September 28th, 2012

Whale fluke

Review: ALIEN 3, June 16, 1992

Me being me, of course I still have the issues of my high school's paper, the Hawk Talk (of James Madison High, home of the Warhawks -- political reference! But I digress). My senior year (1991-1992), I edited its Entertainment section (and wrote for almost every single other section, except Opinion; I think the guys who edited that didn't like me). Here's one of my movie reviews from that year: ALIEN3 (1992), so far the oldest movie review of mine I've shared.

ALIEN3: In script committees no one can hear you scream

Sometimes a movie can redefine a genre, the way Star Wars jumpstarted science fiction and the Godfather films helped to change the world of dramatic movies.

Horror has had several revitalizing films, from Psycho to The Exorcist, but for many horror fans, the 1979 release of ALIEN was a watershed in filmatic fright.

Then the unexpected happened: seven years later, James Cameron's ALIENS became the extremely rare case where a sequel managed to outclass the original*.

Lightning has not exactly struck thrice with ALIEN3.

The latest battle between Lt. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and one of the best-looking monsters ever** demonstrates one simple fact: well-executed atmosphere, impressive special effects and beautiful set design and cinematography cannot make up for a script that doesn't respect the story.

ALIEN3, which is set on a desolate prison planet, has the feel of a movie written by committee***. Over half a dozen writers have been involved with the project, and the result is a mishmash that mostly ignores the events of the first two films.

Of the four survivors left in the last scene of ALIENS, only Ripley survives past ALIEN3's opening credits. The Alien in this film looks different, for reasons never dealt with. (A subplot involving genetic engineering of the Alien was reportedly part of the original story; this too got lost in the process.) The film never explains how alien eggs managed to get onto the Marine Corps ship that Ripley escaped on in ALIENS.

James Cameron wrote the ALIENS screenplay with a desire to flesh out a true human drama. ALIEN3 director David Fincher, a 28-year-old directing his first feature-length movie after a career in music videos (notably Madonna's "Express Yourself" and "Vogue"), has an eye for making a shot or a set look cinematic, yet he is unable to rein in the conflicting elements of the patchwork script.

With a few notable exceptions -- Ripley, the remains of the android Bishop, good doctor Clemmons (Charles Dance), and formidable and tough prisoner (Charles Dutton of TV's Roc) who winds up on Ripley's side -- the characters are not people the audience can have much feeling for.

The ending of ALIEN3 is perhaps the only part of the film that comes close to having true integrity. This moment, when Ripley does what she has to do, is affecting, sad and almost religious.

As the end credits roll, the audience that has just seen ALIEN3 might be struck by how beautiful the film looks and sounds, but disheartened by the fact that the filmmakers were unable to give ALIEN3 the integrity of the first two chapters in the story of ALIEN.


* Hyperbole; it happens. That thought didn't pan out, but it doesn't discount how much I truly love ALIENS. I honestly prefer it to the original.

** I wanted to compare it favorably to the Jabberwock, as John Tenniel drew it for Lewis Carroll's Alice Through the Looking Glass. I cut the reference due to space.

*** I'd read Cinefantastique's especially in-depth cover story about the frustrating process of writing and shooting ALIEN3. I knew it wasn't literally by a committee, but I figured the image was apt.
Summer Me

Clean ALL the Things!

Cleaned today (a day off): a stove top*! Two sink drains**! A toilet***! A lot of a shower****! Clothes*****! Even a storage space******! Next (at least soon): dishes, because I eat.


* Uncleaned spills are now washed and scrubbed off. Sometimes scratched off. The stove top is almost shiny now.

** Drain de-clogger, so things flow better, followed by baking soda, so things smell better. Or at least smell like baking soda.

*** I did some serious scrubbing. Elbow grease makes food tastier.

**** The shower walls needed attention. They got it. The sheet to keep water from soaking the curtain or the wall needed attention. It got it. After that, I needed attention. I got it. (I'm cleaner!)

***** Two, two, TWO loads of laundry. As I said on Twitter, "Dirty clothes hamper empty! And not because I just burned my clothes."

****** All of my books are out of my little storage unit in the basement. All part of my ongoing effort to keep going through, reading, and either keeping or getting rid of books. I also looked for one particular book, but apparently (I hope) it's at my parents' place, like some of my stuff is.
  • Current Mood
    accomplished accomplished
TOS: NCC-1701

I'd like to seek out NEW ENTRIES, please

Extra-quiet tonight, y'all. Too quiet. C'mon, people. Post. Don't make me go over to read nihilistic_kid or that one particular sociopathic asshole who's one of the few people I've blocked on LJ.

And in related news, I've been rebuilding my motivation to blog. Life's been a little quiet and kind of running-in-place; not too much happening, and I'm not going to lie in my blog just to add drama. But trust me, bloggable thoughts are still running through my head. At least I hope they're bloggable, blog-worthy, however you want to describe them.

It was a nice day, at least, and it'll be a nice night. Got a near-full moon lighting things up and everything. There are books, Grimm later, those dishes I still need to wash, I can always eat more, there could even be dancing since I have no problem dancing alone...

Anyway. I'm still here, yo.