No sooner is Ripley speeding away from the napalm-laced carnage of Aliens than she finds herself crashing into a prison planet full of Brits. Relentlessly dark and filled with unsympathetic characters, Alien³ is not loved by many. But director David Fincher seems lucky to have come away with any kind of movie, as is revealed on a surprisingly frank DVD from Fox.
No Director's Cut
As with the other DVDs in the Alien Quadrilogy, you can choose between watching the theatrical release or a new special edition. David Fincher declined to put together another cut of the film, but has approved this new half-hour longer version. All the subplots removed by the studio are now here to see, including a different dogburster scene, the convicts capturing the alien and a slightly different ending. Trouble is, the production was in such disarray that this new longer take on the movie doesn't sort much out from the incoherent nature of the original.
The insertion of the new footage does cause a few problems in sound quality, as some scenes were never re-dubbed. Subtitles are provided for such moments. Otherwise the Dolby 5.1 track is eerily effective and the picture quality's good. As for the audio commentary it's not full of the revelations you'd hope for, with special effects mostly under discussion, but editor Terry Rawlings does talk a bit about how he wishes Fincher had fought harder on the production for what he wanted.
David Fincher has not done any new interviews for this release so other people fill in, including director Renny Harlin - who pops up in the Development featurette. Fans will be interested to hear what Harlin's vision was, the story options discussed, and why he was not keen on setting it in a prison. Still, that's nothing compared to the original idea of writer Vincent Ward to set the movie on a wooden planet populated by monks. Thanks to extensive image galleries and an in-depth featurette, you can explore what was certainly a bold, if somewhat strange, idea.
While there is undoubtedly some fascinating gossip still to be told about the fraught production of Alien³, at least Fox has allowed frank comments to be aired. There's a great shot of an alien (man in suit) sitting with his head in his hands that seems to sum up the whole experience. Major changes to the script were regular occurrences, no end ever seemed in sight on the shoot, and it was finally shut down and taken to LA so the studio could try and fathom something out of it all. You'll hear tales that will astonish you, and marvel at how Fincher stayed sane while trying to wrestle with a project riddled with problems before he got to it. That's not to say that he stayed calm at all times, as you'll see from the behind-the-scenes footage.
Most of the material in this section is about the special effects. Still, there is more production mayhem to be uncovered, including indecision about the score and editing, plus reaction to the movie from everyone including the cast.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-N5 DVD player.