Alien 3: That baldheaded Stepchild of the franchise
Yes, that featured pic (above) says it all!
As with Batman Returns, 1992 also marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most disappointing sequels in Cinematic history. That would be Alien 3, the follow-up to 1986's Sci-Fi/Horror blockbuster Aliens, however the third time was not a charm because not only could it not measure up to James Cameron's brilliant spin on the franchise, but overall was a dour mess of a sequel.
The film starts off with survivors Ellen Ripley, Corporal Dwayne Hicks, Newt and Bishop the Android traveling back to earth but just when you thought there would be a happy ending for our heroes, you're in for a rude awakening!
While the Sulacco's passengers are in a state of cyrosleep, the ship's automated defense systems have ejected them via contained escape pod courtesy of an unwanted stowaway who has caused a fire, with Ripley being the only human passenger who survived the crash on Furiosa a prison planet inhabited by murderers and rapists. (Which would be an ideal hunting ground for Frank Castle.) Now Ripley is stuck between hostile inmates and her other worst nightmare!
What's more entertaining than this sequel, was the complicated history of making Alien 3. Originally the premise was to have the Weyland–Yutani Corporation using bio engineered Xenomorphs up against paramilitary contingent with Hicks taking the lead as the main protagonist, while Ripley's appearance is limited to a fan service cameo. The script treatment by William Gibson, was reduced to "Aliens at a shopping mall" but oddly enough, the Gibson's story was emphasized with action and was deemed superior to what became the final film. Unfortunately, David Giler and Walter Hill, producers from the previous Alien films weren't too impressed with the screenplay and wanted to go in a different direction.
Gibson was asked to make rewrites with Harlin but held his ground by not complying as he wasn't happy with all the "foot dragging" from the producers. Then came Eric Red of The Hitcher who did a rough draft and afterwards, disowned the script due to one too many studio interferences which didn't give him enough time to write a more cohesive storyline.
Gibson's script was utilized in a comicbook courtesy of Dark Horse, as with Frank Miller's original script of Robocop 3.
Red's premise featured a team of Special Forces marines boarding the Sulaco and finding that all survivors had fallen victim to the aliens, which I guess some parts of his draft was carried over to Alien 3. But the concept of a US city contained in an orbital bio dome with the townsfolk going up against legions of Xenomorphs was overwhelming if not deviating too much from previous scripts. Thus, it too, was rejected.
Next up was David Twohy whose script was about experimentation on the Xenomorphs for biological weaponry located within a prison planet. More likely Weyland Yutani would be behind these experiments but it was nixed because Ripley wasn't mentioned anywhere in the script so more changes were made after FOX and Brandywine rehired actress Sigourney Weaver to reprise her role as Ellen Ripley for 5 million, what is even more unexpected is how Weaver stipulated that no guns should be used in the sequel.
So how are they going to defend themselves against the Xenomorphs, use "harsh language?"
FOX solicited Vincent Ward as the Director and when Ward wasn't impressed with Twohy's script, and instead, came up with his own concept, like Ripley landing on a wooden planet inhabited by monks??
Ward was asked to make a few changes which he did, but that wasn't enough as they demanded further changes and when Ward refused, he was fired but most of Ward's script was salvaged and now, enter David Flincher's directorial film debut. Fincher had previously directed Music Videos for 80's icon turned has-been, Madonna so helming a major blockbuster franchise like Alien is a big challenge and could he measure up to the likes of Ridley Scott and especially James Cameron?
No, and hell no!
I remember walking out of the theater being vividly disgusted and traumatized at how the second sequel of the Alien franchise, was ruined!
The setting and premise were unique as the first three Alien films differentiated from the other, but damn the story to hell! After Ripley is found and rescued on Fury 161, she is informed of the tragic deaths of Corporal Dwayne Hicks, and 10-year-old, Newt. To top it off, Bishop the android aint doing so well, either.
Bring the only female on a penal colony full of male inmates, you know what's about to go down. The inmates attack Ripley and just when the sole survivor is about to be gang raped, in comes inmate and spiritual leader Dillon magnificently played by Charles S. Dutton, who interrupts by giving the would-be rapists, a well-deserved beatdown.
