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Entries in Alien 3 [1992] (1)


Alien 3 (1992)

In Defense of Alien 3

There are moments when you realize just how “world-wide” the World Wide Web actually is.  For example, I was about to post a review of Alien 3 this afternoon, when I got a phone call from some guy in Canada.  He said he’d been turned on to Kicking the Seat by a colleague’s teenage daughter, and that he thought highly of my commitment to using solid grammar in my reviews (I try).

He told me he was in a pinch because the organization he works for just let go of their copywriting department, and he needed someone to do an immediate proof of a letter he’s sending to David Fincher!  I must’ve sounded like a complete idiot, ‘cause I could barely get any words out.  Somehow, through all the stammering, I agreed to help, and he e-mailed me the text of the letter (there wasn’t a lot to fix, honestly).

In return for my generosity, I was offered the exclusive chance to publish the letter here, tonight, before Fincher even gets it.  I think we both figured no one important’s going to read this before now and Tuesday; so, what the hell, eh?  Enjoy!


David Fincher

c/o Hipstreet Productions

9934 Hip St.

Los Angeles, CA 90216


Attn: David Fincher

Greetings, Sir!  My name is Adrian Chetney, and I am the Director of Awards and Recognitions for Cinema Royale/Artistes Permanentes, Canada’s premiere academy of arts appreciation.

I am writing to inform you that our board has selected you to receive the 2011 Evolution Award at our upcoming annual ceremony, to be held in Alberta’s magnificent Square Dome Performing Arts Centre.  As you may know, the “Eva” is granted to the filmmaker whose career has shown the most spectacular improvement from his/her shaky beginnings.

Given the spectacular (and deserved) success of The Social Network, myself and a team of fifteen cinephiles sat down to watch your first film, Alien 3 recently.  I don’t need to remind you of the critical drubbing and astonishingly poor box office it received on release nearly two decades ago.

Suffice to say, none of the committee were fans; that being the case, we found no desire to revisit the film in the years since.  However, we decided it was time to give Alien 3 another look, to see if perhaps the world had over-looked some early signs of genius from the man who would later bring us Se7en, Fight Club, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Mr. Fincher, the reason you are receiving this award is because Alien 3 is, indeed, one of the worst pieces of science fiction ever filmed.  We understand that the production had gone through several screenwriters and at least one other director before you became involved, but there is literally nothing worthwhile about this picture past the rather ballsy opening credits sequence (pardon the vulgarity).  And that, Sir, rests firmly on your shoulders.

If you’ll indulge me, Cinema Royale/Artistes Permanentes policy dictates that I must present the recipient with a five-point list of the work’s critical (read: fatal) problems.  In no particular order, they are:

1.  Killng off the surviving principal cast from Aliens.  The board had no issue with this, per se, but neither your direction nor the screenplay by David Giler, Walter Hill, and Larry Ferguson managed to compensate or produce suitable replacements.  Lt. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) crash lands on an all-male prison planet populated by rapists and murderers—none of whom has a discernable personality beyond “Idiot Warden”, “Whiny Thug”, or “Religious Black Guy with Glasses.”

2.  “Alien Cam.”  While it is an interesting effect to have a point-of-view shot of the Alien creature as it pursues its victims, there is a logical fallacy in that it has been established that the Alien has no eyes.  Leaving that aside, the effect of the point-of-view shots, after the first two instances, is rather like that of smearing a camera lens with Vaseline and strapping it to a shopping cart; which is to say that no organic creature moves like that, unless the soles of its feet produce wheels.

3.  “Hey, look!  More running through tunnels!”  This was a comment made by fellow board member Joe Beltran right before his ninth shot of Canadian Club Whisky Classic—poor Joe was the only one of our group who persisted on seeing his own drinking game through, long after everyone else had decided that there were just too many chase scenes to keep things fun.

4.  Jesus-Ripley.  Sigourney Weaver has always played Ripley as a strong, no-nonsense fighter.  From working-class space miner to monster-conquering mother figure, she was always a positive female role model—until your movie turned her into a bald, mopey shrew.  Weaver looked about as tired throughout the film as the audience I watched it with, and while we all appreciate the odd bit of Christ imagery, could you not have waited until at least twenty minutes into the film to telegraph her “ultimate sacrifice”?

5.  The Alien looks awful.  Your film, Mr. Fincher, is what is commonly referred to in Canadian arts circles as the beginning of the “Lump of Mud Alien”.  While it was perfected in Alien: Resurrection, the roots can be found in Alien 3.  Consider the sleek, sculpted look and articulate puppetry of the creature in the first and second films.  Then look at the vague mess of teeth and limbs in your movie.  It doesn’t help that many of the full-body shots look like they were created using CG so primitive as to make The Lawnmower Man look like Avatar.

Despite what you may think, Sir, I took no joy in writing the above assessment.  I am but a humble servant of policy.

Please know that the entire Awards and Recognitions board took great pride in naming you as this year’s recipient.  In the years since you made and eventually disowned Alien 3, you have gone on to fix many of the problems you had in that film, such as bringing compelling characters to the screen, creating a clear sense of geography during action scenes, and generally keeping the audience from wanting to turn off your movies.

I dare say we feel no small amount of pride that you were able to overcome what could have been a career-ending disaster, a movie so mediocre and unworthy of its own franchise that the only noteworthy element is the set design (who knew there were so many shades of brown?).

It is my sincerest hope that you will be able to accept this award in person, during the live telecast on 23 January.  My assistant, Marcel Jeffries, will contact your offices within a week’s time to ensure that you’ve received this letter, and to provide further details about the award and the ceremony.

Thank you for your time and consideration, Mr. Fincher.  We at Cinema Royale/Artistes Permanentes look forward to many more decades of wonderful works from you, and hope to put this nasty Alien 3 business behind us.

With Greatest Sincerity and Appreciation,


Adrian Chetney

Director, Awards and Recognitions

Cinema Royale/Artistes Permanentes

469 Rue Carmalac NW

Montreal QC H3Z 2Y7