Ripley's Doomed Maternity - 'Alien 3' Review

Updated on March 19, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interest is science fiction and zombie movies. Pessimistic and survival films I also enjoy a lot.

I really hate when sequels use its plot to immediately erase the achievements and motivations of the previous film. By laziness, improvisation or the "I want to leave my mark" arrogance, they only end up slapping and disrespecting the viewer.

That's precisely what Alien 3 is: a failed cinematic experiment driven more by 20th Century Fox's commercial ambition than by a real desire to expand the quality of the saga.

It doesn't matter if I refer to the Theatrical Cut (where the Alien gestates on a dog instead of an ox and the infant alien queen burst out Ripley's chest while she falls to a furnace) or the “Assembly Cut” (with 37 extra minutes with an emphasis on the religious aspect of the characters).

In its core, this project is the lowest point of the original saga largely because director David Fincher didn't have real control of the material. This is a movie made by executives rather than by artists.

Alien 3 begins his infamy by instantly eliminating the key emotional characters of Aliens. A facehugger alien sneaks into the spaceship where Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Newt, Hicks and Bishop remains in stasis.

The alien causes a fire, which forces the ship to launch the escape pods which land in Fiorina "Fury" 161, a foundry facility and criminal colony exclusive for male inmates who are genetically predestined to brutal antisocial behavior.

Newt and Hicks die at the impact. Bishop is practically destroyed. A lazy, cheap clean slate so Ripley's new motivation doesn't have any old obstacles.

But that's not all. Even with the return of H.R. Giger designing this new version of the xenomorph (gestated from a quadruped animal rather than a human), this is the least threatening alien of the whole saga. Its hunter instinct sucks.

The majority of the time the monster is lured with relative ease wherever humans want it to be. We also discover early the fact that the alien isn't even a threat to Ripley (she has an alien queen gestating inside her body). All that, mixed with a dated CGI that has aged horribly makes for a really forgettable creature.

Even with the few new interesting characters that create, Alien 3 doesn't hesitate to quickly shoot itself in the foot. That's how well-spirited, mystery guy Clemens (Charles Dance) is killed in the middle of the film, in a move that far from shocking audiences, annoys them.

Even Bishop gets tainted, with Lance Henriksen reprising his role with a twist: He is now the evil human designer of Bishop, a "friendly face" of the company sent to basically trick Ripley (again).

It's unfortunate that the execution had been so clumsy because Alien 3 does have interesting themes that deepen Ripley's constant feminist struggle. The main theme is maybe best voiced by inmate/spiritual leader Dillon (Charles S. Dutton) when he states: “we view the presence of any outsider, specially a woman, as a violation of the harmony, a potential break in the spiritual unit”.

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In Alien 3, Ripley's sexuality is enhanced. She is surrounded by the worst examples that masculinity can offer in the form of rapists, murderers, and sociopaths. She is objectified on several occasions. She even survives an attempted rape. She is treated as a "damsel in distress" before she assumes her natural leadership.

The death of Newt reaffirms a motif about Ripley's doomed maternity. Because of the Weyland-Yutani Company, Ripley has already lost two daughters (one biological, the other adopted). In Alien 3, while literally being a prisoner of the company (they run Fiorina), Ripley learns that her hated alien enemy has impregnated her. She then decides to end her life and the alien's inside her (her bizarre "third daughter", because it's an infant alien queen).

It’s Ripley's femininity treated as an obstacle and a threat.

But even with its interesting subjects, the reality is undeniable: Alien 3 has so many miscalculations that its plot doesn't feel as part of a classic saga but rather more like a glorified fan fiction.

Movie Details

Title: Alien 3

Release Year: 1992

Director(s): David Fincher

Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, a.o.

2 stars for Alien 3

© 2019 Sam Shepards

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