Plot: What’s it about?
Lt. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is back once again, this time having just crash landed on a desolate landscape, the sole survivor aboard her vessel. While it may not seem as though life exists on such a wasteland of a planet, the truth is people live here, just not anyone important. The planet, Fiorina 161, is not much more than a roaming grounds for criminals who once served time in a maximum security prison housed there. Ripley believes she was not the only living thing aboard the vessel when it crashed, but that an alien was also present. Of course, she’s right, and she soon discovers this when that damn alien begins to wipe out the cons in short fashion. Alone in an unfamiliar place with no traditional weaponry, Ripley sees the need to unite the remaining criminals, and forge a force against the creature. But things could never be that simple, and Ripley finds out she has more in common with this alien that she thinks. Can Ripley deal with her newfound knowledge, or will she seek out a method ridding the world of the alien and herself?
When you list the films in the Alien Legacy, most people will probably place this movie at the bottom of their lists. Whether they feel the film is pointless, meandering, or just too dark, most people, even fans of the Alien movies, simply dislike this installment. I will be the first to admit that the movie does little to advance the series, but does every movie have to serve a purpose? What is so damn wrong with just making a movie with characters we know and creating an entertaining sequel? I don’t see anything wrong with a movie that seeks to stand alone in a series, and no matter how much criticism I hear about this movie, I still find it to be quite good, even if not up to the standards set by the first two films. Sure, this installment is dark, brooding, and depressing, but come on, this is an Alien movie, not some Disney animated feature, why shouldn’t it be dark? As much as folks complain about this movie, I doubt many have seen the true version of this movie, the director’s cut, which fills in blanks and creates a much better edition. Why this version was not offered on this release, I will never know. I do hope Fox comes back to this title, and gives us the true vision of what could have been if studio heads would keep out of the artistic side of things.
This movie marked the feature film debut of David Fincher, who has gone on to become quite a success in the business. With him at the helm, it’s easy to see how this movie ended up so dark, Fincher seems to have a knack for the more brooding style films. While not his best work, this offers a good chance to see some early work of Fincher’s, which led to movies like Seven, Fight Club, and The Game. As always, Sigourney Weaver plays the ever vigilant Ripley, who is a must for all Alien movies. Weaver (Galaxy Quest, Dave) has mastered this role by this time, so she is smooth and relaxed here. Charles Dance (The Blood Oranges, Space Truckers) gives a brief, but powerful turn here as well, with Charles S. Dutton (Random Hearts, A Time To Kill) and Pete Postlethwaite (Dragonheart, Amistad) playing large supporting roles. Also appearing in this movie are Paul McGann (Withnail & I, Doctor Who), Ralph Brown (Wayne’s World 2), Lance Henriksen (Scream 3, Powder), Brian Glover (An American Werewolf In London), and Danny Webb.
Video: How does it look?
Alien 3 is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer, framed at the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This movie is about as dark as they come, the visuals almost drown in the darkness, although that is the intention. With a movie that relies so much on darkness, it would be easy for a below par transfer to murk up things too much, and obscure what little detail is evident. Lucky for us, this transfer is up to snuff, and the visuals sharp, retaining all original detail and image. While colors lives only through earthen tones and dark greens, these hues appear as they were intended, and flesh tones remain natural throughout. I didn’t see any signs of compression errors either, this is one of Fox’s finest transfers to date.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is easily the most powerful disc in the series audio wise, but isn’t among the elite in all of DVD land. The effects are presented well, and will have your speakers working double time to keep up. The surrounds will all have their turns, with ass kicking bass and spatial effects employed. The lower impact stuff gets its due as well, such as dialogue and low key effects.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A booklet found inside the case reveals some cast and crew information as well as brief production notes. On the disc itself, you will find trailers for the four movies in the Alien Legacy, as well as a featurette, The Making Of Alien 3. This piece runs about twenty-five minutes, and has interviews with director David Fincher as well as most of the cast, mixed with footage from behind the scenes. While these bonus materials are welcome, I am not pleased with the lack of the director’s cut of the film. I hope Fox will take another look at this release, and issue Fincher’s true vision of this movie.