I just discovered that Alien3 has been fixed, restored and released in a version much closer to director David Fincher’s original vision. And it was released almost fifteen years ago! I’m just that late to the party. Bad fan.
The Alien movies are great fun. Super scary. I’d never say no to a couple of hours of xenomorph hide & seek. So it was a happy day when I heard a third Alien movie was in production. When 1992 came around and the movie was only weeks away I vividly recall seeing the novelization of the movie prominently displayed in the mall bookstore. Yes, malls used to have bookstores.
I picked up a copy. Put it back down. Picked it up, read the back cover again. Put it down. Did I want to spoil the surprises in the movie?
In the end I just couldn’t resist. I tore through the book. No big deal really, it was just your typical movie novelization. An easy read. But it was a good read. It’s all about a prison planet with a trapped alien ‘dragon’ and a crazy murderer that ends up worshiping the Alien! Prisoners are chased by aliens, Ripley is chased by aliens (and not chased), and the whole thing seemed like a claustrophobic, exciting sequel along the lines of the first Alien movie.
Then I saw the movie. I saw where the big cut was. Where the movie went wrong. They left out the entire plot about the Alien-worshipping nutter. There was almost nothing about the religious beliefs of the prisoners, the betrayals, the ‘risk’ of dealing with the prison population. It just became a flat, boring patchwork of chase scenes. Blah. So disappointing – why didn’t they follow the book?!
Fast forward to this past weekend. I’d picked up a board game that recreates the Alien movies. It’s called Legendary Encounters: Alien, and it’s great fun, I highly recommend it. While reading some of the online reviews for the game I saw mention of an ‘Assembly Cut’ of Alien3! Assembly Cut? What is this? I Googled and then practically ran to my stack of DVDs.
And there it was. Tucked away inside the blu-ray version of Alien3 that I’d bought years ago. A special ‘fixed’ version of Alien3, restoring all of the missing footage. It had been sitting on my shelf all of these years, waiting for me to pay attention. Bad fan!
So, as I said, the movie has been fixed. The full version of the novelization had actually been filmed by David Fincher, but the studio didn’t like it and edited it to pieces before the release. Without the director’s approval (yes, it’s directed by that David Fincher. The guy that did Seven, Fight Club, and Gone Girl).
Alien3 was quite rightfully panned when it was released to theaters, and it’s common knowledge that it’s a weak, disappointing addition to the Alien franchise. But I’m here to tell you that the Assembly Cut is quite good. Much better, and a full twenty-five minutes longer than the original release. It’s the version to watch. So right now you’re either saying ‘Yeah Bob, I knew this years ago’ or, like me, you’re rushing for your stack of DVDs.
By the way, if you’d like a run down of every single change restored in the Assembly Cut you should visit this wiki page. It’s amazing how much the studio left on the cutting room floor!