The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Film Features

20 Years On: Alien 3 Reassessed
Andrew Stimpson , May 9th, 2012 05:29

Vilified, disregarded and worshipped in equal measure, Alien 3 is one of the most divisive franchise movies of all time. On its 20th anniversary Andrew Stimpson revaluates David Fincher's troubled directorial debut

Add your comment »

It's no understatement to say that Alien 3 was poorly received on its theatrical release and, with 20 years hindsight, it's not difficult to see why. Alien, released in 1979 and famously directed by Ridley Scott, changed the landscape for hard science fiction movies. Scott would further redefine the vision of a dark, corporate future a few years later with Blade Runner, but contemporary thinking discarded the Philip K Dick-inspired masterpiece and, generally, Alien was seen at the time as a masterfully crafted haunted house movie. Its impact on the horror scene was widely felt and fully acknowledged, but the finer details and its broader impact upon science fiction as a whole would continue to resonate with audiences, writers and filmmakers for years to come.

A sequel was inevitable and, when it arrived seven years later, it would be an altogether different beast. It seems ironic looking back that the dark tone of Scott's original - the reason for its unique feel - would be jettisoned in favour of the apparently more crowd-pleasing 1980s action staples of machine guns and explosions. In James Cameron's Aliens the threat from HR Giger's beautifully realised and nightmarishly sensuous bio-mechanoid is reduced to that of a hive of insects, suggesting that if one well-armed grunt with a bit of American know-how had been aboard the Nostromo there never would have been a franchise in the first place. In order to inject some drama, tension is introduced in the form of incompetence and greed on the part of the human characters.

It's not in the least surprising that Aliens is so thematically inconsistent with Scott's film. James Cameron had no interest in following a lead. He wanted nothing more than to make his pet project, Starship Troopers, even making the novel mandatory reading for the cast. Hence the constant references to drops, bugs, bug hunts, xenomorphs and countless other thinly veiled references to Robert A Heinlein's tale of heavily armed soldiers travelling from world to world in hyper-sleep and utilising a combination of infantry weaponry and tactical thermonuclear devices to pacify trouble spots. The Stars & Stripes-decorated United States Colonial Marines and their constant references to bug hunting, not to mention the 'Bug Stomper' motif on the side of the drop ship, plainly punctuate Cameron's utter contempt for maintaining any sense of continuity with Alien's nationless, corporate future.

Sadly the role of the Alien itself, its classic design features altered by Cameron to make them look more insect-like, is reduced to that of an opposing, numerous and expendable form of disposable infantry akin to the bugs in Heinlein's novel. The ultimate peril is not the terrifying otherness of the unknown, but the damaged cooling system of a nuclear reactor, caused not by the conflict between humanity and a life form utterly extrinsic to our own, but by stray bullets from the marines themselves. Despite every effort on the part of the filmmakers to portray them as finely honed military machines, the heroes essentially come off as a gang of idiotic yahoos.

Nevertheless Aliens was phenomenally successful and, as an action-adventure movie, it moved the art forward several steps in terms of pacing and sheer excitement. All the more surprising then that the owners of the franchise at Brandywine Productions chose to take such a bold and deliberate step in dismantling Cameron's carefully constructed model for further sequels that many assumed would not only endure, but define the Alien franchise for years to come. The '80s comic book spin-offs almost exclusively took Cameron's Aliens as their cue for expanding the universe and inevitably annexed the Predator concepts (thanks to a throwaway set dressing joke in Predator 2). Inevitably when Alien 3 was released, and the realisation dawned on a majority of the hardcore fanbase that the landscape had changed radically, there was a tremendous fan and critic backlash.

