Even more striking was the endless progression of script rejections. Cult science-fiction author William Gibson, author of films like Johnny Mnemonic (1995) and New Rose Hotel (1998), delivered one involving a colony of Marxists and a genetically-engineered alien mutation loose on an interstellar mall world; Eric Red, author of The Hitcher (1986) and Near Dark (1987), set the alien loose on a space station of redneck farmers; while David Twohy, the director/writer of Pitch Black (2000), came up with a version set on a prison planet, which was then abandoned. The most fascinating of these was the one planned by Vincent Ward, which was set on a wooden planet inhabited by a lost colony of monks who saw the mutating alien as the fulfilment of religious prophecies a version that seemed to enter more into fantastique horror than science-fiction. Added to these problems was much debate about Sigourney Weavers involvement and her demands for character input. Even the shooting of the film was rent with problems with David Fincher so unhappy with production interference that he left before editing was completed and subsequently refused any involvement, even in producing his own directors cut.
So it is with great surprise that the finished film comes out far better than the behind-the-scenes chaos would have led one to believe possible. If one can set aside the central implausibility the film requires that the whole story is going to happen a third time over and the somewhat disappointing scaling down of the scope of the action from the second film there is still a good film left. The surprise is that Sigourney Weavers input does benefit the project and that Alien3 works as a strongly character propelled film. In fact, it is the giving of substance to the central character that forms the best parts of the film. This allows Sigourney Weaver to deliver a tour-de-force performance, turning Ripley, previously a hardheaded pragmatist, into someone who has been left a burnt-out emotional wreck by her experiences. In one stunning moment, she confronts the alien in the dark and whispers, Youve been in my life so long, I cant remember anything else. The character development does lead to what is a valid criticism that the film has a slow-moving beginning. Indeed, it is a considerable surprise, after the previous two Alien films, to see David Fincher taking his leisure before letting the alien loose.
The question that was on everybodys lips at the time that Alien3 was Could the then unknown David Fincher establish a style of his own or would he merely repeat what has gone before? The answer is happily the former. With the darkly textural jack-in-the-box story that Ridley Scott provided in the first film and James Camerons barrelling powerhouse bug hunt in the second casting an enormous shadow over Alien3, David Fincher has his work cut out for him, nevertheless manages to stamp his own imprint on the series. He shoots the harshly realistic settings and scarred, pockmarked texture of the characters faces with a soft candlelit luminescence. The look of the film is often reminiscent of the Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) remake. This is something that makes the aliens appearances rising up behind victims, silhouetted behind curtains in a sickbay, or momentarily disappearing in and out of the shafts quite unworldly. The sets have been designed as a retrograde industrial wasteland, which makes an interesting combination with the films almost Mediaeval style the way that the factory-like warren becomes like a monastic abbey with the prisoners meeting for conferences while seated inside pipe outlets, or set-pieces like the funeral service set against an orange glowing wasteland. The fans of the first two films gave Alien3 an excoriating reception, nitpicking everything from supposed inconsistencies in the aliens biology to the downbeat ending. On balance though, David Fincher has created far more than a copycat sequel, rather a sequel that consistently keeps one on the edge of the seat anew and also establishes its own ground.
Alien3 was the debut feature from director David Fincher. Fincher went on to make the extraordinary serial killer thriller Se7en (1995); followed by the reality-bending The Game (1997); the truly amazing Fight Club (1999); the thriller Panic Room (2002); the true-life serial killer film Zodiac (2007); The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) about a man who ages backwards; The Social Network (2010) about the real-life establishing of Facebook; the English-language remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011); and the thriller Gone Girl (2014), where he has emerged as one of the most fascinating directors currently at work in the American mainstream.
The other Alien films are Alien (1979), Aliens (1986), Alien: Resurrection (1997), AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) and AVPR: Aliens vs Predator Requiem (2007), while Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017) are prequels to the original. The making of Alien3 is discussed in The Alien Saga (2002), a documentary about the film series.