Alien3 Review


Alien3 is an odd one. It went through hell during development, leading to filming starting before the script was even finished, and the end result was pretty poor. The alternate edit, known as “The Assembly Cut”, helps it a bit (apart from one scene which I’ll get to later) but it’s still a mess. Not a bad film, but not a particularly good one either. Let’s take a look at it anyway… because otherwise this would be a very short blog…


Ellen Ripley is the only survivor when she crash lands on Fiorina “Fury” 161, a bleak wasteland inhabited by former inmates of the planet’s maximum security prison. Once again, Ripley must face scepticism and the alien as it hunts down the prisoners and guards. Without weapons or modern technology of any kind, Ripley leads the men into battle against the terrifying creature…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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The only truly memorable scene in the whole film…

Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) – After going through hell for a second time in as many days (from her perspective) Ripley wakes once again to find herself in a hellish landscape and with a Xenomorph on the loose… plus possibly more than the one…

Dillon (Charles S. Dutton) – The leader of the inmates’ self-built religious cult. Despite this, Dillon is still quite level headed and sane, which is good given the group he has to lead…

Jonathan Clemens (Charles Dance) – The doctor of the inmate population, and one of the few “nice” people Ripley meets on Fury 161. Whether he was sent there to help, or merely an inmate who has medical skills is another matter…

Golic (Paul McGann) – A mass-murderer who is even an outcast to the other inmates. He slowly goes insane after his first contact with the Xenomorph…

Harold Andrews (Brian Glover) – The Prison Warden who wants Ripley off the planet as soon as possible, given she’s the only female around and the kind of company he’s had to keep…

Bishop (Lance Henriksen) – The android that helped Ripley, Hicks and Newt survive the incident in the previous film. He is badly damaged, but can still offer advice…

Aaron (Ralph Brown) – Harold Andrews’ Superintendent who is nicknamed “85” due to his IQ score, much to his displeasure.

Plus more!

The Good:

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“WHO. AM. I?!”

There are some good points to Alien3. The alien itself is more animal like due to being birthed from either a dog or an ox (depending on which cut of the film you watch), and I like the way it moves, though it looks really odd due to being a puppet in front of a blue screen that’s pasted onto the footage. The revelation that the Xenomorphs take aspects of whatever animal it bursts from (which is why they’re called Xenomorphs!) is good, and explains why the aliens in the last two films were bipedal despite the facehuggers being spider-like. The scene where the alien sniffs and slowly lets its second mouth out and hisses at a terrified Ripley before walking off is damn near iconic at this point, and is brilliantly done (thankfully that was during some of the man-in-a-suit stuff rather than the blue screen!).

Some characters are actually interesting, Clemens and the mystery as to why he’s on the prison planet is good, especially given how well he treats everybody, despite what apparently brought him there (which is never fully revealed). Golic, at least in the Assembly Cut, is a fun character to see slowly go insane and then possibly cost everyone their lives.

Lastly, the ending… or at least the original ending. Ripley has an Xenomorph Queen inside her and the Weyland corporation once again wants their hands on it. Ripley chooses to leap to her fiery death just as the alien queen is bursting out of her. She grabs it close to her chest and vanishes into the flames with some properly dramatic music playing in the background. Great stuff! The Assembly Cut, for all its positives, cuts out the alien bursting out and just has her vanish into the fire, which is less dramatic and interesting… I honestly have no idea why they did this… Still, great scene!

The Bad:

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Bishop Sr. in the real flesh!

The first thing that jumps to my and most people’s minds is that the opening of the film has Hicks and Newt die in the crash while still asleep in their pods. What a waste! I’m not saying Hicks was the best character ever, but after going through everything in the previous film he deserved an actual send off at least. And Newt has possibilities not just as a child, but in the future as a character if they so wanted… Ah well… Too late now!

In the last two films I’ve mentioned how great and tense the opening scenes are, but here they just… aren’t. Everything is brown and murky, the Xenomorph constantly looks off due to the blue screen effect, and even when it’s a great physical suit the kills are just… plain. No sense of beautifully crafted tension or anything. There are also a lot of POV shots from the Xenomorph’s perspective, which actually end up look a bit funny rather than scary…

In general I just didn’t find most of the inmates interesting, and the whole film is so dull and grey and brown that it’s just depressing. Yes I know that it is very much a depressing setting, but it’s not very fun to watch. The faux-religion that the inmates have created is a little interesting, but it never really goes anywhere. In fact “a little interesting, but it never really goes anywhere” is a good sum up of the film itself!

Also, although it makes sense given the setting, I’d rather not have to watch the scene of several inmates trying to rape Ripley. It’s unpleasant in a completely different way to how I like it in the Alien franchise…

Overall Thoughts:

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Hello sexy!

Dull and depressing, Alien3 has its moments, but they’re few and far between. Only a few characters are of any interest and the film is seriously lacking in tension and scares, especially as they went back to “one alien stalking people” like the first one. Not the worst movie ever made by any means, but also not a very exciting one to watch…

2 Star Watch

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