Alien, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror that kick-started a franchise has continued to thrive not only in the media of film, but also in books, comics, video games, toys, and so many others. Some have argued that the first film in the Alien series is the best while others would argue that its sequel, Aliens, is indeed the master classic. A case can be made for either of those statements, but I would say that the stepchild of the franchise, Alien 3, deserves a certain level of respect from the fans. Now I know some people may call me crazy – but let me make a case on why you should give this film another watch and maybe I can bring you to my side of the argument. Let’s dive in.
Without wasting a whole lot of time on the plot, I’ll just give you the rundown (spoilers ahead – but I mean, it’s 2017. What are you waiting for?):
Last survivors of the spaceship ‘The Sulaco’, Ripley, Newt, Hicks, and Bishop are sound asleep in their cryotubes when a fire occurs. As a last ditch effort of survival, they are jettisoned off the ship in an escape pod and crash land on the planet Firoina “Fury” 161 near a foundry facility and penal colony inhabited only by male inmates.
With the two previous Alien films, you got a different type of genre that would make each of these films a standalone story. As mentioned earlier, Alien goes along the line of horror while Aliens leans more into the world of action. Alien 3 goes in the way of suspense/thriller that gives us elements of the first one but on a grander scale where the people in danger have even less of a chance of surviving.
When the crew of the Nostromo dealt with the same ordeal, they had a more confined space to trap the creature and a few flamethrowers to help along the way. The facility on Fury 161 was so massive with vents and corridors that went on for miles that there was no way to corner the creature, and they had only knives and axes to use for defense. To put it in the way that Ellen Ripley did, they were fucked. These allowed the tension to ramp up really fast once the Xenomorph was born and would always be present even in the calmest scenes.
Another factor that makes this film great was the characters and their relationship with one another. Though they may look alike because of their character designs, the personalities of each one stood out in a way that makes them memorable and introduces many aspects later on that could be explored in the franchise.
Golic, played by Paul McGann, gives the creature a level of worship on the scale of deity which would be introduced in the film Prometheus. One of the relationships in the film that makes it an enjoyable watch is the one between Ripley and Dillon. The chemistry between these two characters dropped the sexual tension from Aliens and gave this type of film a brother and sister bond that hadn’t been tapped into. This allowed a different view of Ripley to be seen by the audience.
Something else that makes this film a strong entry into the franchise is the progression and proper conclusion to the character of Ellen Ripley.
In Alien, Ripley was the victim who would just barely survive by the skin of her teeth. In Aliens, that trope would still be present but broken in the last 20-30 minutes of the film with iconic moments like a stare down with the alien queen and an amazing epic battle. But in Alien 3, we got the Ripley that we’ve always wanted where she was finally able to take control from almost beginning to end. Sigourney Weaver has even gone on record saying that her character was difficult to write but she would only do this film if Walter Hill and David Giler wrote the final shooting script because they would write the character correctly.
The third installment in the film series may have its faults that give the movie a lesser grade than it deserves, but you have to ignore some of them because of studio interference with the direction of David Fincher’s vision and the lack of time he was given to make a proper Alien film. Just give the director’s cut version a look and you’ll have a better idea of where he wanted to go with it.