Everyone who is a fan of the Alien movie series/franchise knows the story behind the troublesome -you could even call it “chaotic”- production behind Alien 3: all the scripts that were forwarded and rejected, the issue the H.R. Giger, typical executive meddling, the cocktease trailer, and the enormously -perhaps one could say, even “excessive”- expectations for it.
Then there’s the reception for it: it didn’t perform like how Fox wanted in the states, only did decently in other parts of the world, and people involved in the previous movies felt that the film didn’t do justice to whatever was established before; Cameron was pissed at them killing certain characters in their certain ways of death, Biehn was also pissed at them using their likeness, and got quite some money out of this as a result. People weren’t as loving with it as they were with Alien, let alone Aliens, which was ingrained in pop culture with Hudson’s quotes and Vasquez and Apone’s Sergeant attitude – to the point that Hudson is used in image macros whenever someone wants to express despair, and geocities was full of shrines to even the most minor of characters like Crowe (remember Crowe?).
It reached a point when the director, David Fincher (Se7en) disowned the film because of how pissed he was at it, and most of all, the whole production process of it: the pressure to make a movie “worthy” of the previous two, the producers cancelling many of his creative decisions, shooting without a solid, finished script, and myriad of other things. Understandably, Fincher treats it how Cameron treats his flying Piranhas movie, perhaps even harsher.
As for me? I wasn’t old enough back when it was released. Hell, I must’ve been five or six when it came out. I had watched the first two films with my cousin (who would introduce me to pretty much everything I love today), in one those beautiful LaserDiscs. You know, the big, enormous, discs encased in some of the most beautiful packages ever? The ones that people now scorn at and sell for cheap on EBay?
So I was familiar enough with the franchise by the time I watched Alien 3 on television for the first time, many, many years later. By that time, I had browsed message boards and web pages where Alien 3 was (usually) talked shit at. Sure, you had the fans of it, who loved it, but they were usually silent. I for one wasn’t impressed with the movie, but looking back, I was heavily influenced by my online peers’ opinions.
Then the Quadrilogy set came out, and I bought it, and I watched the so-called Assembly Cut.
I loved it.
All the stuff that was added made one hell of a great film. But I never bothered re-checking the original cut. Not until recently, when I decided to marathon the films, just for fun.
And I must admit, the original cut of Alien 3 is as solid as the Assembly Cut.
I just watched (a few hours before I finished this post, actually), and I loved it. Every second of it. Well, except for that part when Ripley shouts “No!” in the final parts of the film, and the dated CG effects. But everything else -music, production design, acting, setting- was not only interesting, but it was well-enough executed to make one hell of an entertaining movie.
Although there’s no denying the Assembly Cut is vastly superior to the original cut, I’d say the original cut is fairly capable of being considered comparable to the other first two films. Sure, I’d argue that it’s not as scary as the first one, or as exciting as the second one. But this third entry in the series is its own thing, and has its own, unique qualities that make it a truly great film.
So overall, I recommend Alien 3 for anyone who is a newcomer to the franchise, or has never actually watched it. And the Assembly Cut? I give it an even bigger recommendation. In fact, I recommend you watch both versions. It’s really cool to compare them, see where the Assembly Cut improves on things.
So have you seen Alien 3? What do you think about it? Hate it, love it? Indifferent? Are you David Fincher and want to finally express your uncensored feelings towards it? Comment below, let me know.