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Alien 3 Review, Part 3

Aliens vs. Looney Tunes

In the previous reviews, we talked about how Ripley is once again the sole survivor. Her ship crashed because, somehow, the alien queen she killed in the second movie managed to lay an egg in the five minutes before it died. That egg hatched, attacked Ripley and the other’s cryobeds, and some of its acidic salvia melted its way into the ship’s wiring, causing the spacecraft to crash. To make the situation even more ridiculous, the escape shuttle the cryobeds were moved into crashed as well, and everyone expect Ripley was killed.

Ripley wakes up in an all-male prison. Superintendent Harold Andrews is concerned for her safety, so he does his best to keep Ripley in the medical wing. Ripley doesn’t cooperate. With the help of Dr. Clemens, she finds the crashed shuttle and begins trying to figure out what happened. Dr. Clemens explains how each person was killed, and while he’s talking, Ripley notices acid burns on Newt’s cryobed. She demands to see the little girl’s body. Dr. Clemons obliges, and Ripley looks over the little girl’s corpse, searching for signs of an alien embryo. This doesn’t make too much sense because, in every instance where an alien has come out of a human being, that person was still alive. Regardless, when Ripley doesn’t find anything, she asks Dr. Clemons to do an autopsy. Dr. Clemons reluctantly agrees, and since I’ve spoken about this scene in the previous articles, all I’ll say is a felt like it was poorly done. The actors did a fine job, but I believe the writers were rubbing the viewers’ noses in the little girl’s death. One of the reasons I suspect this is because scene wasn’t necessary. As I said before, Newt was already dead, and since this was the case, the alien embryo should’ve died with her. Secondly, the glass in her cryobed was cracked but not broken through, and Dr. Clemons insists the little girl drowned, so there was no real reason for Ripley to think there was alien in the little girl. Thirdly, Ripley has been unconscious for some time, and the first movie clearly establishes that the embryo is finished gestating after a few hours. If there had been an alien in Newt, it would’ve broken out of her already. But the gestation period of these embryo’s is wildly inconsistent as we’ll see later.

Once the autopsy is done, the inmates hold a funeral for Newt and Hicks. They dump their bodies in a furnace. Remember that.

It turns out, that the alien which attacked the cryobeds survived both crashes and plants an embryo in an inmate’s dog. We’re supposed to forget the fact that these parasitic aliens can only plant one embryo before expiring themselves, and it was established during the crash sequence that the alien planted an embryo in somebody while they were sleeping in their cryobed. But I’ve complained about that little detail the previous articles. During the funeral, the embryo inside the dog breaks out of the poor creature and scampers off.

The next portion of the movie follows the standard trajectory. The inmates don’t like Ripley because “Eww! She’s a girl!” The alien starts picking off inmates one by one. Everyone begins to wonder what’s going on, all while Ripley and Dr. Clemens develop a budding romance which ends about as well you would expect, with the alien killing Clemens right in front of Ripley, of course. However, shortly before his unfortunate passing—I say unfortunate because Charles Dance is a joy to watch whenever he’s on screen, He breathed some much-needed life into this tedious script—Clemons explains that there are only 25 inmates in the prison, and they’re basically working maintenance on a closed down lead factory. They have a furnace. Remember that.

These 25 inmates are all violent criminals, and they’re set to be executed when the next supply ship arrives. All these men are scheduled to die. Now, I love a good redemption arch as well as the next guy, but that’s not what’s going on in this film. It really annoyed me that Ripley went from protecting a little girl and a wounded marine, to tolerating a bunch of inmates, who are mostly unrepentant, and are going to be killed by the government even if they survive the alien. Sequels are supposed to escalate the stakes, not bring things down to a point where it doesn’t matter what happens. With the exception of Clemons, everyone is this movie, even Ripley, is absurdly unlikable. I found it difficult to care. The reason for this is simple, Ripley has nothing to fight for. There isn’t a single inmate who might deserve a second chance or has any redeeming qualities. Everyone is bitter at the world. Frankly, the alien’s killing spree is a mercy for these poor saps.

The plot doesn’t get moving until Clemons is killed, then shortly after that, the alien murders Harold. Since the inmates no longer have a leader, they quickly forget about their girl issues, and ask Ripley for help. What happens next is probably one of the dumbest attempts at a plan, I’ve ever seen in a horror film. First, I want to point out, that they HAVE A FURNACE! Yet nobody, not a single person, suggests baiting the alien toward the giant pit of fire! What they do instead is find a random room filled with chemical waste and try to bait the alien inside that. They start spreading the chemical waste around with the intention of igniting it and hoping the alien will run straight for this emptied room. But the torches they’ve been using, are lit by pressing a button. One of these inmates starts climbing a ladder while everyone is spreading the waste, then the inmate drops his torch, and it lands right on the button. The flare sets the chemicals ablaze, and nearly half the inmates are killed by this one guy’s incompetence. I’ve never seen anything like it. Of course, the movie shows all of this in slow motion. Men are running around on fire, and the viewer is supposed to feel bad for them, but I couldn’t help but expect to see Larry, Curly, and Mo making their classic Three Stooges noises while burning alive. When I say these characters are unlikable, I mean they’re really unpleasant to watch. Some of them even try to assault Ripley at one point, and yet we’re supposed to root for them. And again, when all this happening, I just kept thinking “YOU HAVE A FURANCE!”

It’s not uncommon for the first plan to fail. This is a part of the “Midnight of the Soul,” or the “All is Lost” moment. Stories do this all the time. But usually, the bad guy outwits the protagonists, or there’s some dramatic twist of fate which unravels everything. I can’t think of a single movie where the first plan fails solely because of the main characters’ stupidity. And these people are cartoonishly bad. This movie should’ve been titled “Aliens vs. Looney Tunes,” only Bugs Bunny is a degenerate.

After this initial plan fails, the inmates, once again, look to Ripley for help. However, Ripley is not feeling well. She goes back to her cryobed — the only one that isn’t broken — and scans herself. She discovers that the parasitic alien planted an embryo inside her. I’ll complain about this in the next review.

Gary Varner

Gary Varner is the Assistant to the Managing and Associate Directors at the Center for Science & Culture in Seattle, Washington. He is a Science Fiction and Fantasy enthusiast with a bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts, and he spends his time working with his fellows at Discovery Institute and raising his daughter who he suspects will one day be president of the United States. For more reviews as well as serial novels, go to www.garypaulvarner.com to read more.

Alien 3 Review, Part 3