Sigourney Weaver Ripley
Charles S. Dutton Dillon
Charles Dance Clemens
Paul McGann Golic
Brian Glover   Andrews
Ralph Brown  Aaron
Danny Webb Morse
Lance Henriksen  Bishop II
Chris Fairbank Murphy
Pete Postlethwaite David
Danielle Edmond Newt

Directed by David Fincher. Written by David Giler, Walter Hill and Larry Ferguson (from a story by Vincent Ward, based on characters created by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett). 1992. Running time: 115 minutes.

alien3a.jpg (12555 bytes)Alien 3 got a bum rap from fans when it came out back then by fans who were wanting Aliens 3 rather than anything else.

Let's take a look at the movie again:


  • Stunning production designs and photography. In fact, this is the movie's biggest plus. Sure, I know that cigarette advertisements can also boast good photography and locales, but Alien 3 is astonishing to simply gawk at. Watching the film again recently, it is quite obvious that it is the directing debut of David Fincher. Fincher went on to direct the horror classic Seven and the Michael Douglas thriller, The Game. (Seven, when you think about it, is also a victory for production design.)
  • Incredibly atmospheric music by Eliot Goldenthal. I own the soundtrack -what can I say? It's not just adequate as a movie soundtrack, but some tracks from it actually warrant cranking up the volume knob while watching the candles flicker and gulping down a whiskey. Especially the opening and closing music are beautiful.
  • Sigourney Weaver. She gives a good performance - what can I say? The rest of the cast is adequate too.


  • The over-familiar plot. We've seen this in the original Alien and countless times since then - the isolated group of people versus the unstoppable alien menace.
  • The interchangeable and unsympathetic characters. Well, most of the characters are rapists and murderers who found religion and not really very likeable types. To make things worse, one has a really tough time telling the one from the other. In the end, they just serve as alien dinner for one.
  • The bad pacing. The movie never seems to really pick up and some bits really really drag.
  • Implausibilities. The scenes in which the lone alien chases the characters around are very unbelievable. Although technically well done one cannot for one moment believe that they can outrun such a creature. It looks so fast . . . Also, these scenes get repetitive.
  • Dodgy alien effects. The special effects are excellent throughout except for some scenes involving the alien creature, which looks really fake.

It might seem as if the againsts outweighs the fors, but that isn't really the case. Ultimately its gritty and grungy depiction of the future wins out and makes Alien 3 worth viewing. Returning to the horror roots of the first Alien movie, Alien 3 came as a disappointment after Aliens, which was more of an action movie than anything else.

Fans wanted a full-scale invasion of Earth by the aliens, and when they didn't were disappointed, complaining that Alien 3 was a mere rehash. But what else would an alien invasion story be except a rehash of Aliens. In a sense it could be argued that the Alien series had run out of steam and nothing could be done to inject it with new and fresh ideas.

The fourth film, Alien Resurrection clearly illustrated this: it was an uneasy blend between the horror elements of Alien and the action of Aliens. Not even a talented director such as Jeunet (who did the excellent Delicatessen and City of Lost Children) could do much with the material at hand. In the end the movie version of Starship Troopers proved to be a better variation of old themes and would have been a better Alien movie than either Alien 3 or Alien Resurrection.

But that's no excuse not to give Alien 3 another chance and soak in those brilliant production designs and values . . .

Copyright © August 1999  James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page




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