Movie Defense Force: Alien 3

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No, Jim. No.

Good video, and you put up a hearty defense of this movie, but... no.

Here's why.

1) Plot holes up the ying-yang. Just getting an alien onboard the military ship and then to the penal colony stretches Xenomorph biology (and plot continuity) to the breaking point. I give the movie credit for suggesting that the aliens share DNA with their host, but that's hardly enough to justify the brazen "we don't care" attitude early on.

Much like Alien Ressurrection, this movie was afraid of introducing an alien from a different source than the crashed Engineer ship (yes, I'm going by Promethous terminology, sue me), so they decide to come up with stupid reasons why the Aliens keep popping up.

2) I CARED about the "space truckers" in Alien. I CARED about the marines in Aliens. I cared about Newt and Hicks and Bishop and Ripley.

I couldn't have cared less about the prisoners. Whether you think they're more realized or not, I failed to get attached. Most of them weren't all that redeeming, and a few decent apples in the bunch doesn't change that. When they got eaten, I shrugged. That's never good.

Rule of thumb for horror - never make your characters people you wouldn't mind getting removed from the gene pool.

3) "The Aliens always win." That's a very subjective opinion, Jim. I certainly never got that out of the series, perhaps because the last two non-AVP movies had such gaping plot holes that the only reason the Aliens keep coming back is because the script writers are hacks.

And they DON'T win, either. The cost for victory is high, lots of people die, but the xenomorphs are always stopped in the end. Your argument is like saying that because Superman never kills Lex Luthor, and because he always comes back for another round of villainy, Lex Luthor always wins.

That makes no sense.

4) The backgrounds aren't really all that different from the cold, claustrophbic settings in either Alien or Aliens. Alien 3 did it well, but it was merely extrapolating from what the first two films did.

It's not a terrible movie in the technical sense. Ripley is Ripley, and the movie tries hard in some places to be a good horror movie, but the damage it did to the franchise was heavy. That's why I pretend that the Alien francise stopped at Aliens.

There is, nor never was, an Alien 3.

I think I'm going to like this show.

Also, I never saw Alien 3 as a mad movie

By far my favorite movie of all time, one that would probably fit the awful movie thing even though I love it is Biodome

Great video, Jim. Solid points through-out.

While I may not agree with you always on everything, I do think that you manage to construct your argument well enough so that one cannot dismiss or ignore it. The only thing I can nit-pick with this video is that it started off a bit too fast, jumping right into the arguments when the intro ended instead of easing into it with bit of an introduction. Not really that big of a deal, but I think it would help with the flow of the video.

Otherwise, the video was great, it nicely displayed (in my opinion) your natural talent when it comes reasoning and argumentation. Even though it had the potential to be complete flame-bait, you managed to handle it with care and a bit of grace.

Haven't seen Alien 3, so I just want to make a comment about the video series in general. The distracting whistling of the background music has already been mentioned, so I'll just make one request.

After the first three movies mentioned in the intro, I hope the series doesn't get stuck in the horror genre. Mostly because I think this is an awesome idea for a show but I'm not really that well versed in the older horror movies.

Is your point always going to be "This movie was actually good," or will we see some "This movie wasn't as bad as people say it was"?


Finally! A professional critic says what I've been arguing for years. Ok, not quite. I still think the original Alien is the best, simply because of what it brought to the horror genre and the science fiction genre. The first one was the truly groundbreaking one. But after that, Alien 3 is easily my next favourite in the series, and I hold it in far higher esteem than Aliens. I'm one of the few people not overly fond of the second film. As far as I could see, all the real horror got sucked out to make room for machine guns and one-liners. And Newt... ugh, just Newt.

Actually, that leads me to the one point I feel the video didn't really make strong enough. Yes, Newt and Hicks are dead at the start of Alien 3. You know why that's not a bad thing? Because it's a fucking horror franchise.

Seriously, why would you go into a horror film expecting happy endings? Horror is the one genre where anyone who can die most probably will die. The entire point of horror is to subvert your expectations of happiness, to spit at your demands for closure and optimism, and instead make you feel disgust, fear and despair. If a horror franchise has reached the point that it can't kill off major characters because of how the fans will react, then it's a pretty shitty horror franchise.

