This genuinely eagerly-awaited retread unfortunately puts its foot wrong as soon as the credits start rolling, as some awkward exposition brings Ripley (Weaver) and a handy Alien egg to a prison planet populated by religious fanatics who think they’re in Porridge, killing off all the other left-over characters from Aliens in computer read-out asides.
Indeed, the movie, murkily directed through what looks like a bowl of oxtail soup by pop video whizz—kid David Fincher, never really recovers from this clumsy start, busily hurrying towards its absurd finale — which owes more than a little to the ending of Terminator 2 — by having interchangeable characters run around dark corridors on the lice—infested planet while an unscary fish-eye lens them. Meanwhile, the shaven—head theme allows Weaver to look striking and do Joan Of Arc impressions, but also serves to render the rest of the cast, in contrast witgh the well
fleshed-out monster food of the earlier films, totally anonymous, so that by the time the death-filled finale arrives it is impossible to tell who is still alive and who has just been killed.
What few attempts at character development there are — Charles Dance gets one emotional speech to lull you into a false sense of security before the thingy drops on his head — come off as unfortunately gigglesome, and even Weaver, who took the two-dimensional character from Alien and gave her real depth for Aliens, is just going over old ground with a new haircut, being required by an idiotic script not to tell anyone that she thinks there’s a monster on the loose until well after heads have been crunched to a pulp and acid-blood has dripped all over the shop.
Alien 3 — which looks, of course, as if it’s really called Alien Cubed — would probably not be so disappointing if it were Alien 2. After all, if it were judged alongside, say, Robocop 2, Another 48 Hrs or Beverly Hills Cop 2, it would seem no better nor worse than most sequels. Its misfortune, however, is to be the follow-up not only to Ridley Scott’s Alien — one of the most-imitated and fondly-remembered science fiction films of all time — but also to James Cameron's Aliens, that rare sequel that expands and improves upon the original.
To add to the problems, with the raising of the stakes between the first two films and coming after Cameron’s all-out war with hundreds of monsters, it is now difficult to get too scared by the spectacle of one lone dog-shaped Alien on the loose, especially since the beast seems to have come not from the finale of the last film but from some script conference in the development hell that has been dogging this movie since Die Hard 2’s Renny Harlin was going to direct it from a script by William Gibson three years ago.
This movie’s dire lack of subtelty is best illustrated, perhaps, when we finally get to meet someone from the Head Office of that evil
Company that’s been casually wasting human life for three films and incarnating all the rapacious monstrousness of corporate scumminess, only to find — surprise, surprise — that he’s Japanese. What a clever twist.