There’s a homicidal horror loitering in the Cloisters of an exiled religious community in the third of the Alien movie series, surprisingly titled Alien 3. Trevor Johnston slipped into his spacesuit and took one small step towards star SIGOURNEY WEAVER and
writer-producer David Giler.
obody ever said it was going to be easy. Just how do you follow up that legendary John Hurt stomach-bursting scene in Alien or James Cameron’s weaponfest ofa sequel Aliens? Aliens 3 was always going to be bit ofa tricky one.
‘There was a lot of trepidation approaching it,’ reflects Sigourney Weaver on the latest instalment in the epoch-making series that’s twice changed the state of space movies. Not altogether surprisingly, Ridley Scott’s H. Giger-designed original and Cameron‘s heavily-armed gung-ho sequel have proved to be a tough pair of acts to follow. ‘What we didn’t want,’ says the star whose portrayal of no-bullshit Warrant Officer Ripley has been a major key to the series‘ success thus far. ‘was a picture that wouldn‘t measure up. We
10 The List 21 — 27 August 1992
wondered what elements to duplicate and what elements to retain. It was a slow process.‘
She isn‘t kidding. Five years ofwork and myriad changes ofcreative personnel must bear the brunt of responsibility for the distictly variable end result. First-time feature director David Fincher. previously best known for his Nike ads and a couple of Madonna videos. sets up some impressive character work in the opening section but the movie soon degenerates into a pretty
; banal body-count shocker in its confused
latter stages. With a patchwork script and an over-riding feeling of uncertainty as to exactly what it is it‘s trying to do. Alien 3 is further testament to the old adage that in ‘development hell” no one can hear you scream
‘Jim Cameron had done guns. so I didn‘t think we really needed to reprise all that.. was Weaver‘s first reaction to the possiblity ofa follow—up to the highly lucrative Aliens. ‘I told the producers David (iiler and Walter Hill. who‘ve been on all three movies. that I love this character and I‘d love to do another
one if you can find something else to do with Ripley that we haven’t done before — a i' different set ofcircumstances that she hasn't i been confronted with.‘ i lfit does little else. Alien 3 certainly fulfils ! this set ofcriteria. The film finds Ripley‘s escape capsule crash-landed on prison planet Fury 161. a misbegotten lump of rock in the midst of the firmament that's home to a group of religious fanatic internees lorded over by the harsh Superintendent (Britain‘s Brian Glover). With the wounded marine Hicks (Michael Biehn in the previous offering) and our he roine‘s surrogate daughter Newt dead after the impact. a shaven-headed Ripley enlists the help ofthe establishment‘s Dr Clemens (an excellent Charles Dance) to ensure that no foreign ; bodies have accompanied the new arrivals 5 on their journey. but when a string of violent 5 deaths occur in mysterious circumstances. it I swiftly becomes clear that the big bad extraterrestrialis uptoits familiartricks I again.
The problem is. that working his } distinctive material covering the prisoners' ' religious identity into the script in such away l
that we care about the characters when the alien starts chomping through them. seems to have presented writer-producer team Giler and Hill with a virtually insurmountable task.
Indeed. visiting London to share promotinal duties with his star. (iilcr proves pointedly rather curt when pressed on this very point. ‘I can‘t speak for the audience.‘ he stonewalls. ‘but as a writer I think there's
’ " ; enough in there togive an indication ofwho
these people are.‘
Still. ifthe gang ofskinhead British character actors (Pete Postlethwaite. Philip Jackson. Paul McGann) that make up the bulk ofthe east end up as anonymous
‘As soon as he came in shouting “shave all their heads” we knew we’d found a guy who wouldn’t sit quietly in the corner.’
munchies for the marauding villain of the piece. Ripley‘s relationship with Clemens. a fellow scarred character with a doomy past himself. may possibly represent some ofthe best work in any ofthe three films. ‘Fora long time in this one. she's the alien too.‘ comments Weaver. who became a mother for the first time during one ofthe hiatuses in production. ‘because the system has thrown her out. She actually has a lot in common with the inmates but the love story element gives her a chance to start over before she's