Alien 3 had a difficult genesis. Producers Walter Hill and David Giler courted numerous young gun writers and directors such as Renny Harlin, Joss Whedon, William Gibson, David Twohy and, most famously, Vincent Ward in their pursuit of a new angle for the franchise. Ward's vision in particular came closest to fruition and the details of his incredible script and design ideas have been well-documented. Sadly that tale of a monastic order living inside an artificial wooden planet filled with cathedrals and wheat fields is now one of the great what ifs of cinema. That said, it is likely that if the producers had pursued that version all the way then it would have been extremely interesting, probably brilliant, but an absolute commercial failure. Even by 1992 it is doubtful that cinema audiences were quite prepared for a mentaloid Name Of The Rose in space involving nightmarish, Hieronymus Bosch-like imagery that included sheep with human faces where their arseholes should be.

After getting cold feet about Ward's script, Giler and Hill backpedalled to a David Twohy draft (much of which would be developed further for Alien: Resurrection) and combined the most basic elements of Ward's ideas with Twohy's space prison concept. 1992 was a good year for the space prison movie, with Stuart Gordon's riotously stupid and entertaining Christopher Lambert vehicle Fortress also hitting cinemas. The two films bear little comparison however. From the outset the visual style and flair of first-time director David Fincher elevate Alien 3 to a level seldom seen at that point in genre fare and generally isolated to the works of Ridley Scott himself. Sadly for Fincher his 'noob' status was exploited mercilessly by the studio. His time on the movie was characterised by perpetual interference from numerous on-set producers, disingenuous 'production assistants' reporting behind his back to head office, daily script rewrites, surly cast and crew members objecting to both the rewrites and his meticulous perfectionism, and the ignominy of being removed from the editing process. This ensured that the final product, although beautiful to look at, wasn't entirely cohesive.

What it did have was a great design aesthetic and a phenomenal core cast. Aliens fans had a bitter pill to swallow when its surrogate family never made it past the opening titles alive. Instead of the dashing Corporal Hicks, Sigourney Weaver's Ripley finally gets a love interest in the form of Clemens (Charles Dance), a morphine-addicted medical officer with a track record of severe malpractice. Her 'best buddy' analogue switches from the pure and innocent android Bishop to Dillon (Charles S Dutton), spiritual leader of the small community of prisoners and, by his own admission, "murderer and rapist of women". Finally, and perhaps most shockingly, the angelic child Newt is disposed of (and autopsied) to be replaced by a mob of personality disordered, hygienically challenged convicts with a tenuous and newly found faith in Christ. This was a particularly difficult decision for many to take on board: James Cameron described it as a personal betrayal and "slap in the face" to all fans of Aliens, while novelization writer Alan Dean Foster labelled the story decision "an obscenity".

It is often the case with great drama that a difficult gestation and birth period results in more intense on-screen performances and unpredictably vivid results. Throughout Alien 3 the players convey palpable angst and tension that is entirely credible based upon their dark, brooding environment and fraught interactions with each other. When the beastie does emerge it has reverted to its original look with a few Giger-inspired twists, no longer resembles a humanoid insect, and is suitably terrifying. The cast have little difficulty selling its menace. They do have some trouble selling the overall narrative but that is neither their, nor Fincher's fault.

The theatrical version of Alien 3 released in 1992 was a hastily hacked, re-hacked and reshot version of Fincher's cut. While one reshoot in particular had tremendous power (the dog 'birth' scene) the overall result was damaging. It seems a normal tactic with studios that when they misunderstand or just plain dislike a product they simply chop it down in length and make it faster-paced. It rarely works. Fortunately a more complete cut has been available for some years and the recent Blu-ray release has corrected the audio faults on earlier DVD transfers. The difference is phenomenal. Few films have ever benefited so greatly from this kind of 'director's cut' treatment: the transformation of Alien 3 is on a par with Terry Gilliam's sublime, full-length version of Brazil.

