To remake or not to remake “Alien 3,” that is the question. It is also a question that doesn’t get an easy answer right away. My feelings regarding it have changed over the years. I was expecting it to be an “Aliens” redux upon its initial release, but it ended up being the most depressing sci-fi film of all time. Years later, I found myself re-evaluating it in the wake of David Fincher’s ascension to becoming one of Hollywood’s best directors. There’s also the issue of Hollywood’s endless remake machine and how it now looks to redo sequels. Considering that most sequels are critical disasters, it almost makes sense to remake as they are just asking to be improved on. But out of all of them, does “Alien 3” truly require a remake?
I still remember watching “Alien 3” when it first came out and exiting the movie theatre wanting to shoot myself. This sequel went against our collective expectations in a vicious manner as the filmmakers killed off Corporal Hicks, the android Bishop (albeit temporarily), and Newt. We all thought they would continue their exploits as a family unit, but that was not to be. Newt ends up undergoing an autopsy which is very upsetting to witness even as it provided Sigourney Weaver with an emotionally powerful moment.
Then there’s the ending where Ellen Ripley, now pregnant with an alien, commits suicide to deny “the company” access to this creature for their weapons division. However heroic her final act was, no one wanted to see Ripley go out like that. I came out of “Alien 3” seriously depressed; feeling like someone shot my family down right in front of me. Sneaking in with my friend to see “Encino Man” starring Pauly Shore afterwards did nothing to brighten my mood.
To her credit, Sigourney Weaver did give fans advance warning in Entertainment Weekly’s 1992 Summer Movie Preview when she said anyone going to this expecting “Aliens” or “Terminator 2” was going to be very disappointed. I did not read this warning in time.
Still, there was something about “Alien 3” that stayed with me, and I found myself re-watching it when the “Alien Quadrilogy” was released on DVD. It had an “Assembly Cut” of “Alien 3” that gave the story more direction, helped to make the prisoners more individualized to where you could tell them apart, and gave more psychological depth to the characters in general.
Part of appreciating “Alien 3” involves getting past the expectations you had for it. It marked the directorial debut of David Fincher, and you have to (even if it is begrudgingly so) give him credit for taking risks with the story that no one else would have. The relationship between Ripley Dillon, the spiritual leader of the prisoners played by Charles S. Dutton, is captured in a fascinating way. They have to work together to stop the alien from rubbing them out, and their relationship is a fascinatingly complex one. Dillon describes himself to Ripley as “a murderer and rapist of women” but has since become a pacifist. Ripley however calls on him to revive the violence within him not only to defeat the alien, but to keep the one inside of her from becoming a reality.
While still flawed at best, “Alien 3” is a better movie than I ever could have given it upon its release. It probably would have been even better if 20th Century Fox didn’t take it out of his control. Of all the films in the popular franchise, it remains the most underrated of the bunch, and it’s far better than those dopey “Alien vs. Predator” movies. So when all’s said and done, “Alien 3” really doesn’t need to be remade.
Seriously though, what’s the point of remaking “Alien 3?” To forget that Fincher’s version ever existed? To take our favorite characters in a different direction so they wouldn’t suffer the same horrific fate Fincher put them through? Why not just make another film and treat it as a true sequel to James Cameron’s “Aliens?” So what if a timeline has already been fully established for Ripley and other characters? That hasn’t stopped movie studios and filmmakers from ignoring it to keep a series going.
Take Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns” for instance. It was said to be the real sequel to “Superman II,” taking place five years after the events of it. Basically, everyone involved wanted you to forget that “Superman III” and “Superman IV: The Quest For Peace” ever existed. Granted, you can’t really erase the existence of certain movies even if you wanted to, but the intention in doing so was understandable considering the evisceration they received from both critics and fans. Canon Pictures gave us ever reason to delete “The Quest For Peace” from our collective memories.
How about the “Halloween” franchise? You get whiplash from just looking at all the various directions the sequels took! Michael Meyers and Dr. Loomis end up burning to death in “Halloween II,” but they somehow survive the burning inferno to fight each other again in “Halloween IV.” Speaking of “The Return of Michael Meyers,” Jaime Lee Curtis’ character of Laurie Strode is killed off before that one even begins, and she remains dead in Parts V and VI. Then, 20 years after the original’s release, Laurie Strode turns out to be very much alive and living in fear of her psychotic brother who keeps cheating death thanks to big box office returns. So what if Laurie was dead in the previous movies? That won’t stop studios from further profiting off these undying characters.
Actually, it already does look like Hollywood has begun remaking sequels with “The Hills Have Eyes 2” and Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II.” On closer inspection though, those ones are in fact sequels to remakes, not remakes of sequels. But if studio executives really do want to remake sequels, why start with “Alien 3?” Why not “The Exorcist II: The Heretic” or “Speed 2: Cruise Control?” Why not “Beverly Hills Cop III?” How about “Jaws 3” or “Jaws: The Revenge?” These are some of the most pathetic sequels in cinematic history, and we all can envision ways in which they could be so much better.
“Alien 3” does not require a remake whatever you think of it. Instead, I would suggest that 20th Century Fox allow David Fincher the chance to make his director’s cut from the footage available to him. That is, assuming he wants to revisit this movie at all. Fincher ended up abandoning “Alien 3” during the editing phase, and he refused to participate in the DVD and Blu-ray releases of the movie. Still, with movies like “Seven,” “Zodiac,” “The Social Network,” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” under his belt, it would be cool to see this sequel as he originally envisioned it. For the time being, we can only hope.
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