And while Alien 3 may not have quite the same visceral terror as the first film, it has the best psychological horror of the entire series. Ripley isn't surrounded by truckers in this film, or protected by soldiers. She's the only woman in a prison full of murderers and rapists. That fact alone is enough to infuse the film with a horrible sense of tension, the feeling that at any point things could flip. In many ways, the actual Xenomorph is the least scary part of the film. It's the scenes with the human characters that create the real sensation of suspense, the feeling that things could get really horrible at the drop of a hat.

And in a way, it's kind of fitting. One of the things that became clear as the series progressed is that humans really are bastards. You need only look at the Weyland Yutani corporation to see this. It makes sense for more of the suspense to therefore come from the human angle.

As for the rest of the series... has Prometheus overtaken Resurrection as most hated instalment in the series yet? Because goddamn, that was an illogical, badly plotted mess of a film.

Loved the video. Good stuff. I don't agree that Aliens 3 is the best of the series. The original film (see also: studio hack job) left too many plot holes and cut down on a lot of the atmosphere that David Fincher did best at the time (see also: crushing despair). However, the director's cut of Alien 3 is definitely on par with the rest of the films, though I don't feel that there's a clear winner.

Agreed (with Jim Sterling, not with the haters).

I also loved Alien 3 more than the rest. The last minutes of the movie are simply sublime, a perfect coda. Viewing it as part of the trilogy, it's the most mature, dark and personal. Even though the action takes place on a penal colony, somehow, it feels as the end of Humanity. What I love the most is the cast. I'm surprised that Jim has not included Pete Postlethwaite and Danny Web(Morse). While not as developed, they are truly memorable.

I remember falling asleep in the theater watching Alien 3, good characters/character writing helps make a good movie sure but does it make a good Alien movie? It was the same movie with slightly different location and different alien and a new pool of people to kill, ohh and some survivors guilt.

Rather than make the third installment interesting they made the same movie and just slightly altered the elements to make it seem like something new. No not a ship this time...a prison, just as isolated but even more boring because it doesn't move or need to be flown. Lots of empty depth characters...ohh, wait I see Ripley standing over there, I guess they all have to die anyway...just like every other time.

Awesome show and I look forward to more! Thank God for Jim. As for the topic at hand...I don't think I've seen a single Alien film from beginning to end. I should fix that.

Good points all. I still don't like Alien 3 as much as the first two. I loooove me some Aliens, no matter which film I'm watching, don't get me wrong. I read the Dark Horse comics as a kid, and own all of the films in all of the formats they have been released in, for the most part. However, I thought that the improvisational style of Alien was really great. It captured how I think people would actually react to a space monster slaughtering their friends in an inescapable place. They aren't friends in the penal colony in Alien 3. I didn't think it was as personal as the first film. There's a deeper sense of desperation and darkness in Alien 3, I will certainly not argue that. That has its own charms and depth. But I just happened to like the style of Alien more.

Ripley was not chosen at random in Alien, in my estimation. You can see her taking command at various points in the film, or at least battling for that command with Dallas. Ripley is the one who discovers that "the crew is expendable" from the Mother computer. She survives because she is inquisitive. I think the film is saying that, much like you pointed out Jim, that the Alien is an inescapable force of nature and that the only way a human can even hope to survive against it is to outsmart it. Then in Aliens, you get lines like "They cut the power? How'd they know to cut the power? They're fucking animals man!" This begins to add layers to the desperation and you watch throughout the entire film as the colonial marines go from confident "mother green and her killing machine" bad-asses, to scrabbling piles of fear desperate to just survive.

