Episode 39. Alienation, Part 2: Alien 3 (1992) and Alien: Resurrection (1997)

Alien ep 2

The ’90s are alive in space with the sequels which have been derided and praised in equal measure. Drawing from the complex production histories of both movies, Andrea and Alex seek to understand the competing visions of the filmmakers and themes that underpin them.

REQUIRED READING

Alien 3. Dir David Fincher, 1992.
Alien: Resurrection. Dir Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 1997.

EXTRA CREDIT

Intertextuality: Hollywood’s New Currency – A video examination of Hollywood’s use of nostalgia as a tool of manipulation.

The Origins of Farce – A history of the farce theatrical movement and France’s particular take on it.

Image of the original newborn alien (NSFW).

COURSE NOTES

 Intro song: Nail Ballet from Nightmare Picture Theatre, courtesy of James Zirco Fisher.
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11 thoughts on “Episode 39. Alienation, Part 2: Alien 3 (1992) and Alien: Resurrection (1997)

  1. love_rob says:

    I love, love, love Ripley in Alien 3. She’s such a badass. She has no illusions, she has no ego. All that matters is the now and dealing with the situation; she doesn’t have time for bullshit. She’s not cold, she not callous, she just is. She can still love and fear and care. I just don’t have the words to express my admiration for her in this movie.

    As far as Alien Resurrection goes, I may be misremembering, but I think there’s something in there that Brad Dourif’s character says about genetic shifts still manifesting themselves over time. While potentially raising other questions may kind of, sort of, explain how the queen went from laying eggs to giving birth. One of the things I did enjoy about Alien Resurrection is that we got to see a lot of Alien personality and cleverness. They sacrifice one of their own to escape their cage, they lay a trap for the investigating scientist, they take retribution for those freezing blasts they had to endure, they show curiosity when the one alien falls for Ripley’s trick with the corpse.

  2. Chris Mosher says:

    Alien and its sequels are by far my favourite genre series. I acknowledge that the first two films are the best but i find they have been talked to death. Because of their flaws parts 3 and 4 are more interesting to discuss. I hated resurrection the first time I saw it but I revisited it after watched other the directors other films.
    I also saw part three before any other of the films so I was never bothered by the deaths early in that film.

  3. Corey says:

    Great coverage. I’ve always wondered/hoped if anyone would comment on the relatively short life-span of Ripley in the first three films (not counting time spent in hpersleep). You’ve got 1-2 days in Alien, then let’s say a few weeks in Aliens (as she tries to find work before going back with the marines), then a few more days in Alien3. We’re talking about the last two months of Ripley’s life being practically an unceasing horror of existence. That’s always been a supremely depressing thought for me, and I really appreciated how, in 3, she is so utterly defeated she tries to convince Dylan, and then the alien itself, to end her life. I can’t think of any other hero who, after three films, actively seeks suicide as a way out.

    • love_rob says:

      I read that a little differently. I don’t she sees suicide as a way out but rather just what needs to be done in order to ensure the xenomorphs are destroyed.

      • Corey says:

        That is true, and for some reason that slipped my mind during the comment. But nevertheless, the hero of three movies seeking to kill herself, whether in service of a greater good or not, is practically unheard of.

    • Luke says:

      That’s such an interesting idea I’d never considered – how few days Ripley actually was alive AND conscious, and that every one of those days was pretty stressful.

  4. Luke says:

    I pissed it when you described Alien Resurrection as ‘frenchy’. Totally agree that Resurrection is the weakest of the series, but I’m surprised you guys didn’t mention that the fourth is definitely the most graphic/gory, with a great deal of icky horror imagery – and that in that sense it’s more of a horror film than any of its predecessors, even if it’s also the goofiest and most inconsistent film in the series.

  5. A great two-parter, and the only thing I have to add is a completely nerdtastic question.

    You mentioned ideas for Alien 3 included a visit to the xenomorph’s home planet. My question is: could the xenomorph’s have a home planet? They need other species to feed/reproduce, and while it’s clearly possible to have multiple species on a planet, but with the rate at which they wipe out other populations, they’d quickly run out of the other species needed to keep their reproductive cycle going, right? And while they do have some problem solving skills, they don’t seem sophisticated enough to be able to farm other species in a sustainable way.

    I wonder if the reason that the xenomorph planet idea never materialized is that they really only work as the ultimate invasive species.

    I leave you with this, the dorkiest comment I’ve left on this site. And that’s saying something.

    • love_rob says:

      Yes! I’ve thought of this before. Their lifecycle seems totally incompatible with any sort of sustainable ecosystem. I think that’s part of what they were tying to explain in Prometheus, that they were basically a bioweapon.

