Mar 12, 2010

[Movies] Alien 3 (1992)

Alien 3 (1992)As a movie franchise expands further and further, the likelihood that subsequent sequels will get worse and worse and worse. When a franchise gets past the trilogy mark, it tends to be pretty much assured of total failure unless something radically different comes along or something.

And thus I always feel that the third film is key to its future. There's just something about how our brains are wired that we like movies to come in threes and thus the third movie is the pivotal third act, the movie that is supposed to wrap things up somewhat neatly and yet leave the door open for more movies as is the Hollywood desire. How to balance those two goals without just making a blatant rehash of the previous movies is a trick in itself and yet some people manage to pull them off gracefully.

While other movies just totally bomb and make us regret ever hoping for the franchise to extend further.

Alien 3Image via Wikipedia

Alien 3 is, obviously, the third movie in the Alien series of movies and the directorial debut of David Fincher, who had only been making music videos prior to this movie. There's a lot of back story around how he got to be in charge of this movie somewhat late in the game, but let's not mind that right now.

The story takes place some time after the events of Aliens. The survivors remain in cryosleep when the system detects an alien presence onboard and diverts the ship to Florina 161 - also known as the foundry / penal colony "Fury". They crash land and ultimately only Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) survives. The colony is composed of an entirely male population and thus the presence of a woman is a minor disruption to their routine as it is. To make matters worse, they Sulaco survivors did in fact have an alien facehugger with them, one that quickly impregnates a dog, thus starting the viscious cycle that is the life of these xenomorphs once more.

This movie added to the Alien mythos in their concept that they aliens take on properties of the host organism. The prior movie had us seeing xenomorphs spawned from humans and thus they were fairly intelligent, could walk upright and things of that nature. Given the alien creature in this movie was spawned from a dog, it took on many canine attributes such as predominantly walking around on all fours and sort of hunting the inmates around like a wolf on the prowl.

The biggest pain of this movie can be summarized in two words. The first is pacing. The second is ambition.

My issues with pacing involve the movie being really, really slow. There's a big difference between the tension-building pauses that made the first two movies so scary versus the long, dragging, pointless sequences that this movie was filled with. Clearly Fincher was still trying to master how to use such silences in order to heighten emotions in the movie but instead it came out weird and nonsensical.

Then there's the ambitiousness of it all. The story called for the prisoners to be highly religious and a lot of screen time is spent either trying to convey that concept or trying to explains bits and pieces of their religion. I felt like a lot of it was trying to be a heck of a lot loftier than it really was, and that kind of forced intellectual babble just annoys the heck out of me.

Once the ball finally gets rolling, it did have some pretty good action. However in comparison to Aliens, we have to take a step back from the well-armed Colonial Marines and instead we have to go back to the kind of improvised weapons fighting we experienced in the first movie. I'm not sure if this is how we should have gone in terms of direction for this series. I know they were trying to go for something startling and new and yet an homage to the darker tones of the prior movies, but it didn't quite work out as it should have.

And don't get me started on the ending of this movie. Absolutely horrible.

Alien 3 was a decent attempt at continuing the series but may have only established that things should have ended while they were ahead. It gets 2.5 Bishop remains out of a possible 5.

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