This is the turning point for the franchise. Aliens took the franchise from a classic horror movie and elevated into a blockbuster status. Once that happened, FOX seemingly had no idea what to do. It was obvious the franchise would continue, but in what form? Six years later, after a now legendary disaster directorial debut (thanks to multiple script changes and studio interference) for David Fincher Alien 3 found it’s way to the big screen. Ripley is once again face to face with the beast, but how is her support system the third time around? Not as strong as the previous films, but still strong enough. Time to take a closer look…
Corporal Hicks: Dead. Impaled.
Rebecca “Newt” Jorden: Dead. Drowned.
Those are two deaths that still mess with the fan’s heads. After all that build up in Aliens this how it ends? Death in a crash? I think it fits in my “No happy endings in the Alien universe” motto, but one could argue perhaps a more “deserving” death was appropriate. Perhaps it leaves more of a mark on the audience if we get to witness them dying to sacrifice each other? Or at least battling the Alien? Something to think about.
Doctor Aaron Clemens: A Lannister always pays his debts. What? Oh sorry, wrong character. Charles Dance does a wonderful job as the disgraced doctor who becomes smitten with Ripley. His backstory as to why he is on Fury 161 is tragic, and helps the audience empathize with the character. Some of the dialogue between Clemens and Ripley, is a bit cheesy at times. But nothing on the Anakin/Padme Episode 1 level thank goodness. Clemens is a great character not only because of his interest in Ripley but because from the start he seems to sense something is wrong. And each time he attempts to figure it out, Clemens gets interrupted. He’s easily one of the most likeable of the bunch, and arguably dies too soon. Such is life in an Alien movie.
Leonard Dillon: Perhaps the most memorable role of Charles S. Dutton’s career. Dillon functions as both leader and preacher of the inmates of the backwater prison. His speech during the cremating of Newt and Hicks body and birth of the Alien is an iconic moment in the franchise. It is well written and delivered with true power and conviction. Most of the best scenes in the movie involve him. Dillon’s conversation with Ripley when she wants to die, and his speech when it’s time to be Beast Bait. Truly awesome. Dillon is a bit like Hicks, sets a good enough example that people follow and will die for, but wants not part of being a leader. He’ll rally the fellow prisoners, but rightfully hands over the reigns to Ripley when it’s time to forge a plan to defeat the beast.
Superintendent Harold Andrews: “I don’t want any ripples in the wah-tur!” I always liked the way he said “water”. I’ll bet you’re hearing that in your head right now too. You’re welcome. The Warden of Fury 161 ran a very tight ship. With a bunch of terrible criminals to look over, I can’t say I blame him. He was content keeping their lives off the radar and left to their own devices. Fury 161 was it’s own little corner of the universe. But Ripley crash landing changed all of that. Andrews immediatley blamed Ripley for all the death that followed, but did not look in the right place. He disregarded her story about the beast, setting the tone for his death shortly after. The circle of life sure is beautiful isn’t it?
Prison Guard Francis Aaron : Aaron was the sidekick of Andrews throughout the film. Often called “85” by the prisoners, this was due them sneaking through his files and discovering that was his IQ. Aaron often went around following orders from Andrews, and acting nothing more than his extra voice. After the fire that killed most of the prisoners, Aaron seemed a bit more competent. Despite the tragedy, he was worried about Ripley and even helped her during the body scan to see if she was OK. He found some redemption at the end when he finally realized Weyland-Yutani is full of shit. My biggest complaint about Aaron is he seems too much of a Gorman copy. It doesn’t hurt the film, but something worth pointing out.
Now we get to the rest of the prisoners. Other than Dillon, this is where the movie begins to venture into slasher movie territory. A problem that persists in every movie from here on in. Characters exist just to get killed, but Alien 3 is able to get away with it more than most due to the movie’s quality. Something else I’m sure we’ll debate when we venture on to Covenant.
Prisoner Robert Morse: This dude has become bit of an undercard fan favorite over the last few years and I heartily approve. He’s always been my favorite character, and stands out amongst his mostly forgettable fellow prisoners. Morse really doesn’t give one single fuck. Whatever is on his mind, just spews right out. It can be a fellow prisoner, 85, Dillon or even Ripley. His rant to Ripley when they are trying to plan a defense against the beast is classic. Morse is going to let you know how he feels. If you’ve purchased the Weyland-Yutani Report (and if you haven’t? Shame on you! Purchase HERE) there is a nice little bonus: Morse’s book “Space Beast” where he tells the story of his encounter with the creature. Easily one of the top entertaining assholes in the Alien universe.
Prisoner Walter Golic : Prominitley featured more in the Assembly Cut, after witnessing the beast filet a couple of his prisoners Golic becomes obsessed with the “Dragon”. In the Assembly Cut, they actually manage to trap the Alien after the ill fated fire. But Golic lets it escape, wounding Morse to get away then murdering two other prisoners to free the Alien. Interestingly enough, he’s whining “sorry, sorry” as kills and maims. It’s as if he simultaneously realizes what he is doing is both right and wrong. With much exuberance, Golic allows the beast to kill him. A willing sacrifice for the Dragon. Dorian would be proud.
Prisoner Vincent : As Daniel Willams has said in his many posts in the Weyland-Yutani Bulletin on Facebook “Who the fuck is Vincent?”. If anyone has information, please feel free to reply in the comments.
The rest of the crew serves as victims for our beloved beast. Holt McCallany is a nice surprise casting to see as Junior. Holt has had a nice career, was The Mechanic in Fight Club (1999) a co-star of Mindhunter (2017) and was Wade in the criminally under appreciated Losers (2010). David (the human) played by Pete Postlehwaite has one standout scene when telling Ripley the story of the chemicals. “Great stuff”. Rains, Murphy,Frank,Boggs, Jude, Troy, William, and Gregor are all useful but forgettable.
Top Half of Bishop: Incredibly enough, of the best scenes from Alien 3 is Ripley’s interaction with the damaged Bishop. First, she risks her life and almost gets raped trying to rescue the inoperative android. Thankfully Dillon was around to re-educate. When Ripley re-activates Bishop you see the bond they had with each other, he’s immediately happy to see her. “I like your new haircut”. Ripley painfully gets the information she needs, and grants Bishop his wish and disconnects him. A truly wonderful scene.
That was quite a joy to write I must say. Alien 3 blesses us with some truly interesting characters. Despite not having the depth of the previous movies, there are still plenty of memorable characters here. I am quite happy to see this movie finally find a footing amongst the fandom. This Support System is about to get interesting as we take a deeper look into Alien Resurrection. Hope you enjoyed the article, stay frosty everyone..