The Dragon’s Advocate: A Case for Alien³ (part 1)

Your honor, I want to open my defense of today’s client, the movie Alien³, with a recap on its public perception: Alien³, according to many fans, is the movie where the series jumped the shark. Long story short: A RottenTomatoes rating of 44% and an IMDb rating of 6.4 (as of 2015). The sum-up quotes on RottenTomatoes include statements like: „Too conceptually disjointed to live in the imagination after it’s over, like its predecessors.“ Or: „Flashy, flawed sequel that doesn’t deliver the chills of the first or the thrills of the second “ And: „Good acting has salvaged many a poor script in the past, but not here.“ Negative reactions from fans can be summed up in „Wait, they kill off Newt and Hicks in the first five minutes of the movie without them even waking up from hypersleep? Are you kidding me?“ and „Great, it’s just Alien all over again. Some guys with no weapons against a single Xenomorph.“ I will concentrate on their reactions because they form the popular opinion about this movie. However, one word out to the critics: „Flashy“? Really? Have you seen the movie at all? Even Helen Keller could have seen that this movie may be anything, but not „flashy“ (Sorry about the Helen Keller thing… got lost in the moment).

  1. No happy endings (obviously)

The fan quotes show that the movie was doomed before it even got into cinemas. And for this, you don’t even have to tackle Alien³’s troubled production history. The reason is simple. Just two words: Failed expectations. Yes, this movie has indeed a knack for disappointing audience’s expectations. I mean, after the end of Aliens, who wouldn’t expect new adventures with Ripley, Hicks and Newt? A romantic relationship between Ripley and Hicks was hinted at during Aliens, so this would be something one might think that it would be tackled in the third movie. But really, is this something you’d like to have seen being further developed? Another cookie cutter romance plot? A marriage? And this is a great way to show what the Alien movie are all about: There are no happy endings in Alien movies. You should have got that by now. People die. This isn’t Star Wars. If anything, it is „anti-Star Wars“. Ships don’t fly like fighter jets, there are no princesses and victory celebrations with cuddly bears. I love Star Wars, but if you want Star Wars, go watch Star Wars. There you can be sure that Luke, Leia and Han live to see another day. If you watch an Alien movie you have to take the possibility into consideration that the captain of the ship may die midway through, Spock turns out to be a killer android and only one person makes it out alive. That was just the first Alien movie. And it doesn’t end here. You have to deal with the fact that the hero wakes up in a time where all his friends and family are dead (including her own daughter). People lose their friends by friendly fire, have to live with the fact that they are now in the hands of an organism that prolong their suffering by impregnating them with their children or blow themselves up to buy you time to escape. What where you expecting at this point? Granted, further events involving Hicks and Newt were a possibility. But nothing more. A possibility. Characters you have grown to like die in Alien movies. In 1991, that was hardly a new thing. That’s also life, by the way. Why not appreciate that Alien³ took a bold turn and created an atmosphere where it was impossible to foretell what would happen next? You know, like in the first movie, where you couldn’t tell who was the protagonist until the climax. And that, excluding the gross simplification of the second fan reaction concerning the plot, is about the only thing Alien³ has in common with Alien.

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About mfriebe

Creator & Writer of the ongoing Alien Encyclopedia project.
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One Response to The Dragon’s Advocate: A Case for Alien³ (part 1)

  1. Hi Markus – The issue that annoys people more with Hicks and Newt is the arbitrary manner in which they’re despatched; not merely that they’re despatched. It’s cheap to off them in the opening titles. Hicks and Newt didn’t really have any development to speak of in Aliens, but they were major catalysts for Ripley bringing the warrior-mother to the fore. And because they were major, people missed them and got annoyed they didn’t have more fitting end.

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