Alien 3: The Assembly Cut is a very different movie

For years I’ve heard about the so-called Assembly Cut of Alien 3, but didn’t expect much from it. I wouldn’t say I hated Alien 3 (although I would certainly say that of Alien Resurrection), I just think Aliens’ version of Ripley is probably my favorite movie character in history. I don’t know why I find her so endearing, I just do. But in Alien 3 she just seems… off.

Those who claim Alien 3 was only disappointing because its critics were expecting more Aliens are missing the point. A lot of us loved the first sequel because it was so different from the original. Right out of the gate Alien 3 makes the mistake of treading the same water. It’s also important to remember Alien clones were a dime a dozen those days—something younger fans (or anyone who didn’t have 90s-era Cinemax) might not know. The whole “we’re trapped in a spaceship/military complex/prison with an alien” thing was played to death by ’92. I just think it was perfectly understandable for audiences to expect something a little fresher from a series which had yet to repeat itself at that point.

So even though the extended cut of Aliens is the definitive edition as far as I’m concerned, I never checked out The Assembly Cut. I just assumed Alien 3’s problems ran much deeper than its editing. Now that the entire Alien Anthology Blu-ray set is $25 for Amazon Prime members it’s time to check it out. (I think I paid at least that much just to get the extended cut of Aliens on plain ol’ DVD several years ago… I guess the streaming age is driving down the cost of Blu-rays and I couldn’t be happier.)

My most recent viewing of Alien 3’s theatrical cut was around twenty years ago, but I remember it well enough. The first forty minutes of The Assembly Cut feel like a completely different animal. For one, Ripley washes up on a beach after her escape pod crash lands on the penal colony known as Fury 161, although in the original she was pulled out of the wreckage itself. (The alien gestated in a dog if I recall correctly.)

Charles Dance’s character, whose best scenes were apparently cut from the previous version, is out for a stroll on the beach when he discovers Ripley’s unconscious body. I might have been opposed to the idea that Ripley hops in bed with this guy so early on, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t completely believable. It’s less about “We want you to believe these characters are suddenly in love,” and more like, “Sometimes, adults fuck.” It’s not nearly as clunky as I expected a “Ripley gets laid” scene to be. The chemistry these two characters share reminds me of Ripley’s interactions with Corporal Hicks in Aliens. That so much of it was cut from the theatrical version betrays just how bad the studio heads were gunning to show the alien as soon as possible.

There are various other improvements I don’t want to spoil. I’ll just point out the alien’s entrance is much spookier than the one we got before.

Although there were so many lame alien clones at the time, The Assembly Cut makes it clear Fincher could have made the first truly skilled knock-off. Unfortunately, the special effects suck as bad as they did in ’92 and Ripley’s reaction to learning of Newt’s death still underwhelms. I was hoping the silly crucifixion imagery at the end of the movie was gone, and although that shot is improved in a way, it’s still stupid and pretentious. Other than that, The Assembly Cut is a decent end to the trilogy.

(Which reminds me: anyone want my Alien Resurrection disc? No? Okay, I’ll just use it as a coaster.)

One thought on “Alien 3: The Assembly Cut is a very different movie

  1. Am I the only one who prefers the directors cut?? There were some good ideas and scenes from the assembly cut, but overall I think the directors cut is better. The same goes for the whole Alien franchise there is a reason why they don't make it at all in the first place. I saw Aliens with the cut scenes and I thought the cut scenes were terrible, awkward and at times cringing and it disrupted the flow of the movie. As for Alien 3 yes the characters seemed more developed but the directors version or cinema version was better. Firstly because the dog made much more sense than an ox and the ox scene was a contradiction to the whole Alien mythology and life cycle, how can the alien be born out of an ox? when the ox was found dead? When Ripley asked Dilon to kill her, how would that have stopped the queen from still bursting out? so that is clear contradiction it is well known that the alien needs the host to stay alive in order to feed it nutrients until it is capable of leaving the body. So the dog scene made more sense plus the alien resembled more of a dog than a a dame ox. Furthermore, there was no mention or scene of Spike the dog in the assembly cut then why do we see a scene with the guy cleaning out the ventilation shaft shouting out for “Spike” who the hell is spike? when it was never showcased in the assembly cut, only those who have seen the directors cut know who that poor dog was. Finally the ending was terrible she jumps off and goes straight into the lava and the end. It seemed almost comical. However, in the directors cut we see the queen come out in mid air and she grabs it and almost see a connection of love for the creature that has haunted her all her life. To end, I think Alien 3 with all the crazy shit that it went through was a great film and made perfect sense to me to kill of newt and co. It seemed more real and authentic that when you thought things couldn't get bad they just did and imagine newt in a prison tagging along with Ripley moaning every 2 seconds!


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