Sunday, August 29, 2004

Alien 3

This is by far the most underrated of the Alien franchise, hell it might be one of the most underrated films of all time. For the doubter, I direct you to the recent Special Edition, which includes two versions of the movie. First is the standard release, which most people loathed, and for good enough reasons, but the recut version makes a decent film into a masterpiece.

First let's talk about the one thing everyone seems to hate, the death of Hicks and Newt. I'll assume I'm not going to spoil it for anyone. I know, especially at the time, it was seen as a sever slap in the face to James Cameron, which I just don't get. Cameron made his film as different as possible from Alien so that it would have its own identity, and no one faults him for that. Hell, it might be the best sequel ever put to film. Yet, Fincher gets blamed for everything that people dislike about Alien 3? First of all, he directed it, he didn't wrote the screenplay. The original draft (which was much cooler, maybe I'll get to that later) was written by Vincent Ward, and then further altered by David Giler and Walter Hill.

Fincher was a pretty big music video and commercial director by then, and he came onto the picture pretty late in the process. I think he was third choice, possibly even fourth, to direct, which doesn't bode well. When two or three people have walked away from the project before you, you know it's going to be troublesome.

(Side note: All the Alien movies, including the recent AvP have come into trouble once principle photography wrapped. Both Fincher and AvP director Paul W S Anderson walked before editing was done, Cameron had numerous troubles with his first DP, and the studio, and Alien almost never got off the ground to begin with, on top of the studio constantly tying things up for Scott.)

Still, the idea was to make the movie its own, not to make it a rehash of James Cameron's film. Good or bad, that's something alot of sequels don't attempt. Of course, Alien 3's lack of success could have alot to do with that fact.

Next, most people have a problem with the mood and character of the picture, claiming it was much darker in tone. Now this, I just don't get. I do get that every character outside of Ripley is infinitely flawed, but for me that's part of the picture's beauty. Now, as for the lack of character development, again, it all fell by the wayside during editing, after Fincher had walked. Hell, it was part of the reason he walked.

So, with no one left to fight for Fincher's original cut, the studio proceeded to butcher the film. There's still alot missing from the special edition, but you get a far better idea of where it was going, and who the characters are.

As for Ripley's death? When Aliens got greenlit Weaver stated she wanted to die in the film. Fortunately she didn't, but when Alien 3 began filming she wouldn't sign on unless she got killed. So, anyone seeking to blame Fincher or the screenwriter for that little idea, I just saved you some breath.

Back to the movie...I think alot of people just don't see the beauty of the film. The fact that these forgotten men are now fighting for their lives, in a way redeeming themselves. In the original script they were monks instead of prisoners, and they seemed to be fighting something they thought was the Devil, which made a bit more sense. For some reason the studio went with the prisoner route (which was put in place by David Twohy I believe, who's ideas for Alien 3 looked alot like his script for Pitch Black).

Bottom line, this is an underrated film, and the DVD proves it. Had Fincher been allowed to see his vision for the film through, and Fox not taken it upon themselves to shit all over the writers and the directors work, we'd have seen a much more impressive film. Still, considering the first three Alien films were (somewhat) debut's for their directors, this one should stand as high as the others. It's a film that captures the darkness of humanity, and delivers a fitting end to a franchise. Unfortunately it would be ruined by Resurrection, but that another story.


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