Alien³ (1992)

reviewed by
Frank Maloney

                                  ALIEN 3
                       A film review by Frank Maloney
                        Copyright 1992 Frank Maloney

ALIEN 3 is a film directed by David Fincher, from a script by David Giler, Walter Hill, and Larry Ferguson. It stars Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, Paul McGann, and Lance Henriksen. Rated R, for violence, language.

ALIEN 3 is, of course, the latest sequel to 1979's ALIEN, a landmark movie in its genre that scared the living daylights out of us all and has had us coming back for more for 13 years. ALIEN was poetic, scary, and innovative. ALIENS (1986) was the roller-coaster ride through hell. ALIEN 3 is grim, monochromatic, neither as scary nor as fast-paced as its predecessors. And yet, it's a lot better than I had been led to expect.

Someone tell us the story of how David Fincher, an MTV veteran, got the assignment to do this very expensive, potentially very lucrative film. It turns out to be an interesting choice since the editing style and the photography appear to me to be highly influenced by the music video style. Some film student should have a lot of fun writing this one up. I don't have the name of photographer here, but I must say I intensely enjoyed the photography in this film, there being times when it takes on a life of its own, quite apart from the action. I'm thinking a shot of sprinklers that look like ballerinas in ankle-length tutus, from which point on I became almost distractingly aware of the photography.

The story has a couple of interesting twists to it that ought to appeal to veterans of the series. And the supporting players are an interesting bunch. With everybody's head shaved, one concentrates on the faces more, and they an interesting lot of faces, not very pretty for the most part, but very interesting. Sigourney Weaver is pretty much the whole show, but a couple of the others come perilously close to upstaging here once or twice.

John Hartl in the Seattle Times made the interesting observation that the film is a metaphor about disease. After comparing it to NO EXIT or last year's POISON as a Hollywood version of trapped people with no defenses, he mentions that if the first film was about cancer, this one is about AIDS. There is a "vow of celibacy that also includes women." There are complaints about the lack of condoms and characters says things like: "I'm sorry you've got this thing inside you" and "I don't have much time, I'm dead already." This is a metaphor, remember, but one with a lot of resonance for me.

If you're a fan of the series, you will see ALIEN 3 regardless of what I say, so it hardly matters that I think you ought to, even at full price. If you're not one of the converted, you might want to give it a go at matinee rates. It has its points.

Frank Richard Aloysius Jude Maloney

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