. Ripley manages fine except when being attacked by three thugs at once – she is saved by a forth sort-of hero but not in a damsel in distress way. And she ends up leading the fight against the aliens.
Which is in the second half after the rather contemplative first half and it becomes the mad running, chasing, flame-throwing battle of the first two films.  Confusing, as this kind of scene often is, but exciting enough. And in the end Ripley, in another interesting parallel to the Christian legend, sacrifices herself in a falling Christ-on-the-cross image to save humanity.
Maltin wrote that this was a same-old same-old film just repeating the first two. He must have slept through everything but the chase scenes. It’s better than the second and as good as the first and it gets 4* of 5.


  1. Hmm, you really found the religious stuff interesting? I found it tedious, dated and puerile. It's hard for me to believe that such human monsters could be fooled like that. Fortunately, it was not overdone, and many of the charming inmates didn't seem to take it very seriously. The leader was a fascinating character. Remarkably, the axe he was holding towards the end seemed to add little to the great respect he enjoyed among the delinquent teenagers.

    Neither did I find the gender issue especially memorable. Then again, I didn't expect to. A lone woman among male perverts is hardly the right place for subtlety or humour. If there were any, I missed them.

    But that's a perceptive point you make about Ripley's "Christ-on-the-cross image". I may add that she went one better than Jesus. She saved the whole universe from the Alien, not just the miserable human race. Also, the concept of being eaten by a fierce predator is a wonderfully practical proposition to deal with, quite unlike the vague concept of sin.

    On the whole, I found little to admire in this one. Dance's good guy had a lot of potential, but most of it remained unfulfilled; and he became a breakfast much too soon. Few of the prisoners were interesting in a quirky sort of way, but nothing terribly original or funny there. Ripley's character was already quite fleshed out in the first two movies, and there was little the screenwriters could add here. Perhaps the slight carnal element was the only novelty. It wasn't exactly necessary, though.

    The only thing I loved was the visual side. But even that was compromised by the disappointingly artificial monster: it was so obviously computer-generated that sometimes I was tempted to shout to the running victims someting like "It's a hologram, stupid!" That's a strange thing to say, but the Alien in the first two movies, without the benefit of FX miracles, was much more realistic. It just looked terrifyingly real. This one didn't.

    Apart from that slight hitch, the movie's a visual tour de force. The sets of the old prison, decrepit to the extreme and illuminated by an ominous yellowish light, are quite haunting. Very apocalypse-like, very otherworldly, very effective. Such sets achieve that arrest of time of which Tennessee Williams wisely wrote in one of his essays, that sense of timelessness which is characteristic of all great art and which transforms mere occurences into significant events. Sadly, it was not enough in this case. Actually, it never is. There always must be some profound insight lurking behind the facade. This is what this movie lacks more or less completely.

    Though it's been quite an Alien ride these days, I don't see myself revisiting any of the three movies, least of all the third one. But I'm glad I've seen them. As pure entertainment, all are magnificent. As food for thought to keep you busy afterwards, much less so; but at least in the first two there is enough to make sit up and take notice.

    1. Ah, I think it’s exactly humans like these who fall for/exploit/invent religious fanaticism in situations like this. And I wish it was dated but sadly fundamental religion has only increased since this movie was made. Which is why I thought it was interesting that religion is shown to be so unreasonable, meaningless and futile.
      I didn’t notice the computerized aspect of the monster. I am incredibly easily fooled about stuff like that (hey whaddya mean, computerized?? Those monsters are real, aren’t they???)
      You and Leonard Maltin and probably everyone else are in agreement on this one but that’s OK. It makes me feel exclusive to be alone in my admiration. It happened with Terminator 2 too.