1990's, Alien 3, Brian Glover, Charles Dance, Charles S. Dutton, Danny Webb, David Fincher, Holt McCallany, Horror, Lance Henriksen, Paul McGann, Pete Postlethwaite, Peter Guinness, Ralph Brown, Science Fiction, Sigourney Weaver
- Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley
- Charles S. Dutton as Dillon
- Charles Dance as Clemens
- Brian Glover as Superintendent Andrews
- Ralph Brown as Aaron
- Paul McGann as Golic
- Danny Webb as Morse
- Lance Henriksen as Bishop
- Pete Postlethwaite as David
- Holt McCallany as Junior
- Peter Guinness as Gregor
Coming after the effective Alien and action-packed Aliens, Alien 3 didn’t really stand much of a chance. Add to that studio interference and a troubled production that later saw debut director David Fincher express his dislike of the film, Alien 3 wasn’t received warmly upon release. But with the emergence of The Assembly Cut that restores crucial parts to the story, Alien 3 does still have its effective moments. It may still be flawed, but The Assembly Cut is well worth seeing as an improvement upon the version that hit cinemas.
After surviving the events of Aliens, Ripley is in orbit while in hyper sleep with Hicks, Newt and what is left of the android Bishop. A fire on board the spaceship causes their escape pods to be released, resulting in them crash landing on Fury 161. The planet is a bleak place for male prisoners who have now taken on religion in the hopes of repenting for their sins. The Facility is run by Superintendent Andrews, who is helped by his lap dog Aaron. Unfortunately for Ripley, Hicks and Newt perish in the landing which devastates her. Her already grim outlook on things is not helped when she finds evidence that an Alien was in fact on board their ship. Stranded on this hostile planet, Ripley, her hair shorn as a precaution against lice, gains the trust of medical officer Clemens, who has a mysterious past. Andrews however is not too happy about Ripley’s presence among the dangerous prisoners. Matters later become shocking as brutal deaths involving inmates are committed. Ripley soon sees that her old nemesis is back and on another killing spree. At first alienated from the inmates, she later gets assistance from Dillon, the wise leader of the prisoners who believes her story. As bodies continue to mount, it’s only a matter of time before the Alien gets to Ripley. But a shocking revelation that links Ripley with the savage creature casts a different light on the subject and Ripley must decide her ultimate fate.
I think I’ll get the flaws of Alien 3 out of the way first. For starters, it gets a little confusing identifying certain characters because they all look very similar with shaved heads and bar code tattoos at the base of their necks. There is also the matter of the design this time around for the Alien. It is still terrifying to look at, but some dodgy CGI involved with it really detracts from some of the effective scenes of horror. Some of the film does feel disjointed and occasionally Alien 3 leaps from scene to scene without a thought. With those negatives out the way, here are the positives, of which many will be surprised that there are quite a lot in this film. David Fincher, although later disappointed with the film, actually makes a good stab at it. He creates a gloomy and hopeless atmosphere of dread among the prison, with roving camerawork capturing every dark corner and dimly lit corridor to Gothic perfection. He also directs some very creepy scenes of horror, including the Alien cornering an unarmed Ripley and the prisoners using themselves as bait in a terrifying chase. The killing of Hicks and Newt may have detracted many and I was very sad that they died, but I have to say it was a really ballsy idea. The deaths of the characters further contributes to the feeling of a grim future and outcome as the traumatized Ripley must contend with the loss of those closest while trying to remain alive. Out of all the Alien films, Alien 3 is the one that feels most like a requiem for the characters, most of all Ripley who has endured so much suffering at the hands of the Alien but has managed to fight back every time. Elliot Goldenthal contributes a gloomy score of Latin chanting and doom heavy synths to capture the religious beliefs of the inmates and the savagery that will soon befall many of them.
Sigourney Weaver is once again on powerful form as battle-scarred and hard-edged survivor Ripley, filling her with pain, strength and emotional depth. Ripley has become such a rounded character over the course of the last two films and much of this is down to the incomparable work of the talented Sigourney Weaver, who brings so much to the role and delivers an outstanding performance. Charles S. Dutton is supremely effective as the leader of the prisoners, who inspires them with his speeches but will stand for no one stepping out of line and disobeying orders. Charles Dance is used very well as the informative but slightly mysterious doctor who takes a liking to Ripley, while Brian Glover brings gruff and blustering actions to his role as the superintendent of the prison. Ralph Brown is suitably cast as the assistant to the superintendent, who seems to repeat everything he says and doesn’t know what to do when confronted with a mounting crisis. Paul McGann is frightening as the disturbed prisoner Golic, who develops a fascination with the Alien, while Danny Webb is droll and sarcastic as prisoner Morse. Lance Henriksen is unfortunately underused this time as the battered Bishop and this is a real shame. The same goes for Pete Postlethwaite, Holt McCallany and Peter Guinness who are given barely anything to do as other inmates of the facility.
Flawed it may be, but Alien 3, primarily the Assembly Cut, certainly has its merits in terms of atmosphere and main performance from Sigourney Weaver.