Being a male homo sapien, I have a hard time understanding why women like sad movies. Crying is not fun. Why would you want to cry? Like most of my kind I prefer action and heroism. But sometimes there is heroism in the bleakest tragedy.
ALIEN³ was directed by David Fincher (SE7EN, PANIC ROOM) and written by David Giler (ALIEN, ALIENS [story]), Walter Hill (ALIENS [story]) and Larry Ferguson (HIGHLANDER, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER), based on a story by Vincent Ward and based on the characters created by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett. Man, that is a boatload of writers! Is writing talent additive? Let's find out.
The opening credits are devastating, especially if you're a fan of the first two movies (ALIEN and ALIENS). Before the movie really even begins you see that everything Ripley (Sigourney Weaver: ALIEN [all], GHOSTBUSTERS [all]) fought so hard for is lost. Her tremendous fight against hordes of alien warriors and the huge alien queen in the last movie and the thrilling rescue of her surrogate daughter, Newt, was all for nothing. While she, Newt (Carrie Henn in the last movie but Danielle Edmond here), Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn in the last movie but no one here because he's dead) and the android Bishop (Lance Henriksen: TERMINATOR, ALIENS, NEAR DARK) lay in hyper-sleep (suspended animation for the long space voyage) we see one of the spider-like facehugger creatures (which must have come aboard with the queen) crawl toward the hypersleep tubes.
Damage caused by the facehugger using its super-acidic blood to burn through the tube causes an electrical fire on board the completely automated ship and the computer heads for the nearest inhabited world on its flight path. The sleep tubes are placed in a lifeboat-lander, which lands very hard indeed on Fury 161. On screen text tells us this planet is home to a combination mineral ore refinery and "double-Y chromosome" work correctional facility. Men born with two Y-chromosomes have a tendency toward violent crime. In other words this is a mining colony where extremely violent criminals are used for slave labor.
Or at least it used to be. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation (referred to in all the movies as "The Company") used to have a 5000 prisoner facility here, but apparently it wasn't profitable. They shut it down but left behind a skeleton crew of 25 former prisoners to maintain the infrastructure in case they decided to do something with it later. These prisoners, almost all double-Y's, have found religion and don't wish to return to the temptations of society.
Ripley is the only survivor of the lifeboat crash. Hicks is impaled in the wreckage and sad, brave little Newt drowns in her sleep tube. The android Bishop is smashed beyond repair and the pieces tossed on a trash heap. The locals take her to the see Clemons (Charles Dance), the closest thing they have to a doctor. A large dog owned by one of the prisoners stays by the crashed lifeboat, barking at something inside.
Ripley wakes up and is given the bad news. She's in very rough shape and one eye is horribly blood shot. One of the things I admire about Sigourney Weaver is that if a part requires her to look bad, she goes all the way. That takes more self-confidence than most gorgeous, appearance-conscious movie stars usually have.
Superintent Andrews (Brian Glover: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON) and his assistant Mr. Aaron (Ralph Brown) inform Ripley that her presence will be very disruptive and upsetting to the men and she's not to go anywhere unescorted. A message has been sent to the company and a rescue squad is expected in about a week.
When Ripley inspects the lifeboat and sees the burn marks on the sleep tubes, she insists on performing an autopsy on Newt. She had been holding it together emotionally but this almost pushes her control past its limit.
Newt's autopsy reveals nothing but in another part of the complex a very sick dog will shortly be put out of his misery.
The superintendent holds a very perfunctory service for Newt and Hicks. During the service a prisoner named Dillon (Charles Dutton: MIMIC) steps forward and says a few words of his own. His eulogy moves Ripley. Dillon is a sort-of preacher to his brothers in exile here.
Ripley finds a friend in the sort-of doctor, Clemons (lots of
"sort-of" people here) but she keeps the details of her
past secret. But when people begin dying or simply disappearing, Ripley
knows what's happening. She barely has time to tell the disbelieving
staff what's going on when she herself is confronted by the alien.
It gets up close, inches away and her fate seems sealed. But then it leaves
her unharmed. Why?
Asking questions always makes me hungry for a
Through all the movies Ripley has been a rock. Even though she was an emotional basket case in the beginning of "Aliens" she still held it together and faced her worst fears. But this movie is about her worst fears come true and then some. Its a departure from the horror / action theme of the first two films and really tests the depths of Ripleys character. Even in the face of tragedy piled upon tragedy, she manages to maintain, even though that may not be enough.
I liked this movie, but it did have problems. One plot issue I do have is why is "The Company" so intent on getting Ripley, when back on LV 426 (the planet in the last two movies), there's still a whole crashed-alien-ship full of these creatures (the alien ship was many miles from the colony blown up at the end of ALIENS it's still there)? I have to take points off for such a big plot hole. I give ALIEN³ an appropriate 3 shriek girls.
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