Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why I Hate Alien 3

I know that a lot of people say that Alien: Resurrection ruined the Alien franchise, but I think Alien 3 killed it long before the Ripley clone had the chance. Yes, I know that I use a quote from Alien 3 on the FAQs page of my site, but the brilliance of that one line doesn't lessen my hatred for the movie. These are the reasons why I hate Alien 3:

1. Where’d that egg come from?

The whole storyline of the movie rests on the fact that an egg hatches onboard the Sulaco, the emerging facehugger wreaks havoc, and the crew is ejected from the ship in escape pods. Here’s the problem: There couldn’t have been an egg onboard the Sulaco. The only time the ship was anywhere near an alien was at the very end of Aliens, and although the alien was a queen, she couldn’t have laid an egg on the ship. Like certain insects, Xenomorph queens have a large ovipositor attached to them that is used for laying eggs. But the queen had detached herself from the ovipositor to chase after Ripley for torching her nest. Therefore, even though the Xenomorph queen was briefly latched on to the Sulaco, she couldn’t have laid an egg there. Furthermore, she was on the outside of the ship, while the egg appeared to be inside.

2. Horrible send-off

No, I’m not one of those people who says “Shame on you for killing off a little kid!” But I am one of those people who says “Shame on you killing off strong characters in the wussiest way possible!” Newt, Hicks, and Bishop were brave and heroic characters—the kind that die fighting. But instead, they were killed off in their sleep in the first few minutes of the movie while the opening credits were running. It seems like an insulting send-off for the protagonists of Aliens. It’s also rather disheartening; after everything they managed to survive on LV-426, they get killed on the way home. It’s like they made it that far for nothing.

3. CGI

The Xenomorphs in Alien and Aliens were frightening because they looked real. The first two films did things right by using a combination of animatronics and actors in costume. Alien 3, however, used a CGI Xenomorph which looked so fake that it couldn’t even scare a toddler. Why Hollywood continues to use CGI when it’s clearly a step backward for the art of special effects I will never understand. Something that looks like it belongs in a cartoon simply can’t inspire fear. The second viewers see computer generated images is the second they’re reminded that nothing they see is real—all believability that the story has built up in their minds is lost in that instant. This is exactly what happened to me when I first watched Alien 3; I just shook my head, knowing that whatever emotion I had invested in the storyline had completely evaporated.

Those are my reasons for hating Alien 3. For the record, Alien and Aliens are in my top 5 favorite movies of all time. Perhaps, as an extreme fan of the first two movies, my view of Alien 3 is overly critical...perhaps.


  1. The first two films were so magnificent, each in their own way, I have decided my personal Alien canon excludes everything else.

    If you watch interviews with Michael Biehn, who played Hicks, he was pretty offended with the treatment of his character. He was unavailable due to work on another film, otherwise perhaps the story would have gone differently.

    I agree that Alien 3's single biggest sin is that it presented such a perfunctory dismissal of pretty much the entire preceding film. It's almost hard to watch the climactic rescue of Newt at the end of Aliens, with the knowledge that it will be rendered meaningless by the following film's hamfisted attempt at nihilistic bleakness.

    Aliens ended with a perfect setup for the future exploration of its universe, and 20th Century Fox really dropped the ball.

    1. "Aliens ended with a perfect setup for the future exploration of its universe, and 20th Century Fox really dropped the ball."

      Agreed. At least Prometheus wasn't a total let down, so some of the Alien franchise dignity has been restored.

    2. At the end of Aliens when Newt says 'Are we gonna sleep all the way home?' I tear up and say yes you can Newt,yes you can. Fuck alien 3.

    3. Have you heard of the script that was the early favorite for Alien 3? It was written by William Gibson and can be found online. Reading it will only underscore how much better the sequel could have been. It shifts the focus of the story to Hicks and Bishop, on a backdrop of Cold War intrigue (which seemed entirely plausible at the time it was written). That sort of gets at one of the things I find so compelling about the Alien franchise, the way it portrays a future with basically logical extensions of familiar technologies and organizations. There's nothing too radical about that universe, no laser guns or teleporters and so on.

      I agree that Prometheus was decent, and I hope it can steer that universe back in the right direction.

    4. Anonymous - That part makes me sad too :(

      square.wave - I didn't know there was an earlier script. I'll have to check that out. I also like how the technology (in all but Alien Resurrection) was pretty down-to-earth; it made the on-screen events seem more believable, which is important for a film series that relies on suspense.