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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • 12 Featurette
  • 7 Photo gallery - + art and storyboards
  • Multiple angle - 6 streams

Alien 3: CE

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 139 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Well, where the quality epics of Alien and Aliens left off, Alien≥ disappointed. Not a bad film in itself and beautifully shot, it is however a sweepingly different film from its predecessors. Some hailed the change, but most did not. Ripley, after her partial triumph over the horrors of the last chapter (and this time with friends surviving), has everything once more taken away from her.

This, the fifth disc in the sequence of nine, again contains two versions of the film, but the obvious exclusion of David Fincher from the presentation of the special edition is glaringly apparent. With the original production of this film in constant upheaval throughout, the final cut of the film was in a constant state of flux afterward. Even Fincherís final edit wasnít approved and the film ran on with the producerís choices; pretty much taking the expected thrill of a new Ripley adventure and throwing it back in filmgoerís faces.

After the events of Aliens, Ripley is again headed back home to Earth in hyper-sleep. However, she is again interrupted and her ship crashes in a remote ocean on a mining world. Waking up amid a males-only prison and infested with lice, she shaves her head and begins waiting for her rescuers to appear. Unfortunately, the thing that interrupted her flight home is creating its usual brand of menace and the good-natured prison-folk start dropping like flies all around. And whatís worse Ė Ripley has been impregnated with an alien embryo and itís but a matter of time until the Company turn up to take her back home, alien and all.

"We have no weapons of any kind...?"

This version is the gory splatterfest that the other films (or even the theatrical version) arenít. Containing some incredibly bloody and grisly moments, the film plays more as a traditional horror film than a science fiction epic. A brief romance between Ripley and a guy working in the prison seems a little tacked on and the special effects are particularly cheesy. Understandably attempting to make the best use of emerging technology, Fincher (as always) has embraced the alien animation front well. Some of the puppet animation of the newer breed of panther-like alien is quite good, but the transfer to film spatters gouts of blue-screen residue all over.

While an interesting film in its own right, this is the poorer cousin of the other three in the Quadrilogy and in this special cut, runs for far too long at 139 minutes, regardless of some scenes that improve the original version.

  Video
Contract

Well, overall the picture quality is awesome. The full cinema aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with 16:9 enhancement leaves none of the progressive camerawork of David Fincher out and the film is the better for it. Razor sharp quality brings all the detail to the fore, with flesh looking natural and the colour palette (mostly earthy colours) looking fine. Shadow detail fluctuates a little between average to lesser, but thereís nothing missed in the details here. Less is more, in this case. The only real complaint about this pristine transfer is in some of the puppetry/blue-screen stuff being a little too obvious. Also some shots of the surface with junk blowing across the screen look a bit primitive and artefacty. Otherwise, top marks and better than Aliens on the third disc of the nine.

  Audio
Contract

Mostly perfect, with only the teensiest tiniest complaint in some dialogue being a little low. Whether this is intentional or not, itís still mildly irritating. However, the rest of the dialogue is well spoken and there are some cool lines delivered, regardless of the hastily banged-out script.

Music is a real treat here, too. Progressive as he is, Fincher, even in this his first major film, imported someone who impressed him to do the music. That man was Elliot Goldenthal and his extraordinary grasp of eclectic soundscapes suitable to the situation go so far toward making this film what it is. The music is fitting throughout, albeit moody, eerie, creepy, haunting or just outright shit-yourself, it never misses a beat. Along that vein, the sound effects are also superb and marry well to the musical soundtrack. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround here keeps pace with the film well, although we donít get the mind-numbing onslaught we were delivered in Aliens. Regardless, it still sounds super with some nice all round activity in parts that puts us amongst the action.

  Extras
Contract

Oh man...this is the hardest part of my day. Reviewing the Special Features discs for this awesome Quadrilogy. Best get started then...

As on our other discs, Disc One contains two versions of the film; the original theatrical release and the special edition. An audio commentary is available here and makes for an interesting listen, particularly to hear the sympathy the included have for Fincher. He got a pretty rough deal here which happily didnít impede his career one little bit. The commentary plays over the original version which runs 29 minutes shorter then the newer version reviewed above. Fincherís absence is a real shame, as I would have loved to hear some of his technical stuff, but it isn't hard to understand why he didnít want to appear. Oh well.

