After watching the first two Alien films and being told that the third installment was directed by David Fincher, the last thing I expected was for it to be boring. Shockingly enough, this film is truly and utterly boring. Half baked VFX, terrible cinematography, dragged performances and a runtime which feels like ages marks the third installment of this otherwise ravishingly brilliant series. I feel that the Alien franchise reached its pinnacle with the second installment and the only thing that could get better for the film was visual effects which was constrained at that time by the technology. The rest was just perfect and the visions of Scott and Cameron were just peerless. It’s difficult to do anything better than what these two men had already achieved. Fincher, who is one of my favorite directors now, was just getting started at that point of time and he completely missed the point and feel of this film.
The film starts off exactly where the Aliens left off. Ripley and the other two survivors, Hicks and Newt from the previous film are in a cryo sleep as their ship is traveling in space towards earth. Mid-way through their voyage, the ship crash-lands on a planet which is maintained by Weyland Corporations as a high security prison. Ripley survives but the other two crew members are unable to make it. However, along with Ripley, something else survives too. A Face-Hugger which was always on board, lays an egg inside one of the livestock of the planet and Bingo! We have a brand new Xenomorph running here and there, killing anyone he can but not Ripley. Every time he comes face to face with Ripley, he runs.
The reasons for that is known, when it is revealed that Ripley has been violated during the flight by a Face-Hugger and she now bears the mother Xenomorph. The Weyland Corporation is informed about the whole situation and they quickly send in a team to salvage the situation and make way with the alien as well as Ripley. Ripley uses her new found superiority in front of the alien to her advantage and kills it off before submitting herself to a blast furnace so that no traces of the alien that she bears remain for the company to exploit and take back to earth for making weapons. Thus ends the extremely lame and substandard third installment of the Alien Quadrilogy.
Some critics have sighted the fact that this film tries to hide its inadequacies in terms of script, acting and thrills by using its visual effects as a veil. I ask this, were the visuals effects that good that it could act as a veil or was it that I saw a different film from what these critics watched? I ask this because , I have watched and re-watched the director’s cut of this film in sparkling high definition multiple times before I wrote this review and I found the VFX to be mediocre at best. I truly feel that the VX of the previous two installments were much better. There was an organic feel to the visuals. They didn’t overexpose the alien. The cinematography was intelligent. The two directors made it a point to show the alien as much as possible through close ups and thus hide its inadequacies. Every medium long and long shot of the alien in this film exposes its limitations on the graphic level and thus spoils the affectivity of the film.
The cinematography of the film is atrocious. Taking a stark departure from the highly fluid and perfectly positioned cinematography of the first two films, this one is haphazard especially in the action sequences. Unnecessary close-ups and long shots are inter-cut to convey a feeling which is just not there. I believe in the action sequences they just didn’t want the graphic limitations of the creature to be exposed but in trying to hide that fact, they ended up spoiling the visuals of the film as well. The editing is equally bad, again especially in the action sequences. A master craftsman like Fincher makes some really bad shot selections in the action sequences.
The POV shots of the alien following the men running around the facility are headache inducing as the sequences are inverted. We beg for the Alien to land on his feet. Some of other sequences are edited, with an intention to thrill but they end up muddling up the whole sequence. I am referring to the scene where the doctor, who becomes a good friend of Ripley, is killed. I couldn’t understand that sequence in one go. While the previous two films were brilliantly shot, this one looks poor in terms of compositions and even camera angles. Even the trademark WOW! Feel of the visuals is missing.
Apart from Sigourney Weaver, the rest of the performances are ordinary. The film has a lot of dialogs wherein convicts talk a lot more than required about religion and god and almighty and then how dangerous the alien is and how they could get the better of him. They also talk about each other’s camaraderie and how one of them is really strong and how one smells bad and how they feel about certain other things etc etc etc. Sadly these dialogs neither take the story anywhere nor do they contribute into adding anything more to the screenplay and feel of the movie except the piling runtime. These dialogs after a while become extremely irritating.
I am a fan of this franchise as you might have already understood from my previous reviews and I really wanted to like this film. I watched it thrice so that I could atleast find some merit in this film but I have to admit that I haven’t been able to find any. It’s surprising considering the fact that the man at the helm of things is Fincher who over the years came to be known not only for his sensational direction but also his highly developed sense of visuals. This here was a film which was waiting to be taken to another level after the two rollicking predecessors but Fincher only managed to drive it straight into the ground both in terms of content and visuals.
For all those who have loved the first two film, I advice not to go for this one if you want to keep your fond memories of the previous films intact. This is neither a David Fincher film nor an Alien film for that matter. This is some assembly-line stuff which just got made by mistake. Steer clear of this one.