Alien 3: A Misunderstood Masterpiece
First thing's first, I'm going to get this out of the way: Alien 3 is a fantastic movie that is extremely underrated. In fact, I would go so far to say that it is as good, if not better than Aliens, a movie which is commonly considered to be one of the best of the franchise. And while it is true that as time passes, the movie has been viewed in a much fonder light, it still doesn't receive the credit it deserves. One more thing: it should be noted that this review will cover primarily the Assembly Cut of the film, which is vastly superior to the Theatrical Release. Violence-9/10: An alien is birthed out of a dog/ox (depending on which version you are watching) A man is burned with acid. A man is ripped to shreds by a giant fan. Several people are bitten in the head by an alien, with accompanying blood spray. A man slits another man's throat. The alien is shown eating a man, it is not graphic. The alien pulls a man into a vent; blood is seen pouring out. A gory image of a man's impaled body is seen. An autopsy is performed on a dead little girl. We see blood pooling into a sink and a brief glimpse of her lungs. In the theatrical version of the film, a baby alien bursts from a person's chest. Inmates of a prison planet are described as rapists, murderers, and child molesters. Two people are shot. A person falls into a large pool of molten metal. A fire kills several people. We see them engulfed in flames. An android receives a mercy killing. (spoilers) The alien blows up. (spoilers end) Several men are hit with a crowbar. A man is hit in the head with a large wrench, nearly having his ear torn off. Language-10/10: There are over 100 uses of f*ck (around 80 in the theatrical), as well as numerous uses of sh*t and *ss. A couple of misuses of Jesus' name. Three uses of w*nker. Sex and Nudity: A woman touches a young girl's dead body in a non-sexual manner. There are brief glimpses of the girl's nipple, also in a non-sexual manner. Ripley takes a shower and is seen naked from the side from about the mid-thigh upward. It is non-sexual manner. A group of prison inmates discuss their vows of celibacy. A group of men attempt to rape Ripley, but they are stopped. Ripley sleeps with a man and they briefly discuss it. Nothing sexual is shown. Drinking, Drugs and Smoking: A doctor says that he was once addicted to morphine. He recounts a disturbing experience he had while attending wounded people while under the influence of alchohol. The biggest complaint about Alien 3 is that it kills off two of the main characters from Aliens within the first few minutes of the film. While it is true that this was because of an inability to get the actors from the previous film back for Alien 3, it actually comes across as quite a gutsy move. The film is supposed to be depressing (I'll get to that later), and this solidifies that point early on. Secondly, Alien 3 raises the question: "How did the alien egg get aboard the Sulaco?" It can't be denied that this is a rather large plot hole, but I personally have seen several theories, all of which make perfect sense, about how the egg got there. If you're curious, you can always look it up for yourself. Another problem is the question of how the facehugger implanted two hosts instead of one. This question is answered in the assembly cut when Morse finds a dead royal facehugger. In the expanded universe of the Alien franchise, it is explained that a royal facehugger can implant a queen in one host and then implant a drone in a second host with the purpose of protecting the queen as she/it develops. The final complaint that is often heard about Alien 3 is that it's just so darn depressing. Each of the first three Alien movies have a theme. The first one is about birth (Kane impregnated with the first alien), the second is about family (Ripley, Newt, and Hicks), and the third is about death (the death of Hicks, Newt, (spoilers) Ripley (spoilers end), and pretty much everyone else), so of course it's depressing. Besides, the Alien movies were never exactly happy movies anyway. Alien 3 also does so many things right. It sets up the somber atmosphere perfectly. The cinematography and visuals are stunning. The dog/ox alien feels just as menacing as the aliens of the first two movies, while also bringing something new to the table, allowing Alien 3 to go back to its single alien roots without feeling like a cheap imitation of Alien. Sigourney Weaver's performance as the battered, world-weary Ripley is the best of the entire franchise, and Alien 3 boasts one of the most perfectly composed scores of any movie ever. Dillon's funeral speech inter-cut with images of the alien's birth beautifully symbolizes the death of innocence and the birth of evil. In the Assembly Cut, Paul McGann's Golic is fleshed out and becomes one of the most interesting characters of the movie. His deranged reverence for the "dragon" is showcased perfectly, illustrating the true depths of his insanity. Clemens' relationship with Ripley is also an interesting plot point, despite being cut short, and Charles S. Dutton delivers a compelling performance as Dillon, the spiritual leader of the inmates. The "crappy CGI" alien (which is actually not CGI but a rod puppet) may not look quite as good today, but earned the movie an Oscar nomination for best visual effects when it came out. The dialogue can be clunky at times, but is overall pretty decent, and the audio quality in some scenes isn't great, due to the fact that they were restored from discarded footage. Overall, Alien 3 is an amazing and tragically underrated film that all mature viewers should watch.