Alien 3 was purported at the time to be Paul McGann's big Hollywood break, but his role in the theatrical cut was so reduced as to be almost meaningless. Here his deranged prisoner Golic is fully restored. Brian Glover's Superintendent Andrews, while still evidently an officious prick, has room to take on a level of humanity denied him in the shorter cut. The remainder of the cast also have more time to develop and assume separate characteristics. Best of all the extra half hour of running time allows more opportunities to admire the look and feel of what is a magnificent slice of violent sci-fi monster madness. There are still a few warts here and there. Some early computer generated enhancements contrast starkly with the first rate practical effects - and one of the corporate troopers at the end is obviously wearing cricket pads - but on the whole the extended Special Edition cut of Alien 3 is one of the best realised and most convincing futuristic movies ever made, and a worthy successor in tone and spirit to Scott's original.

Ultimately the greatest strengths of Alien 3 are encapsulated in its total rejection of the popcorn-friendly, roller coaster approach and nuclear family motif of Cameron's red, white and blue Starship Troopers pastiche. Instead it restores consistency with Ridley Scott's nation-free, hard-tech industrial corporate future that we are about to see again in Prometheus, with no Stars & Stripes or machine gun porn in sight. Alien 3 is intentionally uncomfortable and, flying in the face of rational thought, it eschews all of the essential trappings of commercially successful science fiction to deliver a grim, nihilistic tale of cockroach-ridden redemption utterly unburdened by the lightweight trappings imposed on the genre by Star Wars, and later repackaged in camouflage by James Cameron. That's why it is a great film and that's why so many people hate it. To those people I say, Chin up. Avatar 2 is coming.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.

staringatmyshoes
May 9, 2012 9:31am

20 years on? Come on, you must be shitting me!

Reply to this Admin

Joey Grimlock
May 9, 2012 9:36am

They nearly cast Richard E Grant in the Charles Dance role just to reunite the Withnail cast. Just saying.

Reply to this Admin

Rooksby
May 9, 2012 10:12am

In reply to Joey Grimlock:

Haha, that would've been terrific!

Reply to this Admin

bowendesign
May 9, 2012 10:16am

I love Alien 3 DC, but I know for a fact that the reason people hated it was that it basically undid everything the previous film set up by killing off characters they cared about right at the beginning of the film. Personally I saw that as a work of genius. I've seen a lot of criticism - there's one site that's basically a massive shopping list of faults - but essentially I follow the above. After all, if we can all believe the Queen jumped onto the jumpship at the end of Aliens, why not a face hugger or two?

Reply to this Admin

G
May 9, 2012 11:50am

Shitting on Aliens does not make Alien 3 any better. The fact is, it doesn't make a lick of sense. The whole opening is utter balls. Are you telling me that Ripley didn't check for any little eggs knocking around given the hell she'd been through? Please, it's a hacky, not particularly coherent film that totally wrecks the good work done in the previous films.

You seem bitter that Cameron moved away from the original's tone but any good sequel worth it's salt will try to do something different and Cameron did that. I wouldn't have minded if an Aliens sequel have gone in yet another different direction but killing off Hicks and especially Newt wasn't genius, it was a hack job of the highest order. Alien 3 suffered from a serious lack of direction and a totally misleading trailer... Also, to go back to the opening, Ripley's whole reason for living was Newt and they killed her off. Even from a cynical franchise point of view, Weaver was eventually going to get too old for the part, you've got a replacement right there. In fact, Wheadon's intitial draft for Alien Resurrection had a frickin' Newt clone.

The logical next step from Aliens would have been to up the ante and eventually somehow have the Alien get to earth... what the Alien 3 trailer teased. Alien 3 totally fucked up the franchise and is a lesson for any potential future franchise of how not to do it. I'm just hoping Prometheus and Ridley Scott can steer the ship back to more interesting ground.

Reply to this Admin

Rory Gibb
May 9, 2012 12:06pm

Great piece. I haven't seen the extended edition but will make it my business to do so. For my money, Alien 3 is just as good as the second film (which I do like a lot despite, as pointed out, its essentially shallow shoot-'em-up plot). Not quite as good as the first, but I find the humidity, darkness and density of the sets on the third film very appealing - and the alien as a spectral, elusive presence gives it far more of a sense of menace than the swarms of them in the second film. Still probably the most terrifying/brilliantly designed movie monster ever, too.

