In Defence of the ‘Worst’ Alien Film or How I Would Fix Alien 3

My most controversial film opinion: I love Alien 3 (David Fincher, 1992), and I think it’s pretty good. I would choose to watch it over Aliens (James Cameron, 1986) every time.

I think there’s a lot of good in Alien 3 that is overlooked due to it’s fraught production history and less than great box office returns. There is a great cast, and Charles Dance as Clemens and Charles S. Dutton give fantastic performances. The us vs her mentality of the prisoners gives a great tension to the film and really isolates Ripley as an outsider, furthering her parallels to the Alien. I think the concepts of the plot and the dog-morph or Dragon as it is known are interesting and could have been great if executed differently. I like the gritty, nihilistic tone of the film and I think that works well not only in the context of the film, but also the wider social context of the time when it was made. Lastly, I really enjoy the idea of Ripley as the Christ figure which is used throughout this film, especially at the end, and it is definitely something that I want to explore more.

I really enjoy Alien 3, but there is a lot that could change or be fixed to make a better film here. So, how would I fix Alien 3?

I think most of the issues with Alien 3 come from characterisation. The concept of the religious prisoners is a really interesting one, but apart from Clemens and Dillon they’re given hardly any characterisation, leading to them almost merging into one character. There are moments when the personalities of the prisoners could really shine though, for example in the infirmary with Golic, however, these moments are never given the development needed to fully realise the prisoners as individual characters.

The other main issue I have with Alien 3 is the concept of motherhood. Motherhood is a strong theme within the Alien franchise, and this would seem to culminate in Alien 3 as Ripley is gestating the Xenomorph queen embryo. Whereas Ripley is usually taking on a symbolic mother role, in this film Ripley physically takes on this role as well, however, this theme does not come through as strongly as it possibly could have due to the lack of Newt in the script. At the end of Aliens Ripley enters the EEV with a new family in Bishop, Hicks and Newt and she leaves the pod in Alien 3 with them all gone, however, she doesn’t react to this as strongly as expected. In fact, she hardly reacts at all. She mourns Newt through her autopsy, however after this she is not mentioned again, and Hicks is barely acknowledged. If I were rewriting this film, I would keep Newt clinging to life and have some scenes between her and Ripley, forcing Ripley to confront the plight of her adopted daughter born from the ‘daughter’ she is gestating. This would also allow Ripley to show more emotion throughout the film and give the audience hope for Newt before taking it away, causing an emotional climax before the action climax of the film. Later, Newt would die, leaving Ripley devastated at both her and Hicks’ deaths and further connecting the two characters she is a ‘mother’ to.

Do you agree with my opinions about Alien 3? What do you think about the film, and how would you change it?

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