Tuesday, March 5, 2013

MR Alien 3

In space no one can hear you scream... again and again!

Want more Alien/Predator-related reviews? Check the following!!

Movie: Alien³ 
Directed by David Fincher
Release date 1992
Genre Science-fiction horror
Country USA

Ah! Alien³!
Aka "how NOT to make a movie".

The third entry in the Alien franchise is the perfect example of the worst that can happen when a studio gets in the way of a film director.
Executives meddling with the work of an artist.

Alien 3 started well enough.
After two perfect examples of what the movie industry could achieve with a more mature science-fiction genre, 20th Century Fox wanted of course to pursue the experiment.
This time by putting the sequel in the hands of yet another newcomer in Hollywood, but from a far completely different background than science fiction and special effects masters Ridley Scott and James Cameron.

Instead the project was given to David Fincher.
Who was relatively unknown at the time. (Cameron and Scott were actually also just starting their career during their respective Alien entries)
David Fincher only had directed at that time several music videos.
But Fox already had this project gone through the hands of several screenwriters, and other movie directors had a take a it before leaving it.

The shooting started with no actual script ready and various sets already built.
With such an hazardous production, no wonder the premise wouldn't make much sense...

The story opens up quite abruptly.

Remember our heroes, leaving the Sulaco on an escape pod?
Turns out it just crash landed on this prison/refinery colony, killing everyone on board in the process.
Everyone but Ellen Ripley.
And it seems the Alien Queen got enough time at the end of Aliens to not let an egg aboard the pod but two!
(why didn't they just quickly shot a scene with two Facehuggers going inside that pod, instead of the eggs stuck clearly visibly in the pod is a different question...)

An Alien is born.

So Ripley is stuck with a bunch of inmates in this facility for former prisoners called Fury 161.
Nobody believes her at first when she talks about this monster that might have escaped around.
People get picked one by one.
With no weapons available.

This movie didn't sound that bad, on the paper.
It's a return to the claustrophobic feel of the original Alien.
A return to a more oppressive tone, a single Xenomorph menace.

The production was as hazardous as it could be.

It was the big budget debut of David Fincher.
To his defense, the man had no time to prepare for any of it, most of things were already ready to shot. The cast was already decided, some sets already built.
Then there was all the creative differences between Fincher and Fox. He started some rewrites of his own, tried to make the best from what was available.
At some point the whole story was laid as such: Ripley's pod would crash on a Wood Planet inhabited by monks, the Alien would then be picked 'em up across this surreal medieval-looking settings and they would have to use the available material there to fence it off.
But Fox didn't like it. So they canned it. Even though all the actors were already going around with the shaved heads at that time.
I can only imagine how difficult this experience was for a young director...

Fox even made a trailer at the time, from the little they had under their hands without regarding him on the matter, which proclaimed it would have taken place on planet Earth(!!).

There were a lot of disputes between him and Fox regarding the budget, the story... Eventually what had to happen..happened. Fincher left the project long before editing it. They patched up the film as best as they can and released it afterwards anyways.
"No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me" - Fincher on Alien3 in the bonus footage from the DVD release
David Fincher has long gone refusing having Alien3 in his filmography since then.

There's a lot of problems to discuss about Alien³.
They killed the little family Cameron established in the previous episode..because they didn't know what to do with them and the production was starting already.
They couldn't get Michael Biehn to return as Corporal Hicks, or didn't bother, or both! So they just killed him and Newt off-screen.
With a script not even finalized during shooting and multiple rewrites, there's a lot of logical gaps made here and it shows.

But there's also some little good that came off it.
Fincher was a pretty well suited director for the series.
His nervous feel really fits the series, and he brings a bit of his own "vision" to the franchise, let's not gorget that Fincher's style would be recognized and appreciated later on such films as Fight Club or Zodiac.

It's a much darker episode. Killing major characters from previous installment with so little regard to the audience..
After the more action-oriented Marines episode, we get this film that tries really hard to recapture the tone of the original, with an Alien confined to a small environment.
The film is definitively more religious and even has this quite enjoyable gothic vibe.

It's a shame that this one also saw the H.R. Giger to the franchise.
He came back for the creature. The newly redesigned Alien is very creepy.
They used a bunch of animal suits - which looked great, and some clever puppetry. And butchered it all with lots of awful composites and bluescreen.
The special effects are very dated, and even already were back then compared to the standards at the time.
At least it looks great when the creature appear behind people on close ups.

The music is also fantastic.
It was composed by Elliot Goldenthal this time. He did such a great job of both capturing the previous soundtracks and adding his own touch.

The movie got an Oscar nomination for its FXs. And that is all.

Overall, it's a very... how to put it? It's a big patchwork. Not a clever one, it's just what this is.
How did they put the Alien in this setting? Ignore any logic to move forward...
Although other things are a bit more well thought. The Alien ignores Ripley and never attempt to killer her? Why? Well, where did that second Facehugger go....!

Fincher wanted to put an end to the series (could it be?), but Fox wanted otherwise..
The movie was badly received by critics at the time. 
It killed his career as quickly as it started. He would go back to making music videos again until Seven in 1995!

There's a of little good elements in this movie.
The use of the creature's POV during the chases, the fearful atmosphere,..
But the disconnected structure of the film... Putting the Alien on screen so much also made it lost its magic.

How did that egg(eggs?) get inside the escape pod to begin with!?!

The movie was later recut for the DVD re-release alongside the first two's Director's Cut.
Dubbed the Assembly Cut, it was how the film looked like when Fincher left it.
Some scenes do make more sense, there's more interactions between the characters, some fun "dark" little moments that have gone missing.
Also the Chestbuster doesn't get out of a dog, that was actually reshot later. But from an Ox the crew on Fury found out, apparently dead, outside.
It's fun for a watch, but I don't really recommend it. The audio and video quality of this cut is pretty sub-par. Only watch it for novelty once.

I give it:
1 / 3 UFOs!

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