Weaver does the Bald and the Beautiful
"Alien" was brilliant and "Aliens" was its equal if not better, bucking the trend of sequels usually being poor, but then came "Alien 3" and simply it's not brilliant and nowhere close to being in the same league as its predecessors. That doesn't mean that "Alien 3" is a bad movie, as a stand alone movie it would be quite good but as part of what was an impressive series it is distinctly inferior. The biggest problem is that whilst it sort of continues the storyline, picking up with Ripley, Newt, Hicks and Bishop's space craft coming crashing down onto a maximum security facility it fails to build on what went before. Instead what we get after an opening sequence which gives us that little bit of continuation is basically Ripley taking on the Alien once more and failing to really develop the storyline. Now at the time "Alien 3" was the final movie and so tried to bring closure to the series but even so all it ends up is a rather dark and uninspiring sci-fi, action movie, well uninspiring in comparison to "Alien" and "Aliens".
Following the escape from the Alien planet, Ellen Ripley's (Sigourney Weaver - Ghostbusters II) ship comes crashing down on to a maximum security facility killing Newt, Hicks and Bishop leaving her as the sole survivor. Being the only women in an all male secure facility causes issues but nothing compared to when she learns that there was an Alien aboard her ship and that her crash on the planet may not be the accident she first thought. But that is not Ripley's only problem as she once more has to take battle to the Alien but this time without any weapons to use.
As already mentioned "Alien 3" starts by trying to pick up from where "Aliens" left off but what for me is a mistake is basically killing off Newt, Hicks and Bishop before the movie starts leaving Ripley to be the sole survivor. It ends up being a weak link and causes "Alien 3" to feel like a standalone storyline which has been messily linked back to its predecessors.
What follows on from there is the mix of the clever and the preposterous as it expectedly ends up being Ripley against the Alien. The clever comes from the maximum security facility being all male, meaning we should have some hormonal charged tension as these criminals which include murderers and rapists have to deal with female temptation. Unfortunately the clever idea isn't really used to its full potential and we get more expected elements from Ripley ending up falling for the medical officer whilst also finding herself in a less than pleasant situation with some sex starved criminals. It is sadly all too obvious and fails to really develop the relationships between people properly. And whilst there are some clever twists, especially when it comes to Ripley's association with the Aliens it all seems wasted and often spoiled by gaping plot holes.
What this basically means is that the storyline quickly ends up just being a vehicle for action sequences and this time around with a new director taking over the action is at times bloodier. Are initial introduction to the Alien being on this planet is particularly gory as we watch a dog fall prey to it and the first inmate death is just as potent in a blood splattering way. But whilst "Alien 3" is full of action and features a clever twist in that there are no weapons in the facility it never really gets you gripped. Where in the previous movies a moment of action would usually have an element of horror this time around it's not overly scary and ends up that many of the action moments are telegraphed far too long in advance. As such "Alien 3" ends up being a case of sitting there, getting through some pretty inconsequential dialogue before being hit with an obvious action scene and then going through the cycle again.
Plus it has to be said that in the previous movies the sight of the Alien was a scary thing this time around the fear factor is missing. Part of the trouble is that the effects used to create the Alien, especially when it moves around look a little shabby and fake making scenes which should be scary a bit laughable. It's as if "Alien 3" was made on a lower budget and as such the attention to detail has had to slip.
The saving grace to "Alien 3" is that whilst the storyline, action and effects are not brilliant the acting is still great. Sigourney Weaver once more creates this powerful woman in Ripley but at the same time gives her insecurities making her fascinating to watch especially when she basically flips the switch and takes the battle to the Alien. And whilst Weaver is the star of "Alien 3" the supporting performances which includes Charles Dance, Charles S. Dutton, Brian Glover and Pete Postlethwaite do not disappoint, creating interesting characters that whilst may not get a lot of screen time are more than just cardboard cut outs.
What this all boils down to is that "Alien 3" compared to the previous 2 Alien movies is inferior and suffers from a weaker storyline, a lack of tension and the occasional dodgy effect. But whilst inferior it's still not a bad movie just weak in comparison. And part of the reason why it's not a bad movie is that the acting is still first rate and in many ways is the best thing about this third Alien movie.