Wankers! In! Spaaaaaaaace!

Friday, March 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm Comments (6)

Watched Alien3 last night. I’d seen it once before years ago; it was actually the first movie in the Alien series I’d seen, but I couldn’t remember much about it besides the totally gratuitous deaths of everyone but Ripley from the previous movie – before the movie even begins! – and the ending, so I was looking forward to seeing it in full.

You’d need a lengthy list to detail all the ways it’s different in tone from the first two films, but the main point is that there’s only one alien, the place they’re trapped on has no useful working technology to fight the creature with, and for some reason, despite being set on a dingy prison planet in the ass-end of the universe, it’s probably the brightest of the first three movies. I can understand Aliens because it was on a ravaged human colony that about to blow up or something, but who’d thought a near-derelict prison would be lit well?

Yep, that’s a great comment to start the review off with. Let’s get some less stupid topics going.

You don’t bond with the characters much. The one character who Ripley truly bonds with, the doctor, only seems to be there to help her out and explain some of the mystery surrounding him for the first hour, and once all of his mystique has been explained away, he’s killed immediately. So much time is spent on the interaction between him and Ripley that everyone else gets very little to define them (besides “wacko”), so when the occupants of the prison are slowly whittled down to a mere one, you don’t exactly notice much.

The alien itself seems a little odd in this one. We finally get a clear chance to see its strange, animalistic scuttling over walls and ceilings (yeah, that happened in Aliens, but you only saw it in the midst of them being shot at), but its births from a cow in its fully-grown form; it doesn’t grow from a chest-burster into the full xenomorph. Rather than make any attempts to turn its prey into eggs for more face-huggers, it just seems to eat every dude it finds for a little while and then walks away. Yes, it fits in with the “it toys with its prey” theme that the series likes to remind us of, but you’d think when it’s the only one of its kind on the planet, it’d want to be a little more productive.

If you can ignore the fact that a vast majority of the cast are worthless and can live with some minor errors with the mythos, I’d dare say it’s not a bad movie. it doesn’t pare up when you place it side-by-side with the first two (though since it’s an actual sequel and not just a random one-off, you can’t try and pass it off as a standalone film), but the premise and setting are very intriguing; the faith-in-religion vs. faith-in-the-man parallel makes for an interesting running theme; the sets and visual direction of the film are very, very nicely done; and I feel it makes for a decent end to Ripley’s story arc, even if it was a needlessly cruel journey (who’s going to look after Jones?!). the main problem I find is just… there’s nothing new for the alien.

The first movie introduces us to it and its uncanny biology; the second then expands on that (human eggs!) and shows us the queen; the third… makes it tuna-coloured for a while? It doesn’t break any new ground the alien as a species, and most of the movie’s drama comes about through how totally unprepared the prisoners and their environment are for such a threat. It doesn’t help that there’s no real drive to the climax; again with the comparisons, the first movie has the ship set to self-destruct, the second has them trying to rescue Newt before, again, the place blows up, and this one just has them trying to dispose of the alien before The Company shows up. It doesn’t help that the method of getting rid of it is just really, really boring; the sequence of the prisoners running around in tunnels gets old real fast, and you just wonder what the hell they’re trying to achieve. I can’t imagine it’s a sequence that would’ve read any better on the script.

For a movie I’m saying that I like, I sure have a lot of complaints, don’t I?

I thought it was a decent film. it is hard to put it on the same podium was the first two, but aside from some iffy pacing and a very weak final battle (though the ending afterwards is very satisfying), I thought it was a worthwhile watch. it’s not like some movies where you feel you would’ve been better off spending the time knitting a scarf or something. Though I should probably do that anyway. I am big into multi-tasking.

So, presumably next week we’ll get watching Alien Resurrection. Literally the only scene I’ve ever seen of it is the big where an alien gets sucked out of a tiny hole in the ship, ass-first, so it’ll be interesting to see if the rest of the film is just as entertaining.

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