The Alien Sequel That Doesn’t Deserve All The Hate

By Zack Zagranis | Updated

Most fans of the Alien franchise consider Alien 3 the Voldemort of the franchise. Fans think of this sequel that shall not be named as a broken Debbie Downer of a film instead of the darkly beautiful, nihilistic masterpiece that it is. Okay, “masterpiece” might be stretching it, but I can confidently say with my whole chest that Alien 3 does not deserve all the hate it gets.

Alien 3 Is A Strange Movie

sigourney weaver movie

I get why some fans might not like Alien 3. It’s not the scary slasher movie in space that Alien is. Nor is it an action extravaganza like Aliens. It doesn’t even have the nausea-inducing grossness and Joss Whedon-penned dialogue that makes Alien: Resurrection such a fascinating curiosity. What it does have going for it—gothic moody visuals and a bleak atmosphere—isn’t enough for most fans to put aside their Alien 3 hate long enough to give the movie the love it deserves.

Slightly Better Than Police Adacemy

When you get down to it, the third Alien is not a bad movie. Sure, it’s a flawed film that can be a tad slow at times, but Alien 3 doesn’t deserve all the hate it gets. For instance, it has a less-than-impressive 48 percent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes.

That’s the lowest score for any movie in the Alien franchise—not counting Alien Vs. Predator, of course, because why would I? The film definitely deserves a much higher score than 48 percent. To put Alien 3‘s hate into perspective, Police Academy 3 has a score of 36 percent. That means David Fincher’s directorial debut is only marginally more popular with critics than a movie where Bobcat Goldthwait screams at people for 84 minutes.

A Bleak And Depressing Film

While I admit that having Steve Guttenberg in Alien 3 would have been a trip, the film still has many other things going for it. Ironically, Alien 3‘s best quality—its dark and hopeless atmosphere—is the very thing many viewers hated it for. It’s a bleak movie that pulls no punches, but that’s kind of what I dig about it.

A Controversial Choice

Right from the beginning, Fincher lets you know what kind of movie you’re in for by it killing off two of the surviving characters from Aliens: Newt and Hicks. Killing a kid and a disabled veteran off within the first few minutes is one of Alien 3‘s film’s boldest moves. Unfortunately, it’s also the one that generates the most hate from fans.

The Dark Fate Of Alien Characters

I can see why. Newt and Hicks didn’t do anything to earn their deaths—they didn’t make any foolish mistakes, nor were there any precautions that they could have taken to alter their fates. Essentially, their deaths serve no purpose as far as the film is concerned.

Their deaths don’t set the plot in motion and don’t provide any motivation for Ripley to seek revenge. Perhaps if Newt’s tragic end had served the story, Alien 3 would be a little less hated. But it would also be a little less special.

The characters die because sometimes, in life, bad things happen to good people for no reason. David Fincher is just one of the few directors brave enough to mirror that on film.

Was Never Going To Have A Happy Ending

alien 3 feature

The movie continues on its dark course until the very end, when we see Ripley hurl herself into a giant furnace because of the Xenomorph Queen gestating inside her. Unsurprisingly, many fans hate the end of Alien 3 almost as much as the beginning. I, however, see it as an ending befitting Ellen Ripley’s cursed life.

The minute the Nostromo landed on LV-426, Ripley’s life became one long series of downers. First, her entire crew gets killed by a monster, and then she wakes up 87 years in the future when everyone she loves, including her daughter, is dead. Alien 3, having Ripley ride off triumphantly into the sunset would have felt tonally wrong.

The Telltale Marks Of David Fincher

I know Alien 3 is far from a perfect movie, and I understand some of the hate. It’s been well-documented that the production was a nightmare. There were rewrites, reshoots, SFX problems, horrible test screenings—you name it, and David Fincher had to deal with it. Somehow, despite all that, Fincher delivered a moody film so depressing that it practically requires a prescription to finish it.

Maybe it’s the hopeless nihilist in me, but occasionally, you need a movie that emphasizes the futility of existence. If you want a happy ending, go watch Star Wars or Avengers. But if you want a dark film that would make Barney the Dinosaur seek therapy, Alien 3 is the movie for you.