In 1979 Ridley Scott gave us one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made, the horrific masterpiece that was Alien. In 1986 James Cameron dished out a sequel that went a completely different direction from the first one, but was amazingly just as phenomenal, when he made Aliens. And then in 1992 David Fincher, in his very first feature film, gave us Alien 3. Poorly received, initially, this third installment in the saga continues the story of Ripley when her escape pod that her, Newt, Hicks, and Bishop escaped in at the end of Aliens crash lands on an all male prison planet. Ripley is the only survivor of the crash… or so she thinks. Soon enough the horrible xenomorph shows its face again and Ripley once again has to fight for her live while protecting those less experienced in fighting these horrible creatures.
Now, a quick disclaimer. The version of Alien 3 I watched was the aptly named Assembly Cut of the film. Alien 3 was stuck in development hell for a very long time, going through a plethora of rewrites and directors. David Fincher signed on and construction began on sets before the script was even finished. Then the script changed drastically and the tons of things had to be reworked and the film was constantly changing. When everything was finally laid out Fincher put together his first cut of the film, which was two and a half hours long, and turned it into 20th Century Fox. The studio was not pleased with it and changed the film significantly. The final product that the studio released was about a half hour shorter with a totally different beginning and end. Fincher despised the reworking of his film and has since disowned this film entirely. But in 2003 when the Alien Quadirlogy box set was released on DVD Fincher’s preferred Assembly Cut was included. This is the version I watched.
The reason I went into so much detail is because the theatrical release of the film was very poorly received. However, the Assembly Cut that I watched was awesome. It’s a truly excellent film and an awesome addition to the series. It harkens back more to the first film, only featuring one xenomorph and focusing more on claustrophobic terror than the guns blazing action film that was Aliens. Not that Aliens didn’t work unbelievably well, but I loved that Alien 3 shifted back to the suspense/horror roots of the series. Of course, this film is not as good as either of its predecessors, but still a fantastic film in its own rights.
Alien 3 flows wonderfully, the characters are a lot of fun and they are very fresh archetypes in the series. The setting of the film, again, harkens back to the setting of the first film, but now with some new and very interesting elements that you have to experience for yourself. Alien 3 is riveting and enthralling from start to finish, with Sigourney Weaver giving it her all as Ripley once again. It has its small flaws here and there, but they are far from fatal. There are some minor plot holes, the script isn’t the best in the world, and the CGI is actually pretty bad at times, somewhat removing you from the experience.
But, as a whole, this really is an invigorating film where you never know what will happen next. It’s a film that just keeps on giving and keeps on impressing in the goriest and most exciting ways possible. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t watch Alien 3. It’s not nearly as good as Alien or Aliens, but that is only because those two films are masterpieces.

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