But Ripley's problems are far from over after the stowaway Xenomorph "morphs" into a dog like creature, and fucks up four inmates, meanwhile Ellen gets more bad news as she learns that a Xenomorph embryo has been implanted inside her, her worst nightmare! The remaining inmates hunt and attack the creature with Dutton, playing one of many sacrificial negroes in cinema, Dillion suffers a horrific death and it’s up to Ripley to lure and trap the Xenomorph. Of course, she overcomes the creature, but "celebration" is short-lived as she lowers herself into a molten furnace (Geez, I didn't we already see this in Terminator 2?) while the infant queen erupts from her chest, disappointing the hell out of Bishop's creator and his company, the sinister Weyland Yutani.
Ripley’s last entry in the logbook is played prior to the film going to black.
This was one of the most upsetting films I have seen in history starting with Sigourney Weaver returning as Ripley, which literally destroyed any expectations for an optimistic ending that Cameron established, especially with all that she went through was in vain.
As much shit I given Paul Without Substance" Anderson for his Resident Evil adaptations, at least to his credit, main protagonist Alice rode off into the sunset...with a giant winged abomination behind her, but still, a happier ending, nonetheless.
Fincher and Fox, including Weaver, all cosigned on Ripley's demise, for thematic storytelling I suppose. Who also was left very disappointed, was James Cameron. The Director behind Terminator and Aliens, thought of Alien 3 which killed off Bishop, Newt, and Hicks, who he established, as a slap in the face.
I had a good laugh when learning how Actor Michael Biehn (Hicks) was so pissed off not only by Fox killing his character but had the nerve to use his likeness in Alien 3 without his permission! Of course, he demanded and received some monetary compensation otherwise, the studio would have been dragged to court.
To this very day, Alien 3 is still regarded as one of the most disappointing sequels in cinema and with a rating of 46% on Rotten Tomatoes! 😳 While the Assembly Cut is a better version, it’s more of a band-aid over a deep flesh wound that may cause infection. To kill off the Godmother of Science Fiction isa cardinal sin that cannot be forgiven!
20th Century Fox tried to redeem themselves with another Alien sequel by the way of "Resurrection" where yet again, Ms. Weaver reprised her role as Ripley, however, there's a twist. She's a clone! Yes, the great "geniuses " behind Alien Resurrection decided to bring Ripley back ala "Serpentor" parts Ripley, parts Xenomorphic DNA, giving her an attitude and the physical prowess to back it up! Written by Joss Wheldon much prior to his success from the Avengers films, Resurrection was the bookend to the Ripley saga and while it underperformed, I still preferred it way over the previous sequel which ain't saying much, but the ensemble cast including Ron Perlman and Wynonna Ryder was great and who can forget those memes that drew comparisons between Weaver and Rocker Glenn Danzig? 😉
Coincidently, Danzig's breakout Album, "How the Gods Kill" debuted a few months after Alien 3's release, so there's that.
There was talk of an Aliens retcon, but bonehead Ridley Scott scrapped that concept so that he can reboot the Alien franchise and as a result "Prometheus" and "Alien Covenant"!
Prequels no one really asked for. Um, so...about Alien 3.
Fincher, went on record to say how no one hates Alien 3 more than him, but through Alien 3, moved to bigger and better films from Se7en, Fight Club to lesser received but entertaining films like Zodiac. I guess all's well does end well.
In retrospect, Alien 3 will always be a very divisive film, some will appreciate its scope, setting, and a return to the franchise's survival horror roots, while most will dismiss it as too myopic for obvious reasons, including the underwhelming execution of it all.
Personally, I would have preferred one of the earlier scripts which does not involve Ripley, as "Snow White's " chapter was closed post Aliens. At least in my mind, Alien 3 didn't happen. 😉
Brandywine screwed the pooch with this dumpster fire, again, depending on who you ask. However, at least we got three very good videogame adaptations based on the sequel, be it SNES' Metroidvania approach, Sega Genesis' run n gun gameplay or in the case of the Arcades, there's Alien 3: The Gun which you can blast Xenomorphs away via lightgun. So maybe Alien 3 was good for something after all. 😉