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Unused sequel idea: Aliens Vs Freddy

Disc Two starts with our usual three subheadings of Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production, but weíre all getting the feel for that now, arenít we? And so, as to Production...
Seven subheaders herein with the first being Development Ė Concluding the Story. This featurette runs for 17:01 and is essentially a making of with interviews, film footage and some very educational facts about the film. Also included is some weird concept art and interviews with Carrie Henn and Michael Biehn plus the original two directors Rene Harlin and Vincent Ward.
Next up is another featurette entitled Tales of the Wooden Planet and is an exploration of Vincent Wardís original idea for the film. Thereís some great artwork in this and some pretty scathing stuff about Fox which, to its credit, hasnít been conveniently edited out. From here we go to a concept art folio called The Art of Arcean with three subheadings and over 80 pics. There's plenty more cool art included here too. Moving along we have another featurette called Pre-Production: Part Three that runs for 11:43. Another self-scathing Fox study with various interviews with cast and crew and containing some pretty grainy footage in parts. There is some more nice concept stuff here though.
The storyboard archive is next and this one is huge. There are no stage directions, just pics, but they are almost full screen and have both endings of the film inside. Well over 1100 images here, although there are several repeats with the alternate ending. Another gallery follows with The Art of Fiorina. This oneís much smaller than the last at just over 40 images. Finally for Pre-Production thereís another featurette of Hans Rudy Gigerís redesign of the alien creature for the film. Entitled Xeno-Erotic this features interviews with Giger and the maquette sculptor on the film and runs for 10:21.

Click here to enlarge and send to a friend
Unused sequel idea: Aliens Vs Jaws

Production houses eight subheadings here and begins with Production Part One, an 18:03 featurette containing cast and crew interviews shot at the time. Basically a making of and I must add poor David Fincher. Every time we see him here heís clutching his head or frowning, the poor fella. Anyway, next up comes a Production Gallery Photo Archive featuring around 500 pictures from the shoot. A Time Lapse Camera Featurette follows with the construction of the furnace used in various important scenes of the film. This runs for 4:37 and they build it even faster at 2x or4x...
Adaptive Organism Ė Creature Design is our next featurette which runs for 20:35. Some very interesting stuff on the creation of the creature and rubberwork and the creation of the creature itself. The scene Fincher called ĎBambi Bursterí is dealt with here too (and thankfully that scene appears in the new cut).
Amalgamated Design Incorporatedís workshop is the next gallery and this houses a lot of the creature effects stuff. Over 180 pics in here to have a squizz at. A multi-angle sequence is next featuring the levels of the EEV Scan used in the film to determine Ripley has a certain something inside her chest. Thankfully this only runs for 2:01 with six layers to choose from and is pretty cool. Finally two more featurettes entitled Production Part Two and Three. These run for 14:40 and 8:57 respectively and feature cast and principal crew interviews, behind the scenes footage, praise for Fincher from his troops and an exploration of how to end this complicated shoot.

Click here to enlarge and send to a friend
Unused sequel idea: Aliens Vs Planet of the Apes

Post-Production holds only five subheaders here with he first being Optical Fury; Visual Effects. This deals with Fincherís wish to try new techniques and tricks and some cool info on the puppetry and stuff. Thereís also some pretty grainy interview footage and the whole shebang runs for 23:22. This is my highlight of this section. Music, Editing and Sound is the topic of our next featurette and features composer Elliot Goldenthal describing his relationship with Fincher and his very interesting work. Runtime: 14:54. Our second to last gallery is next with the Visual Effects Archive. Holding over 130 pics, this stuff is pretty interesting as far as galleries go. Our last featurette is a quick one regarding reaction to the film. Post Mortem runs for a short 5:51 because theyíve obviously trimmed out a lot of complaints. Well, maybe, I dunno, but itís much shorter than existing Reaction to the Film bits. Finally, our last gallery which features the promo stuff shot for the film and the Special Shoot. 81 pages in all containing a possible author artefact on page 23. Alien infection possibly...

So, there you go. Another massive grab bag of stuff to keep any enthusiast happy for hours/days/weeks.

  Overall  
Contract

If this film wasnít attached to the Alien series, it would be better than it is. Thereís no way this film can compete with the two previous incarnations, although itís a watchable film and does belong here among the series. Try and look through the plot holes and such and instead enjoy some of Fincherís trademark style as he makes the most of a bad situation. The film looks great and has been restored magnificently, although, as noted, it runs a little long even if the new stuff improves the overall story.

Not long to go now in our overall Alien Quadrilogy exposť, so stay tuned to your Alien specialists, DVDnet.


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      And I quote...
    "On Earth, everyone can hear you scream..."
    - Jules Faber
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