Then comes Alien 3. And the depression is just thick as all hell. The (near) perfect wrap-up to the first two films. Ripley crash lands on a hostile penal colony, two main characters that served as the only happy-ending catharsis from Aliens are dead without us even seeing them go and another, terrifying Alien is born. This one is smaller, faster, and far more terrifying than any of the others so far I think. Alien 3 has some hammy acting and chunky scripting. It's almost too depressing. Almost like it overplays the depressing angle to the point where my brain overloads with depression and I find the film less interesting because of it. I think that was the point though. Just my opinion. I did actually really like the ending of Alien 3 though. I mean Jesus Christ, (spoiler, haha like anyone is going to read my bullshit. Still, etiquette. Pinkies up! Spoilers!), Dillon fights the xenomorph hand to hand in a molten lead trough and then gets molten lead poured over him. Fucking best...ending...ever (imo). And Ripley jumps into a pit of fire while holding a Xenomorph queen popping out of her chest. That was pretty good too.

Great review Mr. Jim Sterling. I look forward to watching more of these. Keep up the good work, you crazy bastard.

When Aliens was released it was a real game changer, there was some expectation that something similar would happen with the next, or that at least it would follow in its footsteps. Instead it reverted to being a remake of Alien which put off a lot of Aliens fans. As for the origional film, saying whether it or Alien 3 is better is a matter of taste (perhaps you like the adlibbed simplicity of the first or the crafted team-written screenplay of the third) but there's no doubt that they are the same film in essence. That's going to create some polarising views and people have a natural tendency to pick sides with things like this.

The second reason I can see that Alien 3 is looked down upon is because there is an air of betrayal about it. The success of Aliens created a whole expanded universe, the most popular of which are the three comics that were sequels to the film. These comics followed the stories of Newt and Hicks years after the event. For these fan favourites to not only to be left out of the film, but be dead on impact leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

So who was Alien 3 made for? Not fans of Aliens (it's a different genera) and not fans of the expanded universe (it killed of the main characters). Fans of the first film? Possibly, but a lot of what made the first film so popular (the casual acting, simplicity and origional design) are lost in the third. In the end Alien 3 becomes its own creation with its own audience. As a stand-alone film it works for all the reasons Jim stated, but it's a let down to people who wanted more Alien/Aliens respectivly.

Before I start I just want to get this out of the way. Jim, if you're going to bring up the film's visual merits, I recommend showcasing what was seen only in the theatrical version rather than the Special Edition as seen on DVD and BluRay. The theatrical edition is what the studios released and what the world was exposed to. I think it's disingenuous to defend a film for material it didn't even use. Also, it's not appropriate to call the alternate version the "Director's Cut" since David Fincher's party specifically told the DVD/BluRay producer not to call it that. Fincher has said that the only way to do a Director's Cut would be to do the entire film from scratch. Also, shi**y CGI? That was not CGI, it was a model Alien that was moved around like a puppet on sticks.

I know some like to label the aliens an unstoppable "always winning" killing machines that you cannot escape, but the thing is, neither the first two movies portray the alien as such. What the Alien has is a strong guided instinct that allows it to adapt to it's environment and put it to better use than the people who work/live there. This did not make the alien unstoppable. One of the head writers for the film, Dan O'Bannon, said in his interviews that he didn't want this creature to be portrayed as 'invincible' but at the same time didn't want it to be something you can simply shoot at and be done with, which is where the alien acid comes in. If they killed the alien, it would compromise their ship effectively killing everyone. If it took one tiny cut to burn through three decks, imagine what a whole blood splatter would do.

Another downside of ALIEN3 is how it portrayed the alien itself. In the first two movies, the Aliens didn't always kill their victims, but incapacitate them. These aren't creatures who want to kill you, they want to capture you, rape you and kill you by a painful birth. The first Alien film gave hints of that, while ALIENS solidified it. The alien in Alien3 on the other hand is just a simple killing machine. No incapacitation and no nesting. Kind of out of character especially when it knows a QUEEN IS ON THE WAY. What good are the Queen's eggs going to be if there are no hosts?

As for newt being spared an agonizing death, well....

That doesn't look like she was unconscious at all. More like she was actually awake when the EEV crashed, and was trying to pound her way out of her cryo tube while it filled up with water. This may not be as painful as having an alien burst through your chest, but it's still a terrifying ordeal, especially for a child who is isolated, alone and cannot do anything to save herself.

