Tuesday, December 4

Alien 3 Review

I watched on: Blu-Ray
Price I paid: £? (I’ve had this a long time and can’t remember)
Notes: I watched the 2003 directors cut

Alien 3 takes the series back to its slow horror roots with only 1 Xenomorph in a confined space that offers no escape. I know it’s an unpopular opinion but I think that Alien 3 is better than Aliens for a few reasons. Firstly unlike Aliens, this film has no offensive material as well as a much more relaxed pace. This slower more deliberate pacing allows for greater tension and horror which I found Aliens to be lacking in. I don’t think it can hold a candle to the brilliance of the first film but it’s certainly easier for me to enjoy than the second.

After escaping Hadleys Hope Ripley, Newt, Corporal Hicks and Bishop leave on the Sulaco in cryosleep. Unbeknown to them a couple of facehuggers managed to get onboard. As is to be expected these creatures try to impregnate the sleeping crew starting a fire in the process. The ship ejects the cyropods onto the nearest planet which is Fiorina 161 otherwise known as Fury 161. Ripley is the only survivor of the crash. She is quickly rescued by the medical officer of a mostly abandoned prison that only holds 25 prisoners with 3 staff. A facehugger makes it to the surface along with the wreckage and breeds a new type of alien from a dog or ox depending on which version of the film you’re watching. Most of the prison’s population don’t have much personality that we get to see only existing to provide more victims for the Xeno. The 3 or 4 characters that we spend time with are well written with Dr Clemins and prisoner Dillion being some of the best.

Fury 161 is a depressingly terrific location that is never given enough credit when people talk about these films. The clash of company control with the prisoner’s religion creates this otherworldly volatile feeling. Even before the Xenomorph starts to cause mayhem there is this sense of violence hiding just under the surface. Like at any moment the entire system could fall in on itself and be engulfed in chaos. This is very different to both Hadley’s Hope and the Nostromo. Both of them were rather peaceful places that felt safe before the aliens got loose. This prison planet feels like it’s anything but safe even before the Xenomorph starts to pick the prisoners off.

When the xenomorph does get loose we learn a lot more about the way it breeds and evolves. The facehugger impregnates an ox (or dog) and takes on aspects of the creature. This means we get to see an all-new breed of the alien with the Runner Xenomorph. As its name suggests this new breed of Xeno is able to run much faster than the previous Hunter and Drone aliens we have seen. Unlike those Xenomorphs, however, it’s unable to stand on two legs instead it walks the same way a dog does. I love this design as well as the idea of the Alien taking on traits from its host. This is probably the most popular concept that Alien 3 has and it’s one that has since been expanded on in novels, comics and even one of the Alien vs Predator films. Sadly the special effects are not able to do this new breed justice. It’s always really obvious that the model has been superimposed over the footage which creates this really fake looking effect. Previously although the alien may have looked like a person in a suit it at least felt like it was there. Alien 3 came out in a time where digital effects were new and as such were far from perfect. The awful visual effects seen here were not that uncommon for the time. Of course, none of this changes the fact that this film still looks very dated, more so than Aliens which came out 6 years prior. This is a real shame because the design of the new xenomorph is fantastic.

Despite the flawed effects I do like this film. Lots of people tend to just write Alien 3 off as one of the bad sequels along with Alien Resurrection. This is a shame because Alien 3 isn’t a bad film at all. I think it’s a dated film but not a bad one. I love a lot of the characters, the new alien and the way they now share traits with their hosts. The planet and prison of Fury are also great. Alien 3 has a lot of great things about it and for that, I think it deserves more love than it gets. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen this one then allow it a second chance and you may find it’s not as terrible as people say it is!

Recommendation Rating: 8 out of 10

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