It’s time to celebrate the birthday of one of the cruelest creatures to exist in the history of cinema, Alien. 35 years have passed since the release of ‘Alien’, directed by iconic filmmaker Ridley Scott. And even though it’s been almost four decades, it has not lost any of its potency to scare, grotesque and fascinate a whole new generation of movie-goers.
However, one film in the franchise that has been scrutinized is in actual fact a masterpiece…
Yes, I’m talking about Alien 3, the most infamous film in the trilogy. I say trilogy because frankly the fourth film erodes any decent pleasure in the Alien universe. Alien vs. Predator holds more humility than the unremarkable piece which was Alien Resurrection.
Alien 3 was a mess, that was until the Assembly Cut was made in 2003, and it’s far more superior cut in 2010 remastering all the footage and audio.
David Fincher, is an auteur. His masterful shots, and suspense-filled scenes should envoke in this final installment in the Alien franchise, and they do in the new assembly cut. Even though Fincher didn’t want anything to do with the film’s new cut – and I don’t blame him., it truly distasteful how much the studios cut out of the film. The running time for the studio release was 114 minutes compared to Fincher’s envisioned version of 145 minutes. The studio cut shows banality at best, where people are condescending, the environment is lifeless, and the characters withered down by excessive cutting to being merely pawns for the Alien to kill. The original cut however illustrates intellectual conversations, a process of thought throughout the characters. The first 15 minutes of the film is purely visual letting the audience be drawn in, like Ridley did with the opening of Alien. Like all trilogies. Fear comes full circle.
Alien 3 stands as a benchmark for sequels. Alien provided the suspense. Aliens provided the thrills. Alien 3 provided the mythical beauty. And even though it doesn’t truly live up to its predecessors, it deserves to stand among them.
Alien 3 starts with the Sulaco, the space-shuttle from ‘Aliens’ crash landing on a Ore-refinery/ prison planet, Fury 161. This leads to death of the previous characters Newt (the young girl) and Hicks (military officer). Many fans were outraged by this elaborate plan to kill off two of the most vital characters to the Alien universe beside the titular heroine herself. This in my opinion was a slap in the face in the original cut. However, after watching the Assembly Cut, it makes sense. It resonates with you, the heart break that Ripley feels for these characters, a yearning that she can never get back since the loss of her real daughter at the beginning of Aliens.
The film is colour-graded like any of Fincher’s films, the grey scaling and ominous hints of film-noir. It’s shots a wonder to behold. And what’s even more fascinating is that the Alien is born from an Ox – the body embraces the use of its host to evolve into a killing machine that isn’t as intelligent it’s more frighting, it’s instinct. In the original cut, the film see’s the Alien being born from a dog rather than an Ox, which it too was interesting however, it didn’t fit in with the universe since the film specifically states at the beginning that hair isn’t allowed because of the lice.
The first Alien was about survival. Aliens was about getting even. Alien 3 is about knowing death is coming, and about how are you going to check out. The words used more profoundly, by co-star Charles S. Dutton in Alien 3.
Alien 3 has had a lot of wrap in its time. However, I think it’s time the new version got some praise. I mean, I hated the original cut. And when I saw the newer more authentic version, I haven’t stopped singing its praises. Alien 3 is a masterpiece. It concludes a fascinating, grotesque, beautiful, hateful relationship between one of the most feared creatures in the universe and that of our heroine Lt. Ellen Ripley.