I'll probably be back for more to showcase how the first 15 minutes are some of the most stupidest attempts at bringing the alien back when it clearly shouldn't have.

Cool new show, I like it.

Just, Jim, please, for the love of Jim, PLEASE leave the Star Wars prequels out of this. Please.

i don't think there is much that had be said in defense of the prequel films. At least with Aliens 3 you can make a case that it did break new ground but it didn't deal with a key problem that the aliens had by that time--they just didn't seem to "fit" in a normal evolutionarily pattern. It certainly doesn't help that by that time some of the ideas seen in the anime knock off of Aliens, Lily C.A.T., had started showing up in the franchise.

I always liked the first 3 Alien films, the 4th I watch as a so bad it's good film with friends.

Having never really seen the Alien movies, this has certainly made me want to pick them. I've watched parts of the first one and saw the AvP films which seemed to follow the whole "main characters can die. deal with it." thing.


Nope, I still like Alien and Aliens better.
Mind you, I never thought Alien 3 was a downright horrible movie, just inferior to the first two - and I stick by it.

Yes, the visuals are pretty nice (David Fincher delivers, but then again, so did Ridley and Cameron) and Clemens is a pretty good character.
But the story itself is rather dull, slow and insignificant. Besides, apart from Ripley and Clemens, I just didn't care about any of the characters.

The setup just didn't do it for me.

A lot of interesting points! However, as others have already noted, the choice of background music was less than inspired: the whistling was incredibly distracting.

I look forward to more of this show, sans background whistling.

Nice new show, look forward to more episodes.

Alien 3 may not be the best of the series, but its certainly not a bad movie by any means.

also wtf is podtoid.

It's the podcast of Destructoid, another website Jim does stuff for.

Here's the latest episode, The Foot Clan's Poopy Ooze. I also recommend their previous one, Anal Siege 2 - Analectric Boogalanal, in which the hosts get drunk to celebrate the last Podtoid of 2012.

It's all good stuff.




It's a shame that some of the points in this had been covered in the past on Podtoid.

show of hands, who here on the escapist knows of Podtoid?

(if not, fix that!)

googling podtoid to figure out what it is.... in 3 ...2 .... 1

They gave hitman absolution 8.5 ........... our tastes don't align. I'm not going any deeper

Hah, that's funny. Like they talk about video-games on Podtoid. But seriously, give it a listen, it's good stuff. Or it's absolutely horrid. Depends on what type of person you are, really. I suggest you go deeper. Deeper into the anus. You'll find out who's if you listen to Podtoid, I assure you.

I recommend to everyone who liked the movie to read the book Alien 3. I think it's even better than the movie, and I wish they had done all the things in the book, in the movie. Perhaps they would have, if it hadn't had so many production problems.

I did really like Alien 3, but the book is so much better. As for Alien 4, I just couldn't stand the way they made the cell the aliens were housed in dissolvable by their blood. Good grief, they knew all about them by then.

I just never understood how there were reproductive aliens onboard the sulaco after the queen got blown out the airlock. Just a plot contrivance so there could be aliens in the next movie.

A new series? YES.
On a thursday, usually a dead day? YES.
With Jim? YES.
Alien 3 is first up? YEEEEEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!

Intro is a bit long though, and the BGM was a bit distracting at times.

Jimothy Sterling:

Duly noted on the background music. I'll replace it with something else. It'll still be from Deadly Premonition though!

You're just too lazy to change the credits, admit it! :P

Personally, I consider the original Alien the best of the quartet, with the fourth film, Resurrection, winning in the visuals department - no, seriously: the production design on Resurrection not only equaled the original, but surpassed it. Some achingly gorgeous sets framing that film.

But, yeah, Alien3 gets an undeservedly bad press. Charles Dance was fantastic in it, too.

The Alien 3 game was also pretty good as well.

It's a shame the REAL hate is giving to Alien 4.
I thought it was a rather stupid, but enjoyable, film.

Fun episode. Never really had much of an attachment to the alien series as a whole (kinda liked them, not a rabid fan by any stretch of the imagination) but this seemed like a reasonable argument why 3 shouldn't be overlooked.

