Misunderstood Modern Cinema: Alien 3
Left Field Cinema
Underdogs of cinema. Belittled on release, marginalised through their re-releases, they have been unfairly dismissed, by critics and audiences. Most major franchises of film have an entry which does not necessarily live up to the expectations created by their predecessors; these entries however may still be superior films in their own right. The Alien series is no exception. Alien 3 is a pleasure to watch, either a crusty VHS pan scan 1993 edition on a dusty CRT television, or crisp 2003 special extended wide screen DVD on a HiDef LCD - the essentials are still present and correct. The extended version is a superior cut of the film, the extra/alternative sequences rid the audience of some prior confusion as to which character is which, and create a much richer atmosphere. The new opening scene features a wider establishing shot of the penal colony and creates a sense of location which was previously lacking in the ’93 theatrical release. However the ’93 release still stands on its own merits.
The production was troubled, the film however was not. Wide spread condemnation of the film had began long before its release, different scripts were in production and different directors were attached before finally settling on first timer David Fincher. Dismissing the superficial attacks made on the film prior to its release, Alien 3 was still savagely attacked by critics upon release. The numerous negative reviews emerged as a result of one of five major factors. One, most of the major characters from Aliens are brutally killed within the opening credits. Two, they downsized the action budget from Aliens. Three, the film is not scary. Four, that the characters appear too similar. Five that it’s too depressing.
To counter: firstly, there were no survivors from Alien to Aliens other than Ellen Ripley and a cat and no-one complained, the series had never been about its supporting characters it was always the tale of Ellen Ripley, her journey is at the centre of the first three films. Although James Cameron would have probably preferred to continue the Ripley/Hicks/Bishop/Newt dynamic the producers and Fincher felt differently and the logic is sound. Not just move away from Cameron’s second instalment but completely destroy whatever hope had been built up, otherwise Alien 3 would quite possibly become a direct extension of Aliens.
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