A Film Critic Offers A Spirited Defense Of ‘Alien 3’

The Unloved is a video series from critic Scout Tafoya about, well, unloved movies. Dogs. Turkeys. Bombs. The idea is that perhaps these films deserve a critical reappraisal, which is fair, and he tends to focus on big-budget genre films that missed or at least got critically reviled. That said, trying to rehabilitate Alien 3 is a gutsy movie.

For those unfamiliar, Alien 3 is better known for its long, messy production history than it is for being a movie worth watching, as well as the subject of the most riveting documentary about a movie going to hell in a handbasket, tragically only available as part of the Alien 3 two-disc set. Oddly, they decided to follow up a tense SF thriller with a weird art movie; before Fincher signed on to direct, the movie was developed by cult filmmaker Vincent Ward, who you probably know best from What Dreams May Come.

The thrust of the documentary is that David Fincher makes pretty pictures and the movie is more feminist than the other Alien movies, mostly by reading heavily into scenes that maybe you shouldn’t read heavily into. Both of which are true! But there are some factors here Tafoya glosses over here that are worth pointing out.

The first is that the movie is not a good story. Tafoya handwaves this, but the sad truth is that the movie’s an interesting idea that drags on for what feels like weeks. I’ve revisited multiple times over the years, most recently a few months ago during the run-up to Alien: Isolation, and even with the “restored” cut, it’s just a dull, talky movie.

The second is that, yes, the movie is well thought out, visually. But so what? Fincher had an Oscar-nominated cinematographer handling the visual end of things and the budget for lights. It was going to look good no matter what. Fincher often gets praised for how pretty his movies look, but that’s like praising the guy the pinch hitter replaced for the home run.

Still, Tafoya’s points are well-made, and you might reconsider Alien 3 a little bit. or at least bag on it a little less than Alien: Resurrection.