Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, Paul McGann, Brian Glover, Ralph Brown, Danny Webb, Holt McCallany, Lance Henriksen, Pete Postlethwaite
Review: After her last encounter with the xenomorphs on LV-426, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) crash-lands on Fiorina 161, a rundown maximum security prison. When a series of bizarre and deadly coincidences occur, Ripley soon realizes that she brought along an unwelcome visitor.
This review is for the 2003 Special 'Assembly Cut' Edition, NOT the 1992 Theatrical Cut of the film. Now, with that said, I was never a fan of the Theatrical Cut of Alien³. I've seen it several times with the hopes that I would "get it" eventually, but to no avail. Now, after watching the 'Assembly Cut' just one time, I finally "get it".
The 2003 version of Alien³ has its flaws, but it makes sense. The theatrical cut was confusing and seemed cobbled together without much regard for the story, franchise, or film-making in general. The 'Assembly Cut' actually takes its time to establish a story, the setting, and the characters who, in this cut, have names, motivation, and, believe it or not, make decisions that are key to the plot.
Alien³ is not an action-packed thrill-ride like Aliens. It's a dark, brooding, existential thriller that shows the tragic toll battling these alien creatures has taken on poor Ripley. Sigourney Weaver is fantastic here. She's not just cashing a paycheck, which does happen with many popular franchises, but she's really giving it her all. Weaver's Ripley is flawed, commanding, and shows vulnerable that makes you truly feel for her and the horrific situation that she can never seem to free herself from. The supporting cast (Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, Paul McGann, Brian Glover, Ralph Brown, Danny Webb, Pete Postlethwaite) really fills this film with unique characters, quirks, and memorable faces and lines that stick with you.
As for the creature...that's probably the least interesting aspect of the whole movie. Most of the special creature effects are bad, dated, and distracting. And it's not as scary or as interesting as it was in the two previous films. It's still a monster made for fueling nightmares until the end of time, so I guess it's still got that going for it.
So if you've heard bad things about Alien³, I'm sure that they're mostly true, but it's not at the Godfather Part 3 level of bad. Trust me. If you're going to watch Alien³ for the first time, or to cleanse your movie-going palate from the Theatrical Cut, go with the 2003 Special 'Assembly Cut' Edition.