Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is the sole survivor after her escape pod crash lands on Fiorina 161, a bleak planet inhabited by former inmates of a maximum security facility. When she realises an alien was also aboard her craft, she is shocked to learn the inmates possess no advanced technology or modern weapons. Yet no weapon can help Ripley after she learns that the alien terror has taken on a frightening and new personal dimension.
The first film in the series 'Alien' is a superb 1970s sci-fi film, never bettered, and made the reputations of both Sigourney Weaver and director Ridley Scott. The second film 'Aliens' is a superb 1980s film directed by James Cameron. So the third film 'Alien 3' directed by newcomer David Fincher needs to be pretty good to live up to its predecessors. Is it? In a word – no. This variant of the story takes place on a semi-deserted metal refining planet operated by prison labour, where the prisoners are almost self-governing and have developed their own religious code of ethics. There is plenty of running about in tunnels, plenty of alien encounters (the alien always gets his man, of course), but it all seems much the same. What is different is the movement of the creature – somehow this one doesn't seem as scary. Other things which seem 'wrong' are the number of British accents from fairly well-known British actors, the amount of f-ing and blinding, and the bogus religion which all seem out of place. I regret that this is yet another example of a sequel too far. I've seen worse, but I didn't enjoy it much so I'll give it 2/5 stars.
Alien 3 came in for harsh criticism when it was released. Fincher directing his first feature film here was an easy target, especially after the first two films in the series set the benchmark so high. However the theatrical version that we all knew before this DVD was far from his vision. The producers edited the film to their requirements and changed the ending. For this DVD Fincher was asked to oversee the restoration of his original ideas, yet sadly declined. So the team have tried to re-assemble the film as best they could. While it is not ideal, Alien 3 in this guise is a different beast. Much longer, there is more of a religious plot, more depth to the characters and many of the questions from the theatrical edition are answered. A real bonus is the commentary from Paul McGann, who outlined some of the problems Fincher faced during filming and what he was trying to achieve. He does seem quite sad about how the film was originally perceived.