Reply to this Admin

Reggie P
May 9, 2012 12:28pm

Great article: thanks Andrew and The Quietus. A big, big, big fan of the first film. Aliens on the other hand is great when you're 13 years old but, boy, is it a tad cringe-worthy when you see it now. Hudson? *winces*. Really wanted to love Alien3. On paper it should have been so much better than the gun-porn of Mr Titanic. Alas, even in its full glory (as I have seen), it is still massively flawed. It is painfully boring. The same way that, on paper, Paul Schrader's Exorcist prequel should gave been a winner but isn't...it just doesn't grab you like Alien and Aliens do (by the cranium and by the balls respectively). Still, got my tickets booked for Prometheus at the Imax.

Reply to this Admin

Jeff
May 9, 2012 4:19pm

Alien 3 is a great film, but I don't think you need to slag off Aliens to make it so. It's completely different from the 1st and 3rd entries, and as many have suggested, an amazing blockbuster action movie. Among the very best ever.

It's simply in a different space than the others.

Reply to this Admin

Austy
May 9, 2012 5:57pm

Why is no one pointing out that ALiens true genius is that it shows the very different perspectives of the military vs the corporate world views and how the former can be a pawn of the latter? It's not like the marines (spoiler alert) WIN the battle or anything, they are slaughtered one by one almost in order of their bravado... In fact next to what eventually happened in Iraq, Cameron looks like a prophet... Look the corporate malfeasance at the heart of the first one is or becomes so prevalent and malevolent that they are album to manipulate the military by the second one and that makes it just as terrifying I'm general scope as Scott's film which is very "blue collar" in it's characters and setting.

Reply to this Admin

elijah
May 9, 2012 6:14pm

It's nice to see someone giving due credit to Alien 3. I only watched the series for the first time a few months ago, and I was shocked what an abrupt tone change there was between the three movies. I still don't understand why people didn't respond to Aliens with contempt considering the injustice it did to Scott's moody, subdued, sci-fi/horror masterpiece. I'm not a Jim Cameron hater either, but I do think Aliens is the schmaltziest of all the first three Alien movies, and the weakest of all his post-Terminator movies. The only thing Cameron got right, in my opinion, was Ripley's character.

Imagine the Alien 3 Fincher would make today without a studio needlessly picking at him the entire time. Then again, had he not had such a terrible experience making Alien 3, he might not have become the fiercely independent filmmaker he is, and we might not have Seven, Fight Club, The Game, or Zodiac. I love the end of Alien 3, too. It's the perfect culmination of Ripley's journey and the series as a whole. (I don't acknowledge the existence of any Alien movies post-Alien 3.)

Reply to this Admin

Apop
May 9, 2012 7:42pm

In reply to Austy:

great post, great point

Reply to this Admin

Apop
May 9, 2012 7:50pm

Not sure I'm getting the "doggin' on Aliens to prop Alien 3" vibe from this article others are mentioning. Seems to me the writer has pointed out the extremely different direction Mr. Cameron wanted to go in. And, in my opinion, he went in a very entertaining and good direction.

The first is an all-time classic tho, of any genre.

I liked 3 because it did to Aliens what Aliens did to Alien, turned it on it's head. A good idea, me thinks. There was no way Alien 3, with Aliens as it's inspiration, would have lived up. We merely would have been presented with a)double the human victims and b)triple the Alien victims. And probably c) a cute mop-topped little boyfriend for Newt.

By the way, 3 doesn't come anywhere near doing to the franchise that which that over-hyped Joss Whedon did. Ridley, playing hoops? I did walk out of the theatre at that point. Well done Joss, you ruined arguably the greatest female film character the world has seen.