      For instance, in Alien, they find a derelict ship with the alien eggs on it. How long has the ship been there? Can the eggs exist more or less indefinitely until activated by a biological presence? That would seem to fit with them being a weapon.

  6. Billy says:

    Another great episode, thank you for thoughts and insights, it’s always very enlightening, I love your work.

    I might have understood you wrong, but it almost sounded like you consider Alien 3 to be the superior film to Aliens? And I base that on your appreciation for that version of Ripley, the gender dynamics and the overall story themes?
    There are plenty of movies I love where I absolutely disagree with virtually all politics and the worldview they present. Dirty Harry is a prime example. Films like Death Wish and Braveheart have some very appalling ideas at their core, detriment to my appreciation, but for me it’s undeniable that they are told effectively and function well as movies.

    For example, I personally much prefer the hopelessly rigid and stiff Star Trek: The motion picture over Wrath of Khan because of the first movie’s gorgeous production design and cerebral nature. But I would never argue that it is a better film than Wrath…

    Alien 3 is frustrating to me because I feel like there is a great movie in there wanting to break out. I like the idea and boldness of a slower and thoughtful sequel to Aliens, almost like a western attempt at a Tarkovsky film like Solaris and Stalker. And yet Alien 3 doesn’t go far enough with it’s solemn semi-existentialism to be particularly profound either. It just sits in a murky, morose middle between it’s horror roots and despairing meditation. For me at least…

    The film is very pretty and with great sets like all of Fincher’s work and there are great ideas sprinkled throughout. But I can’t really respect Alien 3 as a work of art because it doesn’t represent the pure vision of anyone involved. Ridley Scott and James Cameron went to war to be the sole authors. Alien 3 on the other hand is a stew that doesn’t belong fully to any creator and the various elements are at times actively fighting themselves. There’s really no horror or dramatic tension to speak of. The Alien shows up at times without much shock or effect. The corridor chase sequence should be terrifying but it’s not really that pulse-pounding. The monster feels more like it represents some existential angst or death in the abstract rather than the immediate teeth and claw that will end you in a dark and claustrophobic tunnel.

    I was in my early teens when I first saw it and it was a huge disappointment. And yes, I also was in the camp of killing Newt and Hicks being a huge f-you to the previous film. I can totally understand why Alien 3 has it’s fans given the interesting ingredients, it’s particular atmosphere and Fincher’s evident talent hidden beneath the producers and studio interference. Another part of me simply think “damn hipsters!” when I hear of the third being a favorite. 🙂

    Alien 4 was the first movie in the series I was old enough to see in the theatre. Oh boy… Very pretty and some cool production design. The ships and the various corridors look rad. That underwater sequence was pretty spectacular back then. Not sure how the CGI has held up. I remember thinking that it felt like a superhero film with Ripley and the various gunslingers. I just couldn’t picture any of the cast members from the older films fitting into this wacky comic book world. It wasn’t good, even though I appreciate an odd era where huge studio films could be as bonkers as this one. I think Jeunet is a genius, Delicatessen is fantastic…. But it’s a shame that his Alien entry ended up being what it was. And maybe he’s just the wrong artist for the material. It should have been less or more French, not stuck in between. 🙂

    Aliens vs Predator I hate with a passion and I didn’t see Requiem. Having the Aliens in a midwestern shopping mall seemed like the final insult.
    When I was a kid I LOVED the Alien films and I also adored The Predator. They were my favorite monsters, I drew them countless times and devoured the Dark Horse Comic books they featured in. It’s a testament to the first Predator film that the character has stuck around for so long and been so prominent in pop culture when it is only the first film that’s really good. So Alien vs Predator, the film, was this perfect storm where it managed to piss off the Alien fan in me, the Predator fan and also the comic book fan who really enjoyed the 90s comic book Alien vs Predator (not to mention the excellent video games!). I had spent YEARS waiting for the fabled meeting of Alien and Predator and had followed that project through endless development hell and multiple directors. I was aghast when Paul WS Anderson finally landed the gig. Since I had plenty of ill will towards Anderson already because of his Resident Evil films and the gall of placing his “Soldier” in the Blade Runner universe. He has an uncanny ability of shitting all over geek properties that would be almost comical and admirable if it wasn’t so infuriating. Needless to say I hated the film with a vengeance. It’s not good on a camp level, it’s just all rotten and Anderson deserved all the bile he was showered in.

    And finally Prometheus. Sigh. It was like an Alien movie if simultaneously the Benny Hill theme was playing non stop in the background. I started to appreciate it as a comedy two-thirds through…

    So Alien is not in a good place right now. But we’ll always have the originals… Who knows, maybe Shane Black can make a decent new Predator film. Ridley Scott puts out a good movie every five film or so and Blomkamp might even make that shoot em up sequel Aliens fans wanted in the first place. Who knows?

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