Time: 110 mins.
Genre: Science Fiction/Action/Horror
Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects.
One of the biggest disappointments of this film has to be where the audience discovers that all the hopes and dreams they carried in with them from ALIENS have just gone to hell in a hand basket. It won't ruin the viewing at all to say that Newt, the child Ripley went to such trouble to save, doesn't survive the trip. Neither does Hicks. Both of them are killed when their ship is thrown off course by an onboard fire and sent spiraling onto the current films' location a derelict prison colony. I was already unhappy and the opening credits were still rolling.
Basically, Ripley finds herself the only survivor (again) and has to face the fact that not only is she stranded in a maximum security prison that has no weapons, but she's also infected with a queen. No one wants to believe her story. She starts to make friends with the prison doctor, but, as usual, things start to get real ugly, real fast. The prisoners would rather think one of their own's been killing the missing inmates, than some super alien. They are multiple murderers after all. Fortunately for Ripley, seeing is believing. Unfortunately for the prisoners, their living hell has just become a whole lot worse.
The Company, the evil military conglomerate that began this whole mess in ALIEN, is alerted to her presence on the planet and sends a team to collect Ripley and her "cargo." The inmates seem to think they are going to be rescued, but Ripley knows better. The Company is tired of being denied it's prize and whoever doesn't get killed by the aliens will most definitely lose their life when "help" arrives. Ripley, however, has other plans for the Queen. She's going to end this evil cycle once and for all.
Since you know pretty early on that everyone is going to die in this movie, there's not much suspense to be had. The men are either going to die at the hands of the alien or the guns of the Company. Frankly, they were such an unsavory bunch, with the exception of Charles Dutton, I was glad to see them getting bumped off one by one. Who are we supposed to root for? Ripley is dead from the moment she lands on the planet, leaving us no one to identify with. She has no hope because she knows her time is vastly limited. Yet, since she's carrying one of their own the aliens won't harm her, so there's no fear in their encounters.
On top of that, the special effects are just horrible. I understand that Fincher picked this locale for it's look and feel, but frankly it's just too dark and boring. Some of the camera work is good, especially the stuff from the creature's point of view they had to do something to break up all the hallways but the creature itself, at different times, looks too much like a person in a suit or too horribly computerized. Most of the time it's very obvious the alien is CGI. The color and shapes are so 2-D it's embarrassing. The only thing I've ever seen that's worse is the supposedly 3-D animated creature in LOST IN SPACE.
The main reason this film doesn't work is the same one the fourth doesn't either no heart. As human beings we need to believe that we will survive. That somebody will make it home. There's nothing but doom from beginning to end. It doesn't matter that she destroys the future of the aliens. Without Ripley, our future is dead as well. This movie crushes our dreams with every minute of screen time. It's clear what Fincher was going for, but it's not an enjoyable ride. If you like sci-fi and the ALIEN series you may not hate this movie, but you won't come away singing it's praises either.
"Let me see if I've got this straight, Lieutenant: it's an 8-foot creature, with acid for blood, kills on sight, and is generally unpleasant."