Reply to this Admin

Apop
May 9, 2012 7:53pm

In reply to Apop:

Meant "Ripley" as played by Ms. Weaver of course, not "Ridley" the director.

Reply to this Admin

Carpathian
May 9, 2012 10:08pm

Oddly, I've probably watched 3 more than 1 or 2 over the (surprisingly) many years since. I know it's not meant to be the better film and to a greater extent I understand the critical reasons why, both from a script & production stance. It still works for me, though, and of the three I find it gives up more on repeated watches. I've always liked films that make you root for the anti rather than the anti-hero.

Reply to this Admin

G
May 10, 2012 12:36am

In reply to Daniel:

I tip my hat to you sir; well put and thought out. I think Andrew's article is well written by the way but I think he's ignoring too much of what Aliens was really about and occasionally misses the point. Plus that bloody plot hole is just to large to ignore.

For me, there are only two Alien films and then it just stops... Well, it did just stop until I heard about Prometheus and I'm cautiously optimistic for June.

Reply to this Admin

M1
May 10, 2012 2:21am

Think you're way off the mark on your assessment of Aliens - still one of my favourite sci-fi movies and I'm not generally a fan of action films, and certainly one-dimensional ones in the mould of a Starship Troopers, say.

About the only thing that does make me cringe when watching Aliens is Newt. Alien 3 therefore goes up a notch in my estimation for having the wisdom to dispatch her during the credits. Aye-firmative! Good grief! I'll also jump on the bandwagon of those who think the extended cut is a winner. It's worth it for the superb acting alone and the extra screen time given to Golic snaps his role into sharp focus.

And yet, now as then, the most disappointing thing about the movie is how dodgy the alien looks. It looks better in the similarly-underappreciated SNES game of the same name!

The films that followed were an abomination but I'm more than happy with all films of the original trilogy.

Reply to this Admin

BlackBlackGold
May 10, 2012 11:15am

I can't trust this person because they hate 'Aliens'. Maybe it was a different vibe than the first but that doesn't discredit it as an amazing action film with fantastic pacing and some truly memorable characters.

Reply to this Admin

Jim Woodward
May 11, 2012 2:47am

Isn't the point of Aliens, quite explicitly, that the flag waving marines are of no use, and all die horrific deaths, because they don't understand the alien? Also think making a retread of the first film would have been a mistake, how do you top that? For better or worse-and it has to be said it's mainly been for the worse- Cameron's version opened up the series to different ideas. Would have loved to see the Vincent Ward film. Great piece - is the directors cut only on Blu Ray?

Reply to this Admin

ariel wollinger
May 15, 2012 2:35am

Alien 3 sucks. Alien 2 was a slap on the face of Giger's work. Alien 4 does not exist. Only Alien is the real deal. Ripley WOULD NEVER go back like she did in aliens

Reply to this Admin

ant
May 23, 2012 9:01pm

This "bigging up of Alien 3 by tearing down Aliens using long words" makes me laugh. A thinly-veiled rant against Aliens passes for an article? Insecurity, I think. And to all the people who wished the second was pure horror? It would still have paled in comparison to the first film.

Reply to this Admin

NecronomV
Jun 1, 2012 5:13am

This article is pretentious garbage, just like Vincent Ward's ideas for Alien 3. I have always liked and been a defender of Alien 3 ever since I saw it in theaters, but even Fincher himself realizes that it just doesn't work in the end. Aliens, on the other hand, is completely misrepresented by the author of this fanboyish article. When all is said and done, there's only Alien, Aliens, and, hopefully, Prometheus.

Reply to this Admin

NecronomV
Jun 1, 2012 5:16am

In reply to NecronomV:

And yes, the Workprint Cut of Alien 3 much better than the theatrical, but still is not an overall good continuation of the first two, sadly.

Reply to this Admin

NecronomV
Jun 1, 2012 5:33am

In reply to Daniel:

Fantastic rebuttal. Thanks for the read.