Was that...Repo! the Genetic Opera in the intro? Aka 2008's attempt to make a new Rocky Horror and thereby creating yet another unwatchably lame 'controversial' musical? I think we'll have to agree to disagree as to whether or not that movie is garbage (hint: it's garbage).

The man bring up a great many redeeming points about Aliens // Stuff i would have dismissed away // Granted I never hated A3, but for me it was not my fav (that was A2) but after this I now look back and go "ah yes it does have some very good parts"

The only thing that bugged me with the review was the low level music playing through out, very distracting


I'd like to see Jim defend Star Trek: The Motion Picture. That should be good for a laugh.

Jimothy Sterling:
Alien 3

Jim Sterling takes famously "awful" films and sees the good in them.

Watch Video

Really happy to see this, I was just the other day telling a few people in the Brovengers chat why I thought it was so hard done by.

Although I must admit, I'm surprised you didn't talk about Assembly/Director's cut vs. regular release.

Thank god for you I guess.

P.S. Good idea for a new series, looking forward to seeing more.

P.P.S. You have released a lot of stuff recently... Not that I'm complaining, but it must be hard work.

I recommend to everyone who liked the movie to read the book Alien 3. I think it's even better than the movie, and I wish they had done all the things in the book, in the movie. Perhaps they would have, if it hadn't had so many production problems.

I did really like Alien 3, but the book is so much better. As for Alien 4, I just couldn't stand the way they made the cell the aliens were housed in dissolvable by their blood. Good grief, they knew all about them by then.

I just never understood how there were reproductive aliens onboard the sulaco after the queen got blown out the airlock. Just a plot contrivance so there could be aliens in the next movie.

Or the queen laid the eggs while she was there waiting for them at the landing pad.

Well, I like those points. I'm certainly going to have to watch it now. Though I must say the Xenomorphs look retarded in it and not even remotely scary, which is a bit of an issue. It did look better than resurrection at the very least.

What I do love about Alien 3 is that it's the first (and last) character movie of the franchise. This doesn't just come through the prisoners and their keepers, but through Ripley as well. For the first time, she's an inherently interesting character in her own right, with or without an Alien or twenty threatening her. Where the first film was a haunted house movie in space and the second was an optimistic Reagan-era military thriller, Alien 3 is first and foremost about people and about the redemption of those many of us dismiss off hand. Turning murderers and rapists into sympathetic characters isn't easy, but Alien 3 pulls it off.

Another thing I really enjoy is the Alien as something implicitly supernatural or paranormal, or at least as a creature experienced as supernatural. The first film was rife with this, through the Jockey ship to the bizarreness of the creature itself, but the second film brought a hive-like structure and a firmer biology to the creature that demystified it to some degree. In turn, this paved the way for a lot of awful expanded universe media that is only somewhat redeemed by the Alien vs. Predator games. But Alien 3 knows what horror is and I fully support the notion that the Alien always wins. Throughout the arc of films one to three, Ripley's victories are Pyrrhic at best. After all, this is not an American horror franchise as such, but the brainchild of Dan O'Bannon, Ridley Scott and H.R. Giger, and there is no cultural requirement that the good guys truly "win" -- unlike many purely American horror franchises and films.

So I appreciate Alien 3 for being true to the potential of the Alien as a monster, but also its attention to characterisation. It's not a movie in which a lot really happens, as such, but there's a lot of character interplay that lifts the potential of the series, and it does that without losing sight of the horror of the Alien itself. And most of all, it leaves much of the details of the Alien up to interpretation apart from its strength at environmental adaption. It's not clear how conscious the Alien is of its actions, nor are its intellectual or physical limitations made perfectly clear. A monster without mystery is no monster at all, and that's what a lot of Alien-related stuff has forgotten since Alien 3.

I see that they gave you a second show. Congrats!

Jimothy Sterling:
Alien 3

Jim Sterling takes famously "awful" films and sees the good in them.

Watch Video

Nah I don't buy it. It's not an awful film by any means, and it has some good aspects, but it's definitely not the best of the series.

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