Why Alien 3 is the Best in the Franchise
By John Corry
Photo from TV Tropes
Aug 6 2017, 09:15 pm eastern
Newflash: The Alien Franchise is the most interesting franchise–regarding every aspect of its existence–in all of movie history (===OOOOOO).
I do not say this lightly, or any more lightly than people claim that Harry Potter is the best book series of all time ((Dark Tower? GOT?) it’s too close, it’s a stupid question). But Alien deserves the title for more reasons than one. In fact, the only other movie franchise which might contend with Alien in the abundance-of-awesomeness-in-every-aspect category is Star Wars, and is so for many of the same reasons: story, story context, technical quality, cultural relativity, overall execution, execution context and what the way the movie was made has to say about the art of making movies. Star Wars and Alien are obviously a far cry from each other in many of these instances, genre aside, but there is indeed one thing that NOBODY can argue against: as movie series (es?), they’re both better than the Harry Potter movies XD.
Another reason these series are psychically connected (Star Wars and Alien) is the way their sequels/prequels have been received. Star Wars of course had its classic run of the original trilogy, universally considered a classic of the trilogy format, but its prequels have been just a little less-than-loved (just a little), and the most recent The Force Awakins (spelling done purposefully #StarWarsNerd #Jokes #AnakinSkywalker #StarWarsIsAwesome ) has been controversial, or at least until the next in the main series is released in December of this year. If you don’t live under a rock, the prequels, in particular, have been quite the topic of disdain for Star Wars fans and regular moviegoers alike. I have my own thoughts on this topic, which could likely fill up a novel, but I don’t want to bore you with my irrelevant opinions…
I FIND the Alien franchise to be more interesting, overall, than Star Wars.
Alien: Covenant was just released a few months ago, to varying receptions. I found it to be, as if in combination with this article this doesn’t make me insanely predictable #AtLeastImNotJarJar , … cool? It was violent and bloody and it had more of a horror element to it than Prometheus did, but I was personally hoping for a more philosophical vibe, like that of Prometheus. For what it was trying to do, however, Alien: Covenant did it well.
Prometheus might very likely be the best single movie ever, not because so many haters hated it for stupid reasons, but because it’s insanely entertaining, and the way in which things are actually able to be entertaining is that they’re just as questioning as they are escapist–but it doesn’t let anyone notice. Prometheus was hated on for technical reasons; its plot was executed perfectly, its flow inherently unnoticeable (which is the way 'flow' should be), its characters well-developed, and it did exactly what it set out to do. It questioned the nature of existence, albeit rather simply, but it also delved into the heart of what makes the Alien franchise so great (and, no, it’s not just the gore and the scare tactic): it specifically questions, and in a more focused manner than in any other movie franchise (except for maybe James Bond #ImReallyNotSureIfImJoking ), the human condition, and the question of ‘the future’.
In combination with the lessons learned from researching the way it was made, this brings me to Alien 3. Alien 3 has been shat on ever since it was first released in 1992, and for good reason: it kills all but one of its main characters within the first five minutes, the story at first seems subpar and not well-executed, and the movie altogether feels scatterbrained, out of focus, and made specifically for its selling point ($). Much of this is because that last point is exactly why it was made (to sell), and, as a result, the film went through three directors, countless writers and script changes before, during and after production–it’s a wonder the thing got made at all!–but that’s one of the reasons why it’s so good: the fact that it did get made, and that it wasn’t completely terrible, and in fact arguably awesome, despite all of those obstacles (I would highly recommend watching the special features on the Collector’s Edition DVD for more information on this).
These studio-greed-fueled extravagancies (it’s a joke, conservatives, get over yourselves <3) makes it only more impressive how well Alien 3 brings together the entire franchise, it’s like it was made specifically as an omen for what a good idea might and might not end up as if it’s handled by a decent director and writers who somehow still care about the end product despite all the reasons not to (like stress). The claustrophobic horror of the original and the grand-adventureness of its first sequel, Aliens, are both represented in Alien 3, in the way it was shot, and in the writing in particular (or at least what it ended up as), and it was the first Alien movie to really delve into the philosophical aspects which would make Prometheus so good, and which the first two only hinted at (and by ‘first two’, I do indeed mean primarily the first one).
It may be tough to get through, but, then again, perhaps that fact might even bring in a relation to those terrible (yet not as bad as Fantastic Beasts) AVP movies.
And this is not to forget that is indeed an aesthetically pleasing movie, if you can get through it. The pacing may at times be slow, but it kills off a decent amount of people pretty fast (which is always fantastic (what was that question earlier? Answer to it: GOT)), and the pacing has to be slow given the movie’s main themes and the way the director chose to shoot and edit the movie, which was again by no means ill founded or misguided within the context of the story. David Fincher has gone on to make some of the coolest movies of the past two decades (including Fight Club, Seven, and Zodiac) and quickly became one of the most prolific directors of his generation following his directorial debut in Alien 3
Movies are supposed to entertain, but they’re also supposed to be relevant. Prometheus and Alien: Covenant proved that the franchise was still determined to continue on the path that the 1979 original set out for the franchise, a path filled with blood, fear, love, and philosophically challenging themes related to the ideas of advanced alien civilizations, human societies existing only for-profit, and especially AI, and mother-child relationships. The Alien films in between the ’79 original and Prometheus are well known for straying, at least in one those aspects, from that path. Not only was Alien 3 wrongfully put into this category simply because of its advanced and unique sense of self, but it was forged as an antithesis to that which it somehow was despite all the odds the haters put up against it–
That it’s the best in the franchise, and the haters should either get a job in the movie reviewing business, or calm the fuck down if they want to be taken as people who understand the emotional aspect of human beings.
(Disclaimer: this article is in regards to the directors cut of Alien 3; as a boycott, I refuse to watch the theatrical version.)