Reply to this Admin

Miodrag Makar
Jun 4, 2012 9:15am

The brat and the grunt are dead, and the egg is upside down! Awry.
Deal with it!

Reply to this Admin

Miodrag Makar
Jun 4, 2012 9:22am

In reply to Apop:

Exactly! And Alien 4 does to Alien 3 the same thing. You killed Ripley? We'll clone her! That's the strength of the franchise. Every sequel turns the one before it on it's head. I love it. Too bad Alien 3 had too much studio interference and Alien 4 too little. (What studio exec in his right mind wouldn't cut out at least the basketball and the ricochet and DEMAND a reshoot of Elgyn's death?)

Reply to this Admin

Vito
Jun 5, 2012 9:19am

Goodness me, this retrospective is awful. "Aliens" has a dialogue exchange devoted to the military's control by the corporations ("He's just a grunt...no offence"), and I can't recall once ever hearing anyone say they're going in for the Red, White n' Blue. In painting "Aliens" as a shallow shoot 'em up - thus ignoring the subtext of motherhood and Vietnam allusions of an arrogant military being usurped by a force with supposedly inferior resources - this guy just got himself the Hipster Douche Of The Year Award.

Reply to this Admin

Johnny Nothing
Jun 17, 2012 8:48pm

Alien 4 is of course the nadir. We should all be rubbishing that. Cherishing Ridley's original. And not watching Prometheus.

Reply to this Admin

Johnny Nothing
Jun 17, 2012 8:50pm

In reply to Johnny Nothing:

Oh, Resurrection, whatever.

Reply to this Admin

Plato 2012
Jul 17, 2012 7:48pm

"In painting "Aliens" as a shallow shoot 'em up - thus ignoring the subtext of motherhood and Vietnam allusions of an arrogant military being usurped by a force with supposedly inferior resources - this guy just got himself the Hipster Douche Of The Year Award."

Well said, Vito. Precisely the impression I got reading this article: some art-house film nerd portraying Cameron's Aliens as a patriotic shoot-em-up while completely and utterly missing its nigh-unmissable political and social undertones. Cameron has even publicly discussed the allusions to Vietnam, for crying out loud. And you know what? Aliens 3 is still a mediocre-at-best movie, regardless of what the author of this article is desperately trying to claim.

Reply to this Admin

James
Sep 15, 2012 3:56pm

Wow, I think the author treated Aliens pretty unfairly. This article seemed more a slam on the second movie in the franchise than a reassessment of the third. In fact, the larger reason why the author seems to suggest we should like Alien 3 is because it's not Aliens, and Aliens wasn't thematically pure enough for him.

When i watched Alien I remember being terrified and entranced. When I watched Aliens I remember thinking "holy crap, this is awesome!" When I watched Alien 3 all I remember thinking was "God, I can't wait until this is over. I'm going to pretend like this movie is a dream and Hicks, Newt and Bishop are still okay and the franchise didn't crater."

Reply to this Admin

Devin F
Oct 29, 2012 1:18am

"The Stars & Stripes-decorated United States Colonial Marines and their constant references to bug hunting, not to mention the 'Bug Stomper' motif on the side of the drop ship, plainly punctuate Cameron's utter contempt for maintaining any sense of continuity with Alien's nationless, corporate future."

Which is true, if you completely ignore the character of Burke, and the ambiguous nature of the Corporate android character, Bishop. But I guess that's something you have to do when you're trying to completely misrepresent the plot, and subtext, of Aliens.

Reply to this Admin

Mark
Nov 24, 2012 9:52pm

Spot on. Alien 3 is criminally underrated, damn close to being my favourite in the series. I loved Aliens in the 80s, it's a fun movie, but trying to work it up into something smarter than it is via subtexts is a joke. It is what it is. Take it or leave it. Am I supposed to be impressed by Cameron's claims on social commentary? Avatar was absurdly full of simplistic crap that seems to think it is portentous. Too funny......

