Few films have had as much troubled production as Alien 3. Director David Fincher was brought into the project late into its development; there were numerous creative differences in scriptwriting; not to mention all the pressure of living up to the successes of the two near-perfect blockbusters that preceded it. Fincher reportably disowned the film before editing even began.
Deep in hyper sleep, Ripley, Newt, and Hicks, crash land in their escape pod after an onboard fire on the Sulaco spaceship. Ripley is the only survivor, and when she finally comes around she is suspicious as to what actually started the fire in the first place. Unluckily for her, and everyone else, an alien somehow had gotten onto her ship and is now deciding to wreck havoc inside the planet's maximum security prison. With no weapons or functional technology, Ripley's pessimism is understandable when she states "We're f#&*ed".
The problems come mainly from Alien 3's poor writing. Many fans were immediately disgruntled when they heard Hicks was going to be killed off, after been such an influential character in Aliens, and felt like the series had shot itself in the foot. Furthermore, with the absence of weaponry, it became just too much of a bitter pill to swallow, especially when the film resorted to repetitive chase scenes between the inmates and alien towards the finale.
It's messy, and at times cringe worthy, but this third instalment does have its moments. The art direction, in particular, introduces us to a grimy, out-of-touch prison environment titled 'Fury 161', made up of religious, all male, inmates, which is a perfect setting for establishing a dreary, dark, and eerily quiet atmosphere that was distinguishable within the first two films. Ripley, of course, is a joy to watch as well: sporting a shaved head, with a desire to confront the alien head on, which further cements her position as the definitive female action hero of all time.
To fully appreciate the potential of Alien 3 I'd definitely recommend watching the special edition, which contains thirty minutes extra footage. Not all of it is beneficial to the story, but there are some interesting incidences of character development, such as a rendezvous between Ripley and Clemens (Charles Dance- who is killed off way too early for my liking) and Dillon, the spiritual leader of the inmates, who is a brilliant addition to the franchise. The introduction is also much better paced and visually stimulating.
Still, with two versions of the film, either one is far from perfect. Plot holes still exist: like how did the alien get on board the ship in the first place? And how is it able to impregnate Ripley and then a dog/ox when in the previous two movies the facehugger falls off and dies after the first host? Questions, questions, questions...