Hosted by Remi Lavictoire and Jonathan Colbon
This week on The Sci-Fi Movie Podcast, Jonathan and Rem dig deeper into the back half of the Alien franchise with ‘Alien 3’, directed by David Fincher and released in 1992.
Following ‘Aliens’ was going to be difficult, and Alien 3 certainly did have its work in front of it. Jonathan liked the story much more than Rem, pointing out that it’s a ‘misunderstood masterpiece’ and a coherent end to the character of Ellen Ripley and the Alien Franchise. We saw some solid performances in Sigourney Weaver, Charles Dance and Paul McGann, and a dark and murky environment in which to tell this story. We did think that considering all the production issues and problems with the script, it’s surprising that Alien 3 actually made it to the big screen.
Even though we give a bit of forgiveness for coming on the heels of Aliens, there were still may problems with Alien 3. Part of it resulted from extensive studio interference in the writing and shooting, Alien 3 spent nearly a year in editing. Rem noticed some inconsistencies in the some of the leaps taken in the story (How did two face huggers and and Alien egg Pod get onto the EEV unit?), some of the visual effects were very poorly done, and the film suffered from a general brown tone throughout the movie.
If you’re a fan of the first two Alien movies, then Alien 3 is a fitting end to the trilogy and can be considered an essential view to finish the series. (But you can skip Alien: Resurrection, the fourth movie)
The more I think about Alien 3, the more I’ve come to appreciate it. It’s actually a pretty good movie, BUT it’s a terrible sequel. As a follow up to the masterpiece of Aliens, it falls short and alienates (pardon the pun) the audience with the opening deaths, essentially negating the point of the previous movie. It’s insulting.
But if you can get past that, which is admittedly difficult. then you actually get a fairly ambitious, visually engrossing, claustrophobic film that is refreshingly unpredictable in how it plays out. Shame that it isn’t what it could have been.
Alien 3 is a fascinating movie for me on many levels. At that point, around the age of 13, I was allowed to be interested in rated R films, and had seen the first 2. The trailer completely surprised me when I went to see something in early 1992, and the entire experience captivated me- until I saw the movie. For the first ten years of it’s existence, I was admittedly let down by the film, which I saw as too convenient and had characters that were generally unlikable, save for Clemens- and then they quickly disposed of him. It had an egregious amount of swearing as well, which was a shocker for me as a teen. Since then, I’ve come to understand the many histories of this script and film, and I now have a begrudging appreciation, especially for the score, cinematography, and production design. It is far from perfect, but I’ll always hold it in a special place; it was the last genre film that I knew nothing about until the trailer.
Ton de Witte
Ok just saw the assembly cut for the first time which is a lot longer than the theatrical cut. I think that the assembly cut is better than the theatrical cut, it is also a different movie because certain things were altered. What didn’t work, well the movie suffers from being 3rd in the series in the sense that you know what the alien is which makes it less awesome. The assembly cut was enjoyable not great but worth the watch.
Alien 3 is an interesting beast to say the least. From the moment that the 20th Century Fox fanfare instead of rising to its cinemascope crescendo slides into a dark abyss. And this says a lot about the film and the issues around making it. Script troubles from the start changing from being set on Earth, to being set on a Wooden Prison Planet (thanks to NZ director Vincent Ward whose 1988 film The Navigator – A Medieval Odyssey might be worth a look as it made it into the book 101 Sci-fi Films you need to see before you die) through so many script revisions and rewrites. It finally started shooting without a script with first time director David Fincher. With all the interference from the studio, producers, losing a great cinematographer in Jordan Cronenweth it is nothing less than amazing that a film came out the other end and that David Fincher has gone onto bigger and better things. Is the film bleak ? Yes. Is it nihilistic ? Yes. But what it does have is a good cast of English actors in an interesting setting: Charles Dance, future Dr Who Paul McGann and Pete Postlewaite as well as Sigourney Weaver and Charles S Dutton. A great moody score by Eliott Goldenthal which was apparently recorded in LA during the riots of 1992. I don’t rate it as highly as Alien, but I do rate it above Aliens and way above Alien Resurrection and the AvP movies.
The Sci-Fi Movie Podcast is a member of the Podcastica Network, visit Podcastica.com