Watched as part of the September 2017 Letterboxd Scavenger Hunt
My list | Dan Mundell's master list
#17: A film that Funko has made POP! Vinyls from

Also watched as part of the March 2017 Letterboxd Scavenger Hunt
My list | Matt Minton's master list
#26: A film that, in your opinion, has a dumb tagline

2017 movie viewings, #135. The last time I saw this 1992 movie (back when it was in theaters, that is), I had yet to become a fan of David Fincher as a director just unto himself, a process that didn't start until 1999's absolutely perfect Fight Club; so it was interesting to revisit this film recently, now that Fincher has grown into the revered Oscar-winning director that he has, and to be able to make separate judgments about how well he did with it, compared to and in many ways despite the horrible, horrible screenplay he was handed as an industry newbie (this was his first-ever feature, after a decade of making music videos), and the dismissive way his vision was chopped apart by uncaring executives at 20th Century Fox after the fact.

For those who don't know, this was one of those ill-fated franchise extenders that was troubled from almost the first day of its original inception; among other flabbergasting missteps, beloved science-fiction author William Gibson was paid millions to write the script's first draft, which was then completely thrown away by studio executives except for the one single detail of characters having barcode tattoos on the backs of their shaved heads, and eventually tens of millions were spent on wood-covered sets for a story about a monastery overrun by the alien creatures, just to have the entire concept scrapped literally weeks before shooting was to begin. (One of these former sets can still be seen in the finished film, in case you were curious why a space prison would have such an elaborate and beautiful jail chapel.)

Given all this, it's no wonder that the production itself turned into such a massive disaster, with Fincher eventually disowning the movie; and despite his admirable efforts shining through here and there in the resulting runtime, on whole this film is unfortunately nearly unwatchable even 25 years later, a godawful mess of a production-by-committee that tries to be all things to all people and ends up pleasing no one. Interestingly, this movie has the dubious honor of being the first-ever mainstream Hollywood production to earn more in Asia than America; and while at the time it was considered an unfortunate accident that the producers weren't exactly proud of, it has since gone on to serve as a blueprint for how to deliberately create dumbed-down actioners that will appeal primarily to people for whom English is not their primary language, leading us to an age now where Hollywood tentpole films are specifically designed to make more money in Asia than in the US.

That's a sad lasting legacy for a film to have; but Alien 3 deserves it, a textbook example of what happens when too many cooks are in the kitchen, and the movie that directly led to Fincher's breakthrough project of Se7en, in that the producers of that film hated the then-current executives at 20th Century Fox so much, they hired the box-office-poison Fincher specifically out of "fuck you" spite to them. We're all better off for that decision; but that doesn't make Alien 3 itself any more watchable, a fabled catastrophe that deserves every bad statement you've ever heard about it.

Jason Pettus liked these reviews