‘One Big Reason’ is a bi-weekly series where I take a look at some of the blockbuster films we love to hate and find one redeeming quality that makes it worth a watch.
This weeks pick: David Fincher’s Alien 3.
Alien 3 is of course the third entry into the hit franchise that at the time had spawned two films prior; Alien and Aliens. While those two films received much praise from both critics and audiences, Alien 3’s ratings weren’t so kind. Though this film was set to become the next big hit of the franchise, the movie took a downward spiral right from the very beginning. Studio interference was Alien 3’s biggest demise.
David Fincher has become one Hollywood’s most successful directors having directed films such as Fight Club, Seven, Zodiac, and his most recent outing Gone Girl. The man has made a name for himself, even after the unfortunate studio interference and production issues Alien 3 went through. Fincher has since disowned the film stating some rather harsh words towards its production:
“No one hated Alien 3 more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me. It was a baptism by fire. I was very naive. For a number of years, I’d been around the kind of people who financed movies and the kind of people who are there to make the deals for movies. But I’d always had this naive idea that everybody wants to make movies as good as they can be, which is stupid. I thought, “Well, surely you don’t want to have the Twentieth Century-Fox logo over a shitty movie.” And they were like, “Well, as long as it opens.” They didn’t care.” -David Fincher
You can read the entire quote right here. Taking up such a large franchise after two solid directors in Ridley Scott and James Cameron is no easy task. In fact, Alien 3 is part of the reason Fincher refuses to make any franchise films for fear of studio interference again. That being said, Alien 3 isn’t as bad as people claim it to be including Fincher himself.
In fact, the one thing that makes this film enjoyable is that Fincher did his damnedest to make a quality film that hearkened all the way back to Ridley Scott’s Alien: reverting back to a single xenomorph creature.
‘Alien 3’ Goes Back To A Solo Xenomorph Antagonist
Some of the core elements that makes Alien such a great film is the feeling of hopelessness and dread. That entire film focused on the seven member crew aboard the Nostromo and their survival after being introduced to an alien creature. The creature takes nearly every character out one by one leaving Ripley as the only survivor. James Cameron’s sequel titled Aliens added an extra layer by placing the sole focus of an action movie rather than a straight horror film. Fincher’s Alien 3 takes things back to basics by having one xenomorph instead of many. Going back to just one creature makes this film redeemable.
While Scott’s film took place on a ship, Alien 3 on the other hand takes place inside a foundry facility titled Fiorina 161. Also known as a penal colony, this location houses only human males who were found guilty of crimes such as rape or murder. Unfortunately, Ripley is stuck in this place and is the key to everyone’s survival. Having battled these creatures before, Ripley does everything she can to plan an attack which leads me to my next point…
The Lack of Weapons Was A Major Obstacle For The Characters
Unlike Cameron’s Aliens which had plenty of weapons and grenades (including a large tank-like vehicle called the M577 Armored Personal Carrier), this sequel lacks any sort of firearms throughout the whole movie. This enables the characters to try to come up with a way to take the down the xenomorph that has been on the prowl.
Their first plan was to flush out the creature hiding in the ventilation shafts by using flammable toxic waste. Hoping to ignite it on fire, their plan is an absolute failure. Something goes horribly wrong which results in the deaths of many inmates.
After finally flushing it out of the ventilation system, the creature is forced to going into a designated location; the molding facility. Ripley gathers up the remaining prisoners and sets up another plan telling the prisoners to close multiple doors throughout the halls eventually leading it to the molding facility. There, Ripley can poor molten lead onto the creature thus killing it in the process. The plan mostly works as the xenomorph explodes once cold water from the fire sprinklers causes the creatures exoskeleton to shatter.
The fact that the prisoners were able to fend off a creature who’s physique is much more powerful and faster than them should be applauded even though many lives were lost in the process. Having absolutely no weapons at their disposal, the prisoners and Ripley were successful in their mission.
The Animal-Like Characteristics Made This Xenomorph Very Challenging To Kill
Say what you want about the action packed film Aliens, but as far as fear factor goes the movie takes a drastic step back. This mostly has to do with the characters including Bill Paxton’s comedic relief (“Game over man! Game over!”). The campy tone certainly put a stamp on Cameron’s film, but the stakes never appeared to feel as high as it should have been. Alien 3 took what made the original Alien such a success and further enhanced it by raising the stakes. Not only does Ripley have to deal with inmates who want to rape and murder her, she also has to deal with an alien queen growing inside her.
The Weyland–Yutani corporation is after the specimen and wants it alive. Meanwhile, an alien creature is also lurking around the prison killing everyone in sight. The claustrophobic atmosphere from the first film reappears in this sequel. Having no where else to run, the colony is forced to come up with a strategy to take out the creature. This xenomorph is also very different from the others due to its animal-like characteristics. This particular xenomorph was bred from a dog, therefore giving it faster mobility and enhanced senses. The fear that this single creature could be lurking anywhere inside the compound, makes the viewing more enjoyable.
The Kill-Streaks Makes ‘Alien 3’ Worth A Second Viewing
Alien 3 is not a perfect film. What it lacks in story, it certainly makes up for it by going back to basics. Having only a single creature become the antagonist with no weapons at the characters disposal, makes this film redeemable. If you’ve never seen Alien 3, I’d highly suggest you give it a go. It’s far superior than the unnecessary followup sequel Alien Resurrection as well as the Alien vs Predator films.
Do you think the solo Xenomorph makes Alien 3 is worth a second chance? Sound off in the comment section below!