The much maligned Alien 3, directed by David Fincher in his first feature length movie, isn’t the catastrophe many claimed it was when it released in 1992. Alien 3 is a movie with many interesting ideas, but a script that holds it back.
Upon reflection of David Fincher’s first movie Alien 3, which I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t seen before this past week, I believe it’s been exaggerated the quality of material that he’s put together here. Much maligned, even by the director himself (“Nobody hates it more than me”), Alien 3 marks an important moment in Fincher’s career – one that sees him dispel big, franchise filmmaking before he even gets his feet wet.
You can feel the divide between David Fincher’s procedural, intense filmmaking techniques with a movie that wants to be about the franchise’s titular monsters and an intergalactic prison pulled straight from the steampunk industrial era. It makes for a movie with a handful of neat shots and sequences, but few memorable plot points intermixed.
Sigourney Weaver stars again as Ripley, this time being oppressed by the inmates strolling the hallways inside their spacejail. She continues to be the only bridge linking the three Alien movies together, specifically because each director has different takes on the significance of the slimy monster serving as the plot engine.
Ridley Scott held his cards close to his chest throughout the original Alien, using great set pieces like the chestburster to keep audiences at bay until a ludicrous third act. James Cameron believed in the idea of overwhelming an audience with massive sets and fight sequences to achieve pure action bliss. David Fincher uses small sprinkles of both of these approaches, but ultimately found the movie most entertaining as a psychological thriller entirely void of the need for aliens.
Reviews for Movies like Alien 3
Which makes sense, given that everything happening in this universe takes place relatively close together in Ripley’s mind, even if she is taken out of deep sleep to start Alien 3. The trauma has been built for her over a trilogy of movies, and Alien 3 works best when she’s able to work through that trauma and guilt. And speaking of the beginning of Alien 3 – fans hate that twist. I get the frustration, but I liken it to those railing on The last Jedi; an auteur wanted to try something different with previous IP. Why make a new movie if it’s just rehashing the ideas and characters of the last two? It’s why Ridley Scott didn’t return to the franchise and use the same narrative arc and visual style again and again.
The rest of the movie shuffles through some stellar production design and practical effects, but it never really hits a groove. Fincher lends his keen eye for detail, but it’s ultimately overshadowed by a movie that never fully breaks out of the mold, no matter how hard it tries.
I’ll note that I don’t think it’s David Fincher’s worst movie. This coincides with the tone and mood that he’s frequently returned to throughout his next 10+ films, so there’s a template within Alien 3 that lends some understanding to his overall approach – it’s just not the best use of his talents.
Where to stream Alien 3: Hulu, VOD
Film Cast and Credits
Sigourney Weaver as Ripley
Charles S. Dutton as Dillon
Charles Dance as Clemens
Lance Henriksen as Bishop II
Paul McGann as Golic
Brian Glover as Andrews
Ralph Brown as Aaron
Director: David Fincher
Cinematography: Alex Thomson
Composer: Elliot Goldenthal
Alien 3 movie on Letterboxd
Alien 3 movie on IMDb