Are You With Us? Alien³
By Ryan Mazie
May 21, 2012
Aliens sure seem to love attacking Earth this month. Every week there has been an extraterrestrial invasion – whether from the fantastical creatures in The Avengers, the illegal aliens in The Dictator, or the second cousins to the Transformers alien-robots in Battleship. This weekend, familiar faces of aliens make their return in the not-asked-for threequel Men in Black 3 (I would rather see a second Hancock, anyone else with me?). This same weekend in 1992, another alien franchise became a trilogy – Alien 3. Funnily enough, both MIB and Alien “3” are written as a cubed sign in their marketing materials.
The similarities do not stop there. Both franchises have had a long dormancy between part two and part three and the latest installment is not meant to close the series, but reignite it. Both began filming without a finished script. While we will not know how much of a problem that will play on the quality of MIB3 until this weekend, for Alien 3, it created now legendary behind-the-scenes turmoil.
In fact, one of my favorite directors, David Fincher, has essentially disowned the movie, claiming it is a product of Fox studio rather than his own (Fincher swore he would never work with Fox again, but buried the hatchet seven years later when the studio distributed Fight Club). Not only was the production a nightmare for Fincher, but also I’d imagine the studio was losing sleep, too. The budget ballooned to over $60 million (some $7 million was used to build sets that were never utilized due to the constant re-writes).
I loved the first two Alien films and it is hard to think of a franchise that has been a career-starter for so many great directors like Fincher, Ridley Scott, and James Cameron. I have never actually seen the threequel or the fourth installment until now (but I did subject myself to the torture that was the could-have-been-cool Alien vs. Predator but instead was a money-making train wreck).
I have to admit; I thought Alien 3 was not too bad, all things considered. In fact, I enjoyed it very much. The thing is, it never reaches the heights of its predecessors and I think that was the problem upon release. After a six-year build up of excitement, people were expecting more than what they got. While the first two Alien movies were groundbreaking, Alien 3 just treaded over the same-old, same-old. A satisfying movie and a fun summer blockbuster,
Alien 3 is a good standalone movie, but a terrible threequel.
Fincher and crew (six people were credited with the script although plenty of more fingers touched it) wipe out all of the hard work Cameron and Scott put into the franchise by killing off all of the characters except our main heroine Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in a rather un-heroic fashion during the film’s opening credits.
Cameron expressed frustration with this move and I can see why. However, from Fincher’s perspective, it would have been nearly impossible to top Cameron’s work, so why not just hit refresh?