Reply to this Admin

Mike Hunt
Dec 18, 2012 6:53pm

Retarded yanks get upset if you tell them the truth about Aliens.

Reply to this Admin

Oliver
Jan 9, 2013 9:12pm

Ah, a sad case, a sorry embrace, of what might be termed the 'Gore Vidal approach' to criticism -- it's not enough that 'Alien 3' is praised (and certainly the extended version deserves some), but 'Aliens' must be condemned.

Gore Vidal was the same guy who praised terrorist mass-murderer Timothy McVeigh and passionately insisted that Obama wouldn't be re-elected. Just sayin'.

Reply to this Admin

McfcDaniel
Jan 15, 2013 10:36pm

Aliens was a great movie but was as much a slap in the face to Alien as Alien 3 is to it. Personally I prefer Alien 3 to Aliens, it went back to the vision of the first movie, a single Alien and not an insect that was easily dispatched with firearms. That for me is why Alien and Alien 3 work for me, the horror and helplessness of the situation. Alien 3 is not perfect by any means, it has an unfinished feel to it and the cgi is pretty bad in parts (man in suit always better) but the core of the story was there and a good one at that, especially in the latest version. I love the trilogy, each movie has something new and unique to bring to the table, it's the shit that came after the trilogy that gets under my skin. Resurrection was an absolute abomination and I won't acknowledge it as part of the franchise just like I disregard AvP movies. Everyone has a different take on these movies and it's interesting how divided fans are.

Reply to this Admin

Alex Gregory
Apr 24, 2014 12:46am

A few words:

"It's not in the least surprising that Aliens is so thematically inconsistent with Scott's film. James Cameron had no interest in following a lead. He wanted nothing more than to make his pet project, Starship Troopers, even making the novel mandatory reading for the cast. Hence the constant references to drops, bugs, bug hunts, xenomorphs and countless other thinly veiled references to Robert A Heinlein's tale of heavily armed soldiers travelling from world to world in hyper-sleep and utilising a combination of infantry weaponry and tactical thermonuclear devices to pacify trouble spots. The Stars & Stripes-decorated United States Colonial Marines and their constant references to bug hunting, not to mention the 'Bug Stomper' motif on the side of the drop ship, plainly punctuate Cameron's utter contempt for maintaining any sense of continuity with Alien's nationless, corporate future."

Incorrect, and wholly wrong. Cameron has said multiple times that he didn't write Aliens to be a whole plot reference to Starship Troopers. He wrote it as a Vietnam allegory and a complete subversion of the first film's ideals, as he knew that he wouldn't be able to top the previous film and he didn't want it to feel repetitive.

It is one of the few major works where a highly-organized military force start out as badasses and are almost all reduced to quivering wrecks when they're shown up and soundly trounced by the xenomorphs. It's an effective refutation of the standard "military badass" portrayal seen in so many films before and after. Anyone who's watched the movie and was paying attention can tell you this.

The rest of your article boils down to the same schtick defenders have tried to use to defend it over the years - "dark and depressing equals good". That's despite the fact that the action is confusing, monotonous and shaky, the only characters who matter are Ripley and Dillon, and the retread of Alien's plot comes across as hackneyed instead of worthy.

I know the history of the film's development - it was a screwed-up project from start to finish, borne out of too many people with conflicting ideals (Weaver's pro-gun stance, writers doing separate scripts and not know about the other's, the studio freaking out over expenditures) and too many bizarre ideas that kitbashed into a single script. The Assembly Cut is slightly better, but that's not saying much.

Reply to this Admin

kenny petherick
Jun 1, 2015 3:55am

Just watched the "Assembly Cut" version. The background and practical effects are still good to this day. Love the gritty darkness and that it's not instant Hollywood candy shite nonsense. Fantastsic slow burning movie. First still best but this is my second fave in franchise. P.S. Don't mention the fourth disaster. Big lol x

Reply to this Admin