The third Alien movie has a lot of problems. Not the least of which, as Ross points out in our Alien podcast episode, is that everything Ripley works so hard for in Aliens is negated in the first 20 minutes or so of the movie. It’s okay for a movie to buck expectations and go for a ‘darker’ tone (as if the Alien movies are mostly The Sound of Music or something), but what Alien3 pulls off at the beginning is just too depressing to get around. Plus the environment in the film is drab and depressing, Ripley seems pretty defeatist through the whole thing, blah blah blah.
One good aspect of the film, though, is the alien. Hatched from a dog (later made an ox in the Special Edition, for some inexplicable reason), it has derived some aspects of the host body, which is an interesting aspect of the xenomorph species introduced here. Being the first feature film of director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club), there are also some nice POV shots near the end of the film of the alien galloping through the tunnels of Fiorina 161, which give a glimpse of the visual flair Fincher would exhibit in his later films.
Another negative note: during pre-production, the makers of the film approached HR Giger to create a new alien life-form for the film, instructing him to make it look more puma-ish. Excited with the prospect of improving on his original alien design, Giger went so far as to create an entire sculpture of it. He also designed the “Bambi Burster”, a kind of alien fawn that would have a helpless appearance when first emerging from its sack. Ultimately, Giger’s designs were passed over in favour of the work by California design house Amalgamated Dynamics.
The first two images presented here are the sculpture that Giger created for Alien3, followed by his sketch of the Bambi Burster. Below that is the alien as it appears in Alien3: