After thirty-two years in hypersleep, William Gibsons unused script for Alien 3 has been dusted off and brought to life in another of Audibles fantastic Dramatisations. Taking place after the events of James Cameron’s action-packed sequel Aliens, the survivors of said movie, Ripley, Hicks (reprised by Michael Biehn), Newt, and Bishop (reprised by Lance Henricksen) remain in cryostasis aboard the Suloco until they come into contact with a scientific outpost who thaw out our heroes and things pretty much go on an express elevator to hell from there. I have tried to keep this write up as spoiler free as possible but have touched on some of the general plot elements.
Using tissue samples of the Xenomorph found on the Suloco, the boffins start performing a few experiments with the Alien DNA which has some unexpected consequences. Just like David Fincher’s Alien 3 introduced the concept of a Xenomorph taking on various forms depending on the DNA it is born from, this too is prominent in Gibson’s version. Taking a bit more time to flesh it out from a scientific perspective this helps build a bigger picture of Weyland Yutani’s intentions to manipulate the species into its bioweapons division.
Despite the awesome presence of the Xenomorph throughout the saga as the on-screen protagonist, the true villain of the piece has always been Weyland Yutani, also know as “The F**king Company” taking into account that this script was written long before the likes of Prometheus and Covenant shook up the lore and backstory of the series, we get more details of the state of the corporate landscape which is currently in a state of ceasefire during a new arms race. This back story was intriguing and emphasized a deeper meaning to the “Bug Hunts” the Colonial Marines hinted to in Aliens.
In classic style, it isn’t long before the crew of this station is at the mercy of your not so friendly neighbourhood Xeno, as well as their new creation which was a highlight of this script. Forget the hybrid from Alien Resurrection that looked like Cher on a hot day, this new design/evolution is exactly where the concepts should have gone and will make anyone who played Dead Space grin ear to ear.
Having Biehn and Henrickson back on board to reprise their respective roles was a delight. Biehn sounds like he never left the role, maintaining sly traces of humour under his naturally wooden tones. The now 79-year-old Henrickson sounds especially raspy but still undoubtedly provides a solid performance, not bad for a human. Despite this being a direct follow on from Aliens I was surprised to how underused certain characters were in the story. Pacing wise this is a return to the slower moods of the original movie and does tread some familiar ground at times, this again could also be due to the age of the script as much has been done in the Alien universe over the years both canon and non-canon.
Thankfully a strong focus on atmosphere, tension and claustrophobia remains and oozes from the speakers due to the high production value that Audible put into these Dramas. Run time may seem short compared to previous Alien Audible productions but remember again to take into account that this is a movie script not a novel, so the length reflects what we would have had on screen.
Alien 3, depending on who you speak to is either loved or loathed. Personally, I always had a soft spot for it due to the great cast but there is no denying it always felt like a slap in the face to fans for its treatment of key characters and feeling more like a side story, not to mention the well-documented production issues and lengthy re-shoots. For this fan, Alien 3 Audible is certainly the story/movie we should have had. Truly feeling like a continuation of the first two entries in the saga, although it does have its flaws with a bit of stop-start pacing, questionable character use and a climax that fizzles out, it does leave things open for further instalments, this is a must have for any Alien fan. The world bursts to life from your speakers and you can genuinely feel the tension rising from the stellar performances from the full cast. One day we might even get to see this script brought to life on screen but for now, stick your headphones on, close your eyes and get lost in the nightmare that awaits.