23 July 2006

Fincher (1992)

1992 - Alien³ - I like this film. I realize that Fincher was royally screwed with by the Fox suits while trying to make this picture. I agree that it was terribly disappointing, after promises made by the teaser trailer, to find out this didn't take place on an Earth overrun by the xenomorphs. I'm aware that this is far from a perfect film. Yet, I'm not ashamed to say that I'm an Alien³ fan.

One large reason I like this film is for the same aspect that upsets other fans. I love how depressing this entire movie is. I think it was bold and innovative for a sequel to murder the happy ending of its predecessor. Cameron's picture, in addition to containing crowd-pleasing space marine action, ends on a "happy clouds and rainbows" note. Ripley lost her real family due to the xenomorph-caused half-century hypersleep, but gains a new boyfriend, daughter and pet half-robot as a replacement. Together, they set course for home and take a nap. Aww.

The xenomorph, among other things, represents the idea that outside of this little bubble of a planet, the universe isn't friendly to human life at all. Nature is cruel. Fincher's film wisely runs with this theme, rather abandoning it for an Aliens 2: The Ripley Family and Their Space Marine Pals vs. Aliens, The Rematch movie. Ripley is alone right from the start of this film. Those happy clouds rained acid and that rainbow became a noose. As with the brilliant Alien, it was always going to be only Ripley against the monster in the basement.

All of this is not what the public expected. They generally want more of the same, over and over again. Last Crusade puts its tail between its legs and hides in Raiders' pattern after Temple. Return of the Jedi has both an exploding Death Star and a familial revelation. After Halloween III: Season of the Witch, we could've been treated to a brand new Carpenter-produced Halloween horror movie every October 31st. Instead, the public demanded more Michael Myers, eventually resulting in Busta Rhymes battling The Shape on the Internet. Hollywood is well-aware of the public's fear of change. This is the reason we're drowning in remakes right now. I suspect this is also a reason the suits sought to meddle with space marine-free Alien³.

Rant over.

Fincher is already using his unique camera placements in his first full-length film. We'll see more of the slow-motion fire and water in the future. We will also see much more CGI in his next films. However, unlike those movies, the CGI effects in this film are utterly retched. The CG alien looks like a green cartoon crudely pasted into Fincher's composition. For the few times the computer-generated critter is used, it completely kicked me out of the film. The technology was definitely not ready for anything outside of mercury men at this point.

On a personal note, this was the first R-rated movie I ever got to see in a theater. I can still remember the melancholy I felt after the credits rolled. I found Newt's death and dissection on screen particularly shocking at the time.

Although I like this Alien sequel, I hate Alien Resurrection. Ironically, part of the reason I hate it is for the same reasons people hated Alien³ : it reverses the ending of Alien³. Ripley's sacrifice is meaningless if you can clone her and she has, irrationally, fragments of the original Ripley's memories. Worse, I'll have to watch that flick for a future chronocinethon. For now, though, I get to look forward to watching the excellent Se7en next. (7/10)