Alien III (1992) Director: David Fincher
Alien III is a dark, jaded, cynical take on the successful Alien franchise. When it came time for another sequel, James Cameron (director of Aliens) had no interest in returning to direct a new film, and Ridley Scott (director of the original Alien) was busy with other projects. Numerous writers cycled through the project, and the studio requested that Ripley be absent from the project, but they eventually demanded that Ripley be included. The subsequent script was cobbled together from various studio demands. Alien III featured a then novice director (David Fincher), and promptly spent millions on sets that were never used, Fox (the studio) interfered constantly in the process. After the critical and fan backlash to the film, David Fincher mostly disowned Alien III and now rarely speaks about it. Alien III was hacked apart in editing (which Fincher opted out of in protest) and the film continued to be beset by problems.
Some major themes in the film include: suicide, rape, and apocalyptic imagery, however the chief theme of Alien III is nihilism. The story follows from the events of Aliens. Somehow (in defiance of all probability) an alien egg has been planted aboard the ship of Ripley, Hicks, and Newt (along with the mangled remains of the android Bishop). The “face-hugger” has impregnated one member of the ship. When a fire breaks out the ship jettisons its escape pod which crashes upon the planet of Fiorina “Fury” 161, a mostly derelict prison-planet filled with a small clutch of mostly evil yet religious prisoners. In one of the most disappointing moments in a Hollywood sequel, both Newt and Hicks are killed in the crash. Ripley is taken by the leaders of the prison while a rescue ship is called. She roams freely through the prison and is nearly raped by a group of prisoners. She sleeps with the doctor only to force him to stop asking questions, and she asks him to perform an autopsy on Newt. Both the bodies of Newt and Hicks are incinerated.
Meanwhile the face-hugger escapes from Ripley’s ship and impregnates a dog. Soon a new full-size alien (“xenomorph”) begins tormenting the prisoners, killing them one at a time. However, the alien avoids killing Ripley when they come face to face. It is discovered that Ripley has been impregnated with a queen alien. The remaining prisoners and Ripley begin a plan to entrap and kill the existing alien. Those that survive lead the alien into the prison’s molding facility and cover it with scalding hot lead. Ripley ultimately kills the alien by turning the sprinkler system on. Moments later members of the company arrive (“Weyland–Yutani”) including a man who appears identical to Bishop. He tries to convince Ripley to come with them so they can save her and extract the alien before killing it. Ripley doubts him and steps out onto a ledge and promptly kills herself by falling into a fiery furnace just as the alien bursts forth from her chest. The final scene repeats Ripley’s last log from the Nostromo before the facility shuts down.
Recent contrarians and defenders of David Fincher have defended Alien III for a variety of reasons, but in all honesty Alien III is a terrible movie. The computer generated graphics are feeble and the only character we care about is Ripley because of her background in previous movies -and like all the lovable characters in Alien III she dies. The decision to immediately kill off two beloved franchise characters right at the outset was disappointing (Michael Biehm was apparently incensed when he found out his characters was killed off). The only character who survives the ordeal is a deranged prisoner. Alien III takes all the optimism of the previous